Jul 9, 2009

Would you come to dinner? the husband asks. It'll be boys night out.

The next day we arrive at the top of a hill, climb up Victorian stairs, the front door opens, the husband steps back. The livingroom is a wealth of glass and, above a small, carefully flowered backyard, there is all the city, at 7:30 on a summer evening, fog slopping over Twin Peaks, all of downtown in photoshop and craquelure.

Drinks, nuts, more drinks, dinner, 'will you have another?', 'I will,' and then more life stories, still more anecdotes about children, about schools and summer houses, names dropped and picked up, the whole IT of establishing a perspective by which to accept each other. And everything is fine. The animals in the wall paintings, the carefully picked jazz, the faces of young boys at the table, the food itself, everything is safe and sound.

Later and later his wife arrives. Pretty, sensuously European, dark hair, with the gray just arriving, in cashmere and soft wool, layers of browns and deep reds, and very quiet at first. Small, watching eyes. Altogether like a French garden, like her garden, everything at a sharp angle and carefully laid out. She's been out for the evening, a married woman out for the evening by herself, which in her case seemed immediately dangerous, not that she might be harmed physically but that she might become lost emotionally.

In passing, she leaves the word, Landmark.

You mean...

Yes, I think it was called EST. Yes?

Her husband knows very well: The old Werner, now in Indonesia, isn't he, and weren't there charges of financial impropriety and something else. A scandal. No one can remember.

Well how is Landmark? we ask.

It's actually very helpful. I have no baggage but it's interesting to hear others share.

Because, she goes on, I have no one to talk to. And not a coroner's trace of humor. He, she says, looking at her husband: he, doesn't like to communicate. He can't, it's beyond him. He smiles, responds. She, he says. And suddenly there's a triangulation, the guests have become unwitting therapists. He has a last word and did he say, 'well, all you can think about is sex.' Was that what he said? It could not have been. You wouldn't say such a thing in front of children, or in front of guests you hardly know. He could not have said that, it's what the guests heard, it's some problem, some association, they have.

People share things, she goes on, about themselves, it's often about their parents. But it's very brave. These people are really saying things....

The husband looks at us, rolling his eyes. She looks at us, rolling the wine in her glass. Everyone on quicksand, everyone about to be pulled under.

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