Move over moon, get out of Uranus
this house is anxious for the sun to come in
– Kate & Anna McGarrigle
How do people meet? How do they run into each other, become friends, fall in love?
I still remember the thoughts that went through my head when I saw you for the first time.
You were easy to notice because you and an older woman were the only people besides me on the beach that breezy Wednesday at around sundown.
You had on red shorts, but you were clearly feeling cold because you had your arms tightly wound around yourself and were sort of treading water with your sneakers while standing there with your companion to gaze into the sunset.
Your companion said something about John Charles Junior having had a conniption, and this word seemed to go very well with the two of you, who looked like you had come straight out of a quirky Ann Tyler novel with your normal-to-dowdy clothes, the normal-to-dowdy names you were dropping and the offbeat or cutesy words you were throwing in here and there. I think janky and scooched over were also among them.
Playing my usual mind solitaire, I asked myself whether I’d be able to fall in love with you – going by appearance, experience, prejudice and whim.
Your assets were that you had nicely shaped legs, albeit with knees that were a bit knobby, nice tan skin, thin orangish hair, a pert nose, glitteringly blue eyes, a wideish mouth with fairly thin lips, two mid-sized hillocks cradled in your arms. You were probably in your mid-forties. There was something cheerful, yet quiet about you. You giggled once about something your companion said, and it was a nice throaty giggle.
By then it had gotten dark and a bright moon, almost full, was out. The two of you walked off eventually, without ever having given me anything but a most perfunctory glance.
The outcome of my solitaire was quite clear. No, not that one. Not a chance. Never. Besides: I would never run into her again.
But we did meet again, because she happened to live two houses down from the friends I was staying with. Joe and I were putting steaks on the grill in back when Erin came out of the house with her.
“Joyce’s car won’t start – she thinks it’s the battery. Would you take a look at it, Joe?” Turning to me: “Oh, by the way, this is Joyce, our new friend and neighbor, just moved here from Baltimore two months ago. And Joyce, this is Jean-Luc, our friend from France.”
Joyce and I told each other we were pleased, and then some glint of recognition appeared in her eyes. “Weren’t you – somewhere? – I think I’ve seen you before.”
“Yes, I was somewhere.”
All four of us burst out laughing.
“And you have seen me before,” I added.
“Wait – don’t tell! It was, it was recently ...”
“Yes, recently, and?”
“I got it: at the Piggly Wiggly, in the express lane!” she said triumphantly.
“No. I hate to disappoint you – it was nothing that romantic. It was on the beach, on a moonlit night, and you were there with –”
“Oh yes, now I remember! I was there with Darlene, and you were the only one around besides us. You looked lonely.”
Joyce was invited to stay for dinner, we all had a great time, and then I walked her home, also to take a look at her car, where it refused to come alive in her garage. It was the battery all right.
I promised to come over and give her a jump start the next morning, and when that didn’t work, I took her in my rental car to run her errands. At lunch I told her I was glad she hadn’t thrown a conniption about her car troubles.
“You don’t throw a conniption!” she said.
“But you throw a tantrum, don’t you? Then why not a conniption? Isn’t it the same thing, or the southern variant of it?”
“It’s a very different kind of thing. And because you don’t. Throw it, I mean. And I don’t, for sure.”
“Never. Not I.”
We ended up spending lots of time together every day while I stayed with my friends, doing mundane things together, eating out, dancing, seeing sights.
Erin kept giving me extremely meaningful glances. She’d been trying to set me up with someone for years whenever I came to visit them in the U.S.
Now it looks like Joyce will come to see me in Montpellier this spring.
Who knows – we’ll take it from there.
– Leonard Blumfeld (© 2011)
Written upon inspiration by 3WW using conniption, janky and scooch.
The introductory quote is from the song Move Over Moon by Kate & Anna McGarrigle, released on their 1982 album Love Over and Over.
The following youtube video shows the McGarrigles performing the song Love Over and Over from the same album: