chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: fox


1940s Dorothy in foxIt’s impossible to know if Dorothy was posing and happened to be caught mid-blink or if she was resting, eyes closed. She’s in her 30s, at the height of her glamour, and her expression shows contentment and the pleasure of knowing she is admired. I imagine her dressing with great care and attention, putting on bracelet, high heels, lipstick and jacket in readiness for some celebration.

The Doberman is unfamiliar; I never heard Dorothy mention the dog, though it appears in several photos from this period. Perhaps it belongs to the person who has been tending the grass and the potted plants. Or the person who is taking the photo.

The picture isn’t perfect. My grandmother’s shadow hovers in the foreground, where it would remain, literally or figuratively, for the rest of my mother’s life. And someone has thoughtlessly left a sack of cow manure next to the garage.

But we can fix that. Tell the story any way we want. My mother did. Airbrushed the scars from her story. She might have preferred it this way:
1940s Dorothy in fox, version 2By the time she was my mother, Dorothy had abandoned, with lingering regret, the glamorous life she had known. She inhabited her new persona: artist, wife, intellectual. (Mother.) The fox jacket (previously mentioned here and here) was permanently abandoned to the closet.

She never sat in the sun though she was always cold, longing for the warmth of a forbidden love, for the heat of admiration.


D in foxThe hall closet, the one by the front door where guests were meant to hang their coats, was deep, with a pair of wide doors and a similarly double-doored cabinet above. With just a token space left for visitors’ wraps, the closet was segregated — my mother’s coats on the left, my father’s on the right. Below them, our rarely-used rain boots and a dark green umbrella with white polkadots, a pair of folding chairs tucked at the end against the wall.

Except for my father’s suit jackets, one removed from its wooden hanger in the morning and replaced at the end of each working day, most of the coats went unworn. On the far left, next to the wall, zipped into a large plastic coat bag was a fox-fur jacket of voluminous proportions and impossible beauty. It was a remnant of my mother’s earlier life, a glamorous time before she married the man of simple tastes who would become my father. She kept it there, untouched except when she would accede to my plaintive begging for her to please, please put it on. She kept it, perhaps, as a symbol of lost youth, lost beauty, lost love — a garment of regret.

The closet was off limits to me, but of course there were times when I would have to open the forbidden doors and lean in to the faint aroma of perfume and aftershave, or unzip the bag to bury my fingers in the luscious fur, or fold myself onto the floor of this girl-size room, silent, hidden, waiting to be missed.