Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Comedy of Terrors

So to begin with, while still in LA, there was the saga of my apartment key. Twice in one day I was locked out, once because I forgot my key-- the young, rock-climbing-in-the-gym neighbor scaled my terrace wall and let me in, later in the day the Time-Warner man came and as I stepped out into the hall to welcome him, my door blew shut. "Do you know how to break into an apartment?" I asked. "I'm from South Central," quoth he. So I got in.
Where was your extra key? you may ask, and rightly. I had had many made but none of them worked. My knowledgeable friend Pam Korman who knows where to find everything sent me at last to a locksmith who knew what he was doing, so finally I had many extra keys, one of which I attempted to put in those magnetic boxes you attach to something you can get into, only to discover I couldn't open the box. At last, everything seemingly in order, I set off for New York, via the fabled Jet Blue. We were diverted to Buffalo.
Mimi was the only one allowed off the plane, as she had been under the seat for nine hours by then, imagining she was on her way to Paris, where sadly she will not be going because in spite of losing the requisite weight she has acquired a tendency to bark when left alone in a hotel room, so it will not do to try and sneak her into the Cipriani. She will stay instead in New York with her other mother, Carleen, who is kinder and gentler anyway. In Buffalo, where we were kept for many hours till Jet Blue could complete its paperwork, Mimi found a post that could accommodate her needs, which was a better chance than many of the passengers had. When we finally were allowed to make our way into JFK, it was almost four in the morning, and the terminal floor was strewn with sleeping passengers whose flights had been postponed until the next day. At the luggage carousel, as we waited, hoping, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that all passengers from cancelled flights would not be receiving their luggage until the next day, so they should all go home and get some sleep and come back the next morning. At that point the offices of Jet Blue were stormed by a hundred furious passengers, so the poor man in charge, who wasn't really, had no choice but to release the luggage even though all the handlers had long before gone home.
I got a car into New York with two young men(24 and 25,)former roommates from Cornell so they could not have been morons who work at Goldman Sachs and another equity firm-- their flight had been cancelled after they'd waited since 6 AM. I said I was sorry about what the market was doing to innocent people, but that it would be appropriate if in addition to destroying everything the country stood for Bush also left office having torpedoed the economy, and one of them said "Yeah, it would be a tough way to go out."
"Do I detect a note of compassion in what you're saying?" quoth I.
"Well, uh, I guess," he said.
"Don't you care about what he's done?"
"Well, uh, I don't really pay that much attention."
"What about Iraq?" I said.
"Well, I don't really relate," he said. "Neither my father or my mother was ever in the service."
"And how about the fact that we are loathed worldwide. Don't you read the papers?"
"Not really," they said. I mean both of them. The second said: "We focus on our work and the rest of the time we communicate on the Internet, mostly with our friends on Facebook."
So the next day I saw Facebook on the cover of Newsweek and called my broker to buy some(Hey, if we're going to go down in flames we might as well have a smart asbestos suit,and my last broker had ignored my call to buy Google before the original offering) But he said it is not for sale yet. Apparently it was thought up by some kids at Harvard who couldn't work computers so they asked their friend the Geek to set it up for them and he stole it. What a world. Insensate graduates at Cornell and thieves at Harvard.
To travel back to a time when Ivy League and Seven Sisters stood for something, I was wined and dined by my friend Evie Rich the next evening, along with some other classmates from Bryn Mawr, and they were all still smart and touchingly concerned with the world we sort of live in. Evie was the first black(they were still called then) admitted to Bryn Mawr, which happened because her mother worked for a Main Line lady(they were still called then) who went into the kitchen and found young high-schooler Evie reading Catallus in the original Latin, so, astounded, sent her to Bryn Mawr for an interview and she got in. When Evie arrived the first day of college, they sent her to the maid's quarters. In spite of that, she was not then and is not now bitter, but only a fighter, and brilliant, and she says Obama can't win because this country isn't ready to elect a black man. Like me, she likes Edwards, and says if she could organize all the seniors they could get him in, but I suggested she not call them seniors as none of us likes being called that, so we arrived at Boomers and Beyond.
How did this happen? Nobody ever told us there was this thing called aging. Oh, maybe Shakepeare, but he was such a Drama Queen. All we ever knew to fear was death and failure, not necessarily in that order. I spent the first Monday of my sojourn here in the dentist's chair, under gas, and even under gas still had an inspiration. As the dentist grafted in a piece of bone(Dear God, was it Your purpose to degrade us for staying longer than You originally intended except for maybe Methuselah?) I asked him where the bone came from, and he said "a cadaver." Ugh. But still, as I was gassing, curiosity and still functioning intellect overwhelmed repulsion and I queried where he got the cadaver, and he said the University of Miami tissue lab.
So here's it is: 'A HALLOWEEN CAROL." A mild mannered middle-aged(to be generous) man gets this bone graft and every Halloween turns into a drug lord. Robert di Niro can play Alistair Sim, for those of you seasoned enough to remember Alistair Sim.
Oh, God,if you're really out there, how did this happen? To think how afraid we were that we would never find love, or have children, and now understand fully how fallow were those terrors. Of course the upside is/was that we were here when this was still the greatest country in the world, admired by almost everyone in those countries we could still afford to visit. When our turning to torture was unthinkable, not having to ferret out plots against us because even those who were jealous had to admit there was much to admire. Where did it go? Though we do understand by whose hand.
The following from Reagan's Diaries, sent me by my friend Hal:

'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son
around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the
political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all
the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and
has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New
Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or
something. That looks like easy work.'

From the just published REAGAN DIARIES. The entry is dated May 17, 1986.