the life of richie

BOOK CLUBS ROUND-UP: PUSH, ULYSSES III, MISCELLANY

Posted in is, Rich's book club by Rich on December 16, 2009

The Monday after Thanksgiving we (I mean they) assemble at Taimi’s house for chicken tortilla soup and much wine. Caroline arrives with Bill, Lori with her sister, and singly other Lori and Chrissie and Rich. They assemble by the tree and start to discuss the month’s selection [Sapphire’s Push], until the dog comes in from out the rain, shaking its soaking coat and exciting Taimi and Tim’s daughter Aili, who is admonished Do not pull doggy’s tail; no. We do not pull on doggy’s tail. Somehow, before Rich realizes what has happened, the talk has turned from Push to wet canine to breast feeding. Karen has stopped coming to these book club meetings (has splintered off into the Ulysses set) and has asked several times please remove me from the mailing list, opining, alas, a sad reminder of what cannot be, which seems significant: is she speaking of book club or the fact that she, like Rich, has nothing, no desire to contribute to a lactation dissertation?

Except for mother’s milk Guinness, which is dispensed at the following week’s meeting of the Ulysses book group, the third (plus organizational meeting) of the year. Rich purchases Smithwick’s and Guinness but is unable to procure the Harp; Karen supplies the Harp as choirs of angels sing her arrival. Pattimac brings the holiday shortbread, which Rich realizes he has forgotten to offer only at the end of the evening when it’s too late, so brings it to a faculty party at school he attends two nights anon. The kid from round the corner calls Rich several times, inviting him to a party he is having that very night, but Rich is getting too old for this, even if KFRTC thinks that Rich is worthy of attention. After some talk of the book (though Karen has not read: oh, the public ignominy! –– it is good no one reads this blog save for herself), Patty must leave (over the river and through the woods to Pattimac’s house she goes) and Karen and Rich have one more beer apiece (the Guinness all, they string the Harp) and semi-drunkenly conspire about fondue, at Caroline’s, next Friday, and plans for Europe and, sooner than Europe, perhaps Philadelphia for January’s meeting.

One week later, Rich is toting booze (spiced rum) and ‘nog to a reprise of Paragraph 1: the annual Christmas book club edition at the home of Lori and Jeff, festive Fezziwigs thems is. He and Caroline (and once Jeff, though he is chastened by Lori to abstain) sneak outside for fresh air and menthol cigarettes to flambé the boozy ‘nogs. Outside, they can hear babies crying within (either Lori’s or her sister’s), and Jeff attends the crying, but Caroline and Rich linger a moment more, and then take two more “cigarette” breaks during the three hours ensuing. “It’s so warm for December; but it’s going to get much colder.” But right now –– so warm. And outside –– so quiet. The Fezzwigs have erected (teehee) a slim, tasteful tree in their front picture window; slim, tasteful Jeff stands beside it in his new slim, tasteful black shoes. (He has another, a second catering gig this weekend; Lori looks less excited than he, the traveling chef, as she sits with fussy baby in front of the roaring, HD OnDemand Yule Log on telly.) There is visitation of a second nicotine ghost before they discuss the month’s two articles on marriage; at least, the few who’ve read the articles do; others offer empirical data. “Why marry?” Rich cross-examines, and Sarah believes that it’s to make a commitment and so that both people know that the other person can’t just take off in the middle of the night, because of the contract they signed, you see; it sounds so depressing, but Rich doesn’t even want to commit to a mortgage ever, when Lori stresses, “Don’t buy a house,” and Rich says, “Oh, I never will; I like life as a renter too much.” (All this life is, is renting, after all; anything more is folly. Silver and the price of gold.) Caroline’s answer seems more sensible: she married for financial reasons (to consolidate finances) and for Bill’s health insurance. For love, too, but –– one doesn’t have to be married if in love. But Sarah appeals the most tenderly for marriage; everyone else (and everyone else except Rich being married) seems somewhat less keen to lend support; perhaps it is a moot point for everyone else, a fait accompli for them, so why bother fighting? (America, country of highest divorce rates, also the country that still, ironically, believes in marriage most: straight marriage anyhow.) By the time the parenting article is to be parsed, the party has begun to break up. Last cigarette. Taimi comes out back just to talk. Women have gotten a raw deal, the three friends agree. Oh well. The next day, Rich writes out the thank you note to his friends, the Fezziwigs:

Lori & Jeff, Thank you, as always, for a lovely Christmas b.c. The food was delicious, the tree impeccably decked, the babies very cute, the pets fluffy. Let’s get together over break. Love always, Rich xoxo

But he is not sure if they will.

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