Too Many Men

Too Many Men by Lily Brett Read Free Book Online

Book: Too Many Men by Lily Brett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lily Brett
why it was called wild. They were both twenty-nine. He was a painter. He painted large, almost monastic, medita-tive abstract paintings. Gray and black strokes quietly placed on the canvas.
    She loved to watch him paint. He painted the mystical marks with rough, firm gestures. When he used color, it was muted and elegant. Pale aqua oblong ellipses, interspersed with shadows of themselves, swam like fish across a bare background. Ruth found his paintings surprisingly calming.
    Painting, art, of any sort, was not part of her world before she had met Garth Taylor. He was not as self-contained as his paintings. He touched and laughed and cried. He was unself-conscious. His clothes were not the carefully chosen, studiedly casual working-class clothes of the art world.
    He dressed more like a moderately successful accountant. He wore gabar-dine trousers and plain shirts. But he was unlike any accountant Ruth knew.
    He was unlike most other people she knew. He was tactile and sensual.
    He allowed mango juice to drip down his face when he ate the fruit. He pulled lobsters apart with his fingers and sucked the flesh out of the claws.
    The filaments of fish or intestines or liquid that sometimes sprayed out at him left him unperturbed.
    “I’ve never loved anybody so utterly,” Garth Taylor said to her, days after they met. He seemed to love all of her. He loved her body. Nobody, including Ruth, had ever loved her body. When Garth told her she was beautiful, she pointed out the lack of proportion between the top half of her and the bottom. “I love the feel of you,” he said to her over and over again. “I’m too fat,” she replied.

    T O O M A N Y M E N
    [ 2 9 ]
    “She is fat,” was the worst thing Rooshka Rothwax could say about another female. Fat men were not quite in the same category. “She is so slim,” was her mother’s highest accolade. It didn’t appear to matter if the slim girl or woman was clever or stupid or kind or arrogant. If she was slim, she was to be admired. Edek also derided fat people. He didn’t seem to notice he was one of them himself. He had spent most of his adult life twenty to thirty pounds overweight. He was still a bit chubby now.
    Ruth’s mother’s slim figure was admired by everyone. “I was always a slim girl,” Rooshka Rothwax used to say. “I was never fat.” Ruth thought that her mother saw greed and lack of self-control stitched into every fat cell in existence. “In the ghetto I never ate my bread straightaway,” her mother would say to her. “I was a human being. Not a pig. Even when I was starving.” “In Auschwitz,” Rooshka would say, “if someone was fat you knew that they were doing something that was making the lives of the other Jews worse.”
    The Nazis caricatured Jews as short and fat. Rooshka Rothwax spent the rest of her life, after the war, determined to be tall and thin. She added two and a half inches to her height and never overate. “Are you sure you’re five foot four?” Ruth had asked her mother once. Ruth was nine, at the time. They had measured Ruth’s height at school. “You’re five foot two,”
    the gym teacher had said to Ruth. “I can’t be,” Ruth had said. “I’m taller than my mother and she’s five foot four.” “I am five foot four,” Rooshka Rothwax had said in answer to Ruth’s question. “I am tall for a woman,”
    her mother had said. “You are too tall. You are so tall because you eat so many sweets.” Ruth had thought her mother hadn’t known about the sweets. Rooshka had never mentioned the assorted sweet wrappers Ruth left lying around.
    When Ruth reached five foot nine, she tried to stop eating sweets. She was already taller than all of the boys in her class. She ate no sweets or chocolate for a week. She didn’t shrink. She went back to her two packets of musk Lifesavers after school, and the bag of chocolate-coated broken biscuits she bought in the grocery store every morning. She remained at five foot

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