Saturday, June 18, 2005

110 in the shade

Sorry I've slowed down word production. Blame it on the heat. Last summer was just not this bad. I've wilted, swooned, suffered an attack of the vapors. Get me to my fainting couch and bring me a julep with plenty of crushed ice.

Saw a play called The Hypochondriac the other night and the theater was so oppressively warm that midway through Act 1 I could feel the nausea rising. All I could think was, I'm getting sick at a play about a man who pretends to be sick. My biggest mistake was sticking around later for the opening night reception. I ate a room temperature meatball-on-a-toothpick and I could tell as I swallowed that it was a gustatory mistake of the highest order. A ball of bacteria, a little meat bomb packed with poisonous microbes. It's two days later and my stomach is still doing higher kicks than the Kilgore Rangerettes.

At that reception I ran into someone I hadn't seen since college. She's a lovely woman who heads the fine arts department at a private school hereabouts. Hasn't changed an iota lookswise from the last time I saw her, which has to be 1977. We did the quick "Whatever happened to..." routine and I found out that a couple who met and wed when I was in grad school (the first time) are now divorced. One of the three people with whom I shared the rattletrap two-story house back then is a professor of opera at the University of Kentucky. I clearly remember him putting Il Trovatore on the turntable (remember those?) and talking me through the entire three hours. He was a character and a half. Every night he'd eat an entire loaf of French bread and drink six cans of beer.

I called him the King of Yeasts.

Didn't ask about the other guy in the house. We were thisclose until he took up with a very short, thin-haired drama student who pretended to have an English accent because she'd spent a semester at some veddy theatrical workshop in London. Ah, the pretentiousness of youth. Did they end up getting married? I don't remember. Honestly.

I used to send him Christmas cards, but he never reciprocated. One by one the acquaintances of college fall away. At the time you think, these are the people I'll know for the rest of my life. But you know? You don't. Most of them, you grow away from. They marry the wrong people (but invite you to the wedding anyway), get divorced, marry younger versions of the wrong people. They scatter, the come back, you run into them and say "Keep in touch" and then forget to.

The college where I got my BA was so hippie-dippie liberal in the 1970s that we didn't even have a yearbook (too establishment, man). So I can't even leaf through the pages to remind myself what everyone looked like.

In a weird little film I watched the other night called What the bleep do we know?, a scientist talks about the visual cortex of the human brain. Our source of sight can't distinguish between real images and memories of those images we have from the past. What you see and what you remember seeing long ago -- same thing. So maybe that woman I ran into at the play really does have a face full of wrinkles and my brain just registered her as the smooth-cheeked blond from 30 years ago. I hope to hell her visual cortex did me the same favor.


Anonymous littlem said...

We still have reunions and make a point of letting one another know when we visit each other's cities. There are about 25 of us; we lived in a Learning Center together; we just had a large reunion on the campus this past fall to coincide with a festival screening of a film that one of us directed and that I worked on.

The more stories I hear like this the more I realize how rare we really are and the more I should treasure it.

Even the Prof. who was Center Director when we were there came to the reunion.

OK, I'm getting misty. Time to stop typing.

5:45 AM  
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