March 18, 2009
The Girl In The Roses
With a smog headache, Edie sits in her cage on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, her knees hugged tightly up against the metal, the chemical-hot Los Angeles sunshine emanating down on her a therapeutic warmth like pill-induced sleep. In the strapless white cotton ball dress Edie made herself, crisscrossed now with cage rust, she calmly sweats.
‘Isn’t that Edie Stall?’ a Gap-dunked, still-faced stage mother and her mini-me approach the cage. ‘Excuse me, are you Edie Stall?’ she asks.
‘The Girl in the Roses!’ the little girl says, a thin orange layer of spray-tan coating the perfection of her John Benet skin.
They often refer to Edie as this: The Girl In The Roses. From the movie in which Edie bathed in roses with roses on her nipples, a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of roses sprinkling down on her in the fantasy of the horny neighbor father. The movie is why Edie can afford to sit here in the middle of the day inside the cage interrupting the paths of people who don’t have time to think, who can’t afford to. She won’t say problem, but the trouble with having time to think is that it becomes hard to communicate with those who don’t have the time to.
‘Yes, hi. I’m Edie,’ she makes the motion to extend her hand and it bumps against the cage metal. ‘Oh. Right. I forgot. I can’t shake your hand. I can’t move past the boundaries of this cage. Can’t interact with other life because…’
‘Are you with PETA?’ the mother cuts in. She has an ‘easy’ haircut and a Botox-bloated string-pulled face like a marionette. ‘Because PETA are a bunch of hypocrites who put dogs in freezers…’
‘I’m not with anyone,’ says Edie. ‘I’m here trying to show people about the food they eat. About how it ‘lives’ ,’ her knuckles bang the roof of the cage in her attempt to do air quotes.
Along the boulevard, cars sporadically honk at Edie in passing, unable to discern exactly who she is or what she’s doing, but sensing disruption and wanting to be a part of it.
‘I guess you can’t sign autographs from in there,’ the woman taps her acrylic nail on the cage. ‘I mean, I’d tip you or donate or whatever you call it, but you have no jar…’
‘There’s a basket of flyers beside the cage,’ Edie says. ‘I’d pass you one but…’
‘-I get it,’ the woman says.
‘Why’s she in a cage?’ the little girl asks as her mother herds her away.
In the exhausted midday heat, Edie’s head is floating away like a metallic KFC wrapper in the wind. She wouldn’t mind that bath of roses now.
‘This a magic trick or somethin?’ some guys in baby blue sideways caps and matching pinneys approach. ‘Aren’t you hot in there? I mean you’re obviously hot, but…’
Edie knows she has Barbie appeal. Her Timotei-blonde hair thick like a horse tail, her teeth denture perfect, her eyes as blue as gum. But Edie has never understood why people value blonde hair and blue eyes so much, why they value the recessive genes – the ones more likely to disappear. The bitchy girls in high school used to call her Smushed Barbie Head (the unfortunate fate that befell those Barbies whose heads had popped off – attempts to smush their severed heads back onto their plastic necks failing to uncave their features so that they never looked quite the same again.) Edie thinks it’s funny, how much people have to say about the way she looks, but as long as they’re looking it’s one step closer to listening.
‘I’m dehydrated,’ Edie tells the guys. ‘Overheated. Cramped. Stir-crazy. ‘But mostly I’m lonely. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. I’d peck myself to death if they hadn’t chopped off my beak.’
‘Girl, you whack,’ the baby blue melato guy chuckles. ‘Damn fine, but whack.’
‘Aren’t you famous and shit?’ one guy in a baby blue wifebeater pipes in. ‘Why don’t you go lay out by your pool or some shit? Get one of your assistants to do this shit for you?’
‘Go-Go, Go Vegan!’ a guy with a fuchsia faux-hawk leans out of his passing car to yell, grasping the Chicken Woman concept.
‘You want some help outta there?’ the melato guy asks, his gold chains appearing filled with chocolate.
”I would love to get out of here,’ Edie says, almost in tears. ‘But then there would be no hot wings or drumsticks or Mcnuggets….’
‘Okay…’ the guys laugh. ‘So you’re trying to tell us not to eat chicken.’
‘I would never tell you not to eat me,’ Edie tells the guys. ‘But I am here to remind you of the possibility of free-range to begin with…’
‘She said eat me,’ the guy with the shelf-straight baby blue cap laughs.
‘There are flyers beside the…’ Edie says as they walk away, an imprint of the square caging leaving perfect quadratic welts along her butt like she’s not part chicken, but part rubix cube.
‘Yo, eat this bitch,’ she hears one of the guys joke to his friends down the street.
‘I don’t want any, lady!’ A man speeds past honking his Hummer, what he doesn’t want any of, a mystery to him as well as Edie – at 80 miles an hour, Edie could very well look like a caged foetus.
Her neck beginning to ache from being arched over, the cage meant for a small dog, blood begins to gather in Edie’s forehead. Two more hours.
Edie thought about posing naked for PETA. She thought about taking a bucket of red paint with her to the Oscars. But those things – while they may have done something for animal rights – would do nothing for Edie.
On Tuesday, she took her electric guitar and synthesizer to the Wet Grind and beat six white pillowcases full of red feathers with a baseball bat to a song she’d written called: ‘You Say Their Eyes Aren’t Like Your Dog’s.’ The previous week, she’d been unable to sleep without awakening to the feeling of her head being bashed in with a hakapik like the baby Canadian Harp Seals she’d been seeing pictures of. As the red feathers wafted down into the crowd (her performance – Edie felt – better than any of that polished crap she’d given MGM), half the audience stood up and left the bar. The other drunker half stayed, begging Edie: ‘show us your tits!’ They’d probably never seen a seal in their lives. Probably thought Canada was in New Mexico.
‘So, Edie – what’s up with the cage?’ a one eyed man with a large camera perched on his shoulder approaches Edie, his other eye through the lense, recording her. ‘TMZ,’ he says. Another man comes to stand in front of him with a mic.
‘We’re here with Edie Stall on Hollywood Boulevard,’ the man says into a microphone. ‘Edie, would you like to explain to our viewers what you’re doing here today?’
TMZ is a toss up. They might put Edie on tomorrow’s Nip-Slip list, and yet they have the most traffic of any gossip site on the net. Plus, it’s not like she can run…
‘Life!’ Edie says, balled up inside the cage, her face squished between her knees. ‘We need to start examining the systematic, unquestioned daily slaughter of edible life.’
The gimmicky TMZ headline materializes in her head as she says it: ‘Edible Edie’. Damn.
‘You have a key, right?’ the cameraman leans down to whisper to Edie, the camera undoubtedly still on. ‘You’re looking a little dehydrated in there, Edie.’
‘No,’ Edie says. ‘You have the key.’
The interviewer calls her ‘cooky’ to the camera, then goes on to make some Finger Lickin’ jokes.
Cooky. That Edie’s feet are not roller-balls welded to a metallic track between the Beverly Centre, Starbucks, the Ivy, and Les Deux. Cooky that Edie is not dancing inside the cage in a thong.
Edie wishes she could go to Supercuts after this and have a girl with a holster of scissors chop off all her hair, but her hair is her Flamethrower Chicken Sandwich. Her starlet pheromones her twelve piece bucket. Sweat runs like grease down Edie’s back in the relentless sun.
‘Someone get that girl out of that cage!’ Edie hears as her vision dissects into a dark hexagonal blur. ‘Get her out of there!’ Edie hears from the encircling crowd, her pain feathering down like rose petals.