Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Ginlemonade And A Conversation About Death
I'm that sort of person who much admires hammocks, but finds them sort of uncomfortable when lying in one and trying to drink from a long straw inserted in a tall cocktail.
Similarly, I cannot quite manage to relax while lying on a blanket in the grass because I spend very nearly eighty percent of the time scanning the blanket for insects.
After one has taken the time to spread a large blanket out on the grass and has gone back and forth into the house several times to bring out and place carefully beside that blanket such things as a small stereo, a large book, and a mason jar filled with would appear, to the untrained eye, to be lemonade, but was, in actuality, almost entirely Plymouth gin, one feels silly to spend the entire afternoon sitting crosslegged and swiveling sharply to and fro, flicking insects (and bits of backyard flotsam that resemble insects) from the blanket instead of, you know, lying on it.
So, you make a go of it, mostly for the neighbors' sake, lying first on your back and holding the book above your head at arm's length like the steering wheel of a car pointed at the sun. But that grows tiresome quickly and you shift to your side. But then your leg is asleep and so you move to your stomach. But you can't really enjoy this either because you can't concentrate on a book when you are devoting so much of your mental capacity to reminding yourself not to kick your legs up at the knee and rock them gently back and forth like a teenaged girl does on television when lying on a bed and talking on the telephone.
So I was rather happy to receive the phone call from my friend, because it gave me an entirely plausible excuse to sit up straight and flick studiously at anything that looked like it had crawled or would like to have crawled near to me on the blanket, hoping for a summer home in the inside of my pantleg.
"So guess where I'll be living this summer," said the friend.
" . . . " said I, wittily.
"In a small apartment above an art studio!" said the friend.
"That's nice. I bet it hardly ever smells like failure if you keep the windows open," said I.
"There is a pond out back!"
"Ponds are nice; they give the mosquitoes somewhere to be from."
"It's only going to cost us a couple hundred dollars a month, because the lady who owns the gallery needs the money. It's kind of a sad story, actually; she's a ceramics artist."
"That IS sad."
"Oh, shut up. Anyway, she married her highschool sweetheart, a painter . . . "
"Oh, god. Stop. I don't want to hear any more."
"And he was also a forensic scientist."
"Nope. Don't want to know."
"And they opened up this gallery and had two beautiful daughters."
"Yep. Good Story! Definitely that's the end of the story, because that is obviously a good story, right there, all wrapped up and narratively satisfying. Let's talk about something else now and not belabor it."
"And then, one morning, he's just dead."
"Better than one evening, amirite?"
Spied a spider the size of a smallish fried egg on the open page of my book. Gestured at it so that it would leap onto the blanket where I will never find it again. Will have to burn blanket later this evening.
"They were married for 34 years, were madly in love, had this business together . . . "
"And now she has to rent a room to you fuckmonsters just to make ends meet. Why did you tell me this story?"
"Well, we'll just have to fuck quietly when the gallery is open."
"She sculpts these forest goddess statues. They're a bit dreamcatchery, actually, but pretty."
"Forest goddessing is, like gibson martinis and creative writing classes, generally better in theory than in practice."
"What are you, drunk?"
"I am what many intolerable people are but all decent people aspire to be: well read, unemployed, and moderately soaked through with gin."
I flicked a large and frantic ant even then struggling to scramble onto my leg thousands of millimeters across the yard.
"Listen," said the friend, "coffee Friday?"
"Yes," said I.
The usual pleasantries exchanged, I returned to my book and blanket and afternoon. I went for a large swill of my ginlemonade and found an expired gnat floating among icebergs on a yellowish sea.
Waiter, what's this gnat doing in my ginlemonade?
He's sinking to the depths of the mason jar when you insert a finger to try to fish him out, sinking to the the Davey Jones' Locker reserved for those fortunate gnats who drown in alcoholic drinks every summer.
Sod it. I'm going inside.