So, this is what they're calling it now?
Do they think terrorists might be planning a prom? Is someone getting their 20 years of suicide bombing gold watch?
Should I get my evening dress cleaned?
Or maybe it'll be more sporting themed, inspired by the Olympics. A track meet, perhaps. The hand grenade throw. The 100 meter building is collapsing dash.
Feh. It's probably just a small dinner party. And I NEVER get invited to that stuff.
Monday, August 30, 2004
So, this is what they're calling it now?
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Grandmother's House by Deirdre Flint ( http://www.deirdreflint.com/ta_grandmothershouse.asp )
Grandma's Hands by Jen Cohen
It really doesn't matter that it's the right thing to do. It doesn't change anything to know that she's made the decision for herself and that she's made a deal to do it on the best terms possible. Strangely it doesn't even matter that she needed to go and that she's safer now.
It still hurts to see her there and to hear her talk about the things she misses about her old life.
She lived for 39 years in the same apartment. She was already 55 when she moved in there. It was 4 years before I was born. She'd lived my life and already made almost all the decisions that I'm wrestling with now and moved on to a point past them.
It's possible that for her this move is just a new section of life. She had to have had at least a couple of those before she ended up in the apartment where I knew her first. But for me, this has been her whole life and mine too.
That sounds selfish, I suppose, but it's really only a matter of perspective. If you haven't seen anything else, it is at the very least difficult to imagine a different view.
I went home this weekend to take in the view. It's mostly quite nice. Peaceful, pretty, comforting on some basic, logical levels. But it competes with a view that was spectacular, that sustained a beauty over the course of over 35 years that shaped my life.
I believe that one's commitment to those you aren't related to can be, and quite often is, as strong as your commitment to those who share a family bond. I believe it because I have seen it happen. Someone showed me that sometimes you choose people and you do not let them go. You teach them piano, you cook them chicken pie or American Chop Suey, you drive them to the beach, you walk them up and down the street, you brush their cats and feed their dogs and display pictures of their children and send them money and a million other little things. You don't do any of this because you've been told you have to, you do it because you love them and they love you back in their own quite different, and usually flawed, ways.
My grandmother, who isn't my grandmother, moved into a nursing home 2 weeks ago, just a few days shy of her 94th birthday. It's a nice place. It's the place she chose and they like her there. Why wouldn't they? I went home yesterday to see her, to lay eyes on this new life for her first hand. It's the right choice and she's doing well and I've seen that with my own eyes. My brother, who isn't my brother, said that we should all just let her make her own decision, she'd make the right one. And she did. She usually does. And maddeningly, somehow, he was right, I knew he would be.
It's petulant but also honest of me to say so but I still don't like it.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
This morning at 5:45 it seemed that someone was racing Pavehawk helicopters around my building.
I live a couple of blocks from the BQE, a major thoroughfare, it's not unusual to hear the gentle whir of rotor blades checking out a traffic snarl. Heck, in my neighborhood it's not that unusual to hear the gentle whir of rotor blades in pursuit of a felon.
However, it's usually high up, they must have some sort of high powered binioculars or something. The rhythmic thump of the helicopter blades is something you can work into your unconscious ramblings, say an overzealous hummingird flapping through your personal field of dreams.
Today there was no mistaking it, no changing it, no going back to sleep once I knew what it was. The wind the chopper kicked up was blowing my window shades around like a gale. I swear that at one point a rotor blade squeegeed my windows clean. If they didn't land on my roof this morning, if they weren't whipping around the tops of the streetlights I'll eat my hat.
At 6, I was unable to ignore the problem, I mean, what if there was an emergency I needed to know about. Clearly with this much activity, making tight circles within a four block radius, something serious had to be happening. They were probably chasing alleged terrorists down Myrtle Avenue, or the neighborhood was combing the streets for a lost toddler or it was Ed MacMahon identifying the latest winner and I should probably get some pants on before he rang the bell. I flipped on the news, I scanned all the channels. There was an accident on the approach to the Manhattan Bridge, over half a mile away.
The pilot must be new. Probably trying to show off on his first day on the job. Maybe his high powered binoculars are broken. I don't care what his excuse is, I want him fired.
I'm at least coming to his house and poking him in the ribs for half an hour before he's supposed to get up.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Friday, August 20, 2004
When I was about 12 my grandfather bought me a diary. It must have been on a remainder table because the lock was broken. When he gave it to me he pointed out that the lock was broken and told me he thought that was all right since he was sure I wouldn't ever have anything to say that I'd need to keep a secret.
Now, many years later, I have this blog. And I'm keeping it a secret. I've told 2 people it exists. Because releasing the steam valve with even one person makes the secret easier to hold on to. And only one of them knows the address.
My web designer (www.SusannaShakespeare.com) knows about it. Eventually perhaps he'll read the blog and since he's a friend of my dad's....
But none of the people I've told are avid blog readers. So it will be some time before word gets around on its own I'm sure. And I'm debating with myself (because no one else knows about it) whether to tell people about it. At first I wanted to get in the swing of things. And now I've posted some other writing here as well, I'm building up some content.
I want feedback but I'm not sure I'm strong enough for bad feedback. Do I need a disclaimer or a warning clause? Or is that sort of chickening out? I don't know.
So, if you've secretly discovered this blog and want to weigh in on the topic please do. But I bet I'm on my own with this decision. Which is OK too. I wonder who I'll tell next.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
I, like so many people, have been watching a lot of Olympic coverage. I'm trying to watch out of the norm stuff. Well, my norm at least. Which teaches me a lot and leaves me a lot to wonder about.
How could I possibly think, "He might be washed up." about a swimmer who is 21 years of age?
How does a badminton shuttle get going that fast if it's got the little wings to slow it down?
Doesn't that hurt?
But the most niggling questions of these Olympic games thus far comes from women's beach volleyball. These are some lovely women, and damn good at what they do. (Please note that I have nothing but respect for all these athletes and I am not against scantily clad athletes of any stripe.)
That being said, though, these women are serious high level athletes at the top of their game and they are wearing outfits that cover less of their bodies than my underwear does. Some might remind me that there's more body for my underwear to cover but that's still not what I'm getting at.
There's diving. Into sand. And these ladies are wearing teeny tiny bikini briefs. Any 3 year old who has tripped in the shallow surf can tell you how long it takes to work the last grain of sand out of your intimate hills and valleys. So, wouldn't you be better off with a little coverage? Don't you want to make the trek that much longer before that Norwegian or Greek sand (depending which side of the blue line you land on) hits home? Apparently not.
And then, there's the one picture I cannot get out of my mind.
Being a hard hitting, aggressive sport, teammates tend to slap each other in encouragement. Around the sand entry areas. The ones that are barely covered. You know, the ass.
And all I can think is that sooner or later, on international television, purely by accident, someone's going to get a handful of sandy coochie.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Perhaps I'm hopelessly uncool. Perhaps hostess gifts are completely passe (I have no idea how to put an accent on that e). Or perhaps my weekend has been over run by rude people. What do you think?
Let's say that you're staying with a friend in another state. Other members of your traveling party are staying in other locations. These other members might need to get in touch with you but you have become separated from your cell phone. Do you
a. Give out your friend's home/cell number without telling her?
b. Ask if it would be all right to give out her information as it would be a great help on your trip?
You are one of the other members of the traveling party and you need to get in touch with the cell phone deprived member. When you call the number do you say
a. Is Jorge around? in your sullen pseudo Euro trash voice.
b. Hi, this is Magdalena I'm sorry to bother you but I'm trying to track Jorge down and I was wondering if you could help me? in your "for company" voice.
You are another member of the traveling party and are staying with the friend. You need to borrow a computer and internet access in order to do some vital work for the project necessitating the trip. Which question do you ask?
a. "So, uh, internet access?"
b. "I need to do some vital work on the project, would it be all right if I borrowed your computer?"
You have a huge and exciting project happening in another state. You have friends in that state. You are bringing a huge bunch of friends from your state and they all need inexpensive or preferably free places to stay. Do you
a. Call a friend from the car on your way to their state and tell them that all the good places in the center of town fell through, you're going to need a place to stay the next night can you crash at her place?
b. Call all your friends in their state who are excited about your project and offer them a free ticket to your project and/or undying gratitude and/or thanks in the program in exchange for invading their home for a couple of weeks for this very important event.
You have managed to secure a place, pretty near the exact spot in town you wanted to stay. The hostess has roommates and is working 6 jobs in order to keep this lovely dwelling in its prime location. Do you
a. Arrange to get keys or to arrive at her home before she goes to sleep?
b. Arrive late at night waking up one or both of the apartment's inhabitants not once but two nights in a row?
I could go on for hours with "hypothetical" examples using names from a 9th grade Spanish text book. However, it's only making me more angry and I think you get the idea. If I'm wrong and all the answers should be a then someone needs to tell me posthaste before I go around pissing people off by asking for help politely and giving them gifts and thanks and praise when they do.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
At the time it seemed like a good idea. Thrilling and daring and, in some frightening way, a step in the right direction.
We waited in line and got the tickets together. Four tickets, two sets of two, each set far from the other.
I ended up going alone. I just couldn't find the right person to take on this kind of adventure. I don't think that there are guidelines written by Miss Manners or Martha Stewart for who to take to a play that your lover and his wife are also attending.
It's embarrassing to think about now. I've been trying to think about it, to write about it, for a couple of months now and the embarrassment is so acute even now, over 5 years later, that I can't dwell on it for even a full minute.
I remember spending most of the play trying to find them without looking like I was looking. I don't remember when I located them, but I must have, because as everyone filed out of the theatre I maneuvered myself to follow them.
Oddly I don't remember what they looked like or what they were talking about. I just remember me. I was wearing tight fitting brown peg leg pants from the Gap and a brown shirt and ankle boots and was carrying a straw purse that I'd inherited from a dancer friend. I felt tall (as tall as I can be) and long legged and sexy. Well, I felt as though I was projecting that and that's what was important. It was important that when he looked at me he wished he were sitting with me instead of with her. Even if he didn't change seats. That he should feel as dissatisfied in the moment as I.
The whole evening was dissatisfying. I go to theatre and movies and stores and countries by myself all the time. Most of the time. That night was the same. I was alone. I was watching someone who didn't, at least then, and probably not now either, do much of anything all alone. I was just an observer in what is labelled an adult relationship. I didn't learn anything more about him or her or them. I didn't get anything out of it.
I have no idea, really, what I was supposed to get out of it. It was my idea to go to the play, his to do it this way. I'm sure he had a good reason. At least one that seemed good at the time. He always does. I'll be damned if I can remember it though.
All I can remember is walking through the edges of Central Park in a crowd waiting to be noticed.
And I wasn't.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Most days I get at least one million dollar idea.
If you look at it the right way.
Today's example is Cranberry Toilet paper. Not the color. TP with actual cranberry properties for the urethrally challenged among us chicks.
Have terrible yeast or UTI battles? Here's another weapon in the war. And you don't even have to add anything to your day, it heals while you're doing something you'd do anyway.
Brilliant I tell you. Just need a little venture cap.
Friend of a friend's going away party. She's moving to Scotland.
Stupid Theatre Friend calls with no warning needing a place to stay, oh yeah and also his TD who I don't know from Adam.
They show up at my house after bedtime.
TD is assmonkey.
Get the call that tells me they're moving her to a nursing home...today. First I heard of it.
Call dad to vent on the first I heard of it. Find out that not only did he know about the move (assumed mom would tell me) he spent last Thursday asking mom for a divorce. (n.b. This is not a big leap as they haven't lived in the same state since I was in Jr. High but the fact that the word divorce has left someone's lips is a monumental change in status quo.)
Spend 45 minutes discussing mother's and father's emotional state. For those reading the fun meter on this one it's at about a .5.
Crying. Lots of crying. I can't stop thinking about her spending her first night in that place all by herself tonight. I just wish someone had told me.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
He rode aimlessly through the streets of the housing development. They all looked the same. He could ride to the next town and it would look the same too. Like God got bored when he got to Michigan and just die cut everything like car parts. It wasn’t so much like that up north but down here, below the tri-cities it was all alike. And everyone seemed happy with that. Happy kids playing street hockey, happy dads cutting grass, happy moms unloading cars full of happy groceries and happy dogs seeing everyone at home.
As he rounded the corner onto Pine, or maybe it was Spruce? Elm? Better yet, Hemlock. He couldn’t tell. But as he came around that corner someone wasn’t happy. Two someones in fact. A teenage girl and a young boy of maybe 5 or 6. The shock of this break with the norm slowed him down and he recognized the girl, Annie Jensen. He knew her from church, school. They’d grown up together but weren’t particularly close. He stood up on the pedals and pressed on for about a block until the street was filled by another street hockey game and the handlebars just turned all the way around.
On this pass he got close enough to hear what she was saying. Only snippets of it, above the kid’s rhythmic wailing.
“…you OK?…I know…hurts…no blood…”
At the edge of the perfectly manicured lawn he unceremoniously dumped his bike and strolled up the grass beside the walkway. “Hey.”
Annie’s head snapped up and her look was purely suspicious until she recognized him, then she softened up all the way to noncommittal, “Hey.”
“What happened?” he asked.
“Face plant off the slide.” She bobbed her head in the direction of a jungle gym in the side yard.
“Ow. He OK?”
“I think so but he won’t stop crying. It’s been like 10 minutes.”
He knelt down and reached out for the boy’s curly hair. “You’re OK. Let me see what happened.” The boy turned the full force of his sobbing directly into Rob’s face. Rob blinked and that was it. Caught the boy’s face in his hands and gently touched every part of it, then moved on to the arms, legs, the ribs and the wailing went on uninterrupted, clearly not from physical pain, “Well, I’ve got bad news for you.” Annie blanched. “You’re gonna live. Except maybe for these ribs here. They might have a terrible problem.” Both Annie and the boy looked worried. All sound had stopped. “I think they might be ticklish.” And Rob proceeded to tickle the boy’s ribs, belly, chin and armpits. It took a few seconds but he got the laughs he was looking for. They built until the boy squealed and ran onto the lawn.
Looking back over his shoulder he yelled, “Chase me!”
With a brief glance at Annie, Rob obliged. They ran all over the lawn under and around the jungle gym until Rob caught his foot on the edge of the damned slide and fell, crashing from his 6’4” to the grass with a thud. Before he could even roll over the boy had jumped on him and was yanking his shoulders yelling, “Get up! Get up!”
Annie rescued him by picking the kid up, “Joshua, give Rob a break, OK? He needs a moment. Why don’t you swing.” When Joshua had been dispatched she leaned down to where Rob was continuing to enjoy the feeling of cool grass on his cheek. “You OK?”
“I’m fine. It feels pretty good down here, you should try it.”
She went so far as to sit down cross-legged near his head so she could watch Joshua. He had belly flopped onto the swing set and was twisting round and round getting ready to lift his legs and enjoy the unwinding. “He’s going to throw up.” She observed.
Rob heaved himself over onto his back and tilted his head to look. “You think?”
“Choked on a cheerio and face plant off the slide and I’ve only been here half an hour, puking has to be in my future.”
“So, what are you doing here?”
"Just riding around. You baby-sit here often?”
“Too often.” Joshua’s swing had come to rest. He got off and was wobbling around on the grass looking very much like he might vomit. “The parents are friends of my parents from church.” Joshua finally stumbled and fell, giggling in the grass.
“I can’t wait to be a dad. Slide with my kids, teach ‘em how to ride a bike, read stories.”
“What 15 –year-old guy wants to be a dad?”
He looked her straight in the eye for a moment. She thought he might be trying to figure out whether or not she was kidding. Then he said, “No.”
She broke from his gaze when Joshua came flying by and belly flopped across Rob’s chest. “I’m hungry.”
“Mac and Cheese with hot dogs?” Annie offered.
Annie pushed herself to standing and headed to the house. When they stepped onto the patio she checked over her shoulder and instead came face to his feet. Rob was carrying Joshua over his shoulder. She looked around, confused, at the lawn, Rob’s bike, the neighbor’s houses and finally sighed a bit and pushed open the door, standing back to let the boys in.
She pointed as they walked, “Family room, TV, his room is up there, bathroom and game room downstairs. It’ll take me maybe 20 minutes to make dinner.
About 20 minutes later she walked into the family room and had opened her mouth to tell them dinner was ready when she got interested in what they were doing.
They were lying on the floor staring at the Chutes and Ladders board. The pieces had been swept to the side on the floor and they had covered the board with paper. Rob had a pen and was writing and talking, “This one means hello and you say it _____”
“_____” Joshua tried.
“Pretty good. Here, I’ll make you a big one.” As he picked up the pen again he noticed Annie lurking. “It’s Japanese. I took those summer classes.”
“Cool. Umm, dinner’s ready.”
“Thanks.” The boys popped up and followed her to the kitchen.
Rob rescued nearly spilled milk, he picked out cool pajamas and he read stories in different funny voices. He also negotiated a night-light instead of an open door and only one glass of water. It was possibly Annie’s most successful Joshua-sitting experience since he’d learned to walk and talk. She thought that she should be taking notes. She also thought that when the small audience was asleep he would probably leave.
Annie knew Rob, she would even call him a friend but not a close friend. They’d never been to each other’s houses or gone out for ice cream. They had some friends in common though, sometimes ate at the same lunch table and had hung out a couple of times at church functions. She wasn’t surprised that he’d stopped to give her a hand when he saw her struggling. She was surprised that he’d stayed.
After he’d delivered Joshua’s water he sat back down at the kitchen counter to finish the milk from dinner while Annie loaded the dishwasher.
“Why did you decide to teach him Japanese?” she asked.
“Out of the blue he asked, ‘Do you speak Japanese?’”
“No, I was speaking Japanese to make him laugh and he asked what it was.”
“It seems like the farthest place from here you could ever go and they offered it at the University summer school thing so I decided to check it out.”
“Isn’t it really hard? I mean, at least with French or Spanish you get to use the same old alphabet.”
“Yeah, I guess. They’re pictures, though, and they’re kind of fun to draw. I picked it up pretty quick.” He drained the glass and stood up to put it in the dishwasher before she closed the door and started it. “Where are the parents?”
“Detroit at a concert or something. They’ll be back around midnight.” It was 7:30.
“Do you want some company?”
“Yeah, sure. I mean you’ll have to go way before they get back and everything but sure we could uh, play a game or watch some TV. Do you want to bring your bike up to the patio? You know for safety’s sake.” OK, so apparently she was nervous.
“Let’s see,” he said coolly, “Sure, of course. No thanks, I just got my ass whupped in Chutes and Ladders. What’s on? And sure, I’ll go do that now.”
“I’ll…I guess I’ll go turn on the TV. Family room, you know?”
“Be right back.”
With 6 premium channels plus all the regular cable you’d think it’d be easier to find something good on TV. She settled on Win Ben Stein’s Money then curled her feet up under her on the couch.
Rob came back and sat on the other end of the couch. While he quietly answered the questions on the show he took his sneakers off and bent his long legs to put his feet on the sofa between them.
Over time teenagers are like magnets, they’ll come together. First it was just feet, then, when Annie shifted uncomfortably he invited her to turn and sit in the circle of his arms and legs. By now they were watching The Breakfast Club, something they’d seen a million times so neither of them was concentrating on it. Rob laced the fingers of one hand through hers and used the other to stroke patterns on her forearm. When the subtle whiff of her shampoo became too much for him he nestled his chin on her shoulder and that nestling led inevitably to kissing the curve of her neck.
Up to then Annie was too nervous to do much but accept his attention but when he started kissing her, her hand flew up almost involuntarily to the back of his head to hold him there, keep him from stopping. His hair had been shaved earlier that month for a swim meet and by now it was fuzzy, like a teddy bear. It felt delicious under her palm.
Turning to kiss for real was only a little awkward. Eventually his hands slid under her shirt and she let him touch her breasts. She kept herself mostly to his arms and back, though.
At some point after they had rolled onto the floor she heard a zipper. Trying to be cool she pulled back slightly, “Rob?”
He pulled back and looked at her. The same look he’d had earlier.
“They might come home…I just don’t…”
“It’s OK.” He rolled onto his back and pulled her close with one arm. “It’s still early.”
“Yeah, but Joshua…”
“…knows we’ll come if he calls.”
They were silent for a long time. Annie couldn’t look at him. Rob started to stroke the fingers of her hand resting on his chest. He took his time so that she wouldn’t stop him, gently sliding her hand down over his stomach, letting her rest and wait.
When the side of her hand brushed the tip of his cock she flinched. She hadn’t meant to. It wasn’t as though she didn’t know where they were going with this whole hand thing. Now she was embarrassed. Bold and ridiculous honesty were her normal fall back positions so she went with them, “Um…I don’t know if I… want to…” he waited for her to go on, “to well, touch it.”
“You don’t know if you do?” he teased.
She didn’t like being teased. “No, I mean I don’t want to touch it.”
Not unkindly he asked, “Have you ever touched one?”
“Then how do you know?” he was almost teasing again.
Annie got the giggles, “I don’t know I just don’t think…”
“He won’t bite.”
“Well, I didn’t think that.”
“Here,” Rob linked his fingers with hers and brought her hand down until they were both holding his cock. He led her to stroke it and when she’d gotten the hang of it he slid his hand away and leaned up to kiss her again.
So they went on like this for a bit. She didn’t know what else to do so she just kept doing what he’d shown her and that made her wonder if she should be doing anything else and that meant her mind was about as far from enjoyment as she could be and that meant that fears of being caught and rumors spreading around church got the better of her. But he hadn’t stopped before. The panic started to rise in her, she was forming arguments in her mind and then suddenly she slipped sideways and their teeth clanged together so hard that tears came to Annie’s eyes. “Ow!”
“Yeah. You OK?”
“I guess.” She took her hand off his penis, “Ow.”
He was doing that intense staring thing again.
Annie drew breath, “We need to stop this and you need to go. I’ve got to put away the dishes and this stuff in here before they get home.”
He stared a minute longer, assessing perhaps, “OK.” Then he lay on his back on the floor and let out a breath. Annie lay back next to him and they just stared at the ceiling breathing, not touching for a minute or two.
Eventually he zipped himself up and they sat up together. Annie passed him his shoes and walked him to the door when he was ready. Before he opened the screen door he turned and kissed her gently on the forehead, just at the hairline. As he mounted his bike on the walkway she mustered up, “Thanks.” He turned his head and smiled then rode away.
Monday, August 09, 2004
I knew this would happen. But I did it anyway.
I took Friday and today off work because if I didn't take some time away someone was going to get hurt. Because, in case you haven't noticed, I hate my job. (Apologies to anyone from work who is reading this. Although no one who disagrees with me about the hating thing could ever find this because they don't know me AT ALL so they could hardly even search this.)
The problem comes with the going back tomorrow. It is so much harder to go back after 4 blissful days off than after a regular 2 day weekend where the ire keeps me asleep for half of it.
It's always this way and I know this but there was nothing else to be done for it.
I wish I could make this funny but I just can't find anything funny of it on this the night before.
A guy walks into a bar with a poodle under his arm and a 6 foot salami under the other....
Anyone know the end to that joke?
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Sometimes I just don't do things the way other people do. Sometimes there's even a good reason for it.
I'm making these marketing packets for my play which I'm selling to schools (www.SusannaShakespeare.com "A valuable complement to standard English curriculum!"). I think I've done a good job with them and lord knows it took me long enough. That said, I'm now at the point where the tweaking is ended and it's all about printing and collating. Including getting out the big honking can of spray adhesive and trying to spray it only on the back of the cover page and not onto cats or dog or furniture or electronics or too much of me, despite the blowing of millions of fans at high speed in the colossally humid heat of the New York summer.
Last night there was much printing, a lot of printing. So much printing. And then some re-printing to cover for the fact that I failed to notice that one picture had migrated to the page above completely misaligning the rest of the document or that I'd used my costume designer's premarital name or that the cat had jumped onto the computer and added wewererwfrwefsdfiohysifdj to the cover page. I found the last error at exactly the time I was supposed to be in bed so I fixed that and did not do any collating.
"I'll collate before work" said I.
Which is how I found myself at 6:30 this morning standing half naked in my tub madly spraying adhesive on the backs of cover sheets and sticking them to the fronts of folders.
The logic here was that I could scrub the tub later, after work (like after work some time this fall) if need be and no extra ill would come of it. So, no drop cloth, no newspaper, no animals walking onto drop cloth and newspaper and becoming stuck and necessitating stoppage of collation for adhesive/fur removal. And the half naked thing was because it's much easier to remove the adhesive from skin than from clothing.
It all makes perfect sense.
Until you take a moment and really see yourself and think, I'm a reasonably intelligent adult female standing half naked and sticky in her bath tub before 7 o clock in the morning...in the name of ART. What is up with that?
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Picture a man, barefoot, shirt unbuttoned, standing in a hallway in front of a door. A woman comes down the stairs with a suitcase and a coat. She reaches for the door and he stills her hand. His fingers unconsciously rub back and forth over the rings on her finger. Not angrily she pulls her hand from his grip and looks him pointedly in the eye. He tries to speak and finds that he can’t. She looks away and then looks at him and breathes in as if to speak but decides against it. She lifts her suitcase again, skirts the man and exits the house shutting the door firmly behind her.
I hate flying. It’s better if I have someone to talk to so usually I travel with someone. But sometimes that just isn’t possible.
“Those are beautiful.”
So I have to go on a recruiting mission.
This woman is pretty, not beautiful or drop dead gorgeous but attractive, well put together, even though she’s not flashy, all monotone clothes and small earrings, short hair. The only thing that stands out about her are her rings.
“Your rings, they’re beautiful.”
I probably would have talked to her anyway. I really need to talk to someone. Did I mention that I hate flying? But the rings gave me a good way in. There were maybe 6 or 7 of them winding around the bottom of her left ring finger. All silver, or maybe platinum, what do I know? All plain, rounded except one in the middle that was flat with a deep blue sapphire channel set into it.
“Are they all wedding rings?”
She looks up. I might snag her.
“No, just one.”
Monosyllables, not a good sign.
“But my husband did give them all to me.”
She’s falling! I need to be creative here, keep working.
“Are they all from special occasions then?”
She puts a finger in her book to hold her place.
“Yes, he’s been giving them to me for 8 years now. Says they’re like rings on a tree so you can tell how old the relationship is.”
“Actually it’s kinda sappy. Fortunately he’s cute when he’s sappy.”
I run out of steam so we sit in silence looking at the rings on her hand, which lies on her book. She finally flips the book open again to read.
“How do you tell them apart? Which one for which occasion? Which one he gave you when?”
I am not making a good impression.
She doesn’t look up for a moment. Waits, takes a breath and then moves her bookmark and stuffs the book into the seat pocket.
“It’s on the inside. Here.”
She starts to tug the rings off 2 and 3 at a time, working them back and forth over the knuckle until she holds them in her right fist then she drops them into my palm.
“Go ahead, you have to hold them up to the light.”
Each ring has a word engraved on the inside in simple block letters. STRENGTH. PEACE. LIGHT.
“Which one is your wedding ring?”
“Guess.” She smiles.
Even though I figure it’s gotta be a trick question I pick the one engraved LOVE.
“Where were you married?
“On a beach in California. Right out front of our favorite restaurant.”
“You rented the whole restaurant?”
“No, it was only us and our parents. We’d been together a long time by that point. A big wedding seemed kind of silly and none of anyone’s business, really.”
Picture a man and a woman standing on a beach. The setting sun over the water washes them in soft light. She wears a simple, ankle length white dress. He wears a deep blue suit and white shirt, no tie. They are barefoot. She slips a ring from her thumb and slides it onto his finger. He reaches into his jacket pocket and removes an identical platinum band. Before he places it on her finger he holds it up for her to read the inscription. She holds his hand in hers to steady it and her eyes tear as she reads the word. After he fits her with the ring their fingers lock together and he pulls her close enough to kiss her forehead and linger there breathing her in.
Weren’t your friends mad?”
“Some of them but by the time anyone found out we’d been married almost a year so anger was kind of superfluous. My husband started saying, ‘What does it matter to you if we got married? You thought we were going to break up?’”
“He’s a smart cookie.”
“What’s LOVE for then?”
“I was hit by a car and he gave me that when I got home from the hospital.”
“Oh my god. That’s horrible.”
“It wasn’t my best day. The getting hit part. The coming home was pretty good.”
“I don’t mean to be nosy but how …you don’t have to answer if you don’t…”
“No, it’s OK. It’s my little Public Service Announcement. Always bring ID when you leave the house. No matter how short the errand. You never know. I went out to walk the dog. It was summer. I had on a dress, shoes and was carrying keys, plastic bags and a dog leash. That was it. I got hit by a drunk driver, let go of the leash and there I was. We live up in the hills and I walk the dog in some woodsy areas. A jogger found me in a ditch by the side of the road and called 911. They took me to the hospital but no ID so no one knew who I was or how to contact my family.”
Picture a door at the end of a hallway. Stairs to the right lead to the second floor. A living room opens off to the left. Hear shuffling and fumbling before it swings open revealing a woman in a man’s arms about to be carried over the threshold. The door bangs against the wall and swings shut again. Hear laughter. The door swings gently open and the couple steps awkwardly through the door. Now see bandages on the woman’s hands and face, her right wrist is in a cast and she holds a pair of crutches in her hand. He maneuvers her into the living room and onto the couch. While he arranges pillows for her she opens a bag and pulls out a prescription bottle. He takes the bag and moves toward the kitchen but checks himself and returns to perch on the arm of the couch behind her and present her with the velvet box from his pocket. She tilts her head back and winces. He leans down to gently kiss the top of her head and bolts toward the kitchen but she reaches out to grab his hand and pull him back for a proper, long, loving kiss. He runs his hand through her hair, along her cheek and his lip trembles slightly before going to the kitchen. She opens the box and reads the inscription before laying it alongside the other two.
“I’m sorry, I have to ask, was the dog all right?”
She laughs. “Yes, she was fine, got scared by the noise and ran home. She was sitting on the front step when my husband came home. It took him 3 or 4 hours to figure out where I was. Then he found me in a recovery room all stitched and bandaged and bones set. I think it scared him even more than it scared me and that’s going some.”
“He gave it to you then?”
“No, after, the day I came home.”
“This is fun!”
“Glad you’re enjoying yourself.”
What about STRENGTH?”
“That one goes with JOY. There. They’re for our daughter. I got JOY when we found out about her and STRENGTH when she was a month old.”
Picture a woman with bags under her eyes, wearing a tank top, sweatpants, hair disheveled. She carries a dirty diaper in one hand. She enters down the stairs and crosses into the kitchen. She re-enters and re-crosses the other way with a full bottle in hand. He meets her halfway, jeans, t-shirt, wild hair, untied shoes and open leather jacket. From behind his back he pulls a small black velvet box. She musters a smile but it doesn’t have much behind it. He opens the box and holds it out to her. She extracts the simple platinum band and peers at the inside, when she reads the word her smile deepens. She quickly slips the band on her finger and stands on tiptoe to wrap her arms around him and hold him tightly.
“Is her name Joy?”
“Oh god, no, I am the sap police. Don’t think he didn’t think of it.”
“How old is your daughter?”
“She’s 5. Her name is Delia.”
“No. I really put my foot down.”
“Must have been hard to stop wearing these when you were pregnant, swelling and everything.”
“I didn’t take them off then. I wasn’t pregnant. Delia is adopted.”
Picture a woman with a phone to her ear. She signs off with distracted thanks and holds the receiver to her chest for a breath, then hangs it up calling, “Honey!” He appears and she looks him in the eye, thrilled. He looks back, questioning. And she nods vigorously, grinning from ear to ear. He picks her up and swings her around while they whoop and laugh and grin. Finally setting her down he pulls open the drawer underneath the phone to pull out the red velvet box. She has a fresh bout of giggles while she opens the box and picks out the platinum band, holding it up to read the word inside which sets her to laughing so happily again that she can’t put the ring on. He steps behind her, wrapping his arms around her body, stilling her and taking her hands in his. This way they are able to let the ring slide down against the others on her finger and resume laughing with their lips touching.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. I think things worked out just fine. She’s a great kid, the light of our lives.”
“Oh! So LIGHT is about her too?”
Picture a woman in a coffee shop. She is reading a book propped open in front of her meal, fully absorbed. A man enters and slides into the booth next to her. She is startled, looks up. She’s surprised and ecstatic, she kisses him passionately. When they break he steals a French fry with one hand while sliding a small velvet box across the table to rest in front of her with the other. Her eyes widen and she questions him with a look. He pushes the box toward her in response. She kisses him again before opening the box to reveal a single, simple, platinum band. She leans in for another series of mumbling thank you kisses while she fumbles the ring out of the box and onto her finger. He pulls away abruptly and takes the ring off her finger, putting it in her palm and admonishing, “Read.” She spins the ring, looking at the outside. “Inside.” He explains. She looks again, reads and is kissing him again before he can even see the expression on her face.
“No, sorry, just an expression I use. LIGHT was the first one. I met my husband in New York but he was living in Los Angeles. On one of his trips to see me he brought that. He probably used the ‘light of my life’ line too.”
“How did you meet?”
“We ended up at a bar where we each had friends with bands playing. Mine was finishing a set and he asked about them. I piped up from across the table and we started chatting. I e-mailed him about the band and the rest is history.”
“You moved to Los Angeles?”
“Yeah, that’s when I got FAITH, so to speak. Apparently I spouted off one too many times about how stupid it is to follow a man across the country. So I was admonished with a permanent reminder to trust him.”
Picture a woman entering with suitcases. A man opens the door for her, helps her in with her luggage. She is uncomfortable in the surroundings. He is showing her around. An empty drawer here, a closet there. He shows her a beautiful bed, big, open, made up but not taut. On the pillow, centered, a small box of deep blue velvet with a white ribbon tied around it in a bow. She smiles, checks with him and he urges her forward. She crawls onto the bed, up from the bottom and sit cross-legged to untie the bow and open the box. A single platinum band sits inside. She smiles and turns to find him kneeling behind her, looking over her shoulder. She grasps his face and kisses him deeply. He tries to press her back to the bed but she fights him with playful shoves working around him to slide the band out of the box and onto her finger with the identical one she wears. Then she locks her wrists behind his head and flops back, bringing him with her, laughing all the way.
I’m running out of things to ask. And rings. I run through them all. LIGHT, FAITH, LOVE, PEACE, JOY and STRENGTH. I’m done. Except for the one with the stone.
“What about this one?”
“Uh, he said it matched my eyes.”
Picture a man and a woman sitting at a small table in a dimly lit restaurant. One dessert lies between them with a spoon propped on either side of the plate. He hands a velvet box across the table to her. She smiles slightly and lays the box on the table to pull the bow loose. Inside is a flat platinum band with a deep blue sapphire set flush into it. She is surprised. Gingerly she slides it on top of her other rings then looks up at him. He smiles back somewhat uncertainly. She kisses her fingertips and reaches across the dessert to lay them on his lips. He kisses them lightly before they both reach for their spoons and begin eating toward the middle.
“So it’s a symbol of how your relationship has moved beyond words. Eyes as the windows of the soul and everything?”
“You know, he never said.”
I have to hand them back.
They pour into her open palm and she slowly slides them on her long finger one by one.
“Any particular order?”
“Lots of people ask that. No. Well, some days. Depends how I feel but usually I just try to get them all safely on.”
“Excuse me ladies,” the flight attendant breaks in, ”could you please fasten your seatbelts we’re about to taxi for takeoff.”
I hate flying.
Picture a man standing alone in an airport terminal. His shirt is untucked, his jacket is open. His jeans and shirt are wrinkled. His hands are stuffed in his pockets. He is waiting. He checks a monitor, he looks around. Then he reaches into the pocket of his jacket and removes a small velvet box. He squeezes it in one hand then the other then replaces it in his pocket before putting his hands back in his pockets and looking toward the gate.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
It is widely rumored that when my cousin, Went, heard that Danny Ainge was traded from the Celtics she threw up.
I'd just like to say that I've kept my food down.
But I am not fucking happy.
Let's see, solid team player? Check. Fabulous shortstop? Check. Middling to excellent batting average? Check. No skeletons in the closet? Check.
Let's trade him.
No, wait, that's no fun. Let's humiliate him then trade him and try to get the fans to think it's a good idea.
I predict that we'll see the Cubs deep in the playoffs this season. They were doing great on their own last year and now they've got an extra piece to the puzzle. More power to them. They've been waiting longer than we have anyway. But I want 5 minutes alone in a room with the punk ass kid running the Red Sox.
The curse is not Babe Ruth's. I think it's some sort of crack they put in the water at Fenway Park. Something that dings off an alarm in the system of any member of the management as soon as a group of players is assembled who might actually be able to play the game and play it well together. "Oh crap! This is as good as I've seen it! What do I do now? Better make some sweeping change." And rather than hiring somebody hot to sing the national anthem or painting a mural of ex-presidents on the Green Monster they decide instead to pick one of their top 5 most valuable players and TRADE HIM.
History. Doomed to repeat it. Babe Ruth. Roger Clemens. Nomar Garciaparra.
I wish Nomar luck. I think he is a wonderful player and a good role model for anyone becoming a high profile sports figure. I hope he's happy wherever he is. I even forgive him for marrying Mia Hamm before he even gave me a chance.
I am not, however, quite ready to forgive the management of the Red Sox.
Monday, August 02, 2004
She wore her rings like armor. Silver standing up between her knuckles, hardening her. The protection both coating her and lashing out from her. As much as they accentuated the slim gracefulness of her fingers those weren't digits you were allowed to touch. No gentle kisses could be pressed to the barbs that adorned them.
They made making love to her an even more valuable experience. This was not a woman to whom one gained entrance lightly. For him the tension was always palpable before they made love. Would she remove the rings? All of them? Because until the last one rested safely in the toe of her shoe the deal was unsealed.
One day they were the last thing she removed. For months afterwards he masturbated to the memory of her sitting nude and upright on the edge of the bed slowly removing each tiny cylinder.
More off-putting yet no less engrossing was the re-arming of her shields. One ring straightened her spine, another flattened her feet against the floor and those two, in concert, reorganized her face, making it fit again for public consumption.
When asked about her barriers in a coffee shop she simply smiled as though he were a darling but slightly presumptuous child. When asked in bed she turned to face him, folding her naked hands into tiny fists under her chin.
"I need them."
"You don't need them now."
"Now is different." She smiled.
And that made him feel special. So special that he stopped asking and kissed her bare knuckles.