Our grey cat has caught a mouse. Everyone but me is out on the front porch yelling. From where I sit in the kitchen, finishing dinner, I can see they have left the front door wide open. Here we go again, I think.
Blogging has a social function, Petr said a couple months ago in Brno. I was there with my family meeting Anne and her supporting cast.
I have met several bloggers now. Maybe I’m becoming a more social person. It’s never a disappointment, at any rate, not for me at least. There’s always the potential for that, obviously, but if someone seems like a real asshole from their blog, or boring, you generally end up not reading their blog and it never occurs to you to meet them, so you tend to meet only the people who hold your interest, which is more than one can say about daily life, but there is always the possibility you could be disappointed, or disappoint them, assuming they have expectations.
All I’m saying is, that hasn’t happened to me yet, although if it had I couldn’t talk about it, could I. If I did that, then no one would want to meet me, would they, if I gave people bad reviews. You always have that slight pressure to say something nice about the people you meet.
He’s in the house! Get out of the house with that mouse, they are yelling. The mouse is still alive! He’s dropping it! Pick that mouse back up! The cat lets the mouse run around in the entryway for a while before recatching it.
I met four bloggers this summer for the first time. I found it interesting that all of them mentioned something about how they do not write about the experience when they meet other bloggers. I concluded I must be so boring and they were too nice to embarrass me and too honest to lie or something. I decided I wouldn’t either, avoiding that whole good review/bad review quandary.
And besides, there is the privacy thing. What they want people to know about them they already write on their own blog, you know?
What can I add to what they already talk about, you know? I could write about the general experience. I could say, when I met Horst I got lost first, looking for parking, and then gave up and parked several blocks away. Or I could remark on how the table at the restaurant – we were eating outside on the sidewalk, it was a nice day – was the type that is round and a little too small and a little too low or too high for me to comfortably eat at. I could say how he is remarkably observant, with a scientist’s eye, a naturalist’s eye, for daily life, especially restaurants. But if you read his site, you already know that.
People don’t want you to review them. I don’t know. Meeting bloggers is interesting for me because it’s a new thing for me, meeting people at all. I used to be a recluse. Then, a few years ago, I flew to London to meet D and P and J and B. It got me out of the house, it was fun, it didn’t kill me. At that time, I had no idea whether such people were actually real or what. Ambling back and forth at the underground station in London, I wondered back then whether someone was perched upon a nearby building with a sniper rifle, watching me.
The cat carries the mouse into the living room and it gets loose again, trapped behind an open door. The cat starts to go after it and everyone yells at it to finally catch the mouse again, which the cat misunderstands and gets a little freaked out and sort of just watches the mouse, thinking maybe that they are telling it not to harm the mouse.
I figure, though, my blog, I write about every damned thing that happens to me and meeting someone is a subset of that, so when they decide to meet me, they can expect I might mention it somewhere. It’s not like I give them two stars or three thumbs up. Plus, I met very cool people.
Early in July, we happened to be in the South of France so we dropped by Ruth’s and Julian’s place. If you read their sites, you know all about them; I have nothing to add, really. Their house was a little hard to find. Beta spilled my wine all over me and Julian loaned me a shirt. Artichokes are thistles, bloom purple and make cool bouquets. It is hard for me to follow conversations in a room full of talking people. I run out of gas at about 9 PM, especially where alcohol is involved.
Let’s see. What might you not know? Not only is Ruth a professional cellist of reknown, she is also incredibly beautiful. She doesn’t seem to post pictures of herself on her site, so maybe you only guessed this from the quality of her writing. And Julian is a painter. They manage to combine many of my dreams into a single package – living in an old house in the South of France (which I didn’t realize until visiting that area this summer was my dream), being a brilliant cellist, being a painter. The only thing missing from the formula, really, would have been a professional writer, I thought. Then I was introduced to Gary, a friend of Julian’s who happened to be visiting. He is a novelist and screenwriter.
We bought one of Julian’s pictures. Beta wanted to buy another one for her friend’s birthday, but Julian gave it to her for free. I have never seen her so impressed.
I finally start yelling when the fucking mouse moves to the other open door, the one leading to the kitchen, and the genius cat circles around into the kitchen instead of pursuing the mouse behind the door, giving the mouse an opening to head out into the living room at large. First it hides under the dining table, then that being too exposed moves under first one sofa, then the other one.
Ruth happened to be in Austria later, while I was in the States, performing at the Salzburger Festspiele (that is, she was in Salzburg in Austria performing at the Festspiele there, I wasn’t performing at the Salzburger Festspiele in the United States, of course, since there are none in the US, and besides what would I perform?), and generously got Alpha and a friend into the dress rehearsal of Mitridate, which they loved and which got great reviews.
After that, Alpha was pretty much sold on the idea of meeting bloggers.
Then came Portland and the Driftwood Room, which is where I suggested to Ronnie Cordova that we meet. I didn’t know it was called the Driftwood Room at the time, I just told him to be in the bar at the Mallory at 8 PM, which he was, much to my surprise. I was late, having gone out to dinner with the girls and an uncle who insisted on getting the girls everything that they wanted and one said ice cream so he ran us across town to one shop which was closed so he then took us to a Dairy Queen while I looked at my watch hoping, secretly, that Ronnie would bail because that way I could just go to bed early and not have to be social.
We finally got back to the hotel, I got the girls to their room and wondering what he would look like and how I would recognize him if he was still there wandered into the very dark bar.
I spotted him right away, because he was the only person in the bar, chatting away happily if somewhat sardonically with the two bartenders who, okay, are also persons so three persons in the bar, four counting me. He would be a dead ringer for Ricardo Montalban, if Ricardo was a lot younger, and shorter, with rounder features, a puckish glint to his eyes and about three days’ growth of hair on his head.
“I almost bailed on you,” he said.
“I was hoping you would,” I said.
The fucking goddamned mouse was heading for the library. I
ran walked rapidly, as one would in a hotel fire evacuation, into the kitchen and looked for a good dish to plop over it. Something transparent, or at least translucent, and as cheap as possible, in case anyone had health objections to using kitchenware that had come into contact with a filthy little mouse although, you know, you can just wash it in the dishwasher afterwards and anyway, what could you catch from a little mouse? I followed the little fucker into the library, fully conscious of my advantage: I knew the layout by heart, whereas this mouse was, to my knowledge, seeing the place for the first time.
Using his superior powers of interrogation, Ronnie found out that the bar had previously been called the Redwood Room, which made sense as it had sort of redwoody panelling but for some reason had been renamed the Driftwood Room and now had pieces of driftwood all over the place, which I hadn’t noticed right away upon entering the bar, having been paying more attention to trying to figure out which guest was Ronnie, which turned out to be easy, as I already mentioned a few paragraphs above this one.
We had a few drinks. I drank gin & tonics. My brane shut down eventually and I found myself saying things like, “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh” and, two-thirds of the way through a story, or at the end of a story, “what the hell was my point?” or “what, exactly, motivated me to start telling this particular anecdote?”
To which Ronnie would respond with a shrug, usually, or a fantasy about watching children be dragged out to sea by a riptide.
Normally, one just meets people in one’s immediate vicinity. Work, school, neighborhood. That’s what I have always enjoyed about blogging, besides the cheap ego gratification I get from it: a window into the lives of people I wouldn’t normally meet. And here I am now, actually meeting some of them.
I get the dish, a round, cylindrical clear plastic container that had held candy, these cheap gelatine-based red-and-white hearts or eyeballs or something and was now empty, over the mouse on the second try. I told Gamma to bring me a newspaper and slid that underneath and carried the little guy outside. Gamma carried the cat. We reunited them on the terrace and they went out into a flowerbed and did whatever it is that cats and mice usually do.
Whatever. I figured blogging was for the ego gratification, and maybe writing practice, but Petr turns out to be right, the social component is important as well.