A Ready-To-Wear Heart

It is quality rather than quantity that matters.
— Seneca

Have you ever noticed how — and I think it’s peculiar to women — we have an uncanny knack of giving ourselves to a heaping pile of cheap, small-spirited relationships, rather than a few large quality ones? It’s like going shopping at Walmart for our heart’s needs, because Chanel isn’t an option. We think ‘oh, I can’t afford a couture attachment to someone right now — so let’s go with off the rack to start with, and adjust it to fit. I mean, how bad can it be?’

It’s the equivalent of grabbing a shopping cart and being let loose in a Target of the Soul while we’re emotionally starving. Aisle One: the damaging ‘friendships’ we drift out of once our usefulness to the emotional vampire has ended. Aisle Two: baaaaad dates, that we end up regaling the few non-drifty friends with, over far too many martinis on a Tuesday night. Aisle Three: non-dates, who simply don’t show up, and end up filed in one of the many cardboard boxes of cautionary tales we keep carefully hidden in our psyches, under a sticker with ‘meh’ written on it. Sadly, not returnable. Usually marked down.

Then there’s Aisle Four: the abusers and users, who are eventually — eventually — put away in other boxes, ones with far more graphically worded labels, which tend to be stained with tears, sweat, and sometimes even blood and bruises.

Babe Paley, by Richard Avedon (American VOGUE)

Babe Paley, by Richard Avedon (American VOGUE)


I have done my share of these cheap relationships. At the time, of course, I thought they fitted me just fine. I ignored the way they rubbed against my senses, like a pair of on-sale shoes I was convinced were just right.

There’s usually a reason things are on sale. It’s because they have either been done to death, or they are of such bad quality, so shallow and meaningless, they should never have been available in the first place.

And there is always a clue, a sign, as to their hollow worth. It’s a bit like the difference between a great magic act, and a wanna-be Houdini who can’t quite hide the fake bottom in the cabinet, or the break in the unbreakable chains of doom.

The cheap relationships make us into the rule, not the exception. They turn us into the tawdry, the tired, the defeated. They take the shiny, pretty, sequins off our souls, and drop them on the worn floorboards of life’s changing room, leaving them scattered without thought or care. Their lack of honesty, or their envy, or whatever lies behind their inability to give freely shuts us into our own hearts and minds.
They tape up our emotional windows, giving us no chance to look outside, to make more of our intelligence and drive, and they push us down, down, and down again, into our own bargain basements, making us incapable of striving for the beauty and brilliance of the haute heart.

With someone who is a true quality investment — one who gives, as well as wants to be given to — whether they are a friendship, a partnership, a marriage, whatever the dynamic — there is always the sense of the extraordinary; a little bit of the ‘yes, I will pull the rabbit out of this hat, because I want you to believe in me’ shiver of excitement. Of that great magic act.

It’s about them making you feel special, and vice versa. Like you are the miracle, not the mundane. As though you could pull the rabbit out of the hat yourself, because their belief in you is just that strong.

As though you were born to walk into Dior, and simply say “oh there you are”, and yes, there they are. Waiting. A perfect fit.

No sale tags, no markdowns… and no grubby fingerprints on your senses — or your skin.