Sitting here at the dining room table in the living room where no one ever eats. Dad had his Medifast from Johns Hopkins here for a few years until Mom banished the cluttering boxes to the other side of the living room by the little old bar, now a library with his books from UCLA, when he went to get a B.A. in English after retiring from the law.
Most is unchanged: the Orientals Grandpa brought back from China with his second wife after whom I was named, the yellow mini-blinds to the right, blocking the view of the enormous pool (it’s a tract house in the Palisades near the park, built in 1960, one-story only which would not be worth much were it not in this location).
To the other side is a beautiful mahogany hutch of Grandma’s, with all their DVDs and VHS cassettes of classic movies, with a sprinkling of films from the 70s, 80s and 90s. On the far wall is a large Chinese tapestry with the ubiquitous cranes and then a stainless steel and glass hutch/shelf unit with all of the ivory tusks. Of course I realize that ivory is barbaric, but in the 1950s or early 1960s, Americans still went to China to buy ivory.
In spite of my horror at the cruelty they represent, I cannot but admire the two feet tall man and woman, graceful, carved, serene, the Chinese equivalent of the Greek statues like the ones I saw at the Hellenic Exhibit at the Met in NYC in December, 2009.
I came down to LA on Thursday because when I called to ask how Dad was (we talk daily), he sounded more forlorn, I daresay dejected, than Eoyore from Winnie the Pooh. “How are you?” “Just terrible! I’m ALL alone! Hilma’s gone (3 hour a day housekeeper with them since I was 5, in 1977), Suzy’s gone (aunt), Carolyn’s gone (assistant for industrial property). Even Eduardo (maintenance all-around solver of problems) is out of town.”
“Well, at least Mom went to Gelson’s to get you pastries and goodies right?” “NO!” he exclaimed. “I have nothing to eat but stale bread and decrepit fruit, sadder and older than I am!” Well, this just would not do. I had hoped to beg , borrow , or steal a ticket to the Twilight Singers concert at the Music Box for which I had not gotten tickets early enough and said even if the man at MB never emailed me back, I would come to LA because it was simply too pitiful to think of the old man pining away, all alone, abandoned, neglected with not so much as a piece of coffeecake or a ripe mango! “Yes,” he moaned, “The neighbors are beginning to talk. So sad what happens to old men.” When I confirmed I would come during the second call, though no email had been forthcoming from Music Box, he instantly perked up and reported that Mom had an afterwork function and he would be alone for dinner, so if I came down we could go somewhere new.
Now this was serious. My parents have a rotating stable of about ten restaurants in Santa Monica , Westwood and Pacific Palisades they eat on Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights. Hilma cooks Monday through Thursday and Mom puts the dinner on the table when she gets home from work.
I packed up my computer and books (more on this later) and got on the 101 South to rescue my deprived father from a fate of rotten apples and rye bread which was like the rye bread which had “turned into pumperknickel all by itself” as Joe Bologna put it to James Caan early in Neil Simon’s Chapter Two.
I finally reach my mother on the cell, my fifth try that day, to report on her dear husbands pitiable state. “Oh! That big fibber! When you see that new , beautiful coffeecake, the Mexican almond cookies, the summer fruit, the new rye bread!” I arrived a bit late to find him resting , not really asleep, in bed and report on the conversation with my mother. His response was typical: “Oh, some people just don’t understand!”
The next day I heard from someone I know in Montecito, a talented novelist, ex-CIA, formerly chief of intelligence or “spymaster” to Prince Albert of Monaco, who wishes me to type his spy novels (very good, by the way) into Word so he can market them as e-books on Kindle. He confirmed with me and I decided to stay in LA and have a nice dinner at Upper West on Pico, a link to whose Happy Hour I had posted on FB a month ago, see the new Woody Allen, and type the 16 hours I quoted him via email after picking up the book at his lovely home and doing a timed sample.
I am a bit tired as I went through three boxes of letters, pictures, papers, notebooks from elementary, high school and college until 2 AM, courtesy of my first 5 hour energy drink. That is a blog for next week as it will take far too long.
Tomorrow I will write about my Yale reunion, which was last year this week. Yale reunions are always Memorial Day and the weekend following this, and my 15th was more fun than my entire time at Yale on a social level. It is hard to believe I was at the Cross Campus all-class wine reception before the night of booze, food, dancing and general revelry (some debauchery as well) one year ago today.
I truly love to type and am if he does wish for me to do all eight books, I can go with my FB and real life friend Amy to England, where I have not been since 1994. I adore London and Ireland and have never been to the Lake District, the lanes where Wordsworth and Coleridge discussed the poetic and theoretical questions at the heart of Lyrical Ballads, including the all-important Preface.
I could not be happier.