Thursday, June 12, 2008

That Was Then, This Is Now


Sort of. With the little tricks of the trade, the special effects of Iphoto, the clean hair, the glasses that disguise the circles under the eyes, the crows feet, we pick ourselves apart. A little make up. A little photoshop magic and I might not be so bad. Notice I didn't say look?

The first thing that happened this morning was the usual ritual of coffee to take outside with Cyrus. I smoke, and sip at a little metal cafe table, back to the wall off glass that is the greenhouse part of the cottage. I face South, morning sun well up. Cryus does what Cyrus does then runs like a happy bear up the steps to stand before the door waiting for the next exciting part of our morning together. Breakfast for Cyrus. A bit of news for me and then a bath. It's too cold this morning for a shower. This is the first June of my life in Salt Lake I remember being cold on my birthday. So a hot bath. And the ritual of moisturizer, deodorant, brush teeth, dry hair, it's all so dull. I take Cyrus for a walk. We walk the alleys so I don't have to be pleasant.

Another home-made latte, another smoke, and the phone rings, twice before I pick it up. I answer, it's Tom, first love, last love, calling to wish me a happy birthday. No small effort since he's calling from Costa Rica, and the first time the phone rang, I said hello, and there was silence, so I hung up. He asked me if men follow me around because I smell so good. I said, "I see no men on a day to day basis, so no, no men follow me around." But when last men did, I tried to scare then off. I was quite successful. Men have called me things like, "edgy," which is, I guess, a nicer way of saying, "she's such a bitch." If worst came to worst, I could always say, "I'm just not into guys." But now, these days I'm pretty much a ghost of a woman. I walk among you on shopping day and you don't even know I'm there.

Nick, the history professor, brings me flowers, lilies. My favorite cut flower. They last and smell good. He brings me presents and a card in a leopard print bag. The man has class. In the bag are two books and the card. And one of the books is the Complete Stories of Dorothy Parker. Thanks Stella, since you told me my writing reminds you of Dorothy Parker, I needed to know who I'm channeling. It's a gaping hole in my education. I have read all of Colette, but not our own Dorothy Parker. And another book I'm sure to love, since we share the same taste in literature. And the card is perfection. I will try to get Melea to scan it for me. How is it possible I have a male friend this sweet and generous. He's taking me to lunch and has offered to take me to a nice, expensive new Italian restaurant, but I want to eat cheap Mexican food in a place where we will be the only ones speaking English. There will be a TV in the background with a Mexican soap opera playing and music from the jukebox will compete for dominance. We sit across the small room from four guys, probably in their mid twenties speaking Spanish loudly. Unless I gaze out the window, I could be in almost any Mexican town. It's as if we're on vacation for a moment--which is all I could take of vacationing anymore--too much work.

He pays while I stand outside smoking. Then we walk across the parking lot to the Spoons and Spices. I buy a couple of small items, he browses the fancy cookware. We talk about our own ancient history. Last time we went to a movie he asked me about my second husband. The one I never talk about. I said I'd try to write about him, but haven't got very far with that story. It is one of the darkest periods of my history as an adult woman, and I'd rather not think about it. But I am in favor of full disclosure. If only to edify myself. What made me do it? Why did I marry him? And now that unfinished story is like a wound that won't heal. So I guess I'll have to work on that.

Thanks to all who came to comment, and those of you who sent me email. There are two men in my blogging life who I have a little thing for. Randal, you know who you are. I know you're spoken for, and too young for me anyway, but still..... And you, Mr. Unconventional? Yes you are. A most extraordinarily talented and generous man. Just those qualities make you unconventional, but come August we'll see what kind of Conventioneer you are.

It's been a lovely birthday, and now I have to take Cyrus for a walk.

19 comments:

enigma4ever said...

Happy Birthday friend...wow...such a nice day...and I love that you went and ate Mexican and that friends gave you gifts..wonderful....your photo is lovely, you do look wise..and yeah, a little edgy..-but in a really good way... and Stella is right- you do have a Dorothy Parker quailty - that is so right...

have a wonderful birthday week....take care...

Je ne regrette rien said...

what did I tell ya ... good bones win out every time. breathtaking... and you're gonna love dorothy.

D.K. Raed said...

a very good b-day! I love the idea of a restaurant where no one speaks english!

Of course you realize men do follow you around; but with you giving them that cool appraising look, they are having to rethink their whole lives. Kind of like free therapy. Are you practicing without a license?

Anita said...

i hope you don't take this the wrong way, but it is clearly meant as a compliment. you look very much like my mother when she was in her 50's early 60's. my mother, of course, was not so sophisticated, she lived a very circumscribed life due the the deciscions she made to get out of povery and away from an abusive family. but she was a stunner at her best. she passed her very high cheek bones down to me, for which i am forever grateful. but she was a tiny woman, 5'0" tall and i was 5'7" at my tallest (i too have done my own share of shrinking over the years. she also passed on her TOTALLY flat butt ... thanks mom. a friend of mine just told me, when i complained about my weight, that i'm crazy. he says i'm "ghost" in terms of my presence. fragile. need to get back to work on those weight machines i guess.

i hope i look like you when i'm 64.

thanks for being so open and sharing this with us, your readers.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Happy Birthday....I long since stopped commenting on a Ladies's looks, especially when she make the first diagnosis.:)

So much was in your post...and parts of it are in me......

Plain good writing!!

Mauigirl said...

Happy birthday, Utah! Nice post. Hope you had a great day and many more to come!

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Librarian sexy and, yes, right in the sweet-spot/wheel-house, too. Gots to love it, in other words.

DivaJood said...

My god, you are the spitting image of one of my cousins - it is uncanny. She's terrific, too. There is something powerful in you, it shows in the bone structure, it shows in the face. Happy birthday, chicka, and many, many more.

Unconventional Conventionist said...

[looks down at feet, shuffles, a little bit embarrased]

[straightens up, defiant]

Hah! Now I can ID you to the cops if'n you get outta line with your straight razor.

Liquid said...

I get the feeling that this birthday has brought you life.....

I like that.

:)

La Framéricaine said...

Soberly impressive.

I was thinking severe Paris Left-Bank Intellectual, but what do I know? Brains and beauty, a killer combo!

You do know of course that one advantage of being in France for any "woman of a certain age" is the fact that French culture does not summarily execute female sexuality at age 45. Nor are beauty and brains mutually exclusive. Those French people are so quaint.

Congrats on getting out of the mainstream monolingual zone--that does so put my nerves on edge--for lunch. I have to work in a Spanish & Portuguese Department just to stay sane. English only gives me hives.

Feliz cumpleaños, Mujer!

Ghost Dansing said...

happy birthday Utah.....

Stella said...

Happy Birthday, Utah. You know, I think you look like Barbara Boxer. I hope I look that great... in a few years.

You are still gorgeous. Keep doing whatever you do: it's working. Thanks, enigma. Utah's writing knocked me out—wonderfully crafted words.

DCup said...

Lovely you. Fantastic writing. I just showed your picture to MathMan and he was all "wow." I concur.

Love you, Sugar.

Utah Savage said...

Dcup, love, Mathman may now find himself with a stalker, but at least he'll know what she looks like.

Randal Graves said...

Your first paragraph: that's far too much work! Easier to pretend to be a cartoon character.

I have to second UC. Flattery is quite foreign. But you ain't so bad yourself. Despite your Hepburn-esque qualities, I'm nowhere near as handsome as vintage George Peppard.

Dusty said...

I am sorry I missed your birthday dear heart. But it sounds as if you enjoyed it which makes me happy at the proverbial clam.

Dorothy Parker was a magnificent writer..and yes, you remind me of her..smart, sassy, biting wit..not afraid to tell the truth so graphically it won't leave you.

She was one of the few women that were part of the Algonquin Round Table.

I share something in common with her too..marrying the same jackass twice. Go figure. ;p

Hugs and grasping your face in my hands to make you look into my eyes as I talk to you. Its only cyber but I think you get my drift cher.

Stella said...

Dusty, Dorothy Parker was the only woman on the staff of Vogue and The New Yorker, as well as being one of the first women writers in Hollywood. She's been my hero since I was a little girl.

BTW, Utah, I think Boxer has that same strong beauty as you. Let's continue the celebration!

Dr. Zaius said...

Ack! Happy birthday! sorry that I missed it.