Karry catches the rising sun spotlighting the frost on the trees, says I’d appreciate, implying more than her, she hates all of winter … but as the sun continues to rise, she thaws, and is broken by its beauty, how the backlit frost glows, how the trees just glisten, like the sun has cast the morning in moonlight, and for an unspoiled moment we just stand awed in our old kitchen and stare at an older sun we’ve never seen before kissing the backs of the bare trees good morning.
In my imagination, this is where we are tonight ….
Walking into Potter’s, glancing left and finding enough open, old, red stools at the bar to accommodate us (whoever’s available, whoever wants to come), their acquisition by our keisters a confirmation, the most formal, capital “A” Arrival I can think of right now, the granting of official permission to leave everything else outside for Here … Now … the simple This.
In my imagination Robert, the forever bartender, towel over his shoulder, who spent contented decades pouring and washing, fills our glasses full of Pabst — all that our thirst has required here since 21.
Yes, we make a point to clink each other’s glasses. There may be toasts, but everything that has ever needed said is whispered in full measure by just our being together.
There is no clock on the wall.
If we’re lucky an old regular may shuffle in on cue to check the daily number off the TV, letting us know it’s seven. In the right company, in the right place, such a sun dial is sufficient.
We don’t bother with the menu, remembering it like we recall the Gettysburg Address Mr. Landman made us memorize in 8th grade history.
Everyone orders their regulars … there may be a cheeseburger, maybe wings, maybe a Greek Western, maybe a Double Giant Whammy Doodle.
For me, it’s a Poor Boy (what Potter’s calls their grilled ham and cheese topped with lettuce and mayo) without tomato on a hoagie roll. Unostentatious and perfect, the sandwich and the setting. Small salad (with beets, because, you know, Uniontown) tossed in their homemade Italian whose taste is worth any indigestion later, and their legendary fries sprinkled with seasoned salt, to share.
But the nourishment I come for is not on the menu.
It’s to hear everyone’s laughter again. Bill throwing his head back in full cackle. Tom’s revving up and going silent in high gear. Matt’s high-pitched giggle. Homer, ready with his quick squirrel chuckle. Andy’s shoulders heaving when he gets going. Chris, fighting through his laugh to throw more logs on the fire. Wolfie just shaking his head.
We go a little quieter when the food comes, order seconds of Pabsts, and are in no great hurry once the bill comes, carrying on the conversation we started here as teenagers.
Cheers, boys ….
Tuesday, November 13, 2020
I plant the black camp chair firm
in the back yard grass just
as the sun and I tip
our hats good evening to this,
the season’s last warm day.
From 70s, 60s now and falling fast,
fall’s full fragrances mingling with the mix tape of neighbors’ bustling,
whispering to me that this is indeed a great, shared secret.
A lawn mower over yonder pushed from front to back,
growling louder and receding,
like the wave of a season’s coming and going….
Neighbor kids squealing just beyond the reach of each other’s tag,
the barking dog so wanting to break free from its leash to join this,
its favorite game in the world ….
The pork chop dinner through the kitchen’s open screened window wafting,
soon summoning the congregation ….
The wrist-revving motorcycle, racing up the street
chasing the last of the jacketless daylight.
50s now, and falling fast,
I rise from my chair and lay down,
surrendering so the grass can pillow my head,
and draw in the deep breath of …
the neighbor’s finished mow,
pork chops on the table,
the fallen leaves scenting the air and promising
a Last. Satisfying. Crackle. Crunch.
When I recluctantly stand back up,
fold the black camp chair, plant it ‘neath the porch,
and shut the back door behind me, turning the lock.
The leashed dog still barking, wanting to play.
So, THIS would have been the day
When we would stretch after-school Nerf football
On the perfect patch of Connor Street between the power lines
Until the very last drop of daylight … and then some.
You could smell dinner on the table from each of the houses
along your deep post pattern.
our moms would yell us inside,
and we’d beg or ignore for five more minutes.
we could run under just one more tight spiral
on that perfect patch between the power lines.
(Season 3, Episode 6)
On Friday nights, we’ve taken to watching old episodes of Murder, She Wrote.
As one does.
As an aside … happy belated 95th birthday to Dame Angela Lansbury. As an aside to the aside, I found Em the most awesome t-shirt in the universe to honor the occasion.
To give you just a taste of our recent bliss, last week we dialed up Season 3 Episode 5, and watched the sublime “Corned Beef and Carnage,” [how there isn’t a statue built to the person who came up with that title is a crime that should have merited its own two-part episode ending with a part-one cliffhanger, but I digress…]
… featuring a cast that would rival any Love Boat episode … Charles from MASH, Larry from Three’s Company, “The Man” from Chico and the Man, Kenickie from Grease, and the lovely Susan Anton (insert purring cat sound here).
After last week’s carnage, our expectations were highest-level-before-infinity as we curled into our comfy living room chairs to fire up episode 6 last night. It guest-starred Leslie Nielsen, playing David, an old-high school crush of Jessica’s, who was returning to Cabot Cove as a four-time-divorced smooth-talking debonair shyster, having hired a quartet of young scuba divers to plumb the depths of Cabot Cove in search of forgotten, sunken Pirate treasure.
As one does.
Oh, how high the piles of cocaine must have been in their weekly writer’s room?
Anyway, here’s where I need you to pay attention and weigh in …
… the episode opens with Angela chatting with Amos (Tom Bosley’s dim-witted sheriff character who Bosley inflects with the absolute worst Maine accent ever attempted) and good ole’ Seth (the town doctor whose relationship with Jessica always almost-but-never-quite teeters beyond the platonic), when David (Leslie Neilsen’s character) spies Angela, taps her on the shoulder, and …
… gives her an impossibly-hard-to-watch full-mouth excruciatingly long kiss.
Out of nowhere. With no context.
For context (as if it even matters to the scene) … Jessica is a widower, who turned to mystery writing only after the sudden, unexpected death of her dear husband, Frank.
Needless to say Em and I were as taken aback as Seth and Amos.
In full disclosure, one of us may or may not have blurted out: “What the EFFFFFF is happening right now?”
No lie, we exchanged at least two rounds of astonished rejoinders by the time those suddenly carnal 50-somethings pulled away from each other.
It was then that we realized that, evidently, we care more about the character (not to mention Frank, her widower, who is probably still spinning in his fictitious grave) NOW than the writers did THEN. This is where we welcome your perspective to balance ours.
Knowing what you now know about the scene (also, if you want to appreciate the following question in its full context, we wholeheartedly encourage you to dial up Season 3, Episode 6, watch it beginning to end, and then return to the polling question. Better yet, start at Season 1, Episode 1, and work your way through the massive pile of dead bodies that Jessica amasses leading up to her randy street encounter with Lt. Frank Drebin.) …
… please weigh in the following. Thanks (as always) for the gift of your time and attention.
I can’t remember when I found them, I just remember as soon as I saw them I had to get ’em.
That was us for a good 14 years, from my first gig as a 14-year-old until I gave up my spot on the bandstand a couple years after getting married.
I think I made them a Christmas present. And I was right. He treasured them.
For years afterwards, whenever I’d visit, he’d always point ’em out from their privileged perch on the mantle in the living room. “I smile every time I look at them,” he’d say. “They make me think of all the good times we had.”
And then we’d reminisce about those good times.
I know exactly what he means.
I took them back when we cleaned out the old house four years ago. Gave them a privileged perch on the shelves leading upstairs, so I’d see them every time I came home.
I smile every time I look at them. They make me think of all the good times we had.
That’s what I’d tell him if I could call to wish him a happy birthday today.
I can hear the sound of his voice pitching up the second he recognized it was me, as pure as the tone of his horn.
He was always genuinely glad to hear from me every time I’d call. What a gift that was.
That’s what I’m missing today.
I’d call him to wish him a happy birthday, and he’d be the one making me feel good.