Jewish World Review Jan 22, 2014/ 21 Shevat, 5774
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I was attending a party of some sort. Maybe a diplomatic reception. In a large well-appointed room full of people and din. Everyone was talking. In French. There were tables and chairs but all were standing -- over at the bar or picking and choosing off the buffet in the most careful, cultivated way, à la française. Elegant.
In the room the women come and go talking of . . .
The young women towered and tottered on their sky-high heels. Rapunzels were everywhere but not a Rumpelstiltskin in sight, though one of the guests bore a distinct resemblance to portraits of Toulouse-Lautrec. Everything turned into color when he appeared, like one of his posters in the
The bartenders were
The bottles of wine were arrayed in full behind the bar like a cook's tour of the wine-growing regions of France. Impressive. With due premeditation and an anglophone's caution, I settled on a red -- a Chateau Cordeillan-Bages Pauillac 2006. A little fruity, a little dry but not tart, not much nose . . . but what a finish. The wine quieted the din. Slightly.
After a sip of wine, or two or three, I spotted my late wife far across the room; she always wanted to speak French and tried to on those rare occasions when she worked up the nerve. Her accent stayed pure -- pure
I was resigned to it by now. "In any case," as
I try to fit in, chatting with the few familiar faces. My hostess explains that she's from
At one point, she recalls, she'd run a little theater not far from the Arc de Triomphe -- near the Place Charles de Gaulle, named, as she puts it, for the man who gave
My own grandmother had left
I heard my grandmother scream just once from the back bedroom when she got the news about her daughters, my aunts. The sound seemed to last forever. Like a siren. And then it was over. To a puzzled little boy, it was unending. I still hear it.
One of my mother's sisters was named Temya, the one who had looked after her during the First War, and now I have a niece named for her. The remembered picture of a dark, brooding Temya in a lost old scrapbook has become the smiling, always cheerful Tammy who now lives deep in the heart of
Goodness. One glass of good wine and I'm out of it, afloat on a sea of memories and family stories. I step into the foyer to find somewhere to sit down for a while and sober up before I get behind the wheel again. But the surreal dream goes on. Pictures appear on the wall. Apparently of some sort of groundbreaking. It's a snapshot of dignitaries digging into the dirt with what appear to be shovel-sized forks. Dali would have liked it.
Then it hits me. This is no dream. This party is for the visiting French consul general, M. Sujiro Seam. He's a charming young man, being French. Enchanté. And this is the new
But now it's time to get back on the access road and then on to what's called reality. Thank you very much, I've had a nice time. Bonsoir, bonne soirée, bonne nuit . . . and y'all hurry back. Out on the interstate four lanes of traffic are hurtling by like accidents waiting to happen. At high speed. The dream is definitely over. Or maybe it's just begun.
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