One Part Film Noir, One Part Les Miserables

By Sally Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2010; 4:11 PM

This article originally ran in The Post on Feb. 15, 2002.

SALT LAKE CITY -- I am so fragile today. I am trapped in this French film, and it is a little bit noir and a little bit farce, and it exhausts me so. I have to recline, my handkerchief to my face. I have to take a pain reliever. I cannot answer the phone. I cannot speak above a whisper. I cannot deal with these sordid questions surrounding the Olympic figure skating. Is it raining outside? I feel as if it's pouring. It is unbearable. I fear I will break.

Surely Marie Reine La Gougne, the French judge, knows how I feel. She, too, is a tender flower, a seedling. She is unable to come to the phone, or to say why she did what she did. Perhaps it was because she cannot stare at the ice for too long, the sheer brilliance of it sends sharp pains to her eyes. It's just -- too much beauty. It undoes her.

The manipulators saw her distress and moved in. They said, "We can help you feel less fragile. Less alone."

(What if Condoleezza Rice had these fragile days, too? Days when she had to go off and play the piano. It would put the country in such a bind.)

Some people will wonder how you can be a judge if you are so fragile. Fragile is Blanche DuBois. Fragile is smelling salts. Fragile means you see your analyst three times a week. Fragile is taking to the bed with the vapors, with the curtains drawn and a hot compress. Fragile is reading light novels (like this one) and weeping.

It's an astonishing admission, really.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company