Leslie Grollman and Ipek Davaz

Ipek Davaz
Inspiration piece

De, UnBecoming
By Leslie Grollman
Response

De. She liked to be called ‘De’ (pronounced ‘dee’). She spoke in a language of ‘de’s.

Every word started with ‘de’. ”De-Hi, de-how de-are de-you” she would say, earnestly. That smile, you knew she meant real. She acted out as many of the words that began with ‘de’ as she could. It’s what she lived for. She jumped (well, not really; she slipped) out the window so she could say “De defenestrated”. She ran down the up escalator so she could say “De de-escalated”. She thumped her chest, faked spasms, in glee “de-look de-at de-me!” she said. Her excitement almost overwhelmed you. “De defibrillates!”.

And you just had to go along with her. Not because she was a danger; no, because she was kind.

Her room looked like right out of a Wes Anderson film, the color scheme and everything. Perfectly matching. And her clothes matched, too. When you entered through the door, it was like you had a perfectly placed middle seat in the theatre.

The school counselor told her parents her ways were not normal. Her parents said that she was happy, and learning, had friends and a dog. The counselor showed her the book called ‘Normal Behavior’; turned to page 356, second paragraph. It was about language.

The parents agreed to allow the school counselor to help De become like page 356, second paragraph.

With each session, De lost a ‘de’. Not all at once; one at a time. It started with the first word in a sentence. One day she said “Hi, de-how de-are de-you, de-Benny. Did de-you de-see de-that de-show de-last de-night?”.

It went on like this, every day a lost ‘de’. But that wasn’t the only thing that changed. The first day, you almost didn’t notice her head make a little tic at the first lost ‘de’. The second day, you couldn’t miss it, the tic was like whooshing a fly away. The next day, along with the next lost ‘de’,( second word of the sentence), she wore shoes that didn’t match the Wes Anderson color scheme. Each day, another ‘de’ lost, and another part of her life, gone. Her clothes, piece by piece stopped working together, her left eye looked like it came from someone else, she couldn’t walk without tripping. Now, everything in her room was strewn about, like in an alley, like for an audition for Cats. Her mood was grim now, all the time, her skin looked like it was crying.

I swear I could hear it, but I was her bestie, so, there was that.

We walked home from school that day. She was unable to speak any ‘de’ words at all, even without the extra ‘de’ that didn’t belong. She told me she was lighted to see me; ‘delight’ was beyond her reach. She couldn’t say her name anymore. She just stood there, when asked, opened her mouth a bit, then sighed. The first time that happened, her head came right off her neck! Like there was an invisible string holding her two parts together now!

“What shall we do?” her parents asked me, alarmed, knowing I was her bestie; I might have insights.

“How about we put her room back the way it was before the school counselor told you about page 365, second paragraph. Maybe that will work!” I hoped.

We set the stage. Wes would be proud.

 De came home that day, lifeless. She went straight to her room, her favorite cookies left alone on the plate on the counter where she always put her schoolbag.

A shocking array of sounds came emanating from her. Some sounded like balloons struck by a pin: “eeeeeeeeeee” and “wheeeeeeeeeee”; then whooshes like odes to her joy.

We ran upstairs wondering.

“Are you ok?” we chimed, a cacophony.

“De-yes! de-I de-am de-so de-happy! de-thank de-you”, she twirled and hugged us all then danced round and round with the dog.

All was back to the way it was. Accept for her left eye, and her head. Her head floated, still. These two oddities never deterred her. In fact, they helped feed her inspiration.  (She later created a rock band called “Floating Heads”. Three platinum albums!)

She was how she was always meant to be.

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One Comment

  1. Kamika Cooper
    Posted December 2, 2018 at 12:47 pm | #

    What a beautiful collaboration, Leslie and Ipek. The art and writing reminds me of the importance of individuality versus the danger of trying to align ourselves to “normalcy” as defined by others. This collaboration speaks to the foundation of what makes us artists. Thank you for your work and expression.

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