A week ago our friends Bruce and Betsy were up from Miami to celebrate their wedding anniversary on the 21st, which in most years would have been the Spring Equinox. In a year’s time, they will be moving to a nearby rural community and building a house on 20 lovely acres. They insist that they’re actually going to do this, but after living in Madrid, Santiago, and Miami over a span of 30-odd years, I fear for the isolation shock in this retirement relocation. This visit, they were only passing through on their way to points west, but we did manage to have lunch, Stephen joining us late, having gotten stuck with a client.
One subject at lunch was ‘seemingly innocuous remarks that strike home’. I managed two examples: first, my older brother saying (once upon a time) that I had ‘lived my life in a fantasy world’. As I recall, he looked a little embarrassed after the words left his lips, because I think he realized that I recognized that the subtext of this short editorial was ‘underachievement’. Fantasy or not, things have gone rather well for me, I think: swell partner of 36 years (April 1st), we’re healthy, debt-free, and I get two checks a month for — as our friend Michael likes to put it — sitting around the house all day ‘touching myself’. I don’t know what that last part means.
My other ‘innocuous remark’ example came from my mother. In 1971, she had been invited to meet for lunch by her prospective daughter-in-law’s aunt and uncle, who were stopping over in Atlanta. On the day, I ferried mum to the appointed restaurant, made myself scarce for a couple of hours, then returned to collect and drive her back home. That drive home of forty miles offered a chance for reverie, and at some point without preface, gazing out at the passing landscape, my mother murmured, “I wonder what their bedroom conversation will be.” Never possessing high self-esteem, she had not been looking forward to this lunch, as this couple were Old Philadelphia with no experience to speak of with quaint Southern Folk. Her misgivings were in the end all for naught, as she and the formidable aunt corresponded for years and became close friends.
I suppose when couples meet someone, the ‘post-mortem’ is inevitable, but I don’t really care for the idea. That is, of course, unless it involves people meeting me, in which case I want them to go home, straight to the boudoir, and wax poetic.