My friend’s neighbor was at the door and invited her to join him in a party of art and rock music. The neighbor (I’ll call him Rufus) maintained his home, art studio and “garage band” in building set behind a law office facing the street. Rufus emphasized that cocktails and food would be offered. My friend committed to stopping by. She requested that I join her, as she did not know this person well, and wanted an escort. My quiet evening of rest became a rock concert with a small group of strangers. Later, Rufus sent over an agent to again knock at the door to remind my friend to join the party, now beginning. Rufus was generally interested in getting to know my friend better.
I entered a museum of sorts, with art work hanging from most of the wall space, but also hanging was the skin and muscle of an aging generation, of which I was on the cusp. Only one “younger” man in his 40s who enjoyed a repertoire of effeminate gestures and a sing-song voice, stood in the kitchen drinking hard alcohol from a measuring cup. I wondered if he controlled his drinking this way. He seemed very focused on his drinking, and did not mingle well.
Our host educated us in conversation on the importance of good work, and that he was taught, in his generation, that what is worth doing is worth doing well. I had heard this speech before, and given it a few times myself. It had a sort of pathetic quality to it, as if we were all standing at the age of oblivion looking over the mess the younger generation was making of the world. Our own messes apparently were of a different kind.
I made some small talk with the older man standing next to me. He saw the bulge of my billfold in my coat pocket, and pressed his hand against my lapel pocket, he said: “Oh my God, he has a gun!” People standing nearby stopped their conversations, staring at me. Something in me rather liked the thought that these unidentified persons thought I was armed. Maybe it was the aura of being someone quite dangerous and signficant. “It’s OK” I assured them, “I only bring it out if confronted by someone else with a weapon.” The conversations slowly resumed.
The focus of the evening was a “concert” of mostly original rock ’n roll songs crafted by a guest guitarist, who was accompanied by Rufus, who played an elaborate set of drums. The songwriter/rocker was nearly hairless, but let what he had grow as long as possible. He was heavy set, soft, with a baloon of skin under his chin. His face was flushed pink, and his eyes narrow set. Before donning the strap of his guitar, he had moved about the room nervously, saying little, looking shy and awkward. When he began his music, he clearly found his way of being more alive and connected. His lyrics were downbeat, negative, dismal. They were stories told in word phrases so spartan as to be anorexic. The music was bold, throbbing, loud, and reminded me of an IV tube connected to the audio equipment, seeking to give life to the frail singing. One song had a bit more meat to it, and told of a woman who lived in a styrofoam world. Even her “old man had styrofoam balls.”
One of the couples stood at the back of the room. They were absorbed in their new iPhones, and would occasionally connect to show the other something of interest. His 70s hair style was without a touch of gray, adorning a face at least 10 years older than his hair. The man who had patted me down for weapons sat off to the side, his wife sitting on a table next to him. He wore his gray hair slicked straight back, and his thick black frames gave his square features even more severity. He was enthusiastically moving to the music, faster than the beat itself. She was more sedate, but smiling, and seemed to laugh at appropriate times to lyrics I found mostly unintelligible.
A very thin man sat on the couch next to a woman in her fifties. Later I learned that she was a retired research attorney for the appellate courts. Earlier in the evening I overhead her say to a few people in the kitichen how she was looking forward to Sarah Palin running for President. It would be so easy to expose her then for the fool she was, and all those who supported her. The thin man sitting next to her looked dangeriously thin, perhaps ill. His teeth were remarkably good, perhaps never exposed to sugar.
Later in conversation after the performance, the thin man shared that he too had musical ability, while the man with thick rim glasses pointed out that women hearing him croon the old love songs on Kareoki would throw their room keys on the floor at this feet. He threw his own keys on the floor to make his point. I hoped the remote on his key ring had not been damaged. I joined another conversation.
The retired attorney shared one her most interesting cases: a much older man who had divorced, and raised his several children had remarried a much younger woman. He had left his frozen sperm to her in his will, and now the ex-wife and children were contesting the will for fear that if the new wife had additional children by in vitro fertilization, it would dilute the inheritance. It turned out that all the fuss was unnecessary if the new wife could not give birth sooner than 9 months after the testator’s death. Some enlightened legislator had put limits on how long heirs could spring from dead loins.
As the evening waned, my friend and I managed to conclude some small talk, and say goodbye. Rufus, seeing an opportunity to pursue an obvious interest, invited my friend to share her email in his guest book. “How thoughtful you have a guest book” she deftly noted, and said goodnight. Stepping outside, the cold rain on my face felt wonderful.
(c) FXP 2011