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The Essay
Show #116
The Mysterious Madame Vestris
David Gunn
The Mysterious Madame Vestris is surely a metaphor for our time, especially for Arizona Daylight Time and for that shadowy waking time around 10 past 6 in the morning on the Kelvin scale. Although the Mysterious Madame purportedly left the mortal plain 141 years ago this weekend, she has recently been seen in second hand stores throughout New Mexico and Chile. This, too, is a metaphor for our time.

The Mysterious Madame lived in total seclusion near Boston but for 27 handmaidens and one manservant, an abundantly tattooed Polynesian named BaBob. She, and they, lived in a rambling old stone and steel building which had once been the Babcock Loston Foundry in London which, you may think, is not so very near Boston, but which decidely is when compared with the distance to the Babcock asteroid belt, which BaBob often did.

Babob's oddest tattoo -- and one which he claimed was self-etched under the guidance of an intelligent paranormal entity with zippers -- extended from his latissimus dorsi to his adam's apple. It seemed to be a blueprint for an addition to a house, complete with a list of construction materials. With the Madame's encouragement, he procured and assembled the odd assortment of materials. When he was done, the former foundry front porch had a new deck made entirely out of zinc, which, too, was a metal floor for our time.

The Mysterious Madame had a face which could politely be described as unforgettable. Her limpid eyes reminded one of reflective pools of hot tar in which small ruminants became trapped, sometimes for centuries. They were dangerously deep brown in color, midway between a khaki and a Cleveland brown. Her nose could have been pressed from a waffle iron, the steady seepage from her nostrils serving to remind one of the gustatory pleasures of fresh maple syrup. Her mouth and gums were distended from engaging in numerous oral badminton volleys when she was young, and the residual phosphorescence produced an eerie orange glow visible just before dawn. Her ears, often mistaken for cartilaginous potholders, could pick up the sound of ventriloquistic field mice at 300 yards. Her eyebrows never stopped growing and were quite long. Two handmaidens coifed them daily into three-dimensional representations of Babob's tattoos.

A prolific tinkerer, Madame Vestris invented the warehouse sale, the spot quiz, the paisley, many of the words which begin with the letter K in the Revised Standard Boston Lexicon of 1840, a rudimentary forerunner of the tokamak, and le flambeau oriange. If she had not been born in 1797, she would have invented herself, although shortcomings in genetic engineering might have delayed her arrival for 199 years.

But what does the appearance, disappearance, and potential resurrection of the Mysterious Madame have to do with this, the 116th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this portion of which has been granted permission to use any K word from the Revised Standard Boston Lexicon of 1840 including but not limited to the moniker to which our lenient microphonist most favorably responds, Kalvos? What, indeed!

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