Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 1936

Now, where was I? Yes.... Well, when last I spoke of it, the film star had left me abandoned in Mexico City! Such behavior is incomprehensible. Unforgivable. And you can imagine my shock, my horror. At least the hotel management was most solicitous and kind; I do believe - at last - they began to know who I was! After a fruitless search for Miss Lombard was concluded, they thought to contact one of the guests from the party of the previous evening. A certain count Peñál-Yrués, a charming fellow who fortunately spoke a fairly decipherable English.

Now, is it possible that he was genuinely Mexican? I don't believe that silly Mexico even has any aristocracy, so perhaps he was actually a Spaniard. At any rate, I do hope he wasn't one of the dreadful fausse noblesse one finds everywhere nowadays; how they irk me! Now, where was I...?

Oh, yes. Well, the count was most kind. Whilst I struggled to have arrangements made for my return to America, he generously squired me about to this office and that. Everyone was faultlessly kind and smiling, but the paperwork and delays were maddening. I travel about all the time, so I can't think why this was so very difficult to arrange. I am terribly celebrated, so that does raise some complications - a good deal of extra care is necessary - but you'd think they were trying to post a soft-boiled egg! Haha! During the days of endless waiting, count Peñál-Yrués took me about and introduced me to some lovely people; regardless of my ghastly experiences in their country, I do adore les Mexicains! Lovely parties were held in my honour. And, during the daytime, the count, thinking I would enjoy it, toured me about to the various museums and art galleries of the city.

Now, my darlings, you know how I loathe modern art. It's all so ugly and unpleasant. Nothing that one would dare to hang upon a wall, certainly, nothing that would complement the sofa or window draperies. So what's the good of it, I ask you? But what I saw in Mexico was not offensive, I'll give it that. And it seems that the country is, after all, terribly artistic. And I don't mean the silly pottery and baskets that one would expect. No, not at all. Of late it seems they've gone quite mad for murals. Everywhere one looks, they've put up vast, brightly colored compositions. The newer buildings in town look quite slap-dash and haven't the least bit of architectural élan, so perhaps the murals are a necessary diversion. But, really, I thought them a bit of all right, terribly jolly and so large. So very large. Which may explain why the perspective always seems to be a bit of a muck-up.

Artists leave me quite senseless. Such dreary, self-important bores. But, of course, I couldn't tell the dear count that when he offered to take me to the atelier of Mexico's most celebrated painter, a certain Mr. Rivera. And what a truly appalling looking fellow he was! Enormous and having the aspect of a great ape - or should I say toad? I don't know which is more apt. At any rate, he smelt like a goat! But his work was lovely. Yes, it was. The subject matter was a bit too peasant-y to my way of thinking, you understand, but lovely nonetheless.

And then I met his very curious little wife. She was quite a sight, I must tell you. Even if one were to overlook the black, bristling brows that met in the middle, one could never fail to note the moustache! I know! Impossible to imagine, but it's true! A tiny, sweet-smelling thing, she was dressed in some sort of madcap native costume, covered in jewelry of all sorts, her hair braided and set with flowers. A most delirium-making concoction. And yet.... And yet.... One would expect this toilette - this apparition - to jar - at best - but, you know, somehow it was all rather charming. The woman must be a sorceress to pull off such a thing. She was a complete effrontery to all notions of beauty and good sense. But there you have it. She looked really quite marvelous. They tell me that she paints a little, too.

Finally, after nearly a week, all my arrangements were in order. On my last night - or what I imagined would be my last night - I was thrown a lovely little soirée by the dear count. It was quite charming. At first. I enjoyed myself a bit more than I should have, perhaps; the circumstances of my visitation had been so very trying. And the Veuve Clicquot was flowing rather freely, you understand; the dear widow and I are such dear friends! Haha! At any rate, things did get a little vague as the evening wore on and, at the same time, it seemed as though the - oh, I don't know - the tenor of respectability weakened. Yes, rather. And, of course, when I gaily quaff champagne, I do like to dance. Yes, I do! I danced dance after dance with all the most lovely, fragrant and swarthy men. Real men, you understand; not a pansy in the bunch! The last thing I remember is that I was clasped in the arms of some great Mexican god, his hands the size of Schiaparelli handbags, and his glittering, black eyes proverbially smoldering. Babbling throatily - mesmerically - in honeyed Spanish, he danced me expertly into a darkened corner, through gauze curtains that breathed gently with the last warm breeze of night breaking unto dawn....

Ah, then everything goes blank.

I awoke hours later somewhere out in the country. An old, leathery peasant was patting water onto my face, hoping to revive me, I suppose. I appeared to be lying prostrate in the middle of a farm yard; there were chickens about! Well, I believe they were chickens; I've never actually seen a chicken standing up. I suppose I'll never know exactly where I was or how I'd arrived there. Or how I'd gotten to such a state: I hadn't any wrap, my gown was soiled and torn, and I'd only one shoe! My hair was matted with dirt and straw and, when I tried to speak, I found several feathers clinging improbably to the inside of my mouth. Of the chicken variety, I presume. And I was terribly, deplorably hung!

It was quite useless trying to communicate with the peasant, but he was obviously very concerned about me, which was really too sweet. He wrapped a filthy horse blanket about my shoulders, gave me some coarse sandal-like things to put on my feet, and led me - dragged me, really - to a wretched donkey cart full of dirty straw and threw me into it! I was too weak to protest anything, too ill. We drove for miles and miles, under the blazing, burning sun, every bump of the rutted road was an agony; I longed for death! Somehow, the old peasant seemed to know exactly where to deliver me because, after what seemed an eternity - I can't even know how long; I was quite unconscious most of the journey - we were back in the city, and he pulled the brakes on his little burro right at the door of my hotel. As my Good Samaritan rolled my limp form out of the cart and toward the doorstep, the hotel doorman was just about to roll me back toward the gutter - haha! - when, thankfully, he noticed my Cartier bracelets; Cartier has saved me on more than one occasion! Oh, yes.... At any rate, there were shrieks of alarm and everyone was quite aflutter as they carried me - fainting, repeatedly - to my rooms. They wanted to call the doctor or take me to hospital but, waxing quite Amazonian - I'll never know how I mustered the resolve - I gave a noble "no" to all succor. I had a bath - well, of course, I did - and the next morning flung myself into a chartered aeroplane and returned to Oregon. Where, at last, I allowed myself the well-deserved luxury of a complete and utter collapse!

Now, there, I've told you all. All the parts I am able to remember, at any rate. Not a tale at all indicative of my otherwise glamorous lifestyle. A sordid, messy tale; this incident will certainly be expunged from my official biography, you understand. But you begin to comprehend why my recovery has been so very prolonged. I do hope my distressing story hasn't upset you overly much. Dreadful things happen to us all, of course. Those of you who are lowly and even those, like I, who live in a more rarefied manner. We must all learn from life, my darlings. And, if nothing else, do learn from my error and stay far clear of any beastly film people!

Oh, and do keep at least something by Cartier on your person at all times; you'll never regret it! Until we speak again, mes amis....


Lu said...

Sacre Bleu!!! I thought I would send you a quick message, before Penny weighs in and you two begin to bicker.. but, truly, Mad.. how very brave of you to include all the debauched bits. I'm sure you realize that the hours you can not account for will surely be imagined (in the most lascivious fashion) by those who wallow in the distress of others. I would never DREAM of indulging in such behavior, but do feel compelled to caution you about your recklessness with unknown Counts, while partaking of large quantities of your beloved Veuve Clicquot! So take care, Mad.. and should you hear of the whereabouts of that trollop Carole Lombard, well.. something should be done about her.. I'll say no more..

Madeleine Prévert said...

So think I've been indiscrete, do you?! How very funny you are, my dear. You know that you must always remember that I am an artist, first and foremost. And as an artist, my work and my life are one. I must retain a certain degree of freedom in order that my creative spirit might soar; the rules of good society do not always apply. You, my dear, for all your wordliness, can never entirely comprehend the artistic temperament. You, with your husband and flocks of children, your servants and horses and avocado trees - oh, la! - exist on another plane, really. House and hearth and all that. But you are so dear to me. So please do try and forgive the wilder shores of my soul. And try to understand that from time to time I must need to stoke the fires of my Olympian talent and go just a little mad!

"Mad"! Did you really call me that? "Mad"? Really, darling, how appallingly American of you. Why must you all constantly bash about with people's names? That is how my daughter has gone - appallingly - from Prudence to Penny!

Penny Prévert said...

"Mad" - Oh, I love it! How chic and modern! Oh, Mother, can't you just see it on the marquees? Mad Prevert and her daughter Penny! Couldn't we, Mummy? Couldn't we?

As for your adventure, it sounds terribly exciting! Wild romance in Mexico! Who cares about the aftermath!