“Yes, let me show you.”
“Ohh, ahh an array of magnificent diamonds, dear cousin.”
And in deference, Cousin #2 dressed in faded black. This lesser cousin bows in Japanese-fashion, lower and lower until her wrinkled brow touches the thick tangerine carpet.
“Cousin, I have not put on a diamond show like this for anyone. Are you really sure you wish to expose your countenance to this?”
“Ah, it is true. Who am I to see the ‘Ritzy Glitzy Diamond Show’? But if you would be so kind, yes I would! Could I . . .”
“Try one on?”
“Oh no. Never, never would I ask that assumptive question, Cousin #1. Only to touch a bit of a gem. For that is all of which I am worthy.”
Even the words on this page reflect the glitter of those diamonds. They glitter with the telling of the story. The place of the telling is anywhere. A coffee shop in Topeka. A topless bar in Honduras. A whiffle ball court in the Virgin Islands. Anywhere and everywhere.
I divulge the story of the “Ritzy Glitzy Diamond Show” to honor these creatures who love the glitter but never possess it, the diamond tennis bracelets for non-athletes, the multi-carat brooches for keeping silicon breasts front and center, and the rings, oh the rings. It goes without saying the rings capture the full spirit of wretched excess and heavy endowments carried proudly on ever-weaker and more visibly veined hands.
Cousin #1 has the power of diamonds but not the quality of years. Carefully, she removes her orange silk head scarf and begins opening secret drawers in her closet and starts displaying her booty right there in her boudoir at the vanity table seated in front of a mirror with professional make-up lights encrusted within the edges. The sum total of riches collected over the course of a lifetime will end soon as all mortal lives do. And she is kind to poor church mouse Cousin #2 and actually puts the smallest one on her relative’s finger.
“Cousin, dear cousin” the shadow woman in black exclaims. “The shine, the beauty . . .”
“Is it heavy?”
“Yes, it is heavy.”
“Ah, its heft is a sign of its value, its beauty, its desirability. I would give you more to weigh in your wrinkled hands of poor skin care, blemished by cheap creams, deprived of daily immersions, emulsions—and of course, an unfortunate diet of overeating wretched foodstuffs.”
Cousin #2 bows her head in shame and removes the diamond ring. “You are right, dear one. I am not worthy.”
Soon after the lights dim, the audience of one exits. The show is over and my mother dies.