Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guest List

I am having a fucked-up day.  Not the day, exactly, but me.  Yes, the cold air was a stern memo that Thanksgiving is closing in, and that huge meal-- -with the guests you haven't even invited-- is looming like a turkey-flavored noose in your kitchen that needs new plaster and paint, suitable lighting, and a functioning oven.  Calls have backed up on voicemail--- your usual dinner companions with that slight impatient edge in their tone which could either mean--- what's up with the delayed invitation?-- or maybe, gee, if you're slammed this year, I could go out to the Hamptons with my co-workers….I almost regret the timing of my broken wrist this summer; it would have been the perfect excuse.  Maybe I'll be diagnosed with something hideous and this will be the last supper… or none at all.  I hate myself when I get this way.  I really enjoy entertaining, I am in general such a terrible friend these days that a single festive dinner can be a great purging of hostess-guilt.

But suddenly it seems as though last year was just a few weeks ago.  Like instead of looking forward to holidays, they are tracking me.  They stalk me with accusatory ribbon-clad fingers and they ring bells which are out of tune with my tinnitus B-flat.  Maybe it was the Mexican cashier in Asssociated today who when I asked him which were the pears on sale looked me right in the eye and said 'they're not here'.  No apology, no courtesy--- a kind of resentment that he has to ring up groceries for people who are as poor as he is, and who remind him that his debit card is overdrawn with things like cans of coke and snickers bars.  Or maybe it's that I'm out of rice and didn't feel like hauling another 20-pound bag onto the counter so Juan-Carlos can give me Mexican attitude.  I just dumped some tomato sauce on oatmeal.  The God's truth.

Turn back the clock---I used to get that brisk fall air electric feeling--- sex is great under blankets, and Christmas parties were amazing…and the Mexican cashiers fell over themselves to pack my bags and begged to deliver.  Pears?  Take these--- we'll just throw them in-- no charge.  Men asked for your number in the aisles, women exchanged recipes and admired your shoes, even babies held out their arms.  A trip to the grocery store was an adventure.  It was also necessary leveling.  You felt like a wife-- a mother.  The rest of the day?  Men held doors for you, stuck notes in your pocket.  You were shining.

And so much of it is my own fault.  My girlfriends and men friends tell me I make no effort--- or make an effort not to make an effort.  I'm too tired of myself to consider this or its alternative.  I skip calls, fail to RSVP, spend way too much time on the internet when I'm supposed to be learning how to use Logic Pro.  I am writing-- -that is there--- it's just the execution, the recording--- the directions and effort seem so tedious and impossible.  I'm chronically under-published and unsung.  Tonight someone I actually knew spent $142,000,000 on a painting-- -someone with a lovely wife who makes an effort--- and I am sitting here considering the Warholian irony of introducing Francesco Rinaldi to the Quaker Oats man.

I'm here in layers of old sweats, my coagulated meal in a bowl that looks unwashable, and I actually, rather than sparring with the help screens of my Logic, type in 'what do you do when you feel messed up?'  And I am taken to some website that tells me I must accept that Tinkerbell is dead and let Jesus in.  Okay.  A small stage laugh, here.  But I never particularly liked Tinkerbell….what I did like was the relationship… that a wild flying boy and a fairy had this intimacy… it made me feel better about life.

Last night my first husband called me to tell me he's getting married.  Or maybe he's already married…to a 29 year old six-foot-tall model whose picture online is somewhere between a Victoria's Secret angel and a stripper profile body-shot.  Of course she is using him for his rockstar connections; he is 66 and unwell but still gets royalties and has a free pass to the few stellar recording studios on this continent.  There is a youtube clip of her getting thrown offstage at the Apollo amateur night just a few months ago.  To be kind, they only allowed a mini-second of actual singing…and who really cares because her legs are amazing and she rocked the lace camisole and the hair weave.  And he sounded so happy…. and really, he came to me in my 20's after meeting backstage--- with a ring and a proposal.  We scarcely knew one another.  It was exciting--- it was lovely and passionate and magical.   So why begrudge him a bit of senior happiness?

The thing is…everything ends.  Your happy marriage, even if you stay together, generally ends.  Your passionate affair.  Your first night.  Your first love.  Your ballet career.  Your second love.  A great film.  Your third love.  Songs.  Symphonies.  Your best gig.  Even Proust ends.  There are no more pages, at a certain point.  I suppose you can be pragmatic and spend your life preparing for the end, like financial advisors counsel us, but there is no emotional pension plan.  You can wait until your husband tells you he doesn't love you, or you can take off the first night you feel the slightest inclination to turn over and sleep facing the wall.  That was my style, I guess.  Maybe it was fear.  I'll never know.

What I do know is that you can't really control the end.  You can prepare for it--- you can even become isolated and accustomed to solitude… but then you miss so much fun.  Pleasure and pain.  It's hard to recognize the midpoint between your youth and your old age.  Not everyone goes out like Lou Reed with a loving intelligent companion and a disease which lets you slow down until you've stopped, and the world mourning your loss and acknowledging your value.  And not everyone loses their memory like my Mom who isn't sure whether she's a child or a grandmother.

Memory can be painful.  Good memories--- bad memories… Last night my ex-husband told me he loved me 'like a thirsty man' and never forgave himself for turning gold into brass… and me for failing to see him through his wild years.  I couldn't stand the anticipated end and I made my exit.  Trust me--it felt equally as bad as being left.

So 30 years later, he has that feeling-- a wedding feeling-- and I don't have the heart to tell him--- he is crazy and blind, and the coming hurt will kill him, maybe.  He is fragile.  The girl has friended me on Facebook and wants to have coffee.  I will give her a gift.  I will go to the Tinkerbell website and type in 'what do you give your aging ex-husband's sexy child-bride as a token of your support?'  Let Jesus in, it will say.  Even though you are a fairy-murderer,  even though you are a cranky old loner who talks to insane jazz musicians and ex-husbands at 4 AM.

So I am wondering… whether Jesus prefers mushroom or chestnut stuffing, and if he'd like to bring a date.

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