Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Laura gets around....

My friend Laura’s daughter, Kate, is living in London now. A few years ago I came close to talking Laura into coming to Europe with me. She’d never been out of the US before and I was planning to go to London and then hop on the Eurostar and go to Paris and then work my way up to Amsterdam. When she mentioned this to Kate she was told that there was NO reason to leave the US ever and was threatened with all sorts of vague punishments if she dared disobey the child.

She didn’t and I went on without her and had a very nice time.

Later Kate suddenly announced she was going to China to teach English. I was a bit shocked by the news and wondered what would happen when Kate discovered that there was no way to do that and not leave the US.

In China Kate met an Englishman and Laura went to visit. She brought me back a huge packet of chrysanthemum tea and, while she was there, sent me a series of emails that were simple observations. They were wonderful and there was one in particular I can recall completely. When I see it in my mind I always see it in the form of a poem.

I am trimming
my daughter’s
English boyfriend's
on the balcony
of an apartment overlooking
downtown Beijing.

It’s true!

You can’t predict the future!

Now a year or so later Kate lives with Lee in London. Come to think of it, I’m not exactly certain that Lee was the same Englishman as the one with the Mohawk. Things change quickly when you’re in your twenties.

I used to think that time moved faster many years ago. I am specifically thinking of The Beatles; I’m thinking of The Beatles because I’m reading a stack of books about them at the moment, some very good, some not. I am always struck by two observations regarding The Beatles.

First, they represent the last time that the most popular thing was also the best thing.

Second, from their first recording of “Love Me Do” through A Hard Day’s Night and Help! and the intense celebration of human creativity that was Rubber Soul and Revolver, through the mannerist magnificence of Sgt. Pepper and the lysergic haze of Magical Mystery Tour, the unrestrained brilliance of The White Album and perfect swan song of Abbey Road…. From that first moment all the way until there was nothing left but rooms full of lawyers, by the time it was all over not a single one of the four had yet to turn thirty.

I’m astonished each and every time I remember that.

But, while I used to think time moved much quicker in the 1960s as the result of some inexplicable confluence of cosmic forces, now I think it was a function of being twenty-something; nothing more cosmic than that (though that can be pretty damn cosmic at times).

Laura said Kate is slowly developing a British accent against her will.
“Argh! I’m turning into Madonna!” she cries. Now I’m thinking a copy of the Kabala would make a nice wedding present.

Kate is further annoyed by one thing that makes absolutely no sense to me. She’s infuriated by the European pronunciation of the letter “Z.”

“They say zed!” Kate explains. “Why use three letters? It’s so wasteful!” she cries.

But think.

The British write the end of the alphabet the same way we do, “X, Y, Z.”

They pronounce that last letter “zed” it’s true, but we pronounce it “zee” don’t we?

I don’t see the bloody problem.

1 comment:

nora said...

I am very happy to know about your blog.
I can't wait to catch up on the old posts.