Reality Skimming
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Vandalizing GQ by Lynda Williams

Vandalizing GQ by Lynda Williams

fall 2000 (rev. Fall 2001)

I had to pick something to read at the coffee shop. There were magazines chock full of women's fashions -- or GQ..

Honestly, I did look for Time or Discover before I picked GQ.

GQ, for anyone who hasn't flipped through it, is full of pictures of male models. Well, okay, it's supposed to be about the clothes. Half the models look too smug to inspire anything but the desire to prove them wrong about being 'to die for', but I was thinking it would be nice if I could arrange to substitute one of the other half for my husband's Samantha Fox screensaver when I turned a page and there he was.

Amel.

Or at least someone who looked close enough to how I have imagined him that I could not believe my eyes.

Fortunately, he was face down.

Amel is unrealistically beautiful, which is intrinsic to his problems and character. But since my idea of utterly gorgeous may not, quite, be yours, that makes illustration a challenge. I remember talking with our first editor, Lynn, about the impossibility of using his face for a cover and have fantasized about using computer enhancement in the (hypothetical) movie portrayal. As it turned out, Amel is going to appear on the cover of Throne Price, but that's another story.

The GQ picture which so struck my fancy portrayed a youthful college student passed out on a red coverlet beneath filtered morning light from the dorm window, Walkman and discarded headphones lying close at hand. His flawless, athletic form is naked from the waist up, silky black hair arrayed with careless artistry, and a black choker around his throat. His no doubt expensive jeans are a little baggy, giving the impression of someone unselfconscious of his physical perfection and certainly unaware of being admired.

Amel, in short, minus a few Earthly artifacts, and sprawled on a bed to boot. Even someone as fond of Amel as I am must admit that is pretty much natural habitat.

I knew I had to have that picture. Not to use in any public way, of course, since it clearly belongs to the model, or GQ. I had to have it just to stick it up on my wall in the basement where I write. I have a few such artifacts in my den which, for one reason or another, feed my muse. Like the 'natural history' sketch of a dragon in a misty forest done by a young, local artist; my scrapping dilophosaurses from the Carnegie Collection of figures; a plush R2D2 and my eight year old daughter's art.

But I did the honorable thing. I put the magazine back in the rack, after memorizing it was the September 2000 edition.

It was a Saturday but I was on my way to work. Soon as I could after that, I went to the best stocked news store I knew to see if I could buy the needful issue of GQ. To my horror, I was told they were already off the racks, even though it was still - just barely - September.

All the way back to the coffee shop, I thought about how I might reasonably explain my desire to buy the magazine I wanted, or request permission to extract the desired two pages my 'almost Amel' sprawled across. Surely no one would care much! Excuse me, but I really have to have the picture of that young man on the bed, in your magazine. Thanks.

In the end I chickened out.

So I picked up the magazine and took it to the bathroom where I tore those two pages out.

The picture is now on my wall. The newest of my talisman to call my muse: like the carved moose puzzle I received for reading in Mackenzie, or my father's billy tin from World War II. I tore it a little, extracting it, and some of the details are wrong. Amel, of course, isn't a college student or a model.

He belongs to the Okal Rel Universe, not ours.

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