ORCHARD OF THE GOLDEN APPLES
She never let him cut her. Docteur Beau Tétravaux, who is the creator deity of The California Beauty Factory, may have been chosen to co-host the annual Golden Apples Pageant for The Most Divine, but Selendra refuses cosmetic surgery.
The California Beauty Factory is a universe and Dr. Beau Tétravaux is its Big Bang. It is a Régime of distaff discipline, diction, discourse, diet, depilation, deportment, demeanor, dance, dysmorphia, and doinking, indeed.
Dr. Beau Tétravaux is warning Selendra, “You do know that you are going to be dans les concurrents supérieurs (within the top contestants), don’t you? Mousse, Victoria, Chera, and you, ma chérie, each of you are so ‘sure’ that you are the fairest creation since the Un-Do Button.”
Selendra asks, “And what does Señora Espejo think?” Señora Espejo has long been associated with the Golden Apples pageantry. She is Dr. Beau Tétravaux’s gadfly counterpart with her Manhood Academy. Señora Espejo’s famous quote is:
In this world, that which is truly important is no longer left to chance. You can live by the Design of Nature, or you can live by the Nature of Design. Those who live by the Design of Nature want and those who live by the Nature of Design give.
Dr. Beau Tétravaux is dismissive, “Señora Espejo? What is she to you? What she thinks about women is mode à reculons (fashion backwards).”
Selendra taunts, “And yet she is co-hosting the Apples with you; won't that make her a hectoring reflection?”
Dr. Beau Tétravaux puckers, “Ooooo, if only Wit were a Talent Category: you wouldn’t have to rely on your Freestyle Rap performance.”
Selendra waves away his piqûres (jabs), asking, “So, what do you have for me today?”
Dr. Beau Tétravaux leers, “A Trojan horse.” For it is Dr. Beau Tétravaux who instructs the Bed Test course himself.
Selendra blushes at the coup.
Selendra was enrolled as a young girl into The California Beauty Factory by her father, Kebenaran Dunia, the CEO of Avidya Communications. He would always say to her “Beauty is currency in this world.”
Selendra’s mother had objected to that enrollment, saying, “Women are only the currency of your ambition.”
Kebenaran soothed, “I should have said that femininity, the feminine principle, is the currency of our world. Beauty is its denomination,” and tilting his head to her in a calculated move from his youth, “You are my treasure.”
Selendra’s mother would not be soothed, “I am your wife, the mother of that child.”
Kebenaran grew ominously conciliatory, “I am sure that you do not forget history. When tribes, and even states, encountered one another they exchanged beautiful women and beautiful men to purchase the peace between them. Would you return us to the masculine principle of War? Although, War was once indeed the sole forge for the greatest material advances of Man: flight, food preservation, the internet, virtual sex, …”
Selendra’s mother dared to challenge, pronouncing, “Woman is the forge of Man’s soul. And what is this Man’s world now but warfare dissimulated? Men like you have fouled the forge, creating this world to stave off the feared obsolescence of your own version of masculinity!”
Kebenaran’s jaws grew tight, annealing fury, saying, “You sound like a Leper,” using the common slang term for those who still believed in the Design of Nature.”
Selendra’s mother must have known the consequences of her words, and yet she spoke, “Any sufficiently advanced concept is feminine. You yourself say ‘It is so easy a woman could do it’. It is the emblem of excellence, of elegant design. You know it, you admit it without realizing, and yet you have found a way to arrogate power. You men are all afraid, aren’t you?”
Selendra’s mother was banished soon thereafter by her father for such opposition. Her mother had been a ’38 Beauty Factory mint. Kebenaran was then legally owed and received a full refund of bridewealth from The California Beauty Factory. Dr. Beau Tétravaux had told Kebenaran by way of apology, “Sometimes this can happen. It is the risk of the liberal education that is a standard feature,” to which Kebenaran had muttered, “Perhaps you should consider redesigning your approach to their education. It could be a commercial advantage and a good selling point for The California Beauty Factory,” an idea which Dr. Beau Tétravaux raised at the next board meeting, stating, “Competition from others, especially the state-owned Venezuelan Beauty Factory, is stiffer than a Viagra overdose.”
Selendra now imagines the men and women of great power and wealth who await the winners of the Golden Apples. They bid for immediate ownership. Lesser men and women await lesser graduates of The Beauty Factory in all the franchise showroom runways, bidding to qualify for a mort gaige (death pledge), an old term for “until death parts us”.
Selendra has heard from a secret Leper friend that her mother now lives in a Hindu monastery. Selendra lately dreamed of her mother, asking in that dream, “Mother, is this dream of you a sign of my weakness?” and in that dream her mother replied, “Do not doubt yourself. It is I who have dreamt you. My dearest Selendra, you are going to be a ’57 Beauty Factory, minted for joy.”
One need only pass unscarred through the orchard of the Golden Apples.
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