“Advertisements for Herself: Come Back, Not-So-Little Sheba”

February 4, 2009

me-maskMaralyn Lois Polak • Operation Itch Contributing Writer header
©2009 ML Polak
see all posts by MLP


No one understood why a decade or so ago, “Sheba,” not her real name, subsequently herein known as “She,” gladly tossed aside her barely scuffed 27 pairs of second-hand cowgirl boots and tottered away from her vaguely glamorous if sodden dream-job of two decades as a professional, um, mainstream journalist, profiling more than 1.2 thousand of the most famous of American celebrities, Oprah included, in an award-winning nationally syndicated magazine interview column praised by some deluded Podunk media maven for her “ability to go up the aorta and into the ego.”

Only now, nearly but not quite completely recovered from her ensuing dissolute downward spiral of booze, drugs, pretty boys, whips, chains, Ben-Wah Balls, capsicum nipple paint, intermittent hooking, petty theft of rare Fifties flea market finds, compulsive fellatio, Pizza binges, Margarita orgies, filthy public poetry performances, sordid swing and swap scenes, bulimia, rampant hypochondria, fetishizing rejection and abuse as sexual foreplay, stalking, lascivious solo shows at the Fringe Festival, exorbitantly witty phone sex banter, garden-variety exhibitionism, and general self-indulgence and excess in the name of art, can She reclaim the books She wrote during that troubled, dissolute decade and offer them to the world for possible publication.

Hard to believe, but, all her life, or at least up until then, She actually believed She was well-balanced. Silly gurl! How could She be the last to discover She probably suffered from a maladaptive emotional syndrome known as “Hysteroid Dysphoria”? Meaning, someone pathetically obsessed with being the center of attention through any means possible: lurid language, loud clothing, intrusive laughter, exotic jewelry, excessive cleverness, peculiar-looking male companions, bitchy whining, aberrant sexuality, weirdly human pets, spellbound hangers-on, you name it.

No wonder so far She’s never been able to finish reading her favorite book, Marie-Louise von Franz’s elusive Jungian masterwork, Puer Aeternus. Wickipedia says von Franz even wrote on “active imagination,” a kind of conscious dreaming: “Active imagination is a certain way of meditating imaginatively, by which one may deliberately enter into contact with the unconscious and make a conscious connection with psychic phenomena.” What a goddess!

Hey! When Literature becomes Life, watch out!

For instance: She fixated on a fascinating documentary film, Pola Rapaport’s “THE WRITER OF O,” highlighting the unusual story behind the creation of “THE STORY OF O,” which overwhelmed her with parallels between “Pauline Reage’s” classic novel and, yes, her own, Swanson’s Swansong, which, She confesses was, to her deluded mind, simply put, the 21st Century’s “STORY OF O!!!”


Naturally, her logic was illogical. “THE STORY OF O,” published in 1954, was a scandalous, elegantly written, controversial sadomasochistic novel, shocking for its time, and, as it turns out, rather than an autobiographical account of sordid ecstasy as it might have seemed, was actually Reage’s pure fantasy, a luridly imaginative work by a meek and mild and rather plain middle-aged woman, intended as a literary “gift” for her married lady-killer lover, a work created out of an obsession with holding his interest, to please him and recapture his flagging sensual attention, since the author was, at the time, in her 40s.


And so She believed her book, like Reage’s, was also a scandalous sadomasochistic novel, similarly created out of literary obsession, inspired by a year’s enthrallment with a powerful and anonymous imaginary ‘lover’ — the quixotic, and yes, very married Colorado cad and bounder Sal DiBreviary, who became transmogrified, in her book, into a witty, literate “conceptual artist” and girls high school home-ec coach, never revealing his real identity and never conversing on the telephone but nevertheless exerts an amazing power, via language, over our heroine through the bondage of the written word.


She’s certain her book, like Pauline Reage’s, also explores “the thorny relationship between sexuality and power, submission and freedom, liberation and non-being,” as well as the spiritual component of such self-abnegation. Besides being the definitive work on this issue, She saw her own book as, also, of course, Cerebral Chick Lit, Reality Fiction, Seinfeld in Cyberspace, picaresque post-modern metafiction, dancing on paper, and more.


Sigh. She’s better now. Aren’t you glad?

This is her truth. What is life, after all, but a series of interlocking narratives? Finally, via intensive, rigorous psychotherapy with a pitiless Brit domme-shrink until her health insurance ran out, She’s unlearned her addictions, curbed her rampant promiscuity, embraced her inner Venus of Willendorf, stopped dyeing her hair that silly shade Putrescent Eggplant, and erased the oh-so-fine line between fiction and lying. There’s more, some of it tragic, but this will have to suffice for now. Yes, She’s deeply shallow, so what? Deal with it.

Meanwhile, She lays in wait, a languorous odalisque on a red-velvet Empire settee, seeking yet another comeback someday soon, hoping She’ll be snagged by the right book publisher/literary agent/ movie director/TV producer/cab driver. Stranger things have happened! If an erstwhile Onion editor’s screenplay for “The Wrestler” can enrapture Hollywood, why can’t She!



© Copyright 2009 ML Polak/All Rights Reserved. DO NOT reproduce or disseminate in ANY form via any medium under penalty of beheading. Yes, you can link to me. But that’s it. Contact author for syndication rates and tell your local newspaper editor they need to run this column before actual newspapers go extinct like the dodo, the auk, the bison, and real men.


ML Polak — it’s not a pen-name, it’s a real person! – is an award-winning Philadelphia-based journalist, screenwriter, essayist, novelist, editor, spoken-word artist, performance poet, workshop leader, lecturer, cat-and-dog companion, Reiki channel, and occasional radio personality. With architect Benjamin Nia, she completed a short documentary film about the threatened demolition of a historic neighborhood, “MY HOMETOWN: Preservation or Development?” on DVD. She is the author of several books including the collection of literary profiles, “The Writer as Celebrity: Intimate Interviews,” and her latest volume of poetry, “The Bologna Sandwich and Other Poems of LOVE and Indigestion.” her books can be ordered by contacting her directly via email: Langwidge (at) aol dot com. 


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