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Soulmates or Bedmates | 2010 | Casting Understudies

07.18.10 12:51 p.m.

It takes a long time to grow young.  

-Pablo Picasso




I remember turning 21 as a non-event. I went to a bar to see Dave's band Bone and had my first legal drink, some alcopop that caused me to puff out my cheeks in distaste just as my picture was taken. Zack finished it, since my enjoyment was secondary to the milestone of buying it. Beyond legal alcohol, what good is 21 in America?

Melanie echoed this. She is French if given the checkbox and has had a healthy relationship with alcohol all her life. Despite having all the wrinkles of a Kewpie, she was never carded and certainly never had cause to need to acquire a fake ID.

Still, birthdays require a certain momentum that the Fates delight in impeding, a fact that plagues Melanie in no small way all day. She wants to go blueberry picking in acknowledgment of her birth, but no farms will accommodate. I think, but do not more than imply, that blueberries are either out of season or well picked out. Daniel, Melanie and I drive distances to the opening day at an orchard that will allow us to pluck their peaches, managing to avoid a herd of goats that plainly considered the street theirs. Within fifteen minutes and a half dozen devoured peaches, their sun-warmed juices dripping down our chins and sweetening our lips (I assume with Daniel and well know with Melanie), we have overfilled our bags.

"That didn't take long," Melanie says with a huff. "That's why I like berry picking. It can take all afternoon."
Not wearing a vest and tie!

When we return to New Paltz to hopefully ferret out Jacki at one of her five jobs (no hyperbole), Melanie fidgets and insists we return her to my apartment for a nap - she had spent a week couch-surfing in order to attend a Georgist convention and owes vast sleep debt that inclined her to snappishness. It is her birthday and we are letting her dictate its course to the degree she can. So Daniel and I return to my apartment and kill digital zombies while she snoozes feet away.

When she awakes, she is restored to impish vitality and declares we ought to feed her before she can turn surly again. And, if there is alcohol to be had, all the better.

We witness her buy no alcohol. After sharing a not wholly satisfying Indian meal that nonetheless will stay with us for days, Daniel parts from us as Melanie has in mind celebration of a more private sort. But expectations exist to disappoint. What is a wonderful interlude (one of the best I can recall) to me causes in her frenzy such that she slices her finger in an attempt to rehydrate with a can of seltzer in the midst of things - a wound she ignores for another twenty minutes because she is devoted to making this moment special. What birthday lets us out of its clutches without injury?

Soon in Xenology: Maybe a job.

last watched: Mary and Max
reading: Swann's Way
listening: Jolie Holland

Soulmates or Bedmates | 2010 | Casting Understudies

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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