09 February 2013

Sex to Crime to Suicide to Pizza

The thread started yesterday with finding this video of a TED talk by Cindy Gallop posted on my FB Wall:.

Wow!  Real, intelligent, courageous, on-point, compelling....  I wish I'd given that talk.

Somehow, my thinking flowed on from there to my old dream of being a courtesan; and then, possibly influenced by the culture here in Holly Springs, another old dream surfaced:  living a life of crime.

One of the brightest jewels in the town's crown is the annual Pilgrimage, a weekend of tours through plantation homes, guided by local maidens dressed up in period costume. Being neither young nor maidenly, and there being no hoop skirts in my wardrobe

I pulled the bead bag down from the attic and drenched the front porch in Mardi Gras beads and trinkets. The Pilgrimage doesn't happen until April but Mardi Gras is this Tuesday.

Then I heard Christine Wiltz on NPR talking about her book about the life of Norma Wallace, "The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld." Seemed to pull together both strands of my thinking: crime and high-class courtesan-ship.

I haven't read the book yet but here's a link to  Chapter One as excerpted in the New York Times.

She was married five times.

Always to men younger than herself. Each husband younger than the preceding husband.

In her last marriage, to a man 39 years her junior, she relocated to Mississippi in an attempt to reduce his exposure to the temptations of New Orleans and the younger women "sashaying down Esplanade."

She was trying to hang on. To him, to her life and her identity. She failed. The story ends with her suicide in Mississippi.

You can imagine perhaps, as I sit in yet another town that is not New Orleans (a town, coincidentally, in Mississippi) how and where my thinking has gone in the hour and half since the radio story ended.

Not feeling suicidal.

Relishing these examples of self-possessed older women. Wondering about the shadow side of Ms. Gallop's life. Adding "The Last Madam" to my "Want to Read" list.

And thinking about ordering a pizza.