good company

After-Dinner-Conversation

She told her joke by asking, “What is black and yellow and goes zub, zub, zub?” Of course, the answer is a bee going in reverse. Thus we rode this joke off into another round of high-energy talking, joking, and drinking some less than satin wine.

If I were to compare her to some famous author, perhaps the Nobel-prize winning Doris Lessing would come to mind. She’s funny, yet serious at the same time. She’s a loving mother and grandmother, yet has a life of her own and has mastered how to sail through the narrows and out into the sea. She seems to be always smiling, quite radiantly in fact, cuts a sexy figure on the dance floor with her husband, and delights in fixing food for the soul as well as the plate.

The evening tossed us all about the room, from coming of age tales about helping raise a gaggle of younger siblings, to dealing with theological doubt, to knuckling under to her father–her “droll model” and instiller of discipline–to rebelling against the “advice” of a steely eyed and stern nun and dean of her college. The nun was a diminutive fury in black who when challenged was reduced to tearing multiple numbers of three-by-five cards in two, the way some people sit and knit by rote while paying attention to something else. When our friend was a young woman, she was learning to be assertive while gaining comfort in her own skin. More importantly, she was learning to do it not heavy handily by galumphing through the mud, but lightly by means of a sprightly number of twists and turns on the dance floor that left her feet above the ground and her head high in the air.

Now as we all sat together and chimed in on sobering themes of betrayal and how we will perhaps eventually transform our own deaths into a personalized ritual of rebirth, I wondered how we had been so fortunate to finally have this brightly shining candle now lighting up our lives. She was an incandescent new presence, like some recently discovered swirling universe in the night sky, bumping up against and into our very world. In the brave vein of Lessing who gave up “another” life to gain her freedom, this radiant whirling dervish also knew she had to leave home on her own journey of discovery in order to find herself. And find herself she has, arm in arm with her husband of near equal charm who is also a master of the dance, wisely knowing when to hold her and when to let her spin off in her own light fantastic.

Although our evening didn’t veer too far off into a kind of sophomoric trip into the meaning of life, we did stir up the pot of religious hypocrisy, political humbuggery, buffoons of social awkwardness, so-called well meaning bunglers, sanctimonious self-appointed modern day saints and goddesses wrapped without sin, and the lost ones who once we partied with but who are now off haunting other graveyards of time. Definitely not a nasty or gossipy person, she would nonetheless have been invited by TR’s oldest daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth to take a close-by seat at the dinner table: “If you have’t got anything good to say, come sit next to me.” Like this earlier Alice, she has a keen sense of timing and can run the point of her dueling sword through a villain so that he won’t know he’s been mortally wounded till he keels over with an insouciant shrug after a few steps forward as though nothing untoward had happened. In skewering wayward priests who have had their evil way with young boys or taking her own boys out of an after-hours repugnant public school program with a “creationist” agenda, she knows how to spot the enemy and put his bulbous head in the bull’s eye of her aim. She has no time for our age’s grand inquisitors who quote scripture as they tear holes in men’s souls.

The evening could only have been better had Ms. Roosevelt actually been in the room herself rather than just her spirit. How we would have delighted in hearing her tell Senator Joseph McCarthy after he had once taken the liberty of addressing her in an unwelcome familiarity: “The trash man and the policeman on my block call me Alice, but you may not.” Our “Alice” is warm and personable, but would not have been adverse to telling a modern-day Lyndon B. Johnson that she wore wide-brimmed hats so men of his ilk could not kiss her.

As the evening came to a close well after midnight, we all went to bed laughing. What else could you ask for from any company?

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Image: After Dinner Conversation by ideath via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license - modified to blur by LikeTheDew.com.
David Evans

David Evans

I'm retired from another life and live in the mountains of eastern West Virginia with my muse Jody along with one little and two big dogs and a diminishing pride of two cats and other critters who come along the path from time to time. I retired one morning years ago when I woke up and said, "This is the day." It was simply time to do something new with my life. I had done whatever I did long enough, and now it was time to do something else. Being independent and no longer in the reins of someone else's driver, I believe I have found something to cherish that I never had before. Retirement may be dull and boring, but that's true only if you are dull and boring. But if you’re like I was, and am, I saw a lot of things as I went along the trail that I would have liked to linger over a lot longer if I had had the time to spare. Above all, I wanted to think about what they meant and have the chance to go back over them and figure them out. I'm not abashed to say that today I lead a life of real luxury. I also recognize that I'm a lucky boy. In the words of Katherine Anne Porter: "My life has been incredible, I don't believe a word of it." I am the author of the recently published collection of essays entitled Meeting Memory In The Dark. Earlier I self-published Words To Woo Her By And Other Distractions Along The Way; Tunes of Glory: The Slow Ticking of the Heart; Cradle My Soul: Glimpses Into Other Lives; and Unscheduled Stops: Essays on Love, Loss and Other Roadside Attractions. All are available on either Amazon or Create Space, a subsidiary of Amazon. Proceeds go to the Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary in Capon Bridge, West Virginia.