Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eau De Suspicion

As I'll be traveling a couple of times during January and February, I decided to see if my favorite fragrance was available in plane-appropriate bottles. I stopped by the fragrance counter in Belk. The lady behind the counter was helping a man select a bottle of perfume as a gift. "I'll be right with you," she peaked her chin over her shoulder.

He was plain and preppy, a brunette with flippy short hair and sunglasses that hung around his neck by a salmon-pink floater strap. The man gave me a hesitant look, eyes weary, box of Marc Jacobs' LOLA in hand. He was trying to make a decision. Two other boxes of various size were stacked on the countertop.

"Is there something I can help you with while you're waiting?" The woman asked.
"I'd just like to know what's the smallest size this comes in," I said, touching the TEST bottle of Calvin Kline's Euphoria.
"We had some little bottles." She opened a drawer below the glass display. "Give me just a minute," she said, rifling through packages in another drawer. She turned to where the man was standing--"Did he just leave?" She asked, an edge of panic in her voice.

"I don't know."

He'd vanished, along with the third box of LOLA.

"Did he just take that perfume?"
"I don't know," I said, thinking, But if he's gone and the perfume is gone I don't suppose it's any coincidence.

I glanced again at the bottle of Euphoria. Can we get on with this?

She stuttered and asked what se was helping me with. I reminded her, politely.
Instead of looking for the miniature Euphoria she stood there, in a daze. "I can't believe he would do that," she said. She snapped her attention back to me, eyes narrowed, brow furrowed. It was a nasty look.

She thinks me a decoy--She thinks I'm part of this, I realized, standing there helplessly, uncomfortably warm in my sweater-scarf-peacoat combo. He didn't look like the sort who would steal a box of perfume in a middle class department store south of DeRenne--He in his Sparies and his pleat from khakis, Ralph Lauren sweater-- But who knew? With the way she glowered at me, I felt myself suspect--Me! Some woman sporting fake-straight hair, luminous Mikimotos and a peacoat-- She couldn't be sure. And anyway, how suspicious of me to inquire after a travel size sampling of Kline's intoxicating scent where clearly, there, in the glass box display, all of the bottles were too big to take on an airplane.

She should contact security. I waited to see if she would. She didn't. Maybe he'll pay for it at another counter--No, don't say that.

"Oh," she said, infuriated, turning away.

I was only trying to abide by TSA regulations (+ smell like seduction)--Did this really mean forgoing my favorite fragrance? "So-oo... ?"

From the opposite side of the rounded counter she watched me, arms crossed.
I smiled.
She didn't smile.
I got the hell out of there.

Monday, December 28, 2009

There is Giles

"Straight hair?" Giles said when I got out of the car yesterday. "I like it." He took another look at me. "No laptop?"
"No." I smiled, "I thought we'd read your work."

So after squeezing fresh oranges, opening a new bottle of blue Curacao, adding gin and sugar, Giles presents a decanter of some mouthwash-esque cocktail.

He served this in tiki-cups appropriate for this shell-decked apartment. Not bad.

Giles handed me a note card and a pencil. I sat down on the couch. "I want you to write some lyrics for me," he said. "Or a poem."
I must confess: I rarely write lyrics or verse of any nature. I like listening to it read aloud by another, or performed, but I don't write it.
"The only time I write poetry is when I'm making fun of someone."
"Then make fun of me."
Sounds awfully like a writing exercise. Punishment, perhaps, for not bringing my macbook.
"There is an alternative," said Giles. "You could say no."

For two minutes, I sat on his couch cracking up, scribbling along the lines of a note card this ridiculous portrait of Giles at home as he plucked cords at the keyboard.

Where tropic inspiration abounds
There is Giles
With seashells all around
There is Giles
Mixing potent second glance drinks, tiki torch cups, fresh squeezed oranges, bungalow furniture, surfboard in the laundry room and more seashells dangling from the cabinents--
"Shit in a bucket," he says, at the keyboard
Cool breeze, bright lights, rockstar name: Giles
South American Muse

Laughter turned my handwriting into indistinguishable graphic scratches. He played the music as I wrote so I knew, somewhat, the applicable tune. Wanting to make this as difficult as possible I knew I couldn't outwit him.

"I don't think I can sing a song with my own name," Giles laughed. "Can I change it?"
"No," I said. "It has to be Giles."

This is shaky at best; I was laughing:

"I can't play piano and I'm losing my voice so I won't sing." I tossed him the pack of cards and a pencil. "But I'll perform it."
"Fair enough."

I sat, silent, while he looked at me and wrote.

Straight hair intimidation
Long legged fascination
Physical query, intellectual answer
Daytime dreamer, midnight dancer
On dreams, no less clouds of inspiration
Too outwardly collected for perspiration
Inward chaos and mix-matched beauty
Freedom stares or looks away, blushing
-My humble portrait of Elizabeth Rushing

Gleefully I laughed; I love it. And I love that I have a friend in Savannah who is also a writer.

Giles' plays, by the way, are amazing. He's written scores of them, and put them on in various locations, both locally and abroad. Out loud and together we read a portion of one--I won't let go of any details yet as we didn't finish before I went home.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bonaventure Cemetery

You may associate Bonaventure Cemetery with another book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; I will remember it fondly as the location of the first time I ever let anyone read a bit of my novel, "LPT."

Late on Christmas Eve (Christmas, technically) I'm receiving text messages from long lost friend Giles Gonnsen. Giles is brilliant, brilliant. This man can sing, dance, play piano, act and especially write. He's a playwright. We were friends in college and after graduation he left to live abroad in Trinidad & Tobago and Colombia. We were talking late Christmas Eve and decided to get together this weekend.
Picnic? I suggested.
He asked where.
"Bonaventure Cemetery," I said.
"I like your style," said Giles. "Time? And white or red?"
"Noonish? Red or white is fine. What shall I pack?" I asked.
"Sandwiches, dear," said Giles.
"Ok. And where do you want to meet?"
"The entrance seems simple."
"Sounds good. Maybe we should have red wine as it's going to be cold."
"Warm and comfortable," I replied, "Your attire always surprises me."
"Alright. Warm clothing, but still fashionable. Wear lingerie."
"Well yeah."
"You are a doll," Giles said. "Any other details or relevant information?"
"Feel free to bring anything you've been writing. Let's read something, shall we?"

We met at the gate and walked along one of the paths together. We hadn't been very far when Giles says, "Here we are," his eyes to the left.
This shouldn't have surprised me. We walked on until we came to a
clearing among the headstones, statues and trees.

Here we sat down for sandwiches and red wine. We toasted to each other, to Spanish Moss, to many different things. Giles told me Moth-worthy stories about his adventures living in a third world country and I caught him up on times in Savannah. After lunch and most of the wine I opened my macbook. "You're the first person to read any of this," I said.
"Thank you," Giles replied.

He read the first eight pages of my novel aloud. It was both familiar and strange to here my words in his voice. I smiled and cringed. Giles looked me in the eyes and told me he really liked it, said he wants to read more, could he read more? and critiqued miniature details "because I feel like you want me to," he said, and I did.

With a printer out of commission he brought nothing to read and so, after the rest of the wine, we walked the basket back to the car and took a stroll. Here are a few of the pictures:


Myself & Giles

I'm very good at keeping secrets.

Johnny Mercer's Grave Site

Freaky flowers bloom in December.

Giles, the view.

Edge of the lawn, overlooking Wilmington River

Giles, greatly concerned with her missing fingers.

We're laughing about how much my cousin Sherri and I look alike.

The graves are so white they glow.

Note: If you are wondering why we did not photograph the iconic Bird Girl statue of the cover of Midnight, it's because the statue was removed from Bonaventure, and now takes residence inside the Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences.