Sunday, February 11, 2007

Three Vignettes of No Particular Order (fourth in a series of 10)

I. Storm over Barbados

Audrey Hepburn (from Roman Holiday) called me the other day and royally requested that I join her in Barbados for the weekend. I did. I arrived Friday evening and we dined on oysters flown in from the East Coast. I brought Veuve Clicquot and Woodford Reserve. We listened to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch. We were halfway through Willie Nelson’s Teatro when the battery-powered CD player went lame. I added to the mix by humming Somewhere Over the Rainbow until tears formed in her big dark eyes. I watched in anticipation as a single one candle-waxed over the lip of her bottom left lid, slipped like a memory down a perfect cheek, and perched on the horizon of her chin. When the storm I’d ordered finally rolled in, she blanketed me and suddenly really was seventeen. But hers was a thirty-five year old seventeen and the world was fine. Those waves crashing to shore; lightning dancing in the distance; our lips close enough to PhotoShop a kiss; paparazzi masturbating in the bushes. Who knew the night would end? Not me. Not me. And now, I clamor the beaches of Barbados in my dreams. Some nights, during the ever-brief moments between REM and wake, I find her porcelain-fragile hand. As we walk to the low rumble of thunder, I gently rub the knuckle of her left ring finger with my thumb. She lets out the most old-fashioned and heartbreaking sigh. I open my mouth to tell her it is one of the things I like about her most. But each time the alarm sounds and displaces Barbados and Audrey and storms.

Those are wrenching mornings for me.

II. The Vagrancy of Soul

When we kiss she is Audrey Hepburn. But then she is Grace Kelly. And in a fleeting moment of Post Modernism, she is Scarlett Johansson bathed in neon and sadness. I feel like whispering something to her then but I don’t have anything to say really. I’m all about the kiss and that moment leading up to it when you get to say everything you ever thought only instead of speech it is wrapped in the mystery of eye contact. In those moments you get to be the wisest bastard on the planet—provided you’ve timed the operation correctly. Your Audrey, Grace, Scarlett, Reese, Natalie, or Ashley never have to know there is no substance behind those blues. You do it right and your secret is safe with yourself. You’re the boy who says everything a girl needs to hear with the mere hold of the eye and then the lingering softness and contradiction of mouth on mouth for as long as the clock allows. And yours is not game; your intent could never be ill. Yours is sincere love of woman. And recognition that distance is your best and most loyal friend. You want everything and nothing at once. And you don’t want to have to explain it because you cannot. You define yourself as quirky and then denounce definitions. You simply want to be alone. And then on your selfish terms you want to kiss the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Scarlett Johansson and tell them every secret you ever took to bed with you. You want to spoon with each of them and unleash the vagrancy of your soul upon them. And then you want them to forget all you shared and go away.

And you will never understand this nor really make much effort to.

III. Miles on the Kitchen Island

Audrey Hepburn (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s) called me the other night and playfully told me she had my drink waiting and that it would be divine and advisable if I came right over to avoid the dullness of my typical evening. She said she knew I took my whiskey neat and so not to worry myself about melting ice and other such unpleasant things. “I’m bored, Ray” she pouted. “Come over here right now and entertain me.” I heard her inhale and then she hung up. I waited two hours but did as I was told. Armed with Miles Davis I took the stairs to her door, tapped three times with the knuckle of my middle finger, and let myself in. Wearing a white tee shirt and black sweatpants, she sat in the center of the sofa, arms extended along the tops of the cushions. A full champagne glass in one hand, an unlit cigarette in the other, the reclining Christ pose weakened my knees. Her smile was slight and perfect. Her eyes were the inspiration for the word sadness. “I knew you’d come, Ray. I did.” We looked at one another for a moment or several. She freed her champagne hand and sipped from her glass. “Your drink is on the counter, Ray” she said. “And please, Darling, bring in the champagne bucket. I’d like some more.” I put Miles on the kitchen island, gathered my drink and the bucket, and returned to her. I put the glass and bucket on the floor. We treaded water in each other’s eyes for several seconds before I knelt in front of her. I felt her fingers playing in my hair, light and nonchalant. “You are such a good Ray” she said. “You are.”

She sighed briefly. But if she relaxed at all, I wasn’t able to tell.