……….All my life the useless, smooth, and lavish have given me pleasure. So I am here, seated in this tufted chair, in my finest worsted suit, like a man on a sinking ship. I get up and, in the mirror on the mantle, butter my hair.
……….Is all this fuss simply an elaborate garish mask?
……….How pitiful if true. It isn’t. I just like the crowding in of ornature, despite my long-lost Mormon ancestors, from whom I did inherit: Obscene utopianism, the belief that Christ and Lucifer were brothers, and yes—exodus, the West. That’s all in my blood. My people were massacred on the flatlands, chased from their tents and shot.
……….This period, too, is refractory. Just last week, a man lit himself on fire and tried to burst into the courtyard through the porte-cochere, and the pig iron gate was up.
……….As for the opal curtains trimmed with golden tassel, I love them. I love how I have drawn them hastily against the windowpanes to hide the room’s interior. And this room—a tableau so immaculate it seems in miniature: A burgundy Persian rug ringed by paisley armchairs and a velvet couch; a hearth with fire irons in an urn; a wall lined with shelves of antique pewter plates; and on the piano, by the window, a dozen glass apples twinkle in the tremerous citrine candlelight.
……….Opulence is my grist.
……….Let’s begin. I have rested my arm on the mantle by the family photographs. I have lit kindling in the fireplace. Against my face the shadows flicker, like the shadows of trees in clear water. And I have drained the white Beaune from my crystal flute.
……….Here I am, smoothing my slacks, setting my watch, clearing my throat. To the roses in the silver vase I say:
……….—We are who we are. Why grow?