This started out as a quiet day, after a fairly socially hectic week. My mind is always berating me for spending too much time in a social whirl and neglecting work. But short of locking myself away and disabling my phone and net connection, there's little I can do to wriggle out of the countless occasions that require presence. Not that they are not very enjoyable, they are, and that is indeed why temptation is so hard to evade. Last Saturday we attended 3 birthdays during the course of one evening, travelling from Arcadia in north LA county to Anaheim in the south, and ended up in Beverly Hills in the West, tracing a neat triangle with a perimeter of approximately 100 miles. Our reward? Bits of excellent brownie and icecream in the first celebration, yummy freshly barbecued Korean style ribs (galbi) in the second, and great ash-e-rishtey (Iranian bean and lentil soup) in the third.
We had a near repeat performance on Thanksgiving day, when we decided to accept three separate Thanksgiving meal invitations. Thankfully they were paced out, but again it involved driving first to the Northwestern end of LA county, then to the extreme south and then a two-hour drive to San Diego. And at all three places we had an identical meal, turkey with cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, yams, and mashed potatoes. But the meal was besides the point, at least for me, because I detest turkey, and am happy that I have to eat it only once a year.
We had excellent hosts and company at each of the three meals. The first was a family friend of S, YG, a Greek man married to an American woman, who had given up a career as a professional musician to work with computers. I loved their house, which glowed with such intense light, a blooming rose patch on the premises, matched with rapidly growing fruit trees on the other side. They had guavas, figs and even an apple tree that produced off-season miniature apples, tricked by the Southern California sun to sprout fertile blossoms. Their neighbours are two horses, prancing about in a small ranch, and apparently, at times these neighbours would lean over the fences to partake of small hospitalities. At some point after lunch, the niece of YG's wife, an intelligent, attractive girl when reminded that she was turning 22 next month said: "That is so depressing! What is there to look forward to after 22?"
And YG said: "You know, I turn 50 next year, and I can assure you that for me and my wife, this is truly the best time of our life. We've raised our family, are financially secure and in good health. What could be better?" I fervently wish I get to say similar things when I'm his age. And look as happy and contented as YG and his wife.
The conversation at our second dinner mostly revolved around schools, expectations from students, growing up bilingual and the problems of parents regarding the correct approach to a child's upbringing. It was interesting to see three sets of parents with teenage children reflect on these issues. Growing up in a culture where children can never study enough (and many end up spending every waking hour studying) it was fascinating to see one of the mothers talk about the dilemma of encouraging her child to get good grades and yet develop other aspects of her personality and not end up unidimensional.
And at the third meal, the hosts were our old friends the Pumpkins, G&C were also there, as well as another friend Neil. We played dumb charades all night and then the guests pitched their inflatable beds and sleeping bags in the living room. The joys of sleepovers with buddies!
The next day, after an unsuccessful bid to join the material mainstream by buying something at Fry's (we'd rather haul our material asses to Amazon.com), we returned to LA. And hoped for a relaxed Saturday. But while S was filling in the paperwork to take possession of his bike, I got a call from an old friend visiting from Arizona, wondering if we could join him and his friends for lunch. So off we go, dashing across town to make it to lunch with the "Lebanese mafia", as we love to call them, all smart, funny, some reflective, some plain crazy. The afternoon was spent catching up on old gossip and spawning some new bits, who had pierced nipples, whose girlfriend's orgasmic screams kept up the entire building, who is supremely disinterested in men but equally uninterested in women.
Hmmmm...so where did I begin? Oh yes, unpredictability. After the blazing sunshine, when friend from Arizona was leaving my house in the evening, cold winds swept off dry foliage and deposited debris in our swimming pool. Our tattered window blinds flew in all directions and fell, and after basking in the warmth of the afternoon, I am feeling very cold. Make no mistake, winter's here.