1. Rock Star
I am a sucker for pottery — if I had another life I would take up the art form — and had been saving the date of a student sale at a favorite artist’s shopfront. If you are not queer for the form it is a little difficult to explain the leap of the blood at the sight of a glaze or a shape that appears to be crying out to be taken home; it’s like all the heartwarming stories you read about shelter adoptions, without the spaying.
This one has a silky glaze that offsets the incised patterns. It’s a fondler, like most of the mugs in my collection. You don’t want to know how many mugs I own.
Next door to the studio is a little shop that sells local craftsmens’ work on consignment, another dangerous place for me though usually so overpriced that I treat it more as a museum. It was simply and sordidly pissing down rain — the kind that feels like it is refrigerating you with intent — and no one was in there but a young woman who looked as if she was counting the minutes till closing time.
In the general blather of retail politesse I mentioned I had been next door looking at the student show, she shivered all up and down her cute-little-blonde-Gen-X-er frame and said she loved pottery, just loved it, and we agreed that we both would like to learn how to make it and I remarked that after twenty five years as a massage therapist it would probably feel very natural.
Her eyes got big and round. “You’re a massage therapist?” Um, yes m’am. Honest Injun. “Where– where– ” she stammered. I was digging out a card and saying “middle of Arlington” when she managed to ask “Where did you train? I’m starting in a few weeks,” and named the school where I learned the trade in the 80s.
The Cute Engineer, who had been driving through this frigid blue-gray Sunday, discreetly went off and looked at a lot of hooked rugs with dog images on them. Sometimes I realize that I underestimate his devotion.
Never have I witnessed anyone so visibly exhilarated by the mere intelligence of my occupation. Perhaps it was the hope implicit in that quarter-century mark. I felt called on to speak in the voice of a Seasoned Old Hand and rambled from tales of the place where every guy had a groin injury (moral: leave “spas” where all the customers are guys with groin injuries) to recommendations about first jobs. Somehow in all the excitement I bought two wine glasses decorated with silver wire and iridescent lozenges, the only dead-out bargains I have ever seen in that place. As I remember, we clasped hands twice before I left.
“You’re a rock star,” said the Engineer, and I did feel a little like this:
2. Next Time Can I Request Sondheim?
We just wanted a little bread and cheese with a salad for dinner and stopped off for a loaf at a bakery with the disturbing name of Best Buns. Almost nobody was in there either; the downpour had even discouraged the kind of people who get hot coffee or cocoa and some tarty thing. We wanted a loaf of pane rustico; one girl reached it down from the rack while a toothsome lad of twenty-odd leapt to ring it up. “Anything else?” he asked.
“That’ll do us,” I said.
“How about a song?”
Why not? I raised both hands, supinated in a bring-it-on beckon. Beardless Youth launched, with acceptable pitch though no great body of tone, into Memories from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, a charming performance even though the title was the only word he knew and he was obliged to dum-da-dum the rest of the melody, like the drunk in the sing-with-the-band jokes. Actually, the song doesn’t start with the word “memories,” it starts with “Touch me,” and after he tapered off I belted out the first couple of lines myself:
it’s so easy to leave me
all alone with my memories
of my days in the sun..,.
Disclaimer: someone gave me the DVD of the musical a couple of birthdays ago, or I would never have been able to get even that far. It isn’t quite a belter’s song, but I gave it all I had. By this time the few people in there with cups of coffee and tarty things were applauding us raggedly. The Engineer paid and got me out of there; it’s one way to get a guy to pull out his wallet.
It’s a good thing I only go shopping now and then.