By Judy Berman
I’m sure it is an unsettling sight to passers-by when they see someone just sitting in a car and laughing.
The motor’s running. For 15 minutes, I am transfixed. I can’t turn off the ignition and leave to go into the store.
These are known as “driveway moments.”
Sometimes, it’s a song you want to hear all the way thru and maybe sing along. Other times, you’re spellbound by the story you hear and wait for the inevitable conclusion.
Still others, you just don’t want the story to end.
One of those stories was T. Coraghessan Boyle’s “Sorry Fugo.”
Albert blames Willa Frank’s caustic review as the reason one of his friend’s businesses went under. The headline over her column read: “Udolpho’s: Troglodytic Cuisine in a Cavelike Atmosphere.”
He shuddered and knew it was only a matter of time before she “slipped like a spy, like a murderess,” into his restaurant, D’Angelo’s and skewered him as she had done to the others.
The night she shows up, the staff is in a tizzy. This night: it’s a disaster. But Albert knew Willa Frank would be back. “Twice more. And he would be ready for her.”
When she did return, “Albert put his soul into each dish, arranged and garnished the plates with all the patient care and shimmering inspiration of a Toulouse-Lautrec bent over a canvas, and watched, defeated, as each came back to the kitchen half-eaten.”
Revenge is a dish best served cold. Albert had a marvelous scheme cooked up for Willa Frank’s final visit.
To tell you how Albert turned the tables on Willa Frank would spoil the story. I will just say the ending was delicious.
Other stories expose us to places, people and things we’d never meet. Some are haunting, like the story about Lucy the chimpanzee who was raised as a human.
Lucy was only two days old when she was adopted by psychologist Dr. Maurice K. Temerlin and his wife Jane. Lucy looked adorable in her little dresses as she drew in a coloring book and learned sign language.
But there came a day when it was necessary for Lucy to leave the family who raised her.
Janis Carter, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, accompanied Lucy and another chimpanzee to the wild in Gambia. They were being released in the coastal West African country.
Lucy did not adjust easily. Janis Carter remained with the chimps longer than she intended to help them survive in the wild. For me, the final photo of Lucy hugging Janis Carter as Janis was leaving the area was heartbreaking. (The link to the podcast is below.)
Other stories are laugh-out-loud funny, and I’ve shared them with family and friends.
The tall tale, “The Beard,” by Fred Chappell is a classic example. It’s in his book, “I Am One of You Forever” and is worth picking up.
It centers on Uncle Gurton, who has a long, flowing beard of unknown length, and his visit to 10-year-old Jess and his family. Uncle Gurton’s main talent is eating voraciously.
When asked if he’d like more to eat, Uncle Gurton smiles. About the only thing he does say is: “No thank you. I’ve had an elegant sufficiency. Any more would be a superfluity.” My students delight in that line, much more than the cut-to-the-chase comment: “No thanks. I’ve had enough. Any more and I might burst.”
Then, Uncle Gurton disappears whenever he’s needed to help out with chores.
One night, their curiosity about the beard got the best of Jess and his Dad with hilarious results.
The fast-paced life can wait. Sit back, relax. So what if you’re still in the driveway. Take the time to listen to a really great story. You’ll be glad you did.
Sept. 10th marked my third anniversary on WordPress. Thank you for all your thoughtful and funny comments, for the friendships I’ve found on WordPress, and for your support. I want to especially thank my husband, Dave Berman, who has edited my posts these past three years. Thanks, Honey.
Are there times when the world stands still until that special song or story ends? Please share some of your favorite driveway moments.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
1. Main Photo: “Sorry Fugo” – from a play directed by John Fisher. Word for Word Performing Arts Company, San Francisco, Calif., in 2012. http://kedaradourforallevents.blogspot.com/2012/01/food-stories-at-word-for-word-feast-of.html
2. Photo: Lucy the chimpanzee coloring http://www.radiolab.org/story/91705-lucy/
3. Photo: Lucy the chimpanzee and Janis Carter hugging. (radiolab slide show)
4. Photo: Happy
RadioLab story of “Lucy” – a chimp teaches the ups and downs of growing up human. https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/91705