Sketch, from The Dying Gaul, a Sunday night in mid-October:
It's a nice modest little seat to watch history from, the little bar. The end of the night the Norman man of the Breton woman who works with us now comes to pick her up, and Jean Mark shares with us tales of DC restaurants going back to the early '70s back when you were a tux and made good money. The legendary Cantina D'Italia, down by M and 20th, run by a crazy old little Italian guy who liked his pleasures, closed on weekends, paid vacation, closed for Christmas, the good old days. Stories of Kissinger, accompanied by 'the giraffe,' in need of being educated on tipping, Sinatra, snapping his fingers, but at the end of the night a good pal offering the key to his New York penthouse, after $4000 of caviar at Chez Jacqueline. He has long gray hair, pulled back, a white blue striped pullover, an ancient's good taste in bracelet, a wooden beaded necklace revealing an understanding of old healing magic. His photographs hung framed on the walls of the old Au Pied Du Cochon. He is a strong man, with a strong skull and shoulders, whom one could imagine ancestral work by the sea. American white wines are full of sulfites, and every bar has a pinot grigio, and because he does not eat meat, only fish, cheese too, he does not often drink reds, though he appreciates a good American red like a Montellana. (sp?) He too has the look of the Gaul from the statue, with a hint of olive in his healthy skin.
It's a busy night for a cold weather sunday when seasons change abruptly. A Russian couple with a boy and a girl, seen previously, make their way into the back room at the first table, turning the lights on as they sit down, very pleasant people. Snails, rosé, foie gras, then veal cheeks and the seafood special, monkfish medallion with mussel and lobster with a saffron mussel sauce and forbidden rice, green beans. Two men sit for a glass of wine, just as the door has opened, having gone shoe shopping at Aldo. They think their reservation is for downstairs. Let them come, let them sit, it's good to be busy, even if the guy the night before did a lousy job of stocking up, leaving the old man (me) to lug up a case and a half of assorted soda, six packs of beer, on top of the usual dearth of back up wine to fix.
I remain feeling realigned. I have the moral strength to get up to face the tedium of going down into the office building part of the city for a tedious therapy session, because I have found that which sustains, a sensibility that fits in with what the old monk in Karamazov is talking about, do not be afraid of men's sin, because this is the highest form of God's love, as it is attuned to that of the Son. Furthermore, take up the sins of men as being your own sins, and indeed they are.
Monday is a strange day. The 11AM session, then back to work when the gears will be revved a good eight hours later, a sustained run of it for four more after it gets busy. There needs to be a lull in there somewhere, the body tells you.