The Man Who Made His Wife

The oldest story. The oldest delusion.

Once upon a time in a small village just north of Gdansk, there lived an old inventor. Except that maybe it was New York, 1922, and the old man was a failing producer. No, wait, I don’t think it was.

The hero of our tale is an ambitious plastic surgeon, Berlin, July 13th, 2005. It doesn’t matter. My story is the same. Does it ever change?

Now, the old man sits by his window, and watches all the great beauties of Gdansk flood past the markets. And he sees their fading youth, their uneven teeth, and their creasing skin. “Oh!” He says. “If only I could have a perfect bride.” So he begins to make one, from wood, iron and stone.

Or maybe it was the producer, in his blue car on 5th Ave, who saw the nymph-like innocence of the young girl with big brown eyes and cardboard soled shoes. And he resolved to change her, there in the blizzard, into a movie star. To make her the perfect woman.

No, it was Hans, cold, unfeeling Hans who lived in the minimalist flat overlooking Frau Haeger’s garden. And he saw her picking roses in the summer and felt something stir at the warmth of her skin. He would ripen her beneath his knife.

And so the inventor carved his unfeeling bride without a heart, the producer taught the young girl how to dance in her new shoes, and the German surgeon made Frau Haeger as youthful as her roses. And yet, they realised their folly.

When the inventor kissed his bride beneath the canopy, he felt only wood and the taste of chalk paint, cold like her heart, unable to love in her eternal hard youth. And he watched his friends with their aging wives grow closer and warmer each day as he grew alone.

The producer found his brown eyed virgin with the cardboard shoes in an en suite at The Palais Hotel, swaying delirious on chloral hydrate and champagne as a young man groped at her silk dressing gown. Her words rang in his ears for fifty years.

Did you really think you could make me love you did you did you Harry I never loved you

And the surgeon, who carved away his object’s cheeks with steel and took the curve of her waist? He found her laughter too raucous, her cooking too rich, her education too limited. And he looked at his beautiful creation and realised he despised her.

Because all men learn this, if only this, that a woman is not an automaton, nor an automaton a woman.

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