Friday, December 16, 2005

Miracle of Lost Bands of the Nineties on Fifth Avenue

Hello. And welcome to day sixteen. Just kidding! Ahem. Today is--oh, I'll let you all in on a secret. I subscribe to the Writer's Almanac email newsletter. That's how I knew about the James Wright birthday. It is why I know that today is the birthday of Saint Jane--Jane Austen. A moment of silence. Pause. Ok. Here is something from her letters:

"Mrs. Hall of Sherbourn was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright—I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband."

You don't know whether to gasp first, then laugh--or laugh first, then cover your mouth. Let's see Franzen, et al. try that.

Speaking of laughing in spite of yourself. Last night my parents drove up to take us all to the Met and then out to dinner. We had a very lovely visit and a very lovely dinner in my neighborhood, and just when it couldn't get any better, my mother topped it all off.

My sister just bought a new hat for the winter. I was with her when she bought it. It cost some dough. It is a marbled pink and white and purple knit, has a little peaked cap with a strap that can button under your chin if you want to. Charmant, right? Well, not if you have cat-eyed glasses and brown chin-length hair. "You try it!" she said. I did, and then whipped it off--my sister, with her long blonde hair, looked like something out of Hans Christian Andersen, but I looked like I should be pushing a shopping cart full of recyclables with a transistor radio and my thousand-page unpublished novel about Catherine of Siena, the Whore of Babylon, Mary Magdalen, and Tammy Faye Bakker being the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse perched atop. My sister wore it out of the store and then caught herself in a window. "Do I look ridiculous? Oh, well, too late!"

She put it on just as we were about to leave the restaraunt. "Oh, it's cute!" my mother said. Pause. "You look like that guy from--what's the band? Nine Inch Nails?"

"Alice in Chains?" I said.

"Pearl Jam? Nirvana?" said my sister.

"No, no--the Spin Doctors!" said my mother. And we all cracked up. Even my sister, good sport. I think she was so stunned that my mother even remembered that piece of detritus from whatever was on the radio during her daughters' musical youth. I think that blocked out the fact that my mother was essentially saying she looked like a strung-out hippie elf.