Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Berkeley Nights

As for what I did with my nights in Berkeley--don't get too excited--I mean, the highpoints were a brilliantly improvised paella and a performance of King Lear, so, you know, we're not talking about a blue-lit descent into Sadean excess. Sorry.

But after a long--LONG--day of grading papers from poor, clueless college-bound illiterates, there's something to be said about being able to spend time with--oh, right, I forgot to mention this part.

Hmmm. Where to begin. Once upon a time, back in the dark days of my marriage, a former student of mine of ridiculous attractiveness of both mind and body--one of those annoying people that God tapped twice with his magic wand--fell head over heels in love with me, and it was kinda sorta rather completely mutual, and there was wild flirtation between us and then before I had a chance to really break the 7th commandment she transferred to Berkeley, where she now resides. (Much to the ache of my heart and the relief of my conscience.)

So, now that I'm free, I saw her. She produced the paella. She sat beside me and wept at King Lear (for which she apologized, poor thing--I tried to explain, as a former actor and a Shakespearean one to boot, that I was wildly in favor of audiences weeping at performances, particularly of something as heart-wrenching as Lear's reconciliation with--and the loss of--Cordelia. I mean, shouldn't we weep at such things?)

But before you get too eyebrow-wagglingly vicarious, stop. Alas for the lost opportunity to spin a tale of wild, unbridled eroticism, she's living with someone. Happily. Committedly. And besides, having been burned badly by someone's infidelity recently, it would have been...oh, just monstrously hypocritical of me to engage in that ugly activity. So, no, no juicy details to relate. She was a perfect lady. Well, not perfect--I mean, I made a wisecrack and she punched me, so, you know, not quite Elizabeth Bennett, here. Still--

There's something about--even sans real romance--spending time with someone who, in another life, you know you'd be very *good* with. That's not this life, but just knowing that those feelings, that possibility is within you--that's a good thing. And it was nice to remember what it's like, in the middle of a gruelling day, to have someone to look forward to coming home to at the end of it. Also a good thing, that.

And fun. She's fun. And when I'm with her, God help me, I'm fun. Which I don't want to overdescribe or analyze, because fun cease to be fun when you do that. I'll just say that I very very rarely have/am it, and I did/was. A vacation from my own state of bone-deep priggishness. It was very--and OK, I say this with just a hint of salaciousness--sweet.

So. That. Dinner of paella chez her upstairs neighbor (another knock-out, what the hell is it about Berkeley women?) the first night, dinner at a trattoria (Berkeley service is indeed the worst in the world--I have flow charts and spread-sheets to prove this) and Lear afterwards (the guy who played Lear was good, the guy who played Edmund--MY GODDAMNED PART--sucked like a Hoover inside a wind tunnel, and the stage combat was choreographed by the Three Stooges) the next night--and a lazy afternoon and a ride to the airport the third. Too short a time. But, better than being rough and sweaty, it was good, that trip.

C'est tout.


Blogger Flavia said...

What a lovely weekend, JD. I'm sure you ARE fun and even sweet, but I'm glad that you got to see it yourself in action.

Some people make us better versions of ourselves. Pity they all don't.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...


11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuuuuck . . . (yes--this is an imperative)

1:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home