Friday, August 17, 2007

As Time Goes By

She noticed he was different that first night on the bus - smarter, she thought, because of the book - and it drew her to him. They exchanged formal smiles and nods almost as dance partners might do in acknowledgment of the pleasure of a minuet just ended. A week later they were lovers.

The compatibility of their bodies amazed them and passion consumed them until their breathing slowed again, their flesh released them to consider what the rest of the night had to offer. Sometimes they would wash away the time’s separation in the shower, his strong arms lifting her to him as the sides of the metal stall rumbled thunder and the steamy spraying water poured over them; on other nights they rolled in a cool ménage a trois with the spring breeze that stole softly in through the window above his mattress.

They were lovers, though love was never spoken of. They even made a point of saying, “I like you,” as they lay together, a joking reference to the respect each of them had for the seriousness of love.

He brought her to jazz, to the Wade in the Water of Oscar Petersen, the rich vocals of Lou Rawls. Rochester was a music town, and after formal concerts ended, traveling jazz greats of the day found their way to Doug Duke’s tiny club down at Charlotte beach. The place would start jumping around midnight, and he'd bring her there, as much being part of the scene as taking it in. Heads turned and old men smiled recognition as they made their way to a table near the stage so tiny that it felt as though Clark Terry or Marion McPartland or Coleman Hawkins might play just for them. Her own musical interests were baser. She sang him Pat Sky and Phil Ochs, vibrated his stereo speakers to Jefferson Airplane on those rare nights when they would just hang out at his place.

In the wee hours of the morning they would drive to Nick Tahou’s for the “garbage plate” or homefries. It was a tough neighborhood. There’d been murders there, so he’d go in while she waited in the old green station wagon he called “The Pickle.” Sometimes the weight of the food was more than the grease-soaked paper bag could hold, and it would lose its ketchup-laden load in the front seat as they laughed in greasy-chinned silliness. Then he’d drive her home, often as the night was giving way to sunrise.

The affair ended as suddenly as it began. They traded places, in a way, when he graduated and moved to Boston, and she left her job and enrolled in summer courses. He came back to visit a few weeks later, and things weren't the same.

They eventually loved and married well, though of course not each other, but for years each haunted the other’s dreams in the way a lover can. At times a song or an old photo still stirs the memories. They're good memories, memories of a searing yet tender affair, but when rational thought replaces the frivolous recall of fickle emotion, they both believe that it would not have been the right love, the love that sustains them now and has for so many years. It was a show in rehearsal, mis-cast, a film outdone by its sequel despite the enduring luster of its original players.

You must remember this,
A kiss is just a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh.
The sentimental things apply
As times goes by.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

.......................................Here's lookin' at you, kid...

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Secret Lives of Animals...

This morning I was treated to a wonderful sight. In the corner of our freshly cut meadow, the white of a doe's tail caught my eye, flicking rapidly out of habit or perhaps necessity (although it seemed too early in the morning for the flies to be bothering her).

I went to the back porch for a better look, but the change in angle placed her out of my view, and instead, I spied her fawn in a bouncing game of "Herd the Turkeys!" Acting much like a border collie, this young Bambi was circling two dismayed gobblers, bouncing and dashing with a speed that had them completely befuddled and seemingly scared witless. Compared to their hysterical fits and starts and Keystone Kops collisions, the young deer was poetry in motion. I watched in amazed amusement.

After a minute or so, probably reacting to a call or signal from the doe, the fawn suddenly turned and bounded toward the corner of the meadow and then into the woods. Game over, the turkeys stood still as statues, apparently wondering what on earth they had just experienced.

And then life in the meadow returned to the normally peaceful quiet of an early summer morning.