These are the afternoons of my youth, Friday afternoons: after work, the air warm as blood, gas in the car, alcohol in the tank, thoughts of adventure. Somewhere down the road there was a woman with thoughts similar to my own, friends with mischief on their faces, places I needed to be. Out there, where the sun was setting. I have women friends who, when they were younger, interpreted this feeling as a need to go west to find the Marlboro Man. And some of them did. I, on the other hand, was looking for the Marlboro woman, and I knew, somehow, with a little luck, she could be found most anywhere.
There is still some of that magic left: a low spark in an old plug, but it's more a memory than
anything else. I can see the light in the Magnolia tree, Mr. Wuss on the balcony taking the sun, a newspaper crumpled behind me after a last read through the entertainment section to check what's happening over the weekend. (Where is the notice of the Cinco de Mayo parade in the Events section? This is newspaper coverage? A list of weekend events and the Cinco de Mayo parade isn't listed? It's on the web, of course, starts at ten on Sunday morning.) Another Friday evening spent listening to the news programs on public television. There's a power crisis in California. They talked about that last week. And the week before. Wuss is coming in from the balcony now to see if his vet prescribed "fills you up, but god it tastes awful" cat food has turned into something wonderful. It hasn't. He comes to the desk and we exchange looks. He has done this every night for the last two years and every night he seems surprised, some kind of Alzheimer's routine built into his psyche: Check the guy with the can opener and see if he doesn't have some of that sweet smelling tuna he dreams of out under the balcony. Every evening, now, for two years.
I'm serious about this drink a day business, but I think maybe I'll try say half a shot with lunch and half a shot with dinner. I'm not going to admit this to anyone, you understand, but one stinking drink makes my mind wander.