Never soap a geyser.Yes, I know your mother and I did it, but we’d been drinking a lot of martinis that night.And the head ranger egged us on.
On the Rooftop of the Uffizi
Oh drink up your champagne, you slow old thing.We can’t sit here all afternoon, that waiter’s giving us the evil eye already.Tell him we want the bill—il conto—the next time you see him coming out.And he should take away this bottle, not just upend it in the ice bucket like that, ridiculously vulgar.People will think what lushes those ancient British types are, abroad, when not at home riding to hounds. Just like the Raj all over, they’ll say.Oh catch his eye, can’t you.I want to get back to that little shop before they close for the day, get some leather gloves for Ginny and Phyllida and the girls.
The only way to get through hurricane season in Baja is to live on blue margaritas.Trust me on this, sweetheart.You won’t sleep, for the heat and the humidity, you’ll lie there dripping, that awful fan like a big bat flying around above you, not to mention the scorpions dropping onto your pillowcase.You get up early and go straight to the bar, order a blue Curaçao margarita, one of those heavy two-handed glasses, it’s all you can do to survive.And at that hour all the Europeans will be coming in on the night flight, and you can catch some great-looking Italian at the bar, before he’s had a chance to find his footing—or some woman with a boat.
Directions to Our House
Be very, very careful coming down Deer Creek from Page Mill; there are often horses rearing in the road, whose riders can’t control them, or tearing up one of the bus stops.
Pass the Stanford vineyard on the left, what looks like a hillside of wooden crosses like one of those battlefields in Normandy, or the graveyard behind a Mission church, those who didn’t take too well to religion.
Don’t hit the giant pinecone in the center of the drive.There’s always one there, sitting glaring at you.Avoid it.Remember the Mynaeds’ giant pinecone in the pictures of those Dionysean rites!
Ignore The Manse as you come past it.The owner is almost never out shooting at squirrels.
The beginning of a new short-short I've started, about crying over spilt milk—
That summer, after Joey left her for the Roman archaeobiologist, Virginia found herself getting weepy over the slightest things. Joey things, of course—finding the cord from his navy sweat pants in the back of the closet; the smell of Redken for Men; an Italian stamp, for €0,60, showing the 11th-century Abbey of Santissima Trinita. But so many other things besides, which snuck up on her unawares. A certain tone of light, a time of day, a color. Passing a dance studio (all those graceful, talented, and self-assured young girls). Seeing an old white-nosed Golden Retriever lay its head trustingly on its owner’s knee. A mild reproach from an older colleague at work. An unexpected hole in one heel of her favorite pair of knee socks, given her two Christmases ago by her mother. A valiant little vapor trail petering out to nothing in the evening sky. Even a tin of bay leaves at Safeway—exactly like the one she’d bought to make jambalaya with sausages and red peppers and chicken thighs for Joey’s 40th birthday.
On one particularly dark day back in the Bush Era, when it was clear that things were only going to get worse, our writing group was greatly heartened by this story about poet James Merrill and a transformative green scooter.
James Merrill wrote in his memoir, A Different Person (1993), about visiting a doctor about his depression, saying that he didn't know how to live or how to love, he just knew how to write a poem. The doctor, he said, "listened closely, then acted with undreamed-of kindness and dispatch. 'Come with me,' he said, in a flash ushering me out of his downtown office and onto the back seat of a smart little pale-green motorscooter. I put my arms, as instructed, about his stout, gray-suited person, and off we went in sunlight, through traffic, under trees, past architecture, over the muddy river to lunch." (The Writer’s Almanac, 3/3/3)
Our hope is that this collection of writing will give readers the same je ne sais quois that brief but immense lunchtime voyage gave us—encouragement for going on; inspiration to do something simply good for ourselves each ordinary day; a smile; a moment of respite or recognition; time out from global numbing; a pause for weirdness, wonder, and delight. We want to share what gives us pleasure or some keener satisfaction putting down as well as picking up.
So hop on the green scooter with us. Read and be well.