Friday, July 15, 2005

Bells on a Platter

Thanks to Agatha, I'll never look at bells quite the same way again.

God knows why, but I remember Dina mentioning on the ride back from Las Vegas that this certain Catholic saint is often depicting carrying what would appear to be two bells on a plate. Dina said that a lot of people didn't realize that the two objects she held were actually her severed breasts, her martyrdom having results from horrific body mutilation.

This thought rings in my head today out of nowhere and I finally decided to Google "bells on platter breasts saint" to see if anything remotely resembling what Dina said exists in the vast compendium of knowledge that floats online. And Dina's right.

Saint Agatha died sometime in the third century, during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Decius. Agatha ended up in a brothel but so valued her virginity that she refused her customers, even under pain of beatings and torture. Eventually, Agatha's breasts were crushed and cut off from her body. Today, she is apparently one of the more highly revered virgin martyrs — better than that slovely Saint Agnes.

But Agatha also came to be the patroness of bellmakers, an odd association that only makes sense when you learn that artistic renderings of Agatha in paintings and stained glass showed her holding the symbols of her Christian dedication — her severed femininity — on a plate. Show and tell for martyrs, if you will. Let's be glad they didn't cut something else off. Often, however, these depictions were not realistic enough that people could spot the objects as breasts. They became bells or even bakes goods, and eventually the misinterpretation became so entrenched that some artists eventually drew her with bells and baked goods that looked nothing like breasts.

I did a quick search for images of Saint Agatha and found a few good ones. Here you can see here with the plate, but I don't see how anyone save the very prudish or naive could mistake the objects she's presenting as anything besides breasts. They're slightly more abstracted here, in this smaller painting.

Agatha's devotees celebrate her feast day on February 5. In her native Catania, some bake marzipan treats, which are eaten in her honor. The treats are called minne de vergine. I'm not sure what that translates to exactly, but I could take a guess. "Oh mom, I love your sugared virgin breasts! Another? I couldn't!"

Oh, Catholicism.

It's just too appropriate that news of the bell-breast-saint-virgin-martyr would come from Dina, of all people.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Did Talent Alone Help Camilla?

I need a job. And a hug.

But job first, please.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Don't Tell Bombay Hilton

So last Thanksgiving easily ranks as the best Thanksgiving I've ever had. But I never wrote about it here. Thanksgiving 2004 escaped the sweeping gaze of the Cereal Box because writing about it wouldn't have been very good without visual aids to help demonstrate why this one Thanksgiving — notably, a Thanksgiving spent in the dorms in Washington D.C. instead of in the comforts of home — rocked.

I finally have the visual aids. Monique finally got off her ass and mailed out the photos we took on her camera immediately after the celebration. I think a little context might help first, though.

So after I had normal turkey dinner at Tristan's house in Bethesda, I went back to the dorm, which were nearly deserted but where Monique, Deanna and Daniel were watching a movie together. As movie snacks, the girls has prepared a tray of french fries — the kind that live in the freezer in a plastic bag — and three bowls of dipping substance: ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce. The girls had also made a big pot of chocolate pudding.

Now, when I got to the girls' room, they had already lost interest in the movie and were mildly drunk. I started drinking and, at some point, somebody suggested that we listen to music instead. At this point, the hanging out gave way to some kind of weird, competitive dance party. I can't remember why.

Then it happened.

I'm not sure exactly when or why. The precise moment exists during a foggy, gray spot in my memory. But in a matter of seconds, the dance contest turned into a food fight, involving wild slinging of four of the gooiest, stainiest substances known to the kitchen: chocolate pudding, barbecue sauce, mustard and ketchup. It was a full-on food fight, with the red, brown, yellow and purple flying into people's eyes, mouths and nostrils. I myself had someone cup a handful of barbecue sauce into my nose. The sensation felt like a runny nose, so I kept instinctively sniffling, which made me gag because my entire head was invaded with barbecue.

And then there's all the stuff that didn't make it onto anyone's body. This got all over the dorm carpet, kitchen cabinets, furniture, appliances and ceiling. I estimate the fight lasted a good ten minutes, at which point we had depleted our ammunition, caught our breaths and had the realization. "What the fuck did we just do?" After changing and soaking our soiled clothes, we returned to the scene of the crime, turned the music back on and had a cleaning-dance party until about four in the morning.

So with that said, here are the pictures. (The blurry, light-leaky quality of these pictures might come from the fact that I had previously filled Moe's purse with salt, thus scratching her camera. I can't have any fun without destroying other people's material goods, I guess.)

And here we all are. But I think I could just as easily give this photo a caption like "Family of the Red Sun: fall slaughter group pic!" and it would be passable.

As you can see, the combination of the various glops resulted in a color and texture that one usually associates with ritual murders. Or car accidents. Regardless, Daniel and Moe look pretty happy about it.

Blood sisters.

Again, I look like I'm not taking it so well. But I really did enjoy the whole thing. Note the glob of purple in my ear. Though I washed it out as well as I could in the shower, there was a single, perfect, purple circle on my pillow the next morning, where my ear had drained out the last of the barbecue sauce. So much worse than a hangover.

De looks like a corpse! What a nut, that De!

Now she reminds me of Lyndie England. Just a little. That De!

And here is Daniel, actually wielding the ketchup bottle.

So all of this happened without word ever getting to Nidhi, the girls' tiny roommate. Good thing, too — I have no idea how much of the security deposit went to stain removal. Every now and then, we'd be in the dorm and spot a strip of wood paneling where'd we'd neglected to clean the splattered condiments. And then we'd have to distract Nidhi while we cleaned it. Or Moe cleaned it. I just hope Nidhi's not reading this now.

Rug burns and sore limbs and barbecue sauce-swimmer's ear aside, I hope this post-Thanksgiving food fight becomes an annual tradition or a yearly custom.