FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When You’re Making Other Plans

A few days ago, I drove past the house we sold in 1994 to move to Nashville. There was a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Later, I went to the web, curious about the price. It’s three times what we’d accepted. Then, I scrolled through the photographs. Had I not seen the front of the Tudor row house and known the house number, I wouldn’t have recognized the rooms. Complete renovation. Gone was the breakfast bar my husband designed and built. Gone were the balcony tiles I’d helped him install. All gone, except the memories.

Mostly, friends came to us. It’s what we preferred, because of our children.

We sat around the large table in the octagon-shaped dining room, its walls covered in a moody, almost smoldering coral.

It was the late 80s and early 90s and we called ourselves the Seinfeld gang. I was Jerry. My best friend Joan was Elaine.

We amused each other.

My serious concerns were personal, those centered on the children. One had a school friend who was diagnosed with leukemia. Please, not my child. I was neurotic about their safety. Still am.

Sometimes after dinner, the Seinfelds would head to the living room for competitive endeavors. Trivial Pursuit was our favorite. Teams were assigned, men against the women or couple against couple.

At some point, I announced that Trivial Pursuit was so 80s. Old Maid was the game of the 90s. You had to be there. And, really, it wasn’t about the alcohol.

Later, we decided to have “elegant dinner parties”. There would be no more come as you are. The men were required to wear a coat and tie, or tuxedo, if inclined, and the women were prohibited from wearing jeans or anything resembling sweats.” (V had to make a few purchases at a thrift shop.)

We’d use the china, the sterling flatware, and cloth napkins. Conversation would be as dazzling as candle flame.

And it was—the caning of Michael Fay, for example. We took this to comedic heights, repartee rivaling dialogue written by award-winning screenwriters.

After one event, V produced a striking piece, “ELEGANZA”. Worthy of the society page, it included:

Tongues wagged from Key West to the Côte d’Azur after the
stunning soiree of the Beatties of Tuscany [we lived on Tuscany
Road] last Saturday. Once again the high water mark of this
hot, hot summer season was set by Mme. Beattie, as last
year’s ‘A-listers’ plummet from grace to make way for the new
Beattie intimates.

With customary panache, Mlle. Joan wore a cunning blend unmistakably by Mr. Knockoff. The pithy Jewess remained mum on the matter, offering only a terse ‘sixty-forty.’ And with an imaginative verve unmatched this season, Mme. Beattie (Miss Miss to insiders) was dressed … IDENTICALLY!

I tripped over thirty years of tenderness to find this yellowed, folded piece of paper among memorabilia that’s traveled from Baltimore to Nashville to Manhattan and back to Baltimore.

Of course, I don’t remember all the details of those parties. But there are recollections, some vivid. I can see V, lying on top of the refectory table after the dishes were cleared, an elbow against oak, a hand, cupping his chin, and smiling face.

I know we discussed George H. W. Bush’s Gulf war. And Chernobyl. That catastrophe assaulted our serenity and challenged any ambivalence we had about the safety of nuclear power. Hunter, the youngest among our children, was only six months old when the reactor blew to hell, dispersing radioactive fuel into the atmosphere, displacing so many people and, eventually, killing, possibly, a million.

Now, there’s Japan and the immeasurable suffering in the aftermath of earthquakes and a tsunami—devastation exacerbated by more nuclear reactors blown to hell.

I wonder when greed will destroy our planet.

Last week, I read about the “Kill Team” in Afghanistan, a human hunting game in which souvenirs, a finger, teeth, were taken, tokens of sadism. I stood, walked away from the computer into another room, stared out the window, and cried.

The children are grown. Most among the Seinfeld gang remain. Three are cancer survivors. Another had a stroke but has made a full recovery. One died in 2008 leaving me to see the world through different eyes.

“Life is what happens when you’re making other plans,” said John Lennon. I think the same about illness, death, tragedy, and inhumanity.

Missy Beattie is sleepless in Baltimore. To reach her, try missybeat@gmail.com.

 

 

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail