December 14th, 2002

2010

CATSKILL CHEMISTRY, Part 2

SBX got up early and took a long, brisk walk up a snow laden road, leaving me in bed to sleep an extra few. My mother called and wrangled me out of Inverna's guest bed [in her fabulous art studio], drove us up the mountain to snag SBX, and went to The Slow Down in Andes for breakfast. We bought newspapers and settled into some omelette's, pancakes, coffee, bagels, and juice, like country folk oughta should. After a splendid blend of egg yolk and goat cheese [a meal I normally abhor, but Catskill fresh grown produce makes the difference], we went on a long SBX-mas shopping spree, starting at Paisley's. SBX found a few cool items for co-workers and I got Erica [my mom's roommate; Cindy's daughter] a set of soccer stress balls. Erica is 16-year old olympian hot dog prom queen with a filthy mouth who farts and burps like she's competing for the grand puba gross out trophy. I like her a lot. Anyway, we left Paisley's and hopped across the street to a couple of shoppes that sold a ton or retro items, including toys, clocks, ephemera, and housewares. SBX spent a small fortune picking out holiday gifts for family, friends, and co-workers.

We dropped my mother off at her shoppe, Kicking Stones on Main Street, and we went upstairs for more goodie poaching. I pointed out a couple of silly umbrellas for Haze and Ola and SBX tried on some Star Trek looking fleeces. All this running around got us hungry again and we went for lunch down the road where Ann & Mark, ex-Kicking Stones partners, opened up a cafe. The day was already starting to wind down and it was only the afternoon. Mountain air will tax a body like that. All that fresh, high altitude oxygen, reminds a soul that it is better to chill than to burn out. Weened on hyper NYC living, it's worth traveling outside the 5-boroughs for some much needed relaxation and, dare I admit it, sleep?

We hit my mom's house and prepared a casual couch dinner. Cindy was brewing a pea soup, while we all chipped in on a salad. That, coupled with some cheese and crackers and we were sitting on couches and watching a DVD of Mel Brook's THE PRODUCERS, starring Zero Mostel, and Gene Wilder. That first half hour KILLS me every time. The living room was busting its collective gut. Cindy had tears rolling down her cheek. SBX had never witnessed such hilarious hyperbole. I was so happy to watch this [again and again], because it locked in my desire to make SWITCH TO KILL. My script and story asks for over-the-top behavior like the antics Mostel & Wilder perform in this comedy. Plus, since STK was originally written as a play, it was encouraging to see a play like THE PRODUCERS turned into a movie, so successfully. After we dried our eyes from laughter, we broke open the 20th Anniversary Edition of TRIVIAL PURSUIT and played for plastic pieces of pie. The new edition asks for trivia from 1982 - 2001. The two decades I grew up in and should know a lot about. I could barely answer three questions. What the fuck?

SBX and I pulled a Monday morning "quickie," something we're trying to get better at for obvious time restraint issues, even though I'd rather indulge than economize. SBX and Inverna made breakfast to give us the energy and fortitude to hoist many heavy bags of firewood up to the second floor. Inverna had built a pully-system and the four of us expedited logs for warmth.

And then there was the quandary: do I dare go skiing with my busted legs? I hadn't hit a snow slope since -- 12? 15? I can't remember, and I broke both my legs [effectively crippling my right knee and left ankle/foot] when I fell off a 3-story building at the ripe age of 21, at SUNY Purchase. I never thought I would be able to ski and skate, much less run, skip and hop, ever again. I have big trouble with my injuries and never got proper therapy. I've turned my limp into a swagger. The only exercise I get is from when I ride my bike. Yet, SBX has unbridled faith in me and won't let my handicap, physical AND mental, stop me from doing whatever it is I so desire. She's my health muse. So, tensions got thick as I got upset and scared, letting fear best me. I took SBX's good intentions and slapped it around like a two-headed retard with an afro. She threw down the gauntlet and I was too afraid to pick it up. Long story short, we got to the Belleayre Ski Lodge and I was dragging feet the whole way. A ski rental and hot chocolate later and I was signing up for a beginner class. Getting my feet wet in some snow.

SBX decided to check out snowboarding and we were off learning the basics. Within 25-minutes. I was taking the conveyor belt up the bunny hill and skiing down it. Nothing fancy. Just getting down that damned hill in one piece. And I did. It KILLED my legs. Made me feel things in my knee I hadn't known about since the day it exploded into a bunch of bone chips. I took the instructors advice, played by the rules and tried to ease into it. SBX was falling over her snowboard but having a blast with the bohemians. She actually rode down the hill a few times, making a few successful turns. I was proud of her. But, more importantly, I was proud of myself. I felt an epiphany of sorts. I was doing something I thought I never could. Before I knew it, I was taking the lift up the mountain and skiing down it. I felt mollified. I wanted to share evey second of this personal trek with SBX but she was still learning how to skate on snow. We soon caught up and took the lift back up the mountain where SBX traded in her snowboard for a pair of skis and we stormed the mountain together. Of course, my wanting to prove to SBX my newfound skill, I crashed twice. Nonetheless, she was impressed but knew all along that I could do it. SBX is my shining star.

Ready to head back to Canada Hollow, I insisted we finish walking the shopping spree dog and get what needed to be gotten. So, with most of her X-mas shopping completed, it was time to tackle SBX's domestic needs. We hit the A&P and filled a cart above the rim. I waited what seemed like forever [remember that chill, relaxed country vibe?] to snag a discount card, so that SBX could save a whopping $11, and we filled the car to the gills with all kinds of cleaning products and toiletries.

I bought a $5 roast chicken and added it to the sequel of last nights pea soup and salad. We played an unprecedented game of TRIVIAL PURSUIT while, get this...are you ready...eating dinner. That's right folks, we managed to play a game AND eat at the same time! I love to do stuff like that, but I get berated for such a notion. For not allowing a serious conversation to manifest at the dinner table. I respect the age old institution of congregating at the conference table for a debate and meal but sometimes I just want to eat and run or just chill and float -- focus on my grub, space out...bug out. What have you. Other times I want to stare into the white's of my dinner partner's eyes and mono fixate on a topic. Squeeze 'em for all they've got. And then there's the art of just hanging around a table and eating while playing. Entertaining while snacking. Anyway, I found it refreshing to do this with both my mother and SBX. It was a treat.

We said our goodbyes and split for the night drive home to Park Slope. I played RUN-DMC and DEAN MARTIN on the car stereo. I think my favorite Martin cover is "Return to me." So simple and yet so sad. SBX and I got on a roll talking and it made us feel really good to be on the same page after having a topsy-turvy weekend. The roll was interrupted by a few cell phone calls and a rest stop. After taking a piss, I was curious to check out the comic book spinner rack by the magazine section, and lo and behold, there it was, above X-MEN and below ARCHIE, was my SPIDER-MAN'S TANGLED WEB #20. I had made the big time. I was officially a part of Must See-TV and National Enquirer pop-culture. I hade made it to the rest stop of a major highway. I was proud to be an American.

SBX started talking about hooking up her downstairs bathtub with a shower head in the way Inverna had done hers and that led to talk about her possibly moving her bedroom downstairs so that she could have more space, and give her daughters separate rooms upstairs. I took this personally and wondered where I would eventually fit in someday. Where would my art studio be? How would it all work? I was jumping ahead like I usually do, questioning our future, and this sparked a wildfire. I take full blame for souring the rest of the ride back home as we debated the pros and cons of making hasty plans, trying to cram square pegs into star shaped holes. SBX is a firm believer of taking small steps. She's already taken major leaps in her past and those jumps have brought much heartache and pain. I don't blame her caution.

Shuffled all the X-mas gifts and shopping items into the basement and hung up Inverna's painting, a big Barn landscape of the Catskills that SBX bought from Inverna's art opening in October, over her piano. Exhausted, we crawled up the stairs and under the sheets.