Oh Loulou!

“Loulou can’t remember exactly how she got mixed up with the poets. It wasn’t that she had any special thing for poets as such: it just happened that way. After the first one, the others just seemed to follow along naturally, almost as if they were tied to each other in a long line with a piece of string. They were always around, and she was so busy most of the time that she didn’t go out much to look for other types of men. Now that her business is doing so well you’d think she’d have more leisure time, but that just isn’t the case. And any leisure time she does have, she spends with the poets. They’re always nagging her about working too hard.

Bob was the first one, and also her first husband. He was in art school at the same time she was, until he decided he wasn’t suited for it. He wasn’t practical enough, he let things dry out: paint, clay, even the leftovers in his tiny refrigerator, as Loulou discovered the first night that she’d slept with him…

What he’d…said was that he’d fallen in love with her name. All the poets have done this, one after the other. The first symptom is that they ask her whether Loulou is short for something – Louise maybe? When she says no, they look at her in that slightly glazed way she recognizes instantly, as if they’ve never paid proper attention to her or even seen her before. This look is her favourite part of any new relationship with a man. It’s even better than the sex, although Loulou likes sex well enough and all the poets have been good in bed. But then, Loulou has never slept with a man she did not consider good in bed. She’s beginning to think this is because she has low standards.

At first Loulou was intrigued by this obsession with her name, mistaking it for an obsession with her, but it turned out to be no such thing. It was the gap that interested them, one of them had explained….

“The gap between the word and the thing signified,” Phil said.”

from Loulou; or, the Domestic Life of the Language by Margaret Atwood

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