Sunday, May 16, 2010

For Robert, With Love and Thanks

This weekend marks Robert’s and my five-year anniversary.  We met via the Internet, Robert after fifteen years of what he likes to call “power-dating,” I after a dismal four months, during which time I met a variety of men clearly put on this earth to dissuade any woman from even so much as thinking about dating ever again.  Occasionally I wonder about them: what they’re doing now, if any of them found any takers.
This is what I would say to them, if I could.

--If you are 70, do not say you want to date women 47 and younger;

--If you are 70, do not say you are 53;

--Do not tell your date that the reason you don’t have any male friends is that men are jealous of how good-looking you are;

--Do not tell your date that you are giving away most of your possessions because “as long as I have my computer and my antique sword, I’ll be fine”;

--Do not meet your date through a Jewish dating service and then, over coffee, respond to her story about a skinflint by saying, “He’s Jewish, right?”;

--Do not call your date forty-five minutes after she tells you what an asshole you are for making anti-semitic remarks and start to tell her about a dream you had;

--Do not neglect to mention that you owe the IRS $100,000 in back taxes and also have a girlfriend;

--Do not initiate first-date banter by reminiscing about your ex-wife, who is bi-polar and likes to say she lives to make her ex’s life a living hell;

--Do not spend ten minutes explaining why the woman you are looking for must have clean fingernails;

--Do not, during the course of an introductory phone conversation, announce that you are wearing a Versace suit and a thong;

--Do not then say, “You like that, don’t you?”

To the other women these men have dated, I would say, Do not give up.  Because the world is wide and wonderful, the heart is resilient, and the extraordinary and the impossible can present themselves at any moment.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Pleasures of a Garden, As Told by One Who Is Gardening-Impaired

I love having a garden, but I hate gardening.  Over the years, I tried to love gardening, but I have finally had to admit that it is not for me.  The dirt, the sweating, the inability to do it while lying down compel me to leave the gardening to George, local barfly and raconteur extraordinaire.  He does a lovely job.

I am a little bit ashamed that I don’t like to garden.  I feel as though I should.  It’s an admirable, wholesome, healthful activity, plus you get to wear a floppy hat.  I console myself with the fact that George can’t write children’s books.
Our garden is at the front and on the south side of our house, protected from the street by a high hedge.  The woman who designed it made sure that something would always be blooming, no matter what the season.  Right now, we have roses.

Soon, it will be hydrangeas.

We have more lemons year-round than we know what to do with.  I make a lot of lemon bars and lemonade.  The scent of a lemon just pulled off the tree is further proof of divinity all around us.

I love these.  They grow at the back of the house.  I don’t know what they are.  They look like Dr. Seuss characters to me.

We have ferns in front of the enormous living room windows.  I grew up in a house in Berkeley that had a fern garden.  They lend shade and peace.  They are the garden’s gentle librarians, staking out a quiet corner (apart from the unruly roses), demanding whispers.

We have two Monterey pines.  Last year, two tiny birds flew in and out of a hole in the bark of one of them no larger than a mail slot.  We watched as they doggedly brought twigs and grass and straw into the tree.  Later, we could hear the chirping of baby birds.  We never saw them fly away.

Out by the kitchen door, Robert channels his inner Midwesterner and does a little farming.  Right now, we are all about the butter lettuce.

The bench is between the Monterey pines and is shaded by a wisteria-covered arbor.  When we first moved here three years ago, my daughter liked to sit on the bench.  “How do you like the trees?” I asked.  “Oh, we’re going to be friends,” she said.