1. Upstate at Saugerties between going to Newfoundland with my father and then going to Mexico City with him in the summer of 1973.
Hilda would drive passed the house on 9W in her old Chevy, one of the springs in the back was going, looking for me so she could call from the candy store opposite The Exchange Hotel to meet me in Woodstock where I first met her late at night drinking in The Pub: this old blonde woman who was drinking Lowenbrau because she said it’s natural beer and natural things are good for you.
(you might think this happened a lot but it didn’t)
She was 39, just like Jack Benny, she says, people always laugh somehow.
The person I am sitting in that bar is 28 going on 29.
She says her father sold his farm further upstate, way beyond Hunter or somewhere: it doesn’t matter, you don’t know these places, no one does, just a year before property values went up. He didn’t get a lot of money for the farm but he couldn’t work it anymore. Farm work is awful, he didn’t have anybody working for him, morning to night all year round even in the winter. He died of a broken heart when he gave up his farm living in a trailer… I forget where she says he lived then, though she said he moved into a town.
I’m married you see and my husband’s family doesn’t approve of me because, you see, I am a Baptist who believes in the one true God as is preached in the Bible. You see, they live in Kingston and think I’m a sloppy housewife because I go to church on Wednesday and Sundays not like them lazy people with their idea of the Pope and what is all that about?
Another beer, she asks and this is what is surprising.
(it is late at night, it seems, time just goes away--- only the bar part of The Pub is open--- a moment or two and realizing this and back to…)
And only if you have natural beer.
Is it okay to have a Guinness?
Is it natural?
They say it is good for you in Ireland--- that’s how they advertise it in Ireland--- and she orders me a Guinness and she orders herself another Lowenbrau.
Her eyes were blue silver dollars behind thick lenses of spectacles that broadened her face while the frames seemed like they had plastic wings… [no one much will understand this since they don’t make large silver dollar coins anymore but that is the thinking as trying to remember her face even when back in the house on 9W going north out of Saugerties]
Once she must have been pretty, still has long blonde hair, with no dark roots. There is beauty at the corners of her eyes that were not wrinkled though across her face those thin lines had begun…
My husband can’t leave his bed and the priest brings a little wafer of bread in a gold box once a week. I am praying for him as he has helped me when I needed help and people don’t understand: people can’t help getting old and he is only fifty-one but can’t get out of bed much of the time and isn’t it sad I think as he was an active sort of guy... he is now very heavy to get out of the bed and then to sit in a chair, waiting in the same way, now he needs me and he is alone [I let the words slip away from her for a moment] and she is alone even more alone always, you know, at home and even at Montgomery Ward where [I again begin to record her speaking] I work. I am alone and the girls there gave me a brooch for my birthday which was very kind of them, so alone, you must not know what it is like, I can tell, what sign are you or maybe you do?
Scorpio, I say
A difficult sign to be and a dangerous person to know too well..
So dangerous I’ll buy you another beer
I’ve had too much if you know what I mean
I’ll buy you a beer tomorrow if you let me.
I have to work and then I have a prayer circle for a friend is very sick and we have to pray for him to get well but if after you want to after that: do you like strawberries?
I’ll bring you some they’re good for you and we have a lot this year.
I thought only Guinness was good for me
You’re making fun of me
Of course not. You have Swedish hair.
You’re making fun of me. Hair is vanity.
We met the next day. We eat strawberries and I brought a bottle of champagne I said was natural and we sit on these rocks in the middle of a sort of stream outside of town on the way to Hunter Mountain, drinking from paper cups that were left over from the driving to Newfoundland. I was driving my father’s car as hers was parked in the lot behind The Pub.
She didn’t want to go into the bar as she had enough to drink but let’s go into my car and talk. We sat in the back seat and she told me to sit and she would get on top of me. Her panties she kept on one leg. You get used to doing this in the country she said. You’re not a country boy.
She offers to give me some of her vitamin that she had in big boxes in the trunk and which made the car sag even more. We sat then in my father’s car and she is saying I like going to Catholic Mass and I go to church three times on Sunday once to the Catholic Mass for my husband and then I go to Baptist church two times, I like the Catholic Mass the best as that is a real show but people didn’t seem very happy going to Mass and that is what she likes about Baptist church, you hold hands and people sing all the time, you don’t have to be a good singer.
2. Another time I went to The White Rabbit bar in Cementon on 9W. The trees were all covered in grey dust as they manufactured cement in the town. The guy who owned the bar got it from the money he got after surviving a head-on collision. They didn’t have any more frozen squirrel meat but he could maybe find some deer meet but it was getting too old. Squirrel and deer meat don’t cost anything but you get real tired of them after a winter.
3. A night I went to the Bar in The Exchange Hotel where Anthony was telling me I have a cousin of mine who has cancer of the brain, They cut his head open and didn’t put a plate in his skull. His brain or whatever would swell up like a bowling ball and then shrink back down. He prayed a lot to die or for someone to come kill him. I have another cousin who had cancer all over. The doctor cut the nerves at the back of the neck and she just lay there in the hospital bed knowing she was supposed to feel pain and not being able to feel it. She’d cry and beg for the pain… to feel something.
COMMENTARY. One says Mexico: one means, after all, one little town away South in the Republic: and in this little town, one rather crumbly adobe house built round two sides of a garden patio: and of this house, one spot on the deep, shady veranda facing inwards to the trees, where there are an onyx table and three rocking-chairs and one little wooden chair, a pot with carnations and a person with a pen. We talk so grandly, in capital letters, about Morning in Mexico. All it amounts to is one little individual looking at a bit of sky and trees, and then looking down at the page of his exercise book. It is a pity we don’t always remember this. When books come out with grand titles… this seems to me to be a perfect opening to a book and in this case, MORNINGS IN MEXICO by D. H. Lawrence. The truth, sure modesty and deflation of so much crap that is still being written.
TWO: some people, probably a number fewer than the fingers of one hand know that I very favorably reviewed as I admired it, Thomas Bernhard’s THE VOICE IMITATOR, published in 1997 by the University of Chicago Press.
One aspect of my admiration, but not revealed because who are you was that it reminded me of my own IN PATCHOGUE, published by Adrift Editions in 1984.