Thursday, November 12, 2015

Learning from the Past

It's come to this: strangers are mocking me.

That's your conversation piece today: I have Fios!

So that was what Dean, a cable-splicing technician, said to me after I told him that I felt so modern now. This was also after Dean told me that I was the only person he'd ever met who didn't have a cell phone. Dean works for Verizon and had come to change me from an antiquated copper wiring system to whatever fiber optics means.

Apparently 1876 houses are resistant to change because Dean called me at 8:10 (ouch!), arrived at 8:30 (sigh) and stayed until almost noon trying to make it happen. On the plus side, being tied to the apartment for hours meant I got a ton of writing done before I even headed down to Belle Isle to walk.

Where, I might add, the river was crazy high and rushing like a locomotive, all my favorite rock perches were underwater and the island was overrun by outdoor enthusiasts - a fair number of whom were overdressed in jackets - making the most of a warm, sunny day.

I came home to a message from my two favorite septuagenarians inviting me over, assuming I was willing to bring a cup of bleach with me. Fair enough trade for the pleasure of their company. I poured it into a mason jar for the moonshine effect and deposited myself on the Church Hill porch where I found Septie 1 and Septie 2.

This golden weather dictated that we do our storytelling on the porch while watching the neighborhood goings-on - the power washer truck awkwardly turning around, people pretending they meant to end up on a dead-end street, the neighbor laboriously backing his big truck into his small driveway.

And what struck the visitor from Mexico most about porch-sitting? She could smell the river. Of course she's right, but I also realize how spoiled I am that sometimes I don't even notice it.  Or maybe I still had it in my nose from walking the island earlier.

All kinds of life event stories were exchanged between the three of us because how better to get to know two colorful women who were roommates for five years?

Septie 2 and I took a walk up the block so she could photograph a fine, old house as a souvenir of the visit. As we're walking, she casually mentions reading about herself in my blog and being struck by the word "septuagenarian," which was how I'd described her. She wasn't yet sure if it wasn't ageism. "I'm going to have to think about that," she told me earnestly.

I made a case for my posts being exactly the opposite, a reminder that age is a state of mind. She's still thinking about it. And that wasn't the only time. She was that true conversationalist who's in it for the marathon, not the sprint.

Between her and Septie 1, her partner in crime whom I've only known for about six months now, it was a ball to watch them bounce off each other. When one comes downstairs dressed for dinner, the other - already in a great dress and fabulous jewelry - looks at her visitor's statement gold earrings and announces, "Those might not go home with you."

Through nonstop blathering and cackling in the living room, I glean all kinds of things about these two - their toughest moments, their ribald adventures - who like to travel as much as I do, but have been around longer to do it.

Photographing them became my hobby for the afternoon because they both radiated happiness at being together and I knew they'd never think to do it.

Much as I dreaded leaving, we had no choice because the dynamic duo were off to a wild game dinner at Julep's and my hired mouth had homework to do. Fingers crossed I'll get to see them tomorrow so we can share more oral histories.

Post dinner, I was off to the final night of UR's Vietnam War film series and tonight's was "Full Metal Jacket," which, predictably, I'd never seen. The funny part was that when I mentioned going to see it, more than one person had concerns for me about its intensity.

Regardless, you don't pass up a free chance to see a classic Kubrick film on the big screen if you can help it. A woman's got to continuously add to her pop culture history knowledge if she knows what's good for her.

All I knew besides Kubrick was that it was made in '87, that it was a Vietnam war flick and that it had two distinct parts.

Hardly surprisingly on Veterans Day, there were lots of them in the audience, and almost as many Marines, making me wonder what it feels like for a vet to see such an anti-war movie from 50 years' distance.

Parts of it were impossible for me to watch, but overall, it didn't pack nearly the over-the-top gruesomeness of present-day movie violence which, mercifully, I only see in previews. It was fascinating to learn that the man who played the brutal drill sergeant really was one and not an actor.

More than once, I was reminded of "Dr. Strangelove," which I only saw for the first time a year ago, because of the black comedy running throughout. That closing shot of the squad walking away singing the Mickey Mouse theme killed me.

Presumably, Kubrick was trying to make us uncomfortable (hello, "A Clockwork Orange") and does so in his usual taut style. Friends were right, I probably couldn't have handled it in 1987, but now, in this life, I can.

The unexpected bonus was the discussion afterwards because there were so many vets in the room. "Wow, what do you say about this movie?" asked our host after the credits rolled.

One pointed out how unrealistic some parts had been while others were completely true to life. A former Marine noticed that the private who committed suicide had the safety on his gun on. Calling continuity!

But the last question asked of the audience was whether or not it was an anti-war film. Several people shook their head "no" and one guy said it had been, but only in parts. What the what?

I'd seen it as virulently anti-war, and I'm not talking about the peace button on Joker's jacket. Maybe it was Kubrick's slyly intelligent filmmaking that wove the condemnations of war into a story of men surviving under the harshest of circumstances that prevented them from noticing Kubrick's message.

Not me. Despite having been awakened at the butt crack of dawn by Dean, I was sharp as a tack.

Damn, I forgot to brag to my septies that I have Fios!

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