Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Woman At The Washington Zoo



Years ago on my way to Raymond Carver's grave, I stayed on Mercer Island, a chi-chi section of Seattle, with friends of my then much older boyfriend. He hadn't seen these friends in nearly twenty years and described them as hard drinking and fun. My then-boyfriend could rival Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) for social outlets so I didn't have any idea what to expect except that I had seen The Big Chill in the eighth grade. This is when age difference is not your friend. It became apparent to me within hours that these were not the same people I had hoped for -- the first night we had a picnic on Lake Washington where I tried to swim, only to be warned that "the goose shit in the water sometimes causes rashes on the kids." I rose out of the water with great rapidity and dried off, wishing for vat of antibacterial scrub. Dinner with the friends and their friends wasn't much better -- drinks consisted of people measuring out gin in capfuls (allergies and fear of being drunk and/or fat), people talking about their diets (lactose-intolerant, insulin-overproduction, metabolism problems), the difficulty of finding good nannies (the friends were complaining about how bitchy their nanny had become since she'd been invited to Hugh Hefner's Annual Pool Party and refused to eat anything for fear of gaining weight), and how hard it was to combine work and kids. The friends had two beautiful daughters, five and seven, one of which would cry and scream whenever the woman left for work and would call her throughout the day, saying things like "I hate you because you leave me and you're the reason my stomach always hurts and I'm never ever going to forgive you for being selfish." The girls' goldfish, Sammy, died and Sammy "had gone to heaven" even though their parents were atheists who mocked everything and everybody slightly religious. I thought I might poke my eyes out. It was not their lack of religious belief that upset me, merely the convenient use of heaven when it suited them. I wanted to take the kids aside and say, There is no heaven, you know. Sammy is dead and cold in the ground. Which is how I felt.

It rained almost all three days we stayed there, an unrelenting drizzle that matched my mood. I had nothing in common with anyone it seemed, no stories about meeting at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve during my senior year of college (I would have been lucky to get to go to Austin for my senior year of college and meet friends at the foot of the tower at University of Texas where Charles Whitman shot all those people years ago), no halcyon days of doing coke all night and that aw shucks, where has all the time gone, man? feeling. I couldn't find a role for myself and tried to cast back to the movie. I would have been Meg Tilly, doing stretching exercises, and seducing Bill Hurt. But there was no Bill to be found, I didn't bring any leotards, and try as I might not to let it, the rain had started to get to me. So this is why people killed themselves in Seattle, I thought. The last night we went to a Thai restaurant alone, happy to be free of the domestic chatter. Two young Asian boys danced in the rain outside, using the tiny paper umbrellas that had adorned their soft drinks in the restaurant as props. Their dance was the happiest, purest thing I had seen all week. When we left the restaurant, the remants of their umbrellas remained on the sidewalk, bright bits of color in an otherwise gray landscape.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Loading mercury with a pitchfork/ your truck is almost full. The neighbors/ take a certain pride in you. They/ stand around watching." Richard Brautigan

Mercury With A Pitchfork

2 parts vodka
1 part pineapple juice
1 part chambord

Serve chilled in a martini glass garnished with a lemon.

Benedictions and Maledictions

There have been questions on the comment board about my diet and or work-out regime in the past couple of weeks so I'll address them today, Sunday, the day of rest. Let's just say that I keep it simple -- no low-fat, no Atkins, no Zone. It's all about cookies and vodka, the occasional fruit medley, a lot of champagne. I work out sporadically, mostly walking on a treadmill and yoga. I'm also a nervous sort -- this burns calories.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Today's runner-up quote from the "Sunday's Best Quotes" file:"I always fuck my directors, but with you[Kasdan],it was difficult."--N. Kinski

Anonymous said...

Stay tuned for tomorrow's monumental pre-4th of July stupendous quote. Really.

cindy said...

Michelle,
today's post had me laughing, you're so funny about men and your workout routine. Plus, these anonymous men expose their true selves for all to see. As you might say, it's not pretty. Anony-mouses might as well be posting from perv prison.
xo;
Cindy C.

Anonymous said...

Earth woman tied to tree like in Cat People movie. Engenius. Kudos.

R's Musings said...

Hearing all the woes of what your future might hold can be a bit daunting; makes you feel like you've already been through it all, when you're only seeing it on the horizon. Stolen moments of anticipation, the wonder of the unknown. Great post, M!

Hopeless in Bloomfield Hills said...

Dear Michelle's Spell,
I am trying to give up the married guy for a month, but he says to give him a little more time (his wife's birthday is in August and he doesn't want to ruin it) and he will be more free to discuss our situation and things will change. We talked last night (late, he got out of his house while his wife was sleeping on Ativan I think) at the Coney and he swore that he knew he needed change with me but it was hard. I will keep you posted on what happens next and try the month. I haven't seen the movie yet but I will even though I have never seen a Woody Allen movie because everything looks too hard to understand in them. Hopeless in Bloomfield Hills

R's Musings said...

AP, We can see why you don't have your own blog. No original material...just quote after quote after quote. And you can quote me on it. :) Cheers, --R

paul said...

my cajun queen,
sounds like my kind of diet and workout routine only it does not seem to work as good for me. it sure does for you, though!
Rock on little mama you light up my livin.
R2 C2!

Anonymous said...

Beating through the jungle with a golden track, boomalay, boomalay, boomalay, boom. --can't remember this guy's name

bonnie said...

Honey,

I'm back and glad to see you're still working steadily without missing a beat. You look so cute, but what's the news with that statement? The Anon-i-Mouse (good one, Cindy) has *got* to be a male with that poem, racist overtones and everything. Clueless white man or worse. Good luck to Hopeless. When you're dealing with such prize men such as these, you'll need it.
kiss kiss

Bonnie

JR's Thumbprints said...

"Mercury With A Pitchfork" reminds me of when my dad would complain about his workers standing around waiting for the hazardous waste to be removed. My dad said, "Shit, all it was was abestos. You get a goddamm hose, wet it down, and shove it in a garbage bag." He's retired now and has emphysema.

Anonymous said...

Today's triple-header "Quote of the Day":#1: Every day is a gift--but good luck exchanging it if you don't like it--A.E. Newman;#2:WARNING-CAUTION-WARNING(The following quotes contain material that will be offensive to those of a certain ideological persuasion. Feminists and like-minded persons will find masculine nouns and pronouns in the following quotes.) PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. Others could learn something. "...the pride of the artisan in his art and its uses is pride in himself. His tools are indeed precious, but his use of them is not a duty but a feat, and it is in his skill and ability to make things as he wishes them to be that he rejoices. His distinction, when he is a great master, is not to be called after his works but that his works should be called by his personal name."-- George Santayana, Part II, Chaper 1, The Birth of Art. #3: Man is the mean between nothing and everything.--Pascal

cindy said...

"His distinction, when he is a great master, is not to be called after his works but that his works should be called by his personal name." A rich quote, coming from a man not even willing to claim his own name.
Cindy

Jason said...

I've learned that lesson so many times, but everytime I try to be in "the club".

I did everything the wrong way and I still got to where they are. But now I have a chip on my shoulder and they can't figure out how to relate.