A Bottle of White, a Bottle of Red

A Bottle of Red, A Bottle of White

A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rose instead
We'll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I--face to face

A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends on your appetite
I'll meet you any time you want
In our Italian Restaurant.

Things are okay with me these days
Got a good job, got a good office
Got a new wife, got a new life
And the family's fine
We lost touch long ago
You lost weight
I did not know
You could ever look so good after
So much time.

I remember those days hanging out
At the village green
Engineer boots, leather jackets
And tight blue jeans
Drop a dime in the box play the
Song about New Orleans
Cold beer, hot lights
My sweet romantic teenage nights

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
The Stranger Released: 1977

It’s been hot here in the mountains (somewhere near the Mexican border) in the Geodome. Having a three-story home is a challenge when there isn’t a venting system on the third floor. It’s great in the winter — our propane tank lasts forever and the house is always toasty. I just never realized HOW hot it actually got here. I have to get used to things; it’s kind of like an episode of Star Trek where they get beamed onto a really odd planet where the customs are kind of askew and Kirk looks at Spok and Spok raises an eyebrow and the Doc rolls his eyes in sarcasm. Southern California – and I’m not talking the civilization of LA — is quite a different animal from NorCal – once you cross the “Orange Curtain.” I had my Darwin fish broken off of my car, and people in baseball hats and tube tops cut me off so that I can read their psalms they’ve scrawled on the back of their car windows with a white grease pen. Yes, religion is the opiate of the masses, and here, metaphorically speaking, there are rolling fields of poppies just for the picking. I have nothing against religion, it's one of the civil rights I would protect to the death, but I want to be just as free not to participate.

The good part? I do so much enjoy being married to Jeff. I never knew marriage could be so cool, now I know. But, I do miss the moving and the shaking of tech commerce, of having five meetings a day. There are fewer meetings in SoCal South, but more in Los Angeles and still meetings in the Bay once or twice a month. Jeff and I recently flew down for the Band of Angels annual event and had a great time. The Bay Area was beautiful, we rented a convertible and breathed in the redwood trees on the way to Thomas Fogarty Winery. What a beautiful night. You know, there are very few redwood trees here in SoCal…unless you count the ones on pampered private properties where they are hand-misted into adulthood or in nurseries (again, where they are hand-misted). I never missed redwood trees so much as I have since they’re not around. Okay, so I missed them in Maine, and in London, and in Germany, and in Las Vegas. The list goes on, but I’m sure you get my long and drawn-out gist. There’s nothing like driving down a two-lane redwood tree lined road on the way through Ben Loman to the Santa Cruz. We’ve tried growing five redwoods – all of them have died a lingering death and ended up dead twigs ;-(

We’ve been spending a lot of time in Cambria this year. We were just back up there last week, we rented a beautiful red house above the ocean. What they don’t mention on their Internet ad is that the “management company” owner couple who live in the house in back (connected by the garage). What a drag – it’s like feeling your every move is being watched. The Big Red House was huge and very spacious, but just the thought that they’re (the husband and wife team – we’ll just call them Mr. & Mrs. Magoo) scrutinizing our every move was weird. We arrived late at night. Jeff had called them and made for those arrangements earlier that day. We were going to be very late; they told us they were going to leave the house unlocked. Instead, the woman owner was waiting up for us at the house and insisted on staying and chatting us up while we tried to unpack and settle in from a very long drive. Jeez…. Then, after having asked us our choice of beverage, they left us something else. Saws and building going on at 7:30 in the morning…and the kicker? A God pusher of some kind or another, who looked very much like the Wizard of Oz, went to their door in the morning when we were having breakfast and they allowed him to knock on our door. Well, that wasn’t actually the kicker. Having them cash the $200 deposit for the dog before we even got there (when they said they would only cash the deposit if the dog made a mess, which, of course, he did not), and then saying they never received any money from us on the morning we left (after cashing both checks, Jeff had his computer so he could look up the check numbers and the dates they were cashed) and still not being able to collect that deposit back from them nearly two weeks later is really the kicker. The woman blamed it on her husband, who had supposedly had some kind of heart surgery just days before our arrival, and whom I spotted digging a hole in their back yard. Perhaps he was digging his own grave? And the husband blamed it on the bookkeeper. The house is really beautiful, but the owners are a headache. If you have a chance to stay there, don’t. Just on the other side of the highway are beachfront hotels and houses; stay there instead.

Town was beautiful, Pat and I used to go camping in Cambria (at San Simian Beach) every year where we would set up the bar and invite all of the eligible bachelors over from the other tents. If a woman ever tells you she’s going camping for the scenery, believe her. The campground is beautiful and on the beach (where they encourage you to burn the driftwood!) and it’s right next to Hearst Castle (which has night tours in September and December www.hearstcastle.org/tours/ticket_info.asp). Jeff and I went camping there over the spring, it was beautiful…romantic walks on the beach, hanging out in the tent and listening to Jeff play his guitar, hearing the crashing ocean at night. It’s the best campground on the coast.

When Pat and I used to go to camping in the fall we would go to JLM bookstore located on the narrow little Main Street that runs through town, a used bookstore with meandering rooms where we would find lost books from our childhood. It is a magic place. Joy, the woman who owns the store with her husband, is charming and I was looking forward to seeing her again. Instead, I met her charming husband and their granddaughter. It turns out he was in the Philippines at the same time as my father was stationed there, he said it must have been tough having my father stationed out of the country, but he was grateful for his service. We talked and talked. Then, on our recent return to Cambria and the little bookshop, I found someone I had never seen over the last decade manning the cash register. We had seen a closed sign the day before and we had been worried that something was wrong. It was true…there was something wrong. Joy’s husband had died on father’s day when he was working in the yard. It was terribly sad. Time moves on, and birth and death are its wake. We took our time driving home; we had really needed a vacation. Little did we know as we were driving through San Luis Obispo that Oprah in a photo shoot for her October issue of “O” with the story that she had just bought a café in town www.ktvu.com/news/3577941/detail.html

Just before we went on vacation, we saw Movin’ Out movingout.uvision.net/index.html , the Billy Joel Broadway show containing 20 or so songs that tie into each other to make a play/musical. There are no words – it’s all music. I have to say I never really did tie in a lot of those songs the way they were portrayed (they were kind of shoved together), but it was pretty entertaining.

You know, as Jeff and I sat there in the theater, I couldn’t help but think that everything I learned about love I learned from Billy Joel at age 13. How skewed is that? Girls are quite influenced at that age by songs with romantic intrigue while they’re going through their own romantic intrigue. Everything is a drama at that age. And even though I admit that I had an incredibly unusual and adventurous youth, singers like Billy Joel, Fee Wable, Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry, Rick Ocasic and yes — even Bon Scott (I was once grabbed off my feet at an AC/DC concert by a mysterious man who led me through a waltz to Hell’s Bells and then was gone, as quickly as he appeared, into the dense audience. Pat and I ended up backstage that concert, but that’s a whole different story). Music, such as these guys put out, puts memory tabs on every single incident of interest in a girl’s adolescence. It gives a girl a soundtrack to live her life by. I remember when I was 14 and as bold as I am now (and had been listening to Scenes From An Italian Restaurant earlier that day and got lost in the moment), and my parents had taken me to an Italian restaurant (despite my intense dislike for Italian food). There, across the restaurant, he sat. The seductive eyes, the suit, the pouty lips, the dark curly dark hair, the thin tie. It was Billy Joe’s doubleganger. It was Him, Mr. Right (for the moment). He was probably 24 and having dinner with his father. I took my pen and paper out of my purse and scrawled out a note straight from my heart, “I *think* I could love you (even then, I knew something about disclaimers), Call me….” And I put my family’s phone number down and slipped the waiter a dollar with the note and instructions to deliver it across the room. He (Mr. Right for the Moment, not the waiter) opened the note and gave me a big handsome smile. My father caught on and gave him a look like he would kill him if he had anything to do with me. He (Mr. Right For The Moment, not my dad) stopped making eye contact). Of course, I never heard from the doubleganger, but it was all quite exciting.

Well, I hear that Rod Stewart is coming out with a Broadway play of his own containing 20 of his past hits. I really can’t see a connection between those songs unless the connection is boneing hot models and leaving washed up (but still beautiful) models. Anyhow, Joel’s first album came out when I was a young teen and that was it, I listened to every lyric and piano note of pain and lost love. I was so disappointed to find out he was married, and then happy when he was divorced and then so sad to see him so in over his head with Christie (The Babymaker) Brinkley, it seems as though that woman changes men just to change genes…to each her own. Did you know Ms. Brinkley was born Christie Lee Hudson whose father was a television writer who worked on shows such as The Virginian and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? I wished that one would have worked out, but things change. Instead, Joel got a lot of angsty fodder out of it, and a few hits as well. What doesn’t kill you makes you a big hit. Anyhow, I recently saw him with his daughter and his fiancé. I think his daughter is 19 and his fiancé is 22 or 23. Men and their mid-life criseses. I mean, I’ve dated much younger guys and I have to say that I would never have thought about spending more than a few months with them. What the heck do you have in common (well, except for the obvious) with someone from another generation? They can’t relate to what you’re saying, not really, and even the young PhDs are too hip for their own good…having been raised on GameBoys, VH-1 and Beastie Boys. Joel, you bed them, you don’t wed them. I saw him play with Elton John in Vegas and I have to say he definitely doesn’t turn me on like he used to. All I have to say is that I hope it’s true love. Me at 23? Me at 30? I have to confess that I couldn’t even conceive spending the rest of my life with one man at that age. Just the thought of only having that one sexual partner for an eternity (at that age) sent me to engagement after engagement without a *set* date. Now — with all that behind me, and a lot of wisdom stuffed in my Gucci bag — I can definitely say that I am now clearly ready to spend my life with one man. And, lucky for me, I am married to him.

Speaking of music and memory tabs (and trying to quickly find a way to wrap this up – it’s Friday night and I have a date with my husband in an hour)…I remember the very first song on MTV - Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles www.mtv.com/bands/az/buggles/artist.jhtml . Later that day, Pat and I were playing Centipede at her apartment and her roomate's boa constrictor was in its terrarium on top of the TV (probably a pretty annoying place if you’re a reptile and run your life off of vibration) giving us mean looks and bumping his head on the screen that covered the aquarium. That snake freaked us out; he always looked like he wanted to kill us. We left to go out and get some munchies and flirt with some guys at the pizza parlor. Then, upon our return, the snake was missing…the screen was on the floor taunting us. Every thing that brushed up against our legs felt like the stranglehold of the missing albino boa. We never heard if the snake was found. Pat moved out and we took off for Europe to find Syd Barrett – sometimes our lives were from the pages of a Fat Freddie www.fredsociety.com/fat.html comic book. For me, and I'm only speaking for myself, better a comic book than a bible.