EVERY FOUR months, or so it seems, a Christmas tree comes home in the back of the ’49 truck. The tree gets here as the hard brief light of winter bottoms out, which it did just before sunrise this morning. Now we’re headed back toward the long warm light by a minute or two every day, so that’s good.
Well yeah yeah and huzzah huzzah I’m still kicking, just so crazy busy all year I’ve let the Nickels go to seed. All’s well in the family, never better. The house is alive with happy chatter and music, friends abound, we all have interesting work to do. For me it’s been house matters at the fore, on account of how things stack up when you goof off riding motorcycles all through your 50s.
A dozen years ago I didn’t go back to the newsroom after lunch one day, you probably know that. I intended to go back, but when the building came into view the sky parted, a choir of angels hit a Frankie Valli note for me and I suddenly knew I was done, 26 years and a wake up. What? Daughter #3 is still in college, think about this, ride around the block, see if you change your mind.
I rode once around the block, nope, I’m done, so I bagged the meeting (two reporters, six editors I think it was), went motorcycling around North America instead, left the bosses looking at their watches and drumming pencils on a conference room table.
Two roads diverge in a wood, what are you going to do, just stand there? You have to call it.
Call it, friend-o…
On writerly matters I lean in and slog on. After a long stretch of nothing happening, a movie script I wrote eight years ago while on a motorcycle run to Key West is in the hands of two directors I really like, so that’s good. The odds are somewhere between long and borderline impossible but it’s always fun to be somewhat in play.
My friend Kevin Conran, the production designer on Sky Captain, arranged access to one of those directors. Not his brother, if you made that natural assumption.
Kevin’s brother, Kerry, directed Sky Captain, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, Bai Ling and Giovanni Ribisi. I’m not acquainted with Kerry but if you saw the movie you know he’s the rarest thing ever, an original thinker.
The iron piggy and the piglet mostly sat all year while I was busy with house matters. Now that it’s frozen-knuckle weather I’m getting around to overdue maintenance. The uncanny timing kicks in, secret of my success.
I worked on the bikes for six hours one day, it was in the 20s, wind blowing, you’re only cold until you can’t feel your feet and hands anymore, so that’s good. Piggy’s had a hard life, she doesn’t always want to come apart with wrenches, hence the cutting wheel and the sawzall.
Biggest news I have, should have been up higher, Daughter #1’s family lives with us now. They came up from New York six months ago. We hope they stay for six years, or sixteen. We invited them to share the house with us when little D1D1 was born.
Sweetest gal in Kalamazoo uh Cranstonazoo zoo zoo…
I made a gate so she doesn’t climb up, so that’s good. And another so she doesn’t climb down. She quickly defeated the first type of lock I tried. She’ll figure out the second.
D1 and Significant Other 1 had been in New York for six years by the time D1D1 came along. They both had good jobs there, he in medical publishing, she in marketing, but we guessed they had to be thinking they were done with the sky-high living costs once the little girl came into their lives. Forget Brooklyn, the discount fixer-upper houses on the Jersey side of the Hudson start at a million bucks. And the fixer-upper thing is a misnomer, you really need to gut them and start over, that eats into that second million you have lying around.
Meanwhile, here at the humble manse the empty-nester thing was increasingly ridiculous. So we suggested, you know, we have three floors here and don’t need two of them, make that space your own, start banking your money instead of giving it to landlords.
They accepted! So that’s good.
Now that D1D1 is here the humble manse is alive again. Every day the little girl fills us with such delight I feel my heart might burst. Here’s hoping she doesn’t kill my chops for the road. I get anxiety when I haven’t seen her for three hours, how will I do living out of the saddlebags for three months? Or three years, like Glen Cochrane, hard-core Aussie biker, he recently hailed me from Tierra del Fuego. We were riding Labrador and Newfoundland at the same time last summer, I stopped here on the way south, Glen kept going.
Anyway I’m here for now and have got little D1D1 digging Al Jarreau, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Four Tops, Van Morrison, Glenn Miller, Tex Beneke on tenor sax…
… Tex sings through his nose but can whistle in tune, so that’s good.
… Gene Kelly, the little girl loves Gene rain or shine, watches him every day.
…Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, D1D1 can’t get enough. She’s into the Get, Hip, to the shorty george, Hop, Skip, to the shorty george. At the end when Rita and Fred dance away off camera she cries Come back, come back!
I think she may be a hoofer. An athlete for sure. Well hoofers are that.
This might be her favorite, Marion Hutton front & center, I’ve got a gal in Kalamazoo zoo zoo zoo there’s Tex again.
Did I mention Rita? Who can get enough Rita? You don’t even have to look at her to know that, just look at how Fred looks at her.
Okay this was just to check in with you after a long silence, so you know the texters didn’t get me. I get emails like that every week, it’s the first assumption when a rider drops off the radar. And I’ve sent emails like that: Bud, here’s hoping you didn’t give up your heat lying in a road somewhere. If you did, can I have your other motorcycle?
So yeah still here yeah yeah and the bride and I carry on so to speak, as we have since we were teenagers. Which is not to say I ever know what she’s talking about.
Okay, this before I close, the other day I thought we were out of bread, right?
Babe, are we out of bread?
No we’re not out of bread, didn’t you just smell me making toast?
No I didn’t smell you making toast, what kind of smell do you give off when you make toast?
And the other night I’m looking for her downtown, she says she’s parked up from the train station. What? Up from it? I think she must mean east of it. But why would east be Up?
Could she mean east and then around the corner and Up the hill by the State House? That’s the only Up in the area.
No, not up the hill, who said anything about a hill? Up from the station. Just go Up.
Go up! As if you were going Up to the mall.
The mall? What?
Up to the mall! As if you were coming out of the train station.
Which I’m not, by the way. But just to orient myself I inquire as to whether she imagines me not exiting the train station via the north doors or not the south doors.
Through further Socratic dialogue we establish that by Up she means Left from a theoretical North Doors perspective.
In other words I was right, go east. So that’s good. Now I have a pretty good idea where she is. She’s Up.
But all I ever do is look at her like this, so that’s good.
Tony DePaul, December 21, 2016, Cranston, Rhode Island, USA