It’s such a great thing when kids finally hit the age of three or so, start having a personality, and respond to queries with something resembling logic. Before three, it’s all noise and a vague understanding of the world around them after three, it starts to make sense, even if it is a bit surreal. Abigail (the daughter of Bridget and Neal, whose Easthampton house we’re crashing in) is in the stage when colors play an important part in the day’s events. Her T-shirt is pink, the cover of Marie Claire is purple, and the peppers are orange, and it’s all rather fabulous. She asked me what sound a rhinoceros makes, and I said, “rouuufffffshhh!” I asked her what sound the ocean makes, and she said, “waveswaveswaveswaveswaves,” which makes perfect sense to me. I asked her why her shoes had velcro instead of shoelaces, and she said, well, “you never know.” Ain’t that the truth.
Tessa, Abigail and I pose for the digital camera. Abigail was particularly struck at how the picture appeared on the back of the camera within a few seconds
Around 5pm, we packed our things and lit for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, where Tessa’s film Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me was playing as part of the American Landscape series. It’s the fourth time I’ve seen the movie, and it’s still fun, especially now that I’m semi-intimately involved with the major players. Tessa is grilled twice about getting married in the movie, which is funny to watch now, seven years after the footage was shot.
I’ve always been proud and lucky, I suppose – to be the last person 91-year-old Tommy Blake ever met (and remembered). He was very feeble, occasionally lapsing into a dreamlike state, when we saw him in February 2001, but he remembered me the next day and said to Tessa, “I’m interested to find out that your so-called boyfriend is a musician.” Which was funny, because no mention was made of our relationship in front of him – likely Muffet said something. Anyway, I played Gershwin on the piano, he clapped in delight, and then his own conversation devolved into a jazz riff itself: a stated topic, with delirious improvisations on it, seemingly incomprehensible, then landing back safely where he started. When we left his house that day, I snuck back to the piano room for one last look, because I knew it would be the last time I’d ever see Tessa’s father alive. He sat on the couch with his tie crooked, staring out the window, no doubt thinking of a song to soothe his mind, a slight smile on his ancient face.
me, Blakey and Tessa on that last day, February 2001