My high school reunion, our 65th, was held this past weekend, but, fittingly for one my age, I preferred to stay home.
Besides, I doubt my classmates, those who are left, would have wanted to be reminded that I, in the role of “Hamlet,” ruined their senior prom weekend in 1958, strutting and fretting upon the stage for three-plus hours — despite forgetting big chunks of soliloquies — hours that they could have put to more productive, or reproductive, use if you will.
Mary had said it was up to me, whether I wanted to go or not, and I did think for a while that I might, but then I remembered how the last time we went I had to spirit her, the subject of a salacious unaccompanied admirer, away before the big dance on Saturday night. I’m sure my classmates were wondering how Graves had gotten so lucky, and, frankly, I wonder about that too from time to time. As Mary McCarthy Steinberg once said, when confronted by a gas fireplace in Southern California that instantly warmed her, “I am unworthy.”
I am unworthy. . . .
Just this morning I was thinking that the past is scary, that the future is scary, and that the present is scary too, though it is made bearable by Mary. Women make life worth living, she in particular. I know, I know, words are cheap, which is why I’m hoping that my sweeping the catkins off the roofs this week — there was much clunking of joints and groaning as I squeezed out of and back in through the upstairs windows — will stand me in good stead for a while.
I suppose I could have begged off by citing the state health director’s warning on inhaling particulates in the air sweeping down from wildfires in Canada, but I was clueless until I read of it in The Times and Newsday last Thursday morning. Come to think of it, I smelled woodsmoke in the air a few days before, and thrilled to it, though our neighbor was somewhat alarmed. The warning last Thursday to stay inside if one had lung problems got me to thinking of Pittsburgh, where I grew up, and where my mother brushed layers of soot off the porch daily. In her youth, she said, the sky in Pittsburgh was as dark as night at 8 a.m.
Yet she lived far beyond the once allotted three score and 10, as have I, though my longevity I owe to the enlivening company of my favorite interlocutor, who far prefers dialogues to soliloquies. I look forward to reuning with her every day.