19 October 2010

There Is No Title For This That Google Will Recognize, So Screw It: Random Things

Random notes from a random notemaker: or,
Brides, Princes, Laundry Rooms and Dead Union Organizers DO have a Common Denominator. So there.   (read on....)

1) Read today that Martha Custis "invented" the wedding veil. Martha Washington's granddaughter, she made herself a veil of white lace, after her fiance remarked that her face looked especially lovely when she peered through the lace curtain. What he was actually saying was "You look much better when your face is mostly hidden, but you're from an extremely rich family, so what the hell. " I wonder if he spent the rest of their married life positioning her behind drapes, potted plants, shower curtains, whatever.
It's a good thing he didn't say she looked good by lamplight. Women everywhere would be walking down the aisle with lampshades on their heads.  

2) The Italian Prince called this evening, inviting me for two weeks in South America. "Or maybe Barbados.", he said. His English is not good. Nor is his grasp of vacation geography. He calls like clockwork every few months, and every few months i turn him down, but damn if that boy don't keep calling. Bless his princely little heart. He wasn't born a Prince, but was made a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire for his Services to Italy: he invented a process to make olives GROW in pretty colors and thus made more money than God. Apparently the world was waiting breathlessly for a pink olive. Who knew. -I've used every excuse in the book to wriggle out of these kind offers, such as: "I can't, I'm seeing somebody," [no, I'm not];"I can't, I'm going to, um, Wauhegan"[pretty much a "no" there, too..where IS Wauhegan?]," and , "I can't, I'm awaiting canonization,"-but to no avail. --Yes, yes, i COULD just hang up, but really--is YOUR life exciting enough that you can do without a call from a prince begging to take you to exotic destinations? And neither is mine.

3) While in the laundry room of the apartment building I live in this evening, and while folding what seemed like more laundry than ANYONE could POSSIBLY have EVER, I sighed out loud, without meaning too.
The nice, elderly yet sprightly, man folding across from me, looked up inquisitively.
"You okay?" he asked, in a kindly fashion.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It's just that I just remembered, my servants are imaginary. Damn it."
He smiled. "My daughter just moved to China, for her work, and she has servants. She still can't get used to it."
I grinned back. "You know, I was in a place with servants last year for a week, and I was AMAZED how easily a girl who grew up singing folk songs about unions, could get used to it. I still occasionally forget, and snap my fingers to have someone bring me a margarita by the pool."
He looked puzzled. "There's no pool on this building."
I sighed again. "I know. Or servants. Or margaritas."
He pointed out that there might well be margaritas I was unaware of on the premises, and I realized that he'd been kidding about the pool. Then, after frowning thoughtfully for a moment, he said, "Union songs?"
I had to think back a few sentences, and then realized: "Oh. Yes. Union songs. Folk songs from the 30s and 40s about the need for unions, and the meanness of thug union busters. I was sort of a pinkdiaper baby." [Note to young 'uns: a reddiaper baby is one who was brought up in the 30's by liberal NYC Jews, who leaned to the socialist side; a pink diaper baby is a descendant of same, either literal descendant or spiritual.]

He stopped folding, put his laundry down carefully, stood up straight, and drew a deep breath.
"I dreamt I saw....Joe Hill last night...." he warbled, in a pretty sturdy baritone.
"-Alive as you and me!" I chimed in delightedly.
We sang the next part in unison: "Said I, "but Joe, you're ten years dead!" we caterwauled. In a nonetheless pleasing manner.
And I went high for the harmony:
"I never died, said he....I never died, said HEEEEEeee!"

We did the entire song.

I was about to ask him if he knew "Long Black Veil", but the laundry room was closing.

In the elevator, we talked our shared love of traditional folk music: not modern folk, which can be great and has some of the best songwriters alive committing it (Michael Peter Smith, David Massingill, Erik Frandsen) but the stuff that was written by plaintive and anonymous folk in the last five hundred years. And brought to the US in boats and planes, and then: transformed by the loved ones waiting on the new but homesick shores, into  songs that were the same- only different.

Then he got out, bowed deeply and dropped his laundry basket. I giggled and waved as the doors closed.

And that, ladies and jellybeans? Is why I live in this town.


How are YOU?