Losing the Wax – Padgett Powell (originally published in Subtropics)

How did I go from being full of bluster and cheer to being empty and afraid? Usually a man has to be incarcerated, or see his fellows slaughtered, or lose a child, or…doesn’t he? Normally, in a normal person, yes, I think a blow of some sort would be required to install the fearful void where there had been the hale stand-and-deliver. But a coward may just lose his sheen, as it were, and precipitate into his true state, overnight, or over a few nights, or over some modest period of time, without any sudden cause. The sheen after all was false, a gloss, like the thin wax sprayed on an apple.

The wax wears off. Spots appear, the flesh softens, consumers (friends, lovers) back off, and one is taken from the top shelf, even if just in his mind, and is headed for a bag to be sent to the sauce factory. One defense is a commensurate loss of mind, which will allow the sodden apple to be giddy about the saddening. The commensurate loss of mind can be voluntary, as a tactic of camouflage or diversion, or it may come naturally as a contingent wearing off of essentially the same wax. At any rate the empty, afraid, ex-hale, post-stand-and-deliver fool will not accept at first that his wax is gone and that he is in decline. And then he will.

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One Response to Losing the Wax – Padgett Powell (originally published in Subtropics)

  1. One of the best pieces of prose I’ve read in a long time. Seems like a man thing. A low T thing, but deeper than that. I just read it in Best Nonrequired Reading 2011.

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