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.