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Monday, June 08, 2009

The Fireflies Take Their Vigorish


You should read The Hobbit at the beach. Who the hell reads important books in a sling chair in the sand? It's like dinner theater. An insult to the cook and the composer.

People that play chess on vacation, do, I guess. Do a puzzle with five pieces missing and read a Reader's Digest Condensed book, I say. Feel the flush of the sun rising in your cheeks from the afternoon, mixing with the bit of gin you nursed in the kitchen, and leave the heavy thinking back over the bridges. Play backgammon, and cheat badly, and laugh.

You can't win if you don't play, someone once said. A loser, most likely. A spectator, even more likely; the pinnacle of losers. What would they know about it?

You see, you can't even play if you won't lose. That's the world. You have to steel yourself beforehand, understand that the game is fixed, and you're born to lose. That's the cover charge to even get on the pitch.

It was a perfect moment there. The sun was just an ornament hung on the Christmas tree of my life. The reeds murmur assent; the muck beats anything a doctor could conjure. She was a flawless diamond hung on a chain of luck around the neck of a muse. I saw it, and knew, that I must lose, right there, if I was to play. Even if she could hide a portrait in the attic, and play keep-away with time, there isn't much chance for me to mark time as well.

A decision must be made. And you cannot be eying the bridesmaids, forevermore, after you make it, or it's not really made. You will drift through this world, forever trying to win, and not really playing.

So you make up your mind, and wend your way back through the wicked edged grasses and the beach roses, the faint sound of the table radio in the kitchen getting louder as you get nearer. The screen door can't keep mosquitoes out, or music in. Milt Jackson is identifiable at a hundred yards, Percy Heath at fifty. Eventually you sit at the battered kitchen table that's hardly suitable for a third house, not someone else's second, but it's your legs that are wobbly.

On the way home, you stop at the crazy old boneyard hard by 6A. The white marble is too soft for the centuries and the names are as fuzzy as the people they were. But you think for a moment, what you'll risk together, when you see the little nameless granite stubs at the foot of the graves.

Everything.

4 comments:

teresa said...

What a beauty! I can see why you married her.

SippicanCottage said...

Not my wife.

Cathy said...

That is some gorgeous prose.

We're headed for Chatham MA this weekend.

When I visit that cemetery on 6A, I'll be remembering your words.

Anwyn said...

But The Hobbit is an important book! :)