Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part 22 - back from Portland, high school flashbacks and fancy French food


Sorry to be off the radar for a few days. I went to Portland, Oregon and, well aware of the social (read: booze-soaked) nature of my trip, thought better of taking any sections of the manuscript with me.

I had a really interesting flashback while writing my last entry that I forgot to mention. This whole
process reminded me of how I used to exchange notes with a girl in high-school. Her name was/is Tobi Wilson. I tried to contact her to see if she saved any of them, but no luck. I remember trying to make these correspondences multi-media works of art, with lists and drawings and gossip and all kinds of ephemera stuck to them. I think I blocked it out of my mind for a long time because it's a bit emasculating to imagine myself passing fastidiously decorated notes around to girls I wasn't intimate with, but as I thought about it longer, I realized such feelings of embarrassment are just layers of affectation I've accumulated since I was 15. I think I was so natural then that it's humiliating to think of how I acted. I picture myself as a chimpanzee in front a crowd of onlooking families at a zoo with a giant erection, and completely unselfconscious. It begs the question whether socialization makes you better or worse. Kind of a Hobbes/Locke
conundrum, I guess.

I'll post the notes if Ms. Wilson provides them.

It was only after a friend of mine read the blog that the private nature of the correspondence resonated with me. I've been writing pretty much willy-nilly and uninhibited, then this guy mentioned something I wrote, and it hit me that I was doing less-editing that I do for say my Brooklyn Rail reviews, which I have to say I pour over with a lot of scrutiny. I recognized it was how I wrote when I was 15....and then I considered what I would do if everyone I knew right now got a hold of my notes from 1991 and how different that is than what I'm doing with this manuscript of the Greenhouse. Hmmmm...

These thoughts are especially true in sections like my most recent, because, though most of this book exists in the public record, the edited section feel very private. The one time my editorial notes were actually reprinted in an art review, I was mortified...though it says a lot that people couldn't distinguish them from art speak. But it still felt like a breach of privacy for some reason.

So to the plot...

Like I said, a lot of it's crossed out; it looks like some kind of pre 9/11 security briefing that was redacted. Lucky for my nosey nature, red colored pencil is semi transparent and most of it is still legible.

As I pick up, James Kee, Reshevsky and our young heroine are dumped into lower Manhattan at Battery Park. They move at a snail's pace up the west
side (how about that for realism), until Reshevsky gets impatient and jumps out of the car, escorting Rowan the last few blocks to Chez Whateveritis.

When they arrive they take a table for two and order a bottle of Graves '62, which from very basic Google-research, is apparently a classic. Reshevksy peacocks his "gastronomic pedantry" as Rowan stews about where in the joint the phone is. Because of her preoccupation, she apparently throws manners and decorum to the wind and acts, according to the Count as a "greedy little girl."

I love how in 1970 all the good food consisted of standard dishes named after a creator or a point of origin. For dinner Reshevsky had Oiseaux De Veux and Rowan picked nervously at a sole almondine. And they shared crepes suzette for dessert. I was thinking about all the throw back dishes: lobster themador, bananas foster, clams casino, etc. etc. How funny what a prescription it was. So far from clam foam with freeze-dried sweetbreads with bruised rhubarb ragout. Clearly all my knowledge of these dishes comes from Fletch...and clearly I shouldn't become a chef.

Anyway, Rowan slips off to the ladies room and realizes the phone is within eyeshot and cannot make the call without giving herself away. Yoo hoo, use your cell phone sistah!!! I don't know what just happened.

The scene ends, not with a major plot twist, but with Rowan deeply offending Reshevsky by suggesting that he's wasting his life being used as a social pawn. Reshevsky proceeds to excoriate her with all the class you'd expect from a count, which inspires a sulky interior monologue that lingers until the last sentence in my five-page section. Sorry, Cee, I wanted to give you so much more than crepes suzette and sulks.

Oh well.

batter up,

No comments:

Post a Comment