Monday, May 05, 2014

***Out In The Be-Bop 2000s Night-The Moment
From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin 
My old friend, Peter Paul Markin, my old merry prankster yellow brick road “on the bus” 1960s San Francisco summer of love, 1967 version,   friend (even though I “stole” his girl, his California Butterfly Swirl girl from him with no problem) came over to Cambridge to visit me a few weeks back. We had lost touch for a period back in the 1980s and 90s when I was working the West Coast newspapers and periodicals circuit and he was stuck on the East Coast (by choice he said). We however never really lost contact for any extended period but now we have time and the inclination to “cut up torches” more often about the old times when we meet at the bar at Sally Mack’s across for the Hyatt. Markin told me that he had recently gone up to my old home town in Maine, Olde Saco, near Portland to take “the waters.” (That is a standing joke between us since except six week in summer wading or swimming in the ocean there is strictly not for the faint-hearted.) He had been going to Maine periodically ever since I introduced him to the rocky pleasures of Perkin’s Cove down near York Beach way back when so that was no surprise. 
Of course any reference to Olde Saco automatically brings back memories for me of Olde Saco Beach, and of Jimmy Jakes’ Diner where I and my corner boys hung out looking, well what else do corner boys do, looking for girls. Especially girls who had a little loose change to play Jimmy Jakes’ be- all-to-end-all jukebox. He started to ask about certain records that I liked to play and to go over, once again, my “system” for getting girls with loose change to play songs I wanted to hear without a murmur. But that was not what I wanted to talk to Peter Paul about just then, although I said we might get back to it some other time since I took a certain manly pride in that system. What I wanted to discuss with Peter Paul, why I had asked him over that time, was how he had, happily, stayed with Laura, his soul mate, all these years. 
Now this was no abstract question for I had just completed the final proceedings on my third divorce. (I won’t even list the number of other non-marital arrangements that I have been part of over the years. I only count the official ones, the ones that cost me dough, serious dough.) So I was frankly jealous/perplexed that Peter Paul and Laura had survived through thick and thin, and some of the thin as he had related to me over the years was thin indeed. And here is what he had to say to the best of my recollection:
“Josh, you know as well as I do that in the old days, the old California care-free days that we were nothing but skirt-chasers. All sizes and shapes, well, not all sizes and shapes but close, Yah, we might have been “on the bus” with Captain Crunch and his merry pranksters and the “new age” and all that stuff but I don’t remember a time when a good-looking woman passed by, young or old (old then being maybe thirty or so, right), that we didn’t do a double-take on. And wish we had been fast enough to come up with a line to entrance, enchant, or whatever it was we thought we had in those days. I don’t know about you but I still do those double-takes and I bet you, you old geezer, do too.  [Josh laughs] Jesus, remember Butterfly Swirl when you and I first met and how you “stole” her right from under my nose. You just never got over the rolling stone thing. Never realized that the stone had to stop sometime if only to avoid bankruptcy. And before Laura came along I was strictly a rolling stone too.” 
“I already told you a few times about how Laura and I met, met in high civilization Harvard Square, downstairs at Jonathan Swift’s, kind of an urban cowboy place, you remember Dave Van Ronk and John Lincoln Wright used to hang there. [Josh; yes, that’s right]  That was when I was in my lonesome cowboy minute and we connected from the start. Her all in white the first time with dainty dancer’s slippers on, thin, maybe too thin but nice hair and a nice smile. Yes, we met from the Ms. Right start I called it. And I know I told you about that first handshake, that first soft handshake that sealed, sealed maybe forever, we were going to stick. Stick like glue. You know that part, that ancient history part, so unless you want me to repeat it I want to talk about sometime  more recent that will give you a better I idea of what I mean. You’ll like this one too because it involves that last trip to Olde Saco”   
“As you damn well know every once in a while I have to journey to the ocean, back to our homeland the sea. It’s just part of my DNA, just like yours. It’s in the blood since childhood. Usually, over the last several years, I have headed up to Olde Saco for a couple of days at a time alone as a change of pace. When I announce that I am going Laura usually asks, “Is it a retreat or a vacation (probably meaning either way from her, and the cats)?” We usually laugh about it. This time I was going for an extra day since we are not going to take a week’s vacation this summer.”
“You know Laura just retired from that exhausting and meaningless insurance company job so I figured that she would appreciate the time to collect her thoughts at home by herself (in between playing housemaid to the cats). A couple of days before I was set to go up she said she wanted to come up for a day. I don’t remember whether she said it sheepishly or not, this Maine thing   being “my time” but I said, straight up, “come on up.” I might have added I liked the idea of having her around and if I didn’t that is what I meant.  And she did come up the second afternoon. No big deal; we walked Olde Saco Beach (new to her since we usually went to Wells Beach or places further south together in Maine), went to dinner at Captain’s Clam Shack (good clams, no question) and then had our traditional ocean stop ice cream.”
“That last stop, that ice cream parlor stop, was at Dubois’ on Route One. Was that there when you were a kid? [Josh: no]. And do you know what the place had. It had an old jukebox that played all the old tunes, all the old 1950s and 1960s stuff from when we were from hunger kids. So naturally we had to, or rather Laura had to, play a few memory lane tunes. I don’t remember them all, except some dreary Rickey Nelson thing she insisted on playing to rekindle some school girl crush she had on the guy.”
“And that experience, or rather one moment in that experience, explains why we have stuck, stuck like glue, all these years. There we were sitting in some white plastic chairs eating our ice cream (frozen pudding for me, good frozen pudding, hers butternut crunch, I think). Laura, looking like a school girl, swaying gently to the music and with a hint of a smile on her face, a relaxed smile for once that said it all. What guy in his right mind would give up that smile, or the possibility of seeing that smile, short of eternity.”               

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