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Artifacts of Life: Margo Berdeshevsky on the Other Woman's shoes as objet d'art

The Chicago Tribune calls Dawn Raffel’s The Secret Life of Objects "a personal catalog of mementos, talismans and heirlooms, all made meaningful by the passing of time." This month, inspired by Raffel's stunning memoir, we’re inviting writers and readers to share thoughts and memories about artifacts large and small that connect them to important people, places and moments.

From Margo Berdeshevsky, author of Beautiful Soon Enough:
Well, yes. I occasionally have a mister occasional. This is a picture of his less occasional mistress's shoes. Usually, he visits my lair. But sometimes, well, the day I made this photo, I visited the lair he more usually wakens in. What I retain from that rendezvous—is my quick snapshot of her shoes. I liked the shoes, positioned as they were, on a mantle piece. Such a perfect objet d’art. I didn't like that he had not closeted her other belongings—the morning he invited me over for breakfast—for just us—à deux.

The sixth floor metal door was ajar, I didn't need to ring. He was alone. And he was smiling in his sheets. And I didn't notice the strewn lacy stuff—until after. And it took me until the second coffee, a bitten-until-it-bled tongue, and at last, my own personal brand of insult plus bravery to say, "Hey, I hated that." Quizzical stare, his, buttering the cold croissant. And then, my "You should have some class. More class." And then, my "Do you know how damn hard it is for me to say this?" "It's good that you told me," he said. "I admire you. Thank you. For being honest." And then another kiss.

Was that the last time? Yes, the last for such lack of class. And I prefer my own lair and my own shoes. But no, not the last for being occasional. That's just—well, it's the deal. Not the deal breaker. There are certain things that are just so very French.

The French are less prurient, it's said. Than Americans, it's said. They merely laughed at the bru-ha-ha about the (proverbial) “blue dress,” it’s said.

Former Socialist French president, François Mitterand had a discreet but eventually renowned mistress who had a security guard on her block. I know that because I went for a sleepless middle of the night stroll on that block, back in the day, and the guard asked if I was "ok, mademoiselle?" I smiled and kept walking toward my dawn rendezvous with the river. I was wearing my own classy high heels, then. After the more recent breakfast confrontation, I went and bought myself a gorgeous pair of new shoes.

Oh, the things a woman does, to refuse to be an object.

Robert Olen Butler called Margo Berdeshevsky’s Beautiful Soon Enough "a thrillingly cutting-edge work of photos and short short stories flowing together into an extended erotic dream... a splendid book by a fine poet turning into an equally fine fiction writer." Her most recent book of poems, Between Soul & Stone, was published last year by Sheep Meadow Press.


Win a copy of Dawn Raffel’s The Secret Life of Objects! Share your story. We'll publish the best ten entries on our blog, and Jaded Ibis will send you the book. Click here for details.

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