Monday, February 29, 2016

Just Like Christmas

Only on a leap year's extra day might I walk outside on a balmy February evening and hear the bells of the ice cream truck on the next block.

If that doesn't scream global warming, I don't know what does.

In between writing sessions, I roped a willing walking partner into doing a seven mile loop with me that took us down to Belle Isle where winter's heavy precipitation left trees with roots exposed and sunning rocks still completely underwater.

We ran into a friend of his out walking his dog and his comment about the weather was the pithiest of the day. "Don't you love this Spring-like weather? Hell, it hasn't been this warm since Christmas Day!"

Hilarious and true.

Starved from all the walking, we lunched mid-afternoon in a restaurant with the door wide open, a warm breeze blowing in and jazz standards playing overhead.

After closeting myself away, albeit with windows wide open, to work for the rest of the daylight hours, or, at least until I heard the ice cream truck, I decided to keep tonight simple with some British humor.

For my evening's entertainment, I'd chosen the play-turned-movie based on mostly true events and starring the inimitable Maggie Smith - incidentally speaking fluid French and playing the piano flawlessly - as "The Lady in the Van," who takes up residence in the driveway of playwright Alan Bennett for 15 years.

Describing her scent as equal parts lavender talc (such an old lady thing), latrine and sherbet lemons, the story of why this reclusive writer with no social life and a fair amount of guilt about not seeing his aging mother more often would allow such a cantankerous and demanding person to take over his property works because every scene with Dame Maggie is like watching a master class in acting.

What she does with one withering look represents a lifetime of acting experience.

Watching the film, which takes place between 1970 and 1989, I was struck by how accepting of this essentially homeless person with a van the middle class London neighborhood was.

Parents and their children deliver Christmas gifts, people bring her fruit and desserts (which she accepts most ungraciously or turns down entirely), everyone accepts that she's taken up residence, even when she surrounds the van with plastic bag full of junk and feces.

It occurred to me that at some point since 1989, we crossed over into the NIMBY zone, as in "not in my backyard" and that few middle-class neighborhoods today would put up with a smelly, unfriendly, mostly alienating and hugely selfish person basically camping out on their street.

Happily, all this transpired in a different world and, luckily for successive generations, it was a writer's driveway she unknowingly sought for her final resting place (if by final you mean a decade and a half) so that the saga could be recorded for the ages.

Or until global warming reaches the heat intensity of the Grippo's barbecue potato chips I was turned on to today, whichever comes first.

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