Periscope Depth

for all the wisdom of a lifetime, no one can ever tell

My friend TC celebrated his 39th birthday a few weeks back. He sent out an e-mail inviting folks to Rendezvous in Central Square for dinner and drinks.

He ended the e-mail thus:

Also, I have decided that a drink needs to be created called a “Jack Benny” in honor of the comedian who had a running schtick of always claiming his age was 39. To the best of my knowledge this drink doesn’t exist. Yet. When it does I shall be drinking it.

I fired back the following:

A “Jack Benny”: classic Manhattan; use dry vermouth instead of sweet; use Rose’s Lime Juice instead of bitters. I’ve just decided.

I gave it all of sixty seconds thought and some brief Googling to make sure I hadn’t concocted a poison. But TC, sport that he is, tried it and reported it potable. I have not had the courage to try it yet myself.

# # #

Since I don’t have any teenage daughters or college-age mistresses to shop for, I had no idea that a store called Forever 21 existed until I saw banners warning of an imminent opening in the Arsenal Mall. It’s a latecomer to New England, I believe. Looking it up online, I found that yes, it’s a retail clothing store that primarily targets young men and women.

Few things disturb me as much as the idea of wanting to be twenty-one, forever. I know I shouldn’t read too much into any store’s name, but I couldn’t help but recall a line from C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle:

She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.*

# # #

Monday night I met Lindsay and her gentleman caller Marc at Legal Seafoods in the Copley Mall. I showed up at the Legal in the Pru first, much to my confusion. “I didn’t even know there was a second Legal in this mall,” I told the two when I showed up, breathless, four minutes later. “Having two restaurants within a few hundred yards of each other seems a bit much.”

“And we have another one in Park Plaza,” said our server, appearing at my elbow like a conjured devil. “Confuses people all the time. My name’s Jeff; I’ll be your server this evening.”

Lindsay had her first whole lobster, so the server gave her a crash course in how best to dissect one. “Find the way each joint wants to bend, and then bend it the opposite way,” he instructed, a tip that appealed to the jiu-jitsu student in me. I had a baked scrod with buttery crumb topping over some rice pilaf.

On the train ride home, I realized that, though I had filled out the tip on the credit card receipt correctly, I had written in the wrong total – inadvertently adding the line items and the total twice. We’ll see if the restaurant charged me for the bill plus tip (a roughly 20% gratuity) or for the incorrectly doubled bill (a 100% gratuity) in ten days when the statement arrives.

# # #

Let me impart to you some advice my father gave me on New Year’s Eve, 2002:

Remember, I met your mother at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. So … be careful.

* This leads to one of the more interesting criticisms of Lewis’ theology that I’ve read – is Susan Pevensie being excluded from Heaven because of her sexual maturity? Personally, I could see an argument either way: either yes, Lewis is just that kind of frowning Puritan, or no, because trying to be eighteen for the rest of your life isn’t a sign of sexual “maturity” per se. It’s rather a moot point; read Gaiman’s “The Problem of Susan” if you’re interested.