As Ethel Merman said “You can’t get a man with a gun”, but mixed metaphors aside, I know that you can’t keep a good flâneur down. This month has been one of frantic decision-making, peevish hair-pulling, two-fisted java swigging, and hunks of tea cake to wash it all down. It is now time to relax; I’ve loosened my orange and grey silk cravat, my wool-stockinged feet are propped up cozily on my tooled leather ottoman, and my Russian coal-fueled brass samovar is blowing soft billows of pale smoke into my living room. I take a bite of spicy Pain d’Epices and a polite sip of sweet steaming Moroccan tea. I’m back.
“i En primer lugar se me afriad se mantuvo petrificada
pensar en cómo voy a vivir sin ti a mi lado?
Pero, entonces me pasan tantas noches pensando cómo
me hiciste mal, pero me hizo fuerte y he aprendido a llevarse bien
y ahora desde el espacio exterior
No des la vuelta,
hacer que su satisfacción no más,
no se tú el que intentó
a herirme con el adiós
(D. Fekaris and F. Perren)
Summer is approaching, with its long days and cool, starry nights. I’m ready for moonlight meanders along urban riverbanks, slouching upon green metal park benches with a chapbook in hand, hampers filled with home-made delicacies, tender buttons, and you. I’m baking again, pulling Tarte au citron and Coconut Cherry Petits Gateaux from the oven while Francy and Lulu avoid the heat by snoozing on the bed. Tossing my blue and chartreuse striped necktie over my shoulder, I unbutton the corozo buttons on my plum velveteen waistcoat. It’s getting hot in here.
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high
One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky”
(G. Gershwin, D. Heyward, I. Gershwin)
There is a meadow in Golden Gate Park, somewhere between the flannel-clad, bocce ball gents and the Dutch Windmill, which I adore for mid-afternoon picnics. I have packed a wicker hamper of tea cakes, olives, tangy goat cheese, wee wrinkled tangerines and seeded crackers for us to nibble on, and a softly worn wool log cabin quilt to sit upon. You’re to meet me at 3:30 with bottles of ginger beer and two compressed wood bocce balls for a little post-picnic sportif. I’m wearing a red plaid button-down shirt with classic black horn buttons, rolled up blue denim 501s, a worn leather jacket, red and brown striped thick wool socks, and black Docs. You’re running late, so I break out my ukulele to sing a rousing chorus of “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” to the ever-ravenous, lurking squirrels.
“Birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love
In shallow shoals English soles do it
Goldfish in the privacy of bowls do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.”
Today, life is a spurt of time spent waiting. I’m perched upon a wide rock wall overlooking a valley of greenery and life, trees and shrubbery blowing softly in the wind, bringing the heady smell of meadow-grass and flowers and heated earth towards me. A newly-hatched bee lands delicately upon my left hand, and I wait a minute before waving it off, the wide sleeves my cream linen poet’s shirt with mother-of-pearl buttons billowing in the spring breeze. I take another nibble of sweet fried loukoumades. Was the tiny bee drawn to the leftover honey on my fingertips?
“I loved thee, Atthis, in the long ago,
When the great oleanders were in flower
In the broad herded meadows full of sun.
And we would often at the fall of dusk
Wander together by the silver stream,
When the soft grass-heads were all wet with dew
And purple-misted in the fading light.”
(Bliss Carman, 1903)
It is a Saturday, that glorious day of relaxation and rest. I am stretched out on a bright-smelling carpet of meadow grass and drifting wildflowers, long-winged dragonflies and heart-winged butterflies circling my knees as if to land upon them. I wish I was royalty, and that they would cover me in a mantle of light shimmery winged kisses. With my eyes half-closed, I take another nibble of an Algerian Almond Tart and then unfasten the fouled anchor buttons of my tattered brown linen waistcoat. What do I know these days? I’d have to say, “Not much.”
“In another world made for you and me
Right here right now under the moon and sun
In another world made for everyone.
On the lighter side, we have the balance of existence
Doing chores, washing dishes, fine pastries and drinking tea
With this world I have not a problem, for these simple pleasures
Fill the valley of your soul, don’t you know that we got to go”
It has been a long exhausting week, full of emotional storm clouds and disgraced cats. Lulu and Francy have both been bad little kittens, although one would never know it by the peaceful bundle of mixed ginger and tawny fur snoozing on the sofa next to me. The lights are dim, I have a cup of ginger tea and a bowl of warm strawberry cake topped with cream that has been whipped into a soft slouch on the copper coffee table. My boots are off, and to my exquisite pleasure, you are massaging my feet, your fingers pulling each toe firmly. I’m wearing my espresso brown velveteen 13-button sailor pants with horse buttons, and a limp white singlet. David Bowie is crooning in the background….”oh you pretty things.”
“Wake up you sleepy head
Put on some clothes, shake up your bed
Put another log on the fire for me
I’ve made some breakfast and coffee
I look out my window what do I see
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me”
Heidi-hi, Heidi-ho. I’m riding the painted camel on the Zeum Carousel in Yerba Buena Gardens, sitting astride its flanks and daydreaming. What if every hour was a musical; I’d twirl across the soft green grass, land gracefully on the sidewalk, and immediately break into a little soft-shoe tip-tapping away. But instead I’m holding onto a silvery pole while my pal the camel travels nowhere fast. I’m wearing brown plaid pants, a burnt orange ribbed turtleneck, a fitted brown leather vest with winged bronze metal buttons, low brown boots, and a jaunty rust newsboy cap. Even without the soundtrack, today I’m in a musical.
“If I loved you, time and again
I would try to say all I’d want you to know
If I loved you, words wouldn’t come
In an easy way, round in circles I’d go.
Longing to tell you but afraid and shy
I’d let my golden chances pass me by
Soon you’d leave me
Off you would go in the mist of day
Never, never to know
How I love you, if I loved you.”
(By the singin’ geniuses Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II)
What is the future, but memory run backwards…and what is the past, but dreams? I have no answers, and tonight my all questions are ethereal nonsense. I spent the day a flâneur, decked out in robin’s egg blue and ocher, swathed in wool from my herringbone cap to my toasty plum-colored hose. Sheep’s hair isn’t enough to keep me from weeping my expectations into the gutter. I come home to prepare a bachelor’s supper of warmed up lentil and sausage soup and toasted bread. It’s true; tonight I want a little sugar in my bowl.