Sep 21, 2009


Beaujolais

It was 45 years ago today that I started college at George Washington University. My late afternoon class was English 1, the freshman composition course, taught by Vince Trofi. I don’t know what happened to him. I think he left GW for other teaching positions. One of the better looking girls in the class was Elizabeth, or Liz, as I sometimes call her in my stories. She was a pretty redhead back then. What she looks like now I don’t know. I looked to see if she had survived the years, and she may well have. The trouble with trips down memory lane is that the people are usually prettier, and our flesh is firmer, in our memory than in the present reality, and at the age of 64, who needs reality.

Update February 17, 2014—Vince Trofi apparently died at the age of 80 in April 2011.

Liz and I started talking, and for some reason we struck a chord. I don’t recall if we went back to her dorm, Thurston Hall, aka Superdorm, or if she had it stashed somewhere, the latter I think, but she got a bottle of Beaujolais. She had been in France for part of high school, and I’m sure that we thought she was quite sophisticated.

I was quite good looking back then. I weighed in at between 180 to 200 at 6 feet. Not, as now, at about 300, For some reason she told me that I seemed lonely. I guess Pam Tillis had the kind of guy that I was then in mind in her Maybe It Was Memphis, though that’s probably too romantic. Because it was illegal to drink in public, which is silly, we drank the wine while it was concealed in a paper bag. We sat in a park at 21st and Pennsylvania, across from where I would later live with my wife. I remember looking at a tree, and thinking of Waiting For Godot. Back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s David Susskind had produced a late night series The Play of the Week, which had put on The Iceman Cometh, No Exit, Waiting for Godot, and other plays of similar stature. Liz pulled out a copy of Gregory Corso, I think it was The Happy Birthday of Death, and we shared Corso’s poem Marriage. I think it was then that I became fond of the Beats. I suppose that in all fairness I should say that the current me does not approve of everything the Beats stood for, but the older me, who is still present, thinks that modern poetry, post-Beat, is rather dull, and I don’t think he’d turn down a bottle of Beaujolais with a pretty girl, especially a glamourous redhead who’d been to Paris.

Liz and I lasted for about a week. We went to a movie the following Saturday, and afterwards we sat in the car by Superdorm. At this point, being a would be gentleman, I must skip the scandalous and indecorous details, but it didn’t work out. She had a nervous breakdown and dropped out the following week. I never saw her again after that.

Between then and my wedding, in 1967, there were any number of girls in my life, most for short spells. Some were neurotic, and the less said about them the better, still at this moment, as I sense that my life is entering is its final phase, can I do less than honor those who were so important in my early years.

So today I bought a half bottle of Beaujolais, went outside so I could look at our trees, drank it, and thought, along with Willie and Julio, of All the girls I’ve loved before. May you all be happy.