It was 1987, I was 13 and I was completely kidnapped by the TV series Beauty and the Beast, a modern version of the fairy tale set in New York. Catherine and Vincent. Vincent and Catherine.
Vincent, who appeared at night on Catherine’s terrace. Vincent always came when he was needed. Vincent with the deep voice reading the books. Vincent with his huge hands caressing her hair. Vincent with his animal-like roar. Vincent, with agility and aggressiveness, a sweet and dark look, powerful body and fragile soul.
It was 1991, I was 18 and had a terrible crush on my physiotherapist. He was 23 and was about to leave for Germany or Switzerland (I do not remember exactly). He was still leaving. In my eyes, he was my beast. Not that he was ugly and hairy, indeed. But it was strange, different from all the others boys. He did not go dancing, did not drink, did not have a company of buddies to watch football matches with.
He was often alone passing time reading, he had a beautiful white-haired greyhound called Milady. On Saturday afternoons we took her to run in the woods and bathe in the lake, we slid down the shore with our feet on the fresh water and chatted about everything.
He gave me roses from his garden. In front of his house there was an annex, in the winter we were hugged on the couch in front of the fireplace that he always lighted and we ate chestnuts. He had big hands and I just took his thumb up and let myself be carried around in his life. The reality was that he was about to leave, it was a relationship with an expiration date.
No lies, no promises, no expectations. At the beginning of summer he left for his life and I returned to mine. But we went to see Beauty and the Beast together and in my “mind of Belle” in addition to Vincent and the physiotherapist I also added the Disney’s beast.
It is 2017 and I’m now 42. Yesterday I went to see Beauty and the Beast with Emma and my friend Claudia#Daniela. Emma is at her first 3D movie. At first she is frightened by the objects flying over her, she shakes me tight, laughs nervously. She gradually relaxes and lets us be kidnapped by this wonderful fairy tale. The haunted castle, Lumiere and Tockins, Mrs. Potts and Chip, the beast, the songs, Gaston is hilarious, Le Fou is marvelously gay. Disney unexpectedly has been able to put a gay character with naturally, sensibility and humor.
Claudia#Daniela and I are in tears. We have our beautiful bag of Vincent and Physiotherapists to make us weep easily. Emma touches my arm and says frightened:
“Mom I have to cry! I can’t hold back”
“Love, you can cry. It’s normal, it’s a beautiful touching movie, magical, let the emotion flow.”
So she mourns, my little girl, the next victim of Vincent and a physiotherapist/beast of who knows what part of the world I am from.
The film finishes and we three women make a psychic/sentimental summit of the emotions that have just fallen on us. Emma draws conclusions for us:
“I don’t know who I’m going to fall in love with, but definitely not a stupid guy who is singing songs alone looking at himself in the mirror.”
“Good Emma, you already understand everything,” says Claudia#Daniela.
“Plus, he was more beautiful like a Beast than a Prince.”
And here out comes my whole mother’s pride. Because I always thought that if Belle falls in love with a Beast, his gaze, his voice, his being animal and man together, then she wants a beast, not a banal blond prince with long hair. She falls in love and when she finally kisses him, he becomes something else. Looks like a joke. A terrible, real-life joke, not a tale.
We want more Vincent and less Prince. More flaws and less perfection. More laughs in the hand-holding library and less masked dances. More dark men and less dudes.
Less is more.
Good job Emma you already know. Your mom tells you, a 42-year-old mom/Belle dressed in buttercream yellow.
Of course, if I puff less and smile more, maybe Vincent would come to see me on the terrace one of these nights. Maybe I should sing every three seconds as in the Disney movies…well, Vincent, I’m still puffing and no singing, you come when you want.