The Mirror Nov 13, 2022 20:48:10 GMT -5
Post by Radrook Admin on Nov 13, 2022 20:48:10 GMT -5
Most of us have bought things at one time or another that we later regretted-especially if we couldn’t return the item to the store. The first time I encountered that situation was as child in relation to a rather unusually-large rectangular living-room mirror. We were living at the former Columbus Homes Housing projects at Ten Sheffield Drive apartment 11D. I will never forget that address despite the place having been demolished years ago.
Here is how it happened:
My mother, a woman of Native-American appearance, was a free spirit who felt that money was made to be used and not hoarded. So she enjoyed using my father’s bank-account to purchase things on credit for apartment-decoration purposes. In stark contrast, my father, a pale, short-statured man of north European facial features, suffered intensely over every single penny spent.
So arriving home from work, and finding that some of his bank-account money had been spent, was always a big shock. However, because he wanted to please her, he would grudgingly eventually relent and accept the purchased items. Especially after she began pouting and threatening to take the item back to the store. Well, that ritual had worked just fine until he arrived home and found The Mirror.
On that day, as usual, she had prepared his favorite food for dinner, rice and beans, pork chops, and mofongo, in order to dull the edge off the shock of the item's cost. This time as usual, she intercepted him at the apartment-door entrance and effusively mentioned the wonderful dinner she had prepared just for him. But despite her efforts at distraction, he immediately noticed the mirrored that took up a third of the living room wall.
"What is that?" he asked in a calm voice that he always used before exploding.
"A mirror to adorn the living room! Isn't it beautiful?" she replied innocently.
"How much did it cost?" he said with an expressionless, tired face he always had when arriving from work, as if he had been subjected to some unmentionable ordeal for a full eight hours.
"Fifty dollars! Isn't it beautiful?""
Well, after arguing about how she was systematically reducing his savings, and how he regretted having given her access to the bank-account, things finally calmed down enough for an objective evaluation of the mirror.
It was indeed a beautiful rectangular mirror with with an extravagant golden- colored metal-frame with flowers festooning each corner. All of us agreed. However, it had one major and intolerable flaw, serious image-distortion.
We discovered this disturbing feature as we stood in front of it gazing at our fluctuating reflections. Dad was the first one to notice the anomaly. He had been looking more somber the more he gazed, as if he were gradually being subjected to an unbearable weight on his shoulders.
"What's wrong Hipolito?" my mother finally asked in response to his behavior. Nothing makes you happy does it? It's all about the money I spend, isn't it?"
“It’s a nice mirror and everything," he said cautiously, "but, let me tell you something, that reflection?"
"What about the reflection Hipolito?" she asked suspiciously suspecting he was just looking for away to reject the mirror.
"That is not me!” he finally blurted out after a long pause as if weighing the pros and cons of what he was about to say..
“What do you mean it’s not you?” my mom asked gazing at him as if he was a troublemaker.
“First, I admit that I have bags under my eyes, OK? But not those huge triple-bags, and not as swollen as the mirror is making them look.” He tapped the bags under his eyes several times each with his index fingers, so we could notice the difference.
“Also," he continued, "I am not as old and decrepit as that mirror is making me appear. It makes me look fifty, when I’m only thirty nine.”
“Maybe it’s your imagination!” my mother responded.
“Imagination? Ha! Are you saying that I look like that old geezer in that mirror? Is that what you are saying?”
“Well, time does take its toll! You can’t expect to look the way you looked fifteen years ago as a teenager in Puerto Rico, you know, Hipolito?”
“No! No! No! Señorita! I am sorry" he said while pacing back and forth and shaking his head.
"I will never admit that I look as acabau [as finished] as that mirror is making me look! By the way, you don’t look so good in that mirror either. In case you haven’t noticed.”
“What do you mean?” my mother responded with a worried look on her Native American like face.
“Are you that fat and hunchbacked?” he responded pointing at the mirror.
“What do you mean fat and hunchbacked?”
“Well. you look like you weigh two-hundred pounds in the mirror. Come on! Turn sideways and see for yourself. Ho! Ho! Look at that tremendous pot-belly. Makes you look like your six-months pregnant! That hunchback doesn’t look too good either”
“Caramba you are right!” my mother responded after having carefully observed herself from various angles. “I do look like I am a six-month, pregnant hunchback.
"Not only that, my father continued, "but look at Nelson [me]. That doesn't look like my son. My son doesn’t have a papera [double chin] and dark circles under his eyes. Look at the way it distorts his face as if he’s grimacing.”
“I don’t look that way!” I blurted out as I noticed my face changing dimensions depending on the angle I assumed.”
“How much did you pay for this crazy circus-mirror again?” my dad said frowning and squinting one of his small, dark eyes. He was tilting his head back and sideways as if bracing himself to receive a veritable slap from the reflection of himself.
"It cost just fifty dollars!"
"Fifty dollars in order to embitter your own existence? Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Tell me something, didn’t you notice that this infernal thing distorts you when you were there.”
“I liked the frame. Isn’t it beautiful?” my mom's still seemed under the spell of the mirror's splendor.
“Yeah, it’s beautiful alright! But just don’t dare look at yourself in it, because if you do, it will embitter your life."
Then after standing silently contemplating the indecent disaster that the mirror had managed to make his precious self-image:
"Well, why don’t you take it back? Just tell him you changed your mind. Make up some excuse. You know, the kind of excuses that you are an expert at making up? ”
“The store owner said that he doesn't give refunds!” my mother responded calmly.
“Oh really! Does that surprise you? Of course he would say no refunds. You know why? Eh? Because since he is a Zorro,[fox] he knows that if he gives refunds, you would take the mirror back as soon as you saw it disfigures your face.”
“Well, we can't take it back and that is that! Solution? Very simple." my mother uttered solemnly as if about to reveal some very profound wisdom garnered from the sages.
"Just don’t look at yourself in it. OK? Is anyone forcing you to look into it? Eh Hipolito?”
“Well, caramba! It’s hard not to look into it when it takes up one-fourth of the entire living room wall-and faces the kitchen and hallway entrances, don’t you think?”
“Well Hipolito, do you have a better suggestion?”
“In other words, what you are telling me, is that I just paid fifty dollars of the money I work like an animal to earn each day, for a mirror that I can’t look myself in because it distorts me?”
“We either do that or we throw it away! What is it going to be!” My mom said with arms akimbo.
After that initial conversation, the mirror remained on the living-room wall for about a week. But for some reason, we just couldn’t avoid glancing into it and seeing ourselves distorted. In fact, eventually we could easily tell who had seen himself in the mirror by the depressed mood that it inflicted.
"What's the matter Hipolito? You look morose!" she's ask my dad.
"I just accidentally looked at myself in that accursed mirror!" my dad would respond. The same occurred with me and my mom. We also would become depressed after seeing ourselves in it.
So in a desperate act of self-defense, they chose to relocated it to the very narrow apartment hallway. I for one was glad it was moved. My fragile adolescent ego was being battered whenever I accidentally caught sight of the gargoyle that supposedly was me. I already thought I was ugly and didn't need a mirror to constantly telling me that it was much worse than I suspected.
But even in the narrow hallway, we sometimes forgot and glanced at ourselves absentmindedly as we passed, or else we would catch a glimpse of our gargoyle visages via inevitable peripheral vision. Under that extreme duress, my father finally decided to defend himself by raising a hand to the side of his head as a blinder whenever he went hurriedly by it.
"I am not a bobo! I cover my eyes!" he announced proudly.
Soon, my mom and I were zealously copying his example. It became a kind of instinctive reflex-action. But being human, we forgot sometimes and:
“Caramba! I just saw my reflection by mistake. Forgot to cover the right sight of my face as I went by.” I once sadly announced.
"Don't be a bobo! Cover your eyes like your father and I do!" my mom kept reminding me.
This seemingly endless tableau continued, until the day that my parents were having one of their serious arguments in the apartment hallway. Right in the middle of the argument, I heard a brief scuffle, and then a sudden, loud crash. Then silence.
“We broke the mirror!” my mother finally said emotionlessly.
“Well, one benefit of having that argument is that we no longer have to deal with that infernal mirror!” my father replied, and heaved a deep sigh of relief.
“You know what? You are right!” my mother added as both began calmly picking up the pieces of glass from the narrow hallway floor, and bagging them in order to deposit them in the building's 11th-floor trash incinerator.
I for one was extremely glad that the mirror was finally gone. In hindsight, I should have accidentally-on-purpose destroyed it myself and done us all a favor much sooner.