The Final Word
Because it’s raining, my dearest Sharon Anderson sends this dispatch from Southern California. Sharon was having her hair done and found herself under the dryer. A woman, looking rather prosperous, noticed that Sharon was reading a novel by Albert Camus. It’s called The Myth of Sisyphus. You know, the story about the poor chap who has to keep rolling the rock up the mountain over and over again. Sometimes I know the feeling. That’s when I can’t get a cab on Nob Hill while carrying my computer.
“Woman under hairdryer (WUH): Why are you reading Camus?
Me: Because it’s raining.
WUH: He wrote The Plague.
Me: Yes, that’s right.
WUH: How do you know who he is? He was a writer from 100 years ago.”
Sharon wrote that she wanted to tell WUH with the Ferrari that Camus was born in 1913. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957. But she refrained.
“Me: I know about him the same way that you do.
WUH: You mean you read The Plague?
WUH: Why did you read it?”
I don’t think it had anything to do with Sharon’s overarching interest in epidemiology, though I would not be surprised if she has one.
I love moments like this. It’s like a Woody Allen film. There’s Sharon reading Camus in a SoCal salon, and a gal next to her, under the hair dryer, perusing People magazine. These ridiculous juxtapositions make life amusing – and sweet. That reminds me of Woody Allen’s film Manhattan where Woody, in a moment of despair, makes a list of things that make life worth living.
Why is life worth living? I’ve wondered about that lately. Well, it’s worth living for the breeze that comes off the coast into San Francisco after the rain ... for the scent of great perfume when a woman walks by ... for The Flying Burrito Brothers ... for fresh asparagus with hollandaise sauce ... for living on Nob Hill with hardwood floors ... for Dijon mustard ... for Pat Kelley and the Bloody Marys at the Balboa Cafe ... for the chance to reread S. J. Perelman ... for all of Mort Sahl’s stories ... for the Golden Gate Bridge ... for all of Franz Schubert’s songs ... for the hamburgers at Slider’s ... for Paddy Chayevsky and for Network, the wonderful movie he wrote ... for the Big Four on Nob Hill ... for Jerry Nachman, who showed me Hoboken and where On the Waterfront was filmed ... for the boys at Swan Oyster Depot ... for Mike Greensill and Wesla Whitfield ... for the faces on children when they eat macaroni and cheese ... for a way to get through life without studying algebra ... for vanilla ice cream ... for Gene Pitney singing “Town Without Pity” ... for the Fairmont lobby at 2 a.m. and to silently watch people there ... for the songs of Burton Lane and Yip Harburg (by the way, how are things in Glocca Morra?) ... for Little Henry’s in the Tenderloin where you can get escargots for breakfast ... for Sharon’s smile ... for Stacey Kent singing “I Concentrate on You” ... for Maurice Kanbar and his enduring generosity ... for making rude jokes with my three older brothers ... for the love letters from Mark Twain to his wife, Olivia ... for the love letters from Sarah Palin to herself ... for the crab cakes at the Epic Roasthouse with my pals Diane and Carole ... for the forgiveness I get from Valerie Pinkert when I praise Velveeta ... and for every hung-up person in the whole, wide universe ...
Aw, you get the picture. I could drone on and on, but Lynette Majer, the editor of this paper, would not tolerate it. I will just close this perambulation with this. Life is also worth living because of Dorothy Parker. She wrote: Guns aren’t lawful/Nooses give/Gas smells awful/You might as well live.
Mrs. Parker, as usual, has the final word.
Bruce Bellingham also writes for the Marina Times. His next book is tentatively titled “Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home.” Torture him at email@example.com.