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Nounou and Nada and Nell

March 9, 2008

Last night there was a dinner party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Unfocused. It’s too bad you weren’t invited, because it was a lovely party, and the food was excellent, but we would also have, in all likelihood, ignored you, as it was an evening about our past. So it’s probably just as well that you stayed home.

It was one of those gatherings where, with only a couple of spousal exceptions, everyone had known each other for periods of time that could be counted in decades and yet some of us hadn’t seen each other in periods of time that are noted in double digit years. It’s hard to imagine. I think we all looked fabulous – a few distinguished grey hairs, a few well-disguised wrinkles, a few more well-hidden pounds, perhaps. But mostly we looked great. Several of us had had past unsuccessful relationships with others who were in attendance, but that in no way seemed to dampen the dynamic of the group nor, at this distance in time, even really affect it. We have definitely mellowed as we have aged.

The occasion for the gathering was the arrival in town of our friend L, who sang in the powerhouse soprano section of our choir with Mrs. Unfocused and I. L is now a professor at a large state university in the middle of the country. I haven’t seen her since the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Unfocused 12 years ago, when L came in from grad school to stay with me for the weekend. Unfortunately, that was the summer of one of the worst heat waves in recent Chicago history, and I had no air conditioning, so L and I decamped from my infernal apartment and made our way north to Mr. Spy’s apartment (although he was then merely Boyfriend Spy) where there was an air conditioner. Still, we all had a great time at the wedding. I didn’t think about the fact that it would be the last time I’d see everyone for so long.

Mrs. Unfocused is a fabulous cook. She has a gift for putting together menus that feel both simple and complicated, homey and elegant, in the perfect combination so that you feel both pampered and comfortable and altogether satisfied. Of course, there was also a great deal of wine, so much so that Mr. Spy and I are dragging a little today. If there’s one thing we don’t do as well as we did in the years where our evening would start after a weeknight choral rehearsal in one of the two taverns we preferred – the one with the encyclopedia behind the bar, and the one with the naked woman glasses and the jukebox that played Billy Ray Cyrus and Kate Smith and The Devil Went Down to Georgia – and would last until they kicked us out or until the smoke strangled us or until someone was too frightened by the state of the bathroom and we moved on elsewhere, it is drink without consequences. Nevertheless, we survived relatively unscathed. I even managed to avoid knocking over any wineglasses. Even the children were relatively well-mannered, with the possible exception of the moment when the cake appeared and they all hurled themselves onto the kitchen countertop trying to grab it.

There were speeches made about how glad we were to be here; and there was, of course, a lot of reminiscing and talk about others we remembered, but who weren’t with us, in a sort of necrology of our past. But there was also a lot of conversation about new things, ourselves, our children, our work, the election, our home renovation projects, our ambitious hobbies (running marathons, writing novels, competitive rubiks cube solving) and youtube videos of cats playing the piano.

While the grownups were talking and drinking upstairs, AJ and Unfocused Daughter (UD for short, though previously mentioned in these pages as Z, although probably not in a while, as they haven’t seen each other in over a year) were notably absent, rapt in conversation with each other in the basement. The two see each other much less frequently than we would like, thanks to our collective schedules and the distance between our homes. But whenever they get together, I picture in my head the two supermagnets AJ has that when you put them down on the floor, whiz towards each other with a convincing “clack.” There were other children there, too, last night, but I don’t think AJ and UD noticed. Maybe this is what happens when your mothers spend most of the waking moments of their pregnancy together in the small office where they work together after having spent years singing together before that. Maybe it was the fact that we took our childbirth classes together, that we had the same obstetrician, that they were born in the same hospital a few weeks apart. Whatever the reason, they always seem to remember each other as kindred spirits.

UD is the only person AJ knows that is his age and also at a similar intellectual place. I saw AJ looking at one of UD’s spelling tests that was taped to the bathroom door. It looked a lot like one of AJ’s spelling tests. “I didn’t know she has special words too!” he whispered to me in a rare moment when he ventured upstairs. They like a lot of the same kinds of books. Last night UD introduced AJ to the Warriors series a sort of Harry Potter with feral cats instead of teenaged wizards. They talked about them, played games on the computer. UD even offered to loan AJ one of her books, although we nixed that idea since we weren’t sure when we’d be able to get it back to her.

On the way home last night, a sleepy AJ asked when he’d get to see UD again.

“You had a good time, then?”

“Yeah.” He said, then added in a voice that sounded truly impressed, “UD likes a lot of boy stuff.” That, coming from a boy who is currently engaged in the project of gendering his world, is the ultimate compliment.

This morning I picked up the first book of the Warrior series for him. He’s been carrying it around reading it all day. “This is a really good book. I can’t wait to read the next one.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. crankygirl permalink
    March 9, 2008 6:00 pm

    That sounds like an enviable party for everyone. I’m glad UD likes some “boy things,” as AJ said.

    And you’ve reminded me that I have some wine to finish…must do that!

  2. March 9, 2008 7:52 pm

    We were really glad you could make it. As I said last night, sorry about the Warriors — you may be living with them for a while. Be careful that AJ doesn’t start pushing the cats out the back door and pointing them to the woods once the weather gets warm.

  3. March 9, 2008 7:57 pm

    I’m not sure there’s too much of a concern for that, Unfocused. Although he has started referring to Mrs. Stein as “kittypet.”

Trackbacks

  1. It Isn’t a Party Until Someone Gets Hit With a Golf Club… « The Unfocused Life

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