Out of the depths

May 14, 2010

GIACOMO PUCCINI

I finally remembered the password to my previous blog, and I rescued a few posts that I particularly liked — narcissist that I am. This is one of them, from June 11, 2006:

I WAS SITTING the car yesterday, waiting. I ran the windows down because sun was bright and the temperature was rising. It was windy – no doubt, you noticed that. The wind blowing through the car was simultaneously chilling and cleansing. The sky was brilliant, decorated only with racing puffs of moisture. I checked the cassette to see what CDs the usual driver had stored there. “La Boheme.” I put it on and concentrated to see how much of the opening dialogue I could decipher. What can you say about Puccini? Although he once sued Al Jolson, claiming that Jolson had filched the first few chords of “Avalon” from a passage in “E Lucevan le stelle” – specifically, “O dolci baci. O languide carezze.” The court thought that whatever reprehensible things Jolson might have done in his life, this wasn’t one of them.
DOWN AND ACROSS the street was a bar. On this bright, blue, breezy day, the dark room was crowded. One man, with a belly the size of a St Bernard, came out onto the sidewalk, sat on a high stool, put his foot up on another, and lit a cigar. He carefully arranged the stools before he sat down. He does this often. Whiles away a bright spring day in the darkness of that bar and comes outside to smoke, sitting on one stool with his foot up on another. One by one, others joined him from inside the bar, including two women and a boy who looked to be about 10. He hugged one of the women in a way that suggested she was his mother. A man pulled his car into an adjoining parking lot and walked toward the gaggle of folks outside the bar. The boy ran toward him – sort of the reverse of the father and son in the parable. The man exchanged a few words with the woman, took the boy with him to the car and drove away. The woman watched them until they were in the car, and then she turned back to her friends. One by one they went back inside. The man with the belly got up and carefully put the stools back in their places. He was the last one to disappear again into the darkness, leaving behind the wind and the sun and the clouds and the sky.