Tuesday, June 16, 2009

8th Grade Fashionistas




I attended an 8th grade graduation last week in Southern California.
8th grade, if you remember, is when 99% of the girls look like this . . .










. . while 2% of the boys rise to the occasion,



15% have been stuffed into shirts and slacks by their parents,



and the balance have opted for determined sartorial indifference.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Part Two: The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth . . .

Part One: Les Etangs d'Ixelles
1958. For six years I have been dating M, my blue-eyed boy, on and off. Off mostly, as his family sends him first to boarding school in Belgium and later in England. While apart we both date other people but when he is in Brussels we are always "ensemble", together. My parents slowly get used to the idea that I actually have a serious boyfriend . Then he is off again, this time to Germany to fulfill his military duty. Through a radio program, The Soldier's Hour, we dedicate songs** to one another, we pour our hearts in love letters, and I meet my soldier at the train station when he is on leave. We walk for miles around the Etangs d'Ixelles, in the parc of l'Abbaye de la Cambre, and in the woodsy Bois de la Cambre. But as soon as he has completed the draft, his father sends him away for a year to work in Canada.



In the meantime, I finish high school and start working. When M returns to Belgium, I am nearing twenty and we see each other every weekend. We are young adults now, old enough to talk about the future of our relationship and discover that we have very different goals. He has had enough of being away, he wants to get engaged and settle down while I want to leave Belgium and try my wings. A conversation becomes a disagreement and then a violent quarrel. I slam his car door and he drives away in anger. In the days that follow pride supersedes love: neither one of us will pick up the phone. Weeks, then months go by. He lives in another city and after a while I have neither an address nor a phone number to reach him. On being 21, I leave Belgium permanently without looking back. And yet. . .


Les Amoureux des Bancs Publiques by Georges Brassens, 1954

A loose translation

People who can't see straight
Believe green public benches
That you see on sidewalks
Are there for the handicapped or the obese
That's an absurdity
Because in truth
They are there it's obvious
To welcome for a while new loves

Lovers who are kissing on public benches
Public benches, public benches
Who don't give a damn about the nasty looks
From "nice" people
Lovers who are kissing on public benches
Public benches, public benches
Saying dramatic "I love you"s
Have very likable little mugs

They hold hands
Talk about the future
About the sky blue paper
That will cover the walls of their bedroom
They imagine themselves
She sewing, he smoking
In safe comfort
And chose the names of their first baby

Lovers who are kissing on public benches. . .

When the what's their name holy family
Comes across
Two of these boors
They boldly fling nasty remarks at them
Even though the father, the mother, the daughter,
The son, the Holy Spirit,
Wouldn't mind doing the same from time to time

Lovers who are kissing on public benches . . .

After months have gone by
When their beautiful blazing dreams
Will have quietened down
When dark clouds cover their sky
They will be moved
To discover
That it is in random streets
On one of these famous benches
That they lived the sweetest part of their love.


click here for title source