Gretchen Violetta

Gretchen Violetta
photographed by Hope Davis
She is aloof. Some would say frosty. Others would say cold. But I say that she is aloof because I am one of a selected few that have seen her face be as bright as the sun. Her smile, genuine and warm, is reserved for a special club. Psychiatrists would perhaps call it a defense mechanism, or perhaps it is just a way to keep something to herself.

There was a public humiliation involved: the daughter of a wealthy, extraordinary family that lost everything-everything-everything in the better half of a year. Their economic downfall was the rage of the society pages; their valuables sold at auction, photographs of their distant faces during the trials sold to tabloids, and their food name decidedly unpopular with creditors.

Or at least that is what I have determined. Gretchen at her iciest has chosen to keep her private life just that, and her history even more so. But she must have learned to shimmy somewhere; perhaps in the back rooms of elegant galleries or the attics above sophisticated opera houses. Endowed with gifts that the men and the women throw roses for, Gretchen remains like the head of a ship: stately, imposing, and ever-gazing towards the horizon.

While her finances (or, more accurately, her parents’ finances) were in ruin, she learned to cope being the youngest of many children who, for years, experienced luxuries. Perhaps it was her pride that began the tradition; she opened her first act as a vision in purple. Within time I had given her a last name she would proudly sign, “Violetta."

Wherever her Dutch and Italian family ran off to to begin again or to end it all, Gretchen was never one to rest upon her laurels; she refused to be tied down by anything but by the people she loved. She cast off the family disgrace, and found herself with new loves with whom she found an underlying strength.

And yes, finally was willing to give that impatiently secret smile when the situations warrant it.

-- notes from Viktor