Chameleonic Donald: A Spy in the House of Love (1954), by Anaïs Nin

by Christian Parreno

When she saw the slender body of Donald, the same small nose, and head carried on a long-stemmed neck, the echo of the old violent emotions was strong enough to appear like a new desire.

She did not observe the differences, that Donald’s skin was even more transparent, his hair silkier, that he did not spring, but glided, dragging his feet a little, that his voice was passive, indolent, slightly whining.

As first Sabina thought he was gently clowning by his parodies of women’s feathery gestures, by a smile so deliberately seductive imitating the corolla’s involuntary attractions.

She smiled indulgently when he lay down on the couch preparing such a floral arrangement of limbs, head, hands as to suggest a carnal banquet.

She laughed when he trailed his phrases like southern vines, or practised sudden exaggerated severities as children do when they play charades of the father’s absurd arrogances, or the mother’s hot-house exudations of charms.

[…]

He passed what she believed to be from one mimicry to another: the pompous policeman, for which he filled his lungs with air, the sinuosities of the women walking in front of them, for which he tangoed his hips.

Sabina was still laughing, wondering when the charades would end and the true Donald appear.

At this moment, in front of her at the restaurant table he was ordering with the exaggerated tyranny of the business executive, or he became prim with the salesgirl like a statesman with little time for charm. He ridiculed women in their cycles of periodic irrationality with an exact reproduction of whims, contrariness and commented on the foibles of fashion with a minute expertness Sabina lacked. He made her doubt her femininity by the greater miniature precision of his miniature interests.

Anaïs Nin, A Spy in the House of Love. London: Penguin, 2006. 1954. p. 78-79

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