Parting Glances: Three for Oscar pt.1

By |2018-01-16T14:10:40-05:00October 11th, 2007|Opinions|

This is the story of Dorian Lavender, who has vanished from the party scene of music, stimulants, delightful sensuality, and is now — so sad to say — beyond the saving grace of friends and lovers, of which there are many. (Perhaps you loved him too.)
While no tracing of a family tree to Victorian times exists, it’s rumored that he was distant cousin to that youth made famous by Oscar Wilde in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” I, for one, believe it so.
He was possessed of looks so well-proportioned, so stunning in graceous effect, as to be spellbinding upon all who chanced to meet him. He was also a conversationalist of rare gifts.
Yes, Dorian brought out the best in everyone. And while he camped it up a bit — he knew how to mimic stars of stage and silver screen — it was never done with malice or ill will. Like Wilde, he was the wit and darling of society. No social gathering was thinkable without inviting him. (I was much too old to consider asking him out for my own selfish enjoyment.)
Surprisingly, Dorian was not taken with his good looks.”My looks are pleasant,” he’d say. “If faces are fortunes, my bank account is quite modest.”
He wrote poetry, composed songs, dabbled in pastels. He spent his nights dancing among glittering lights. His dinner parties — of which there were many — were gourmet delights. He went to the gym three times a week, and looked like the garlanded boy next door. He was golden in the summer. A demigod of tan.
Oddly enough, his fate was sealed at a church. A wedding — that of his straight friend Sybil Bevaine. “So, you’re gay,” said an artist he met there. “Would you mind if I paint a portrait of you? I specialize in portraits of the soul. I’m sure you have one worth seeing.” Intrigued Dorian said, “Of course!”, and posed. It was, I’m sure now, his undoing.
Months later the promised portrait arrived Fed-Ex. It was wrapped in deep-blue velvet, framed in ebony. But Dorian was shocked. The portrait was hideous, decaying, satanic. The eyes, bloodshot; its smile, horrific. “Why have you done this to me?” he angrily accosted the artist. “That, Dorian, is how Heaven sees your soul. You are lost. Doomed. Mend your wicked ways.”
For weeks the portrait haunted Dorian, but he couldn’t bring himself to destory it. He was mesmerized. “He’s right,” said Dorian, returning from a night of frenzied partying and crystal meth. “I’ll change. I’ll go to church. My gayety is a thing of the past. I’ll turn my sordid life around.”
Dorian proved resolute. The portrait frightened him. He hid it away. Each day he prayed, and each day he — and, mind you, the portrait, mysterious as well — began to change. His friends noticed. Something corroding was happening; and, little by little, that something was eating away his glorious face.
It crossed my mind when I passed his house that I had not seen him in ages and ages, so to speak. I knocked. A vaguely familiar but evil-looking man answered. “Yes?” he hissed. “Is Dorian home?” I asked. “Mr. Lavender is gone. “Forever!” he snarled. “Good riddance.”
As I turned to leave, he called out, in a voice I thought I recognized. “Hey, there! Wait. Take this in remembrance of me. Destroy it. The image scares the hell out of me.” Alone that night I unwrapped its deep velvet cover. It was Dorian’s portrait: young, handsome, radiantly serene. Unsullied . . .

About the Author: