Sol and Ida, The Chief and I
It’s Sunday in a school yard. Mostly empty on a cool May day. It’s Red Hook, in Brooklyn.
Ida is lounging on a bench, trying to take in a bit of sun. Not something she’s ever liked, but the warmth feels good.
She closes her eyes and thinks of what she still has to prepare for Sunday dinner at home.
Sol sneaks up behind her as he always does. He’s silent like a cat and he covers her eyes softly though she’s never surprised.
Ida only giggles. It’s more of a smile. She grabs him from behind with a soft and silly groan from the throat. Pulls him close to sniff the scent of the after shave he pilfers from his father. She takes in the talc-like barbershop scent.
The first kiss is short. The second longer.
“You thought I’d be late. I’m never late, Ida, you know that,” Sol laughs.
She pouts and he laughs again and finally she laughs.
They continue this young lovers’ laughter until they see us peeking in from the gate.
The chief points with the tip of his closed umbrella. “They’ll do,” he says.
It’s my job to convince Ida and Sol to take a ride with us into Manhattan.
Guests at Madame Guillard’s. At her townhouse on the upper east side.
Dinner included. Fine compensation for their inconvenience.
“I don’t know,” says Ida. “My parents are waiting for me. I’m supposed to make dinner.”
“Ida, fifty bucks,” says Sol.
I want to say that Madame Guillard is kind of like a fortune teller. At least this is how Sol and Ida see it.
She makes predictions that sensible people tend to ignore.
There’s a lot of sentimental bullshit.
“Love your parents.” She winks at Sol, “some of us will have more than two.”
“Be kind to your daughters.”
Ida just laughs. Sol nods. Tries to take it in. Tries to be patient. He hasn’t even gone to law school yet. But soon he will.
The usual bullshit I don’t have much patience for.
I get antsy. Want to skip outside and do some chores. I’d like to chop some wood. Kick a little ass.
Madame Guillard directs Marie to re-arrange the dining room table. The candelabra slides to the corner. It looks a touch tarnished. Where is Jones when you need him?
The marble kittens on the felt base shift across to make room for the hors d’ouevres, which I lay down gently, like a freaking butler. Those peppery scooped out leaves she calls stuffed endives. They sort of sparkle under the chandelier.
Ida glances at the hippopotamus rug, gently jabs Sol in the ribs, but he’s busy reading the tabloid headlines framed around the china closet.
“East Side Madame Predicts Catholic Pres.”
“Goodbye Korea, Hello Vietnam.”
Where’s Reagan I wonder and I snicker, all Back to the Future-like.
The Chief tells me to do a paper towel run.
“What’s a paper towel?” asks Ida.
Madame Guillard smiles with her bright red lips and stained yellow teeth. She hands Ida, my future mother-in-law a fragrant corsage. Pins it to her chest.
“You missed this on your Sweet Sixteen,” she says.
Madame Guillard predicts and she pays. The Chief does the ordering and I do the dirty deeds. The pay is good. It keeps me young. It keeps the decades flowing.
I don’t want to age. I can’t imagine someday marrying one of Ida and Sol’s daughters or having a kid.
Soon it will be time to start hoarding, preparing for the next phase, preparing for the next millennium
That’s a long way off, but time has this habit of creeping by slowly. Kind of like Jones when it’s time to take out the trash.
I wonder if either Ida or Sol will live to see the next millennium or the next pandemic.
Of course Madame Guillard discourages such morbid glances into the future.
“If we’re going to hunker down, we all have to get along,” she says. “Cognac anyone?”
Soon it will be time to wax the bowling lane downstairs. I hope The Chief will give me a break. Maybe he’ll ask Jones instead.
© Richie Smith
© Richie Smith