Feeling in need of a cheering moment, I turned this morning to a clip that never fails to delight, and I thought I'd share it with you. Here we have the immortal Charlotte Greenwood, ambushed by a callow youth but holding her own. Greenwood-philes always know to pay extra-close attention whenever she appears wearing an especially wide-skirted gown...
It's from one of the great pictures of all time, The Gang's All Here, in which she joins a dizzy cast headed by Alice Faye and enlivened by Eugene Pallette, Carmen Miranda, Benny Goodman, and, joining her here briefly, the heavenly Edward Everett Horton. Those who have experienced this film's very special brand of Busby Berkley-headed madness know that this is in fact one of its calmer moments.
After a start like that, how can one not have a better day? That's even true when the highlight of that day, it turns out, is extensive blood tests. I'm beginning to think that the good people of Prestigious University Hospital just like having me around. No other news on the sickroom front; more tests tomorrow, after which we will either be or not be returning to the house and the dogs and to dear, devoted Mrs. Galapatty-da Silva, who must be ruing the day she ever set eyes on any of us.
One of our challenges these last few days is finding something for Mr. Muscato to eat. He's fasting, you know, which means that come the sunset (late in this part of the world it is, too), he's ready. The local versions of home-style (for him - i.e. Middle Eastern) cooking have ranged from the disappointing to the vile, reminding me forcefully of why that kind of food, when I first encountered it on its home turf in Cairo, was such a revelation ("That's what it's supposed to taste like!"). Last night, we gave up and went Western, wandering downtown (now that I'm not supposed to be Not Moving at All, in case whatever's been troubling my heart goes full-bore amok on me). We ended up at a rather well-known little boite for older gentlemen of aesthetic tastes, as it were, and we observed a touching vignette:
In the middlingly busy restaurant, after us another couple arrived. They didn't appear to be very well matched, and indeed it seemed (they sat well within eavesdropping range) that they had just met. The older of the two (significantly older) chatted desultorily about his business and his health regimen; the younger (significantly younger and, on second glance, significantly more generally fetching) stared at the menu and looked around with the curiosity of one for whom dining out likely more frequently features shouting into a fiberglass mascot from the comfort of one's pickup. In short, it was either a really bad blind/Internet date or, far more likely, a commercial transaction that started with dinner.
The younger got chattier after a cocktail, regaling his increasingly glassy-eyed companion with tales of his upbringing in a rural portion of a nearby state (complete with Grandaddy, huntin', and how weird and different it was to find himself in Afghanistan in the service, although the food was awesome). The two ultimately found common ground, though, in discussing their fondness of New Orleans, which it turned out the senior loved for the atmosphere and good food, while the junior loved it because, he announced nonchalantly, it was where he discovered "I could make a sh*tload of cash strippin'!" They immediately delved into a startingly knowleadgeable discussion of the Gulf Coast demi-monde.
With a sigh, the younger mentioned that finding that line of work was a real turning point for him. "Yeah, it was like that poem," he said (and my eyebrows went up at least mentally, making me feel for a moment like Marie Dressler at the end of Dinner at Eight - a poem?). "That one about the road not taken."
And then he recited, nearly word-perfectly, most of the last stanza:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
They sat for a moment, as if both startled by this sudden of irruption of culture into what was meant to be something seamier.
"That's a good poem, isn't it?"
"Yes," says the older, still nonplussed, "I guess it is."
"I can never remember who it's by. Robert... Robert... I always get them mixed up. Robert Redford or Robert Frost."
And I had a brief, wonderful vision of an elderly, courtly, stooped New England gentleman starring with Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. And of the handsomest poet in the world.
And that's why I do feel like we miss some things, living out in the Sandlands.