Rhapsody Sings the Body Electric

Readers, I’m happier than ever to see you back in the salon. After browsing a stack of women’s magazines during a long layover this week in Houston, I’ve had to fend off a bout of peevishness from which I am just barely recovered.

I don’t know if it’s the sheer bossiness of the spring issues—Your Best Self This, The New You That— or the fact that every fold of Vogue contains enough perfume to reanimate the dead, but I was in a state. Rhapsody is a fall person by nature and the suggestion, offered by at least one designer each year, that I consider going abroad in flowered pants, is always a galling one.

And then suddenly I knew what today’s salon gathering had to be about. Here was my chance to provide a cheerful rejoinder to these to-do lists of the spring magazines, which rest on the premise that everything about you is sub-optimal, but promise to teach you the sly trick of bossing yourself into submission. Your Best Self always does that, while your Actual Self is having a nap.

You’ll probably never even realize that it was you who walked up to you and slapped you in the face! It’s called being liberated, friends.

Hang on. I did say “cheerful” rejoinder, didn’t I? And I said, in my last post, that I would try to write something nice. Bear with me, friends. This is like writing with my non-dominant hand, the patterns of thought all loopy and scrawled, as though I were drunk, which I never   hardly ever   am not at this moment.

Not to worry. We’re all gathered in the salon, the Old Fashioneds are mixed, highballs are on the sideboard, and the pages of all those magazines give the fire a bright and chemically crackle. The issues that warm us, by the way, are Health, Vanity Fair (Hollywood Issue), Vogue and Scientific American.

Why that last one? I contain multitudes, my dears. And Cigar Aficionado was too pricey.

Here are the useful facts I gleaned from my reading:

Scientific American: All this time, we’ve been measuring protons inaccurately!! But don’t get upset—some people named Lars are working on it. They’ve got their calipers around the fretful little things and it’s going to be all right.

Vanity Fair: Julia Robert’s legs are so long they cannot be measured at all. If it weren’t for the 3-fold cover of their Hollywood issue, she wouldn’t fit. Oh: and!! My dear friend Gwyneth Paltrow started a rumor that Vanity Fair was going to write a nasty article about her (who would ever?!) and then, when she heard her own rumor, she was enraged. When she finds out what the proton-measuring guys are saying about her, she’s going to be livid.

Vogue: Crisp, white boy shirts are a “must have” for spring, Lena Dunham is still It Girl, and if anyone needs to reach Kiera Knightly, she’s on page 93, making out with a bottle of Coco Channel. No one here knows what a proton is.

Health: Your Best Self is within reach. There’s just one tiny problem, and that is that your Actual Self is sitting on top of it, smothering it in appalling layers of belly fat, pathetic life goals and un-exfoliated skin. Using their seven-step system for Best Abs, Best Sex and Best Salary Negotiations, you’ll never have to suffer another moment of feeling adequate or satisfied with your life, ever again! Protons, schmotons: what you need are better-defined triceps.

Oh, dear. We have not even started on my cheerful list and I’m starting to do that low, gutteral growling again. I’m sorry. Do I contradict myself? Fuck it: I do.

Now on with my list.

* * * *


My Best Legs

By an incredible stroke of luck, my best legs happen to be the ones presently attached to my torso, and good heavens, are they useful! I can perambulate just about anywhere, anytime, and for free. Today my emerald-studded fitness choker recorded over a mile of travel on My Best Legs, and that was just inside the house. Imagine the cab fare I’ve saved! I can saunter, skip or jump. I can play Horsey-Ride with Brioche and Tannery, launching them high on one of my Best Legs and then—surprise!—not catching them on the way back down. Best of all, I can do high-kicks, albeit slowly and in a way that really involves more crouching down than lifting of the leg, but I’m a Rockette in my imagination. My legs are incredible.

My Best Arms

Two of them, beautifully pale and with a bit more swinginess on the underside than strictly necessary, but on the whole, amazing. And on the ends of these: hands! Useful for detaining small children on the run, giving Mr. Roboto a playful towel-snap on the behind, or gesturing wildly to a fascinated audience of dinner guests. But most useful of all, the ten tapered ends of the hands, so good for ordering things on Amazon, or even writing, when there is nothing I can think of to buy.

My Best (Well, Operative) Knees

If there is any definitive proof that “intelligent design” is neither, it is the human knee. Really, Readers: can you imagine the knees that our less well-adapted evolutionary forebears had to lurch around on? You could make a more workable joint from a Ziplock bag full of ball bearings and chicken fat. Rhapsody cannot help but feel tender gratitude for knees, and love them even more, just for working at all, ever.

My Best Eyeballs

Forget Google Glass, Readers. The user-experience I’m getting from my very own occipital lobe is so much better, and less likely to get me into a car wreck. With My Best Eyeballs, the whole world is a breath-taking 3-D cinematic experience. Yes, it’s easy to augment them with prescription lenses, but why tamper with the much kinder built-in feature of having the world grow a bit fuzzier each year and less startlingly defined? Detail is overrated. My Best Eyeballs are softening the world for me at exactly the same rate I am becoming more annoyed by it. What a wonder is nature!

My Best Neurotransmitters

No matter how frantic it is on the outside of Rhapsody, inside everything’s under the cool control of my guys upstairs, running the neuronal networks and providing Rhapsody with a 24 hour pharmacopeia of uppers, downers, sugars, estrogen, insulin boosts, or a shot of adrenaline for a surprise. They wander around the office chain-smoking and cracking jokes, like air traffic controllers on a coffee break, until something important happens—like I remember that quarterly taxes are due yesterday, or I almost hit a cat while driving to pick up the kids—and then they all leap to their control panels, sloshing coffee and shouting profanities. It’s a system that simply cannot be improved upon.

My Best Belly Fat

I hope Dr. Oz isn’t listening, because I love my belly fat. It’s simply wonderful not to be a shrink-wrapped strip of beef jerky, like these poor girls in Vogue who can stand with feet and legs together and still have a foot of space between their thighs. This look is not sexy, my friends– it’s rickets. But according to the endlessly informative right hand side of my Facebook feed, belly fat is fun and easy to “melt away.” Rachel Ray has melted off 20, 40, 56 and 8 pounds of her belly fat in each of the last four months and now consists only of dark matter. Not Rhapsody. I am becoming more zaftig with each passing year and belly fat is the reason. Belly fat, and while we’re at it, a little extra boompus at the back, too– makes me all the softer for cuddling with Brioche and Tannery and Mr. Roboto. Inner and outer softness are one. And you can record that as the sweetest thing you’ll ever read here. Will someone please add a few bitters to my Old Fashioned? This is uncomfortable.

My Best Breasts

I don’t like to boast, Readers, but I do have a nice pair. Ask Mr. Roboto. On second thought: don’t. He tends to freeze under that kind of questioning. You’ll just have to take my word for it that back in my single days, a man I never knew was once injured because the Rhapsody Rack was simply astonishing. As this young man roller bladed past 25-year old Rhapsody on a sultry summer day, he angled to get a better look at Rhapsody in her tight-fitting halter, and skidded right off the pavement into the shrubs.

True story, Readers. It’s a memory I return to often now, like a trusty old campfire I can always warm my hands over. Women still in the tautness of youth—any of you here? –will say that I’ve simply lost the ability to heed the call of My Best Self. To which I can only say, in the language of these youngsters, “LMAO.” That means “laughing like Mao,” for those of you who still haven’t joined the texting revolution.

My Best Self may be rising at dawn to go to one of those absurd boot-camp exercise things, but My Actual Self is brewing the coffee, reading the paper and actually enjoying the day—just as you and I are doing now.

So if you hear the phone ring, and it’s My Best Self, or yours, calling, I suggest we let it go right to voicemail.



P.S. At the top, that’s “Woman dancing on the shore.” July 1916 Vanity Fair cover by Rita Senger. Thank you Rita.

P.P.S. Next week, or maybe the week after that, I’ll be done with Part I of the Rhapsody Failure Memoirs. I am embarrassed to be so far off my (self-imposed) deadline. On the other hand, failing to write Failure Memoirs seems like a perfectly appropriate way to go about them.


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