Don’t waste your time looking back. You’re not going that way. – Ragnar Lothbrok
Patricia and Nelly stand close to each other at a bus stop, sharing the task of holding a book open in front of them. Only Nelly is looking at it, though; Patricia is too preoccupied with the hand resting on her hip. Nelly’s hand. Either Nelly has forgotten their previously made agreement to be discreet in public about the fact that they are a couple, or she is choosing to ignore it.
Pierrette and Lucille lean into each other over the counter to exchange some petty gossip. As always. Pierrette could be fired for fooling around like this on the job; she’s been warned more than once. But she can’t stop herself, the gossip is too juicy. She monitors closely what is happening behind the counter, her left hand at the ready on a dishrag. Any sign of her boss, and that hand will be moving as if she’s been working the whole time.
This Nelly, this Pierrette: they’re both a little naughty, both a little self-willed. Neither one of them listens for beans. Kind of like the artist. And by artist, I mean the inner artist, the child: Toothpick.
One day, I have this idea to redo Mauvaises nouvelles with a human character in place of the mouse. Toothpick won’t hear of it. What I end up with instead is the funky lesbians waiting for the bus alongside their obese dalmatian.
Four days later, it’s my idea to redo Moi, franchement, je pense qu’on devrait with a human character in place of the dog that Toothpick ignores. It’s the two gossiping gossips that come out instead.
Why does Toothpick do this? Why doesn’t she listen to me, the person who buys all the art supplies and who lends her the hands she needs to do the work? Is my idea to redo these paintings so dumb that she can’t be bothered to entertain it for even a second?
Yes, quite frankly. Dumb as bricks. But why?
Artistically speaking, Mauvaises nouvelles and Moi, franchement, je pense qu’on devrait are riddled with technical imperfections. Am I wrong to think that they can be improved upon now that I have developed my skills? Am I wrong to think that the mouse as a human with actual feet and the dog as another human wearing a less drab colored jumpsuit might not be more aesthetically pleasing?
On both counts, no, I am not wrong. But what does Toothpick care about technical perfection? What does Toothpick care if people find her paintings aesthetically pleasing? She’s six years old. She has a mind of her own, and this mind of hers cares only about the idea. Idea-wise, these paintings are perfect, are they not? They said what they had to say at the time the things they had to say had to be said. To revisit them now, all these months later, is a colossal waste of time. Life is happening now, in the present moment. And the questions my heart is asking in this moment are not the ones that updated versions of Mauvaises Nouvelles and Moi, franchement, je pense qu’on devrait are capable of answering. Only Nelly and Pierrette can answer these questions.
For example: Can you be friends with Jerry? Can you, the two of you, grow back together? Are these long walks in the morning hours before work in Prospect Park the beginnings of a new beginning? It’s Jerry who initiated these walks, Jerry who insists on calling you; is it truly to be just friends? Maybe not. Maybe he understands that he made a mistake. Should you be patient? Should you wait for him to bring it up, or should you? The question burns: Is what you and Jerry had together worth revisiting, can it be improved upon a second time around, made new and more aesthetically pleasing with a few technical improvements?
“Nope,” says Nelly.
“Fuck that shit,” says Pierrette.
“Who’s Jerry?” says Toothpick.
“Nobody you need to concern yourself with, Toothpick,” God says. “He’s just somebody from the past, somebody we need to leave behind eventually. He’s not going our way.”