I got up early this morning and everyone else was sleeping. I made coffee and lit a fire, grabbed my favorite afghan and cuddled up on the couch with my newest book. A book that I bought a few days ago. And. A book I've already finished.
Aha! I'm already on my way to a successful 2007.
Take that all you naysayers!
All right, the book was only 78 pages. And it was lovely and easy to devour. And it was romantic. And tragic. And was written by a writer I really like. It had a lot going for it. But, still! I've kept my word to myself so far, so I think I deserve a prize. Actually, I think my prize is that I got to know a little bit more about Alice Trillin, and how much her husband, Calvin, loved her. And how much he misses her. She passed away in 2001.
At Barnes and Noble on Saturday, I was perusing all the newest books when About Alice jumped out at me. I loved the simple cover design and especially the typeface. And I couldn't resist the photograph on the back cover of the two of them leaving the London registry office where they were married in August of 1965.
There's a chapter on how pretty she was.
At parties, she often attracted what I called "guys smoking pipes," who wanted to impress her with their suavity or intellectual range. "He wasn't smoking a pipe, by the way," she'd say, knowing just which guy I was talking about when I mentioned "that guy with the pipe" as we discussed a party on the way home...
..."Is that right? I'd say. "I could have sworn he was tamping down the tobacco, or whatever they do, when he made the remark about the flaws in Derrida's thinking."
I wasn't surprised that Alice attracted guys with pipes. They didn't mean any harm, and I'm hardly in a position to criticize people for trying to impress her.
He wrote about how they met at a party in New York.
She was, as Roger Wilkins later wrote, so very pretty, but that wasn't the first thing that struck me about her; it might have come as much as two or three seconds later. My first impression was that she looked more alive than anyone I'd ever seen. She seemed to glow...
...after doing some intelligence work and juggling some obligations and dismissing as hearsay the vague impression of one mutual acquaintance that Alice was virtually engaged, I dashed back from a remote suburb to a party that I figured she'd be attending...I did get to talk to her quite a lot. In fact, I must have hardly shut up. I was like a lounge comic who had been informed that a booker for The Tonight Show was in the audience. Recalling that party in later years, Alice would sometimes say, "You have never again been as funny as you were that night."
"You mean I peaked in December of 1963?" I'd say, twenty or even thirty years later.
"I'm afraid so."
But I never stopped trying to match that evening -- not just trying to entertain her but trying to impress her.
He describes one scene when Alice was volunteering at a camp for disabled children. She had made friends with a little girl who was severely disabled and as they all sat around in a circle playing duck, duck, goose, the little girl handed Alice her mail, asking her to hold it when it was her turn to be chased around the circle. Alice noticed there was a note on top from the little girl's mom. And she read the note, knowing how awful that was. The note said, "If God had given us all of the children in the world to choose from, L., we would only have chosen you." Alice's friend was sitting next to her and she quickly handed him the note and said...
Quick. Read this. It's the secret of life.
She was a good mom. Calvin Trillin wrote this in The New Yorker.
By now, my wife's policy on attending school plays (a policy that also covers pageants, talent shows, revues, recitals, and spring assemblies) is pretty well known: she believes that if your child is in a school play and you don't go to every performance, including the special Thursday matinee for the fourth grade, the county will come and take the child.
In the first book Trillin published after Alice died -- a book about parking in New York, which he felt was pretty silly, but Alice had loved it, the dedication read...
I wrote this for Alice. Actually, I wrote everything for Alice.
When I finished the book this morning, I flipped through those empty pages in the back and there was a description of the typeface that had been used. I love when they include that. I don't know why they sometimes do and sometimes don't. I think they should include it always.
...yet its openness and slight irregularities give it a human, romantic quality. Much like this little, lovely book that I bought, started to read and finished already.