Sunday, January 17, 2010

Three Beats Two, Right?


What’s new in 2010?

I have three new breasts! I don’t wear them all at once, of course – I just need one, to replace the one that went bad on me.

I keep two of my new breasts in a box on a shelf in my closet. One is a big hollow silicone number, see-through to boot. I wear it swimming and to work out, and wash it off afterward. One is solid silicone, and looks like a small baked ham. It is for dress-up wear. I even have two new black bras to cart it around in, so I am ready for fancy occasions.

My two silicone breasts rest in a contoured plastic container, where they nest together, one on top of the other. As it happens, silicone breast forms – whether hollow or solid – wear little outfits, soft little buntings, and that keeps them from sticking together.

My third breast is a doozy!

A 19-year-old friend found a website called Tit Bits, with knitted breast forms for sale. The site also offered a pattern and showed various designs. When Jenny came home for Christmas from Oberlin -- where she is majoring in organ and geology – she presented me with two new knitted breasts.

One is blue, with whales swimming around it. One is black, for formal wear. The blue one fit perfectly and looks 99 percent as good on as the $300 baked ham. As instructed by the web site, Jenny weighted down the breast form with a metal charm (this one is from Tibet) tucked inside the fiberfill stuffing, so the breast doesn’t try to travel up and out of my bra.

Speaking of traveling, probably I need to wear one of the silicone breasts on planes. Imagine going through security and being asked about that metal object you are trying to smuggle through in your bra…

I wear the blue breast when I’m hanging out at home. Okay, I went to Walgreen’s in it one day, too. I also wear it to Weight Watchers, because unlike my store-bought breasts – which go about 1 ½ pounds each -- the blue one adds no weight at all. Also, it is soft and warm.

The black knitted breast was a tad too small, so Jenny took it back to Oberlin to make it bigger. For spring, she is knitting me a festive breast that looks like a slice of watermelon.

A man I know just got a new shoulder. This is his second one. That’s terrific – but don't three breasts beat two shoulders?

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Warm Winter's Night

Baby, it’s cold outside – 7 degrees, to be exact.

Seven degrees – that’s hardly even trying! In spite of wearing plenty of clothes, I feel chilly. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the condo seem to have adopted a “share the air” policy, even with the shades closed. Apparently Maggie the Cat is cold too. She has expressed her displeasure by refusing to watch television with me, and has headed off to bed.

I reject a rerun of a Chris Rock special, surf for a bit and come up with the film version of “Carousel.” Starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, the movie was made in 1956, when I was 8. I may not have appreciated it at the time, but in later years I came to love “Carousel.” What’s not to like about “If I Loved You?”

I grab a blanket and settle in. The movie is almost over – Louise has just started her ballet on the beach. The beach! As the waves roll in, young Susan Luckey dances with great exhilaration and delight, expressing everything I feel for the Pacific Ocean. I imagine it’s me, dancing my “Hello, I Finally Moved Here” dance on Ocean Beach when I finally get to San Francisco.

Okay, my ballet is not what it used to be -- especially my tour jet├ęs. And that’s the nice thing about dancing vicariously, isn’t it? So Luckey is dancing away, having a grand old time, and she encounters a young carnival barker with his troupe. This part is a fantasy, of course, but this carnival barker can really dance! Who IS this guy?

I hit “pause,” run down the hall and look him up in the Internet Movie Database. In the old days, I would have looked up the dancer’s name in one of my many books on dance or movies, but the books are long gone, and I know the Internet will know.

It’s Jacques d’Amboise!

Jacques d’Amboise is a man from Massachusetts who took a French name. He danced with the New York City Ballet, and later choreographed for the company. He was 22 when he danced in “Carousel.” Just 20 years later, d’Amboise founded the National Dance Institute in New York City, where he dedicated his life to teaching children to dance. His daughter, Charlotte d’Amboise, is also a dancer. Maybe you saw her in “Every Little Step,” the film about the Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line” – or maybe you saw her play Cassie in that revival.

I zip back to the living room (hey, it’s cold…) and resume watching the movie. Of course, I know exactly what happens, so my mind drifts. I think about how much I love dance, and of course that brings to mind Ross Winter, my dear friend and surrogate family member who died in March of 1994.

Then I remember Hope Wurdack’s production of “Carousel” in her years with Theater Factory. Hope’s Mr. Snow – Kevin Chamberlin -- went on to play Charlie on Broadway in “Dirty Blonde” and Horton on Broadway in “Seussical.”

Then, plain as day, in my mind I hear Edward. He’s saying, “The overture to ‘Carousel’ goes on and on – it must be the longest overture in show business!” The day he actually said that was in 1995, when we were in Arrow Rock, seeing the Lyceum Theatre’s production of “Carousel” and seeing Philip, Edward’s twin brother.

Philip died four years ago today.

At this point in the movie, everyone is at the high school graduation, and they are singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a teary song if ever there was one, especially as Billy kneels next to Julie’s chair and tells her he did love her – and she smiles and starts to sing along.

Suddenly I’m not cold anymore.

Friday, January 1, 2010

All Decked Out

Have I found an apartment in San Francisco?

No – but I have found a deck, a big multi-level wooden deck, a deck perched on the edge of the continent, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I found this deck at Fort Funston, a stretch of craggy cliffs and dunes along Skyline Boulevard, south of Ocean Beach.

I found this deck on Christmas Day, when it was sunny and almost warm, close to 60 degrees in San Francisco. “Let’s go for a hike on the beach,” said my son, Joel. His bride was all for it. I was excited, too. We put on our layers and off we went.

Our first stop at Fort Funston was this wooden deck. When Joel and Patricia were ready to head out on the hike, I decided I needed to sit in the sun, stare at the water and listen to the sounds of the sea instead of scrambling down 200 feet to the beach. Off they went. I hiked to the car to retrieve the baseball cap Patricia had loaned me for the day, and returned to the big deck.

A woman was seated on one of the lower levels, a pregnant woman who had rolled up her shirt to expose her belly to the warm sun. Respecting her privacy, I moved to the other side, on another level, and we sat together/apart in silence, listening to the sounds of the sea.

As time passed, other people came to the deck. Two young men and a young woman arrived. They sat down on the level below me and opened sandwiches. After they ate, the young woman started taking photos of the ocean through a half-full bottle of water. One of the young men lightly mocked her; the other defended her, applauding her creativity.

Two couples showed up with a teen-age daughter and a big woolly dog named Bonnie. Fort Funston allows dogs to romp free of leashes, so many people there had dogs with them. Bonnie was interested in the three young people – probably she smelled the remains of their lunch on the paper wrappings in their backpack.

The sun was so warm, the sounds of the sea so soothing, that I fell asleep for a while. When I woke up, the pregnant woman was gone and one of the couples with Bonnie was showing the other couple how to swing dance, right there on the big wooden deck. The teenager laughed in delight.

More people came and went. Some stopped on the top level for a quick look at the view. One man chased after his dog, which suddenly slipped through the rails of the deck and started bounding down the cliff. When the runaway dog heard another dog barking above the deck, it bounded back up and was reunited with its owner. The barking dog, a little black Yorkie mix by the look of it, raced around the deck drooling on everyone, but in a dog-friendly way. No one seemed to mind.

Out in the ocean, a seal – or maybe it was a sea lion -- popped its head out of the water to stare up at those of us on the deck. A couple of pelicans flew low over the water. A cormorant soared overhead. The sun shone on and the waves just kept rolling in on this peaceful Christmas afternoon.

On another day, I did look at some apartments in San Francisco, scattered throughout several neighborhoods. The one I liked the best, in the Outer Richmond, offered two views of the sea. When I told the fellow from the real estate management office that I am a writer, he said another writer lives in the building. “His home is in Sonoma,” he said, “but he comes here for inspiration.”

No matter where I end up living, I now have a deck where I will find inspiration -- a big multi-level wooden deck, a deck perched on the edge of the continent, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.