Profoundly Pale Polar Pestle
One day, during the loftier stretches of our romance, Frosty and I were out on our rounds, and I had let him wander on ahead. I was near the creek in front of Hotel Row when I found a small bank of rocks just under the breakers. What I saw then was amazing; it looked like a white pestle, about four inches long, ready to go under a wave. I’m guessing it was a punt, the part of a wine bottle that extends inside from the bottom.
Being a veteran of the frosted glass wars, I understood that there was no reason to panic, because a piece that big was not about to get buried by a single breaker. But I was wrong. The water rolled back and the pestle was gone. I waited there for breaker after breaker, but it refused to reappear. I pulled off my shoes and socks and waded in, digging frantically at the rocks and sand. Then I became enraged, cussing blue streaks all over the Pacific for this gross injustice, this jealous withholding of its treasures.
Oh, and I know what you’re thinking. You’re way ahead of me on this, and have already written up some endings. She finally gives up, continues her walk down the beach, and two hours later, on her way back, she discovers the pestle lain out on the sand, gleaming in the sunset. Or perhaps, a bunch of kids have built a sand-man, and are using the pestle for its nose. In either case, the waves of the Pacific will have conspired to reward Sandy for her acquiescence, for her patience, and now the profoundly pale polar pestle provides the centerpiece for her most wonderful mosaic.
Well, you’re wrong! Here’s how it really happened. Once I gave up on the pestle, once I excused myself from the rage and let go of my fondest desires, that was when I looked just beyond the creek and found a starfield of smaller pieces, tiny flashes of green, brown and white punctuation, so many that Frosted Glass Man himself could not gather them all. Everywhere I looked, small, unimpressive delights, there for the taking.
Live your life by life’s rules. You want the lesson, there it is. A few things you should know, however. Nobody knows what the goddamn rules are, nobody knows what language they’re in, and some goofy bastard comes along every night and changes them.
As for my own freaky self, I have learned the hard way that I have no control whatsoever over my own life. When it comes to the lives of others, however, I seem to provide a powerful conduit. My spiderweb has grown to amazing proportions, beginning with Silicon Valley. Panosys could not quite function without me, so McNeal staked odds against a third flake-out by hiring me as a half-time consultant. He also found out, through his accidental introduction, that Frosty could write code – and, what’s more, had a brand-new family to support.
As for Carlotta, about the same time she missed her period, Gilda’s went out of business. The Knickerbocker neighborhood was just not busy enough to support a restaurant. It might, however, support an art gallery, which is exactly how Carlotta convinced Hessie to front her the cash for the space. The inventory began with the bright realist paintings that were (conveniently enough) already hanging in the restaurant. The store eventually embraced Oregon’s glass-art community, including decorated net floats, free-standing sculptures and hanging wall-vases, as well as frosted-glass mosaics made by some chick in Portland.
Sandrina Fingertip has settled into a big live-work space in East Portland, mere blocks from the Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse, where she lives with her hyperactive standard poodle, Java. Her tables have become all the rage among Silicon Valley’s post-dot-com set, providing her with additional excuses to visit her darling sister and nieces. She has also had some chances to spread the wealth; if you walk into McNeal Conowith’s Los Altos mansionette, you’ll find a five-foot-high, twenty-foot-wide artwork composed entirely of blue and red bicycle reflectors.
Hessie and I are the best friends that we were always intended to be, and I continue to take lessons from her fearless, sometimes foolish way of living. Every few weeks, I drop Java off at Pauline’s house and Hessie and I head for the Bel Canto, where I check up on my works at Carlotta’s, take long walks on the beach, and visit the Waterfront for large doses of seafood. I have also learned to take advantage of Jeremy’s long-simmering affections. (That’s the thing about these younger men – they’re great with condoms.)
I am careful not to intrude too much on Frosty’s family, but once in a while they invite me to a bonfire, where we roast hot dogs and then gather around while Frosty tells tales. If I needed any reassurances, they came last year, when four-year-old Grace began calling me “Aunt Sandy.” I kid Frosty that his daughter’s name sounds like an Asian immigrant trying to say “glass.” Frosty responds, “I have always been of the opinion that glass is very close to grace.”
As for the fetus that would have become our child – that knowledge will never see the light of day, but will remain as a small, permanent crease on my heart.
Photo by MJV