Monday, June 27, 2005

Please Don't Eat the Big Chilled Daisies at Tiffany's

I lost George Peppard, dammit. You don’t get a George all that often, if ever. The calm straight guy to your looney narrative. George was the guy helping me the past coupla weeks and he became my friend. He is nice, considerate and he is a practicing therapist and a writer! Someone to help me with writing AND talk me off the ledge! Think of that. And he’s gone and I am kind of sad today just because he was better than the run of the mill perfunctory office banter kind of person. I liked him because he was nice. He is a published poet and he showed me some of his unpublished stuff and I showed him a coupla my stories.

What’s weird is, I recently had my hair streaked blond as a kind of Holly Golightly/Mrs. Robinson homage, doncha know. I saw "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" and "The Graduate" as a youth and that kind of streaked hair/cigarette holder glamour digs deep into the young psyche. I used to just stare at Holly’s hair in "Breakfast at Tiffany’s," a movie I have seen, give or take, 500 times. That’s a rough estimate.

You’re always waiting for that friendly, trustworthy man to be in the upstairs apartment (or the next office). Someone you can unload all your neuroses onto in a loveable fashion. And I do mean this platonically, don't be daft. Anyway, George was marvelously calm and polite and responsive, traits we don’t often find in the world o’ work. But he had a deeper layer—like I actually wanted to converse with him and have an exchange because I knew it wouldn’t be canned. He asked me questions about myself—regular questions like, "How was you birthday"—but it seemed like he wanted to hear the answer. It’s the absence of the perfunctory that I am revelatory about.

What’s also weird is, on Wednesday of last week there was an absolutely torrential downpour, the pink granite building was shuddering with the wind and the sheets of rain traversing across the goose haven. And I wondered, where do the geese go when it rains like that? Do they instinctively fly somewhere else in advance? Because there wasn’t a goose in sight.

I needed to pick up Nick from camp, so I had to go out into the deluge. It was coming down in flash flood proportions. I ran out and my feet were instantly immersed in dammed up rain water and my black sandals dyed my soles black. Indelible. I got in the car and thought: This is my "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" moment. I just have to go find my cat in the rain. Have you ever felt like you respond to certain films because they are premonitions of small moments that will be recreated in your life? No? I think about it all the time. Gotta go part the Red Sea now….

I lost George but I gained "The Big Chill" over the weekend! The "Big Chill," "Please Don’t Eat the Daisies" style. Karen and Eric tooled in on Friday afternoon in their mini-van laden with bikes, car seats, hippie woven surfer blankets, a pack ‘n play and all the other beach/kids/road trip detritus.

I got home from the most epically horrendous week of my professional career and was immediately enveloped in a convivial, nostalgic world of old friends. Daisy and Ian were running around, splendidly happy to have a cohort in Ryan. Nick played on the computer with a reverential Jordan. MZA grilled burgers and dogs. The kids played on the play set and then watched DVDs in the family room. We all sat out on the deck and drank copious amounts of pinot grigio, relaxed, with a flowing conversation, covering life, happiness, topics. The genuine unforced fluidity of a multilayered dialogue.

Next morning, we packed up two family vehicles and stopped to get a dozen and a half bagels and slipped into Rock Creek park at the field next to Peirce Mill. We had a breakfast picnic with Karen, Eric, Roy, Moira, MZA and all the younguns. It was a lovely, hot day and we had water guns leftover from Nicks’ birthday to slake the heat. Moira brought mimosas and so we sat on picnic tables in the shade and watched the kids run around, playing ball and squirting each other, while Nick mastered his new bike. He was elated to make it across the field on his first try.

We left around 1:00 and MZA and I got ready for the big BBQ that night to celebrate all of us getting together on the fly and my birthday. MZA marinated boneless chicken breasts in sesame ginger teriyaki sauce and I prepped tomato, basil and mozzarella for Karen to put together. We had fresh corn from the Eastern Shore—mixed Silver Queen—and Moira brought one of her famous salads with mixed lettuces, pine nuts and her perfect homemade dressing. We had Boursin and crackers, tzatziki dip with crisp pita chips, guacamole (again!), natural corn chips and the Caprese, then the fresh steamed corn, chicken and green salad.

MZA and Moira set up a birthday cheesecake in the dining room with my colored etched hock glasses (wedding gift from my mother) and ice cold champagne. All the kids and adults stood around the dining room table. The candles glowed and the pale yellow walls radiated softly, as the light rippled around the room onto the gold Russian icon, the faux Impressionist landscape, the trio of gold Japanese bowls my mother had framed into a shadow box, the Italian oil painting of olive trees and the gilt edged mirror. I made a WISH and blew out the candles. I gave a toast. Got choked up when I got to MZA. Talk amongst yourselves. Then we took our dessert back out to the deck and some people made individual toasts—like they do in Uzbekistan—and it felt nice. There was a surge of lovely energy, I think.

The kids watched “Monsters Inc.” and so we had plenty of unfettered adult time. Our neighbor Robin and our new neighbors Barbara and Marie came, and they were excellent additions to the party. It was all very impromptu—not planned, not a birthday, not an anything--that all just came together as its own entity. It accentuated the happiness of having another year instead of all the corny canned apprehension of being a year older.

I’m a year older. I am the age my mother was when she had me. I feel the same as I did when I turned 20, 30 and (gulp) 40. Except happier, with each year. That’s nice. I wished for that on many occasions and thought it would never happen.


Cynicism is another word for reality

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