Saturday, February 13 2010
Over the past two weeks, I must have broken my personal record for reclusiveness. During that time, I never once left the house and its immediate vicinity (which we jokingly refer to as "the compound" in imitation of a friend who calls her animal sanctuary "the compound" — which might be an ironic reference to the many crazy cults centered around compounds). I did go into the woods a few times during those two weeks, though that hardly qualifies as leaving the compound because being in the woods was at least as antisocial as staying in the house. I tried to think back to some other time when I might have been that reclusive for that long, but I couldn't come up with any candidate periods. Even in the summers soon after my family's move to Virginia back in 1976, when we lived in a remote agricultural area and I wasn't yet allowed to ride my bicycle all the way into Staunton, I was nevertheless very fond of going into town and would insinuate myself into my parents' shopping excursions.
This evening I did finally break my reclusiveness streak, driving to Woodstock to hear Gretchen read one of her brand new poems. She was part of a group of local writers who had been invited to warm the crowd at the Woodstock Writers' Festival before a talk given by the celebrity writer Rυth Reιchl. The cost at the door was $25, but I snuck in for free. After that, well, everything else (including the champagne) was also free. Gretchen arrived, but had to sit on stage, so I shared my extra seat with two of our lady friends (Deborah and Sarah the vegan), somehow getting all three of our asses on those two seats.
The theme of the evening was love combined with food, and so Gretchen read a whimsically clever poem she'd just written about how she wanted to eat various pieces of her husband (me), including my brain (which she compared to a noodle). I never find such appearances in her poems embarrassing, even when the portrayal is less than entirely flattering.
As for the featured speaker, well, she seemed terribly long-winded and more full of herself than even is justified for writers of memoir. At the end she bored me (and especially Deborah) to tears with an endless monotonous recounting of how Hollywood script writers had butchered one of her books in one failed movie-making attempt after another.
Deborah headed home, but Gretchen, Sarah and I decided to go somewhere for a drink. All Gretchen's first choices were closed, so we ended up at the Landau Grill, where some younger folks were screaming at a game on the bar television. The chairs were up at the tables, but we sat on a pair of comfy couches.
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