[joe-frank-list] 'A pact with god'

russellbell at gmail.com russellbell at gmail.com
Sat Oct 2 06:03:16 PDT 2021

	Over the sound of a film projector Joe narrates an account of
his parents' gated senior community, The Fountains (apparently Lake
Worth, Florida); he's visiting: golf courses, tennis courts (rarely
used), golf carts, guard at the gates, fence and moat.  Occasionally
an alligator emerges from the moat, the second-most popular topic of
discussion after the deaths and disabilities of other residents.
	3:00: The women, in their 60s and 70s, look so alike Joe can't
pick her out at a luncheon, finally has to ask the chairwoman of the
luncheon committee.
	4:50: Joe describes his stepfather, Freddy, shopping at the
drug store, stooped over, worn clothes, buying items with coupons.  He
grew up in a poor household (on Morris Avenue in the Bronx), retains
frugal habits.
	9:50: They took a trip to Switzerland on the cheapest charter
flight, with a bunch of rowdy students, fell on the escalator in the
airport, injured themselves.
	11:00: His mother serves soup boiling hot so they hold off
eating it, but give in.  They make a racket while eating, accumulate
crumbs on their faces; it embarrasses Joe.
	14:10: Freddy uses the after-dinner coffee to begin washing
out the food stuck between his teeth; then they both use toothpicks.
Joe looks away - 'I look out a window at a tree and the sky beyond; it
gives me a feeling of relief, takes me away from this room and these 2
old people whom I love, but sometimes drive me crazy.'
	15:00: Freddy wants to wash the dishes, but Joe's mother won't
let him because he's slow.
	15:30: Joe's mother complains about Freddy's disorganization,
forgetfulness, watching of 'crap on television', leaving out the cat
food overnight so it'll be warm in the morning.  He walks around nude;
she wishes he wouldn't.  He eats a fortune cookie without taking out
the fortune.
	16:10: 'I go diving off the coast...' Joe tells of going scuba
diving, so deep it's dark and he experiences nitrogen narcosis, 'the
rapture of the deep'  (I assume this is fictional.)
	18:40: (Sound of a loud automobile engine) Joe drives on a
country road, counts telephone poles, imagines that, when he reaches
59 'the year in his life that he died', he'll careen into the 59th
pole.  (Joe's father died at 56.)
	19:30: 'And I love those tropical storms...'  'I think of the
thunder as the voice of my father'.
	20:40: Joe's mother comes home from a Jessye Norman concert,
angry at how badly the audience behaved.  The audience left in such a
hurry some suffered injuries.
	22:10: Joe describes the depredations of age upon them.
	25:10: Joe tells the story of Conrad, Freddy's friend, a
successful businessman, as well as handsome, charming, and a good
golfer.  An injury while diving afflicted him with Pick's Disease
(Doesn't sound like it:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontotemporal_dementia), which hampers,
then destroys his mental function, results in early death.
	28:20: She becomes less tactful with age, tells Joe, who has
gained weight, that his breasts look like a 14-year-old girl's.  She
describes being fondled by one of her parents friends when she was a
girl.  She's begun to rub her thighs unconsciously.
	30:50: They look through files of old photos; Joe finds the
pictures of her as a young girl particularly moving.  'An unhappy love
affair with a young man followed by a difficult marriage to a much
older man.'  They moved to Germany where he had his business, had a
crippled son.  He died in a car accident caused by a stroke.  Her
second marriage began romantically, turned bitter.  'The failure of
the family business and the comfortable retirement in Florida living
on the money they received from German reparations after the war and
invested wisely.'  (Langerman Shoe was still in business in the '70s.)
	33:00: She remembers her family's escape from the Russian army
when she was 3 or 4.  (Quoth Wikipedia, 'after the outbreak of World
War I the town (Rymanów, her hometown) was captured by the Russian
Empire in September 1914 and severely looted.  The spa pavillons were
burnt to the ground and the town suffered from several weeks of
Russian rule. In 1915 it was again retaken by Austria-Hungary and
started to be rebuilt.'  She was 3 years, 9 months.)
	33:50: Her mother told her she had wanted an abortion instead
of bearing her.
	34:10: She falsely claimed that she was sexually experienced
to her fiancé.
	34:40: She tells of Kristallnacht, fleeing Vienna by train.
	35:30: She tells of her 2 favorite songs when she was a young
woman, 'The wanderer' and 'I came as a stranger and I left as a
stranger', how they express her feeling of being a stranger in the
world.  (They're both by Schubert; the latter is 'Gute nacht', the
first song in 'Die Winterreise'; she called it by its opening lines.
Can't go wrong with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR8_n-B8qu0 (Wanderer) and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0Rry-ahcHM (Winterreise).)
	36:00: Her stories of her early life are 'like a religious
experience' to Joe, 'It's my foundation, it's where I came from, and I
never tire of listening to it.'
	37:20: Joe repeats the account of scuba diving originally at
16:10, and the 2 following segments.
	40:00: Joe recounts Freddy's bouts with cancer.
	41:20: The day before Freddy's surgery, Joe makes a pact with
god, that, if Joe runs this particular route all the way, Freddy's
tumor will be benign.  He gets lost, has to give up running, feels he
has failed, that he has left Freddy up to god's mercy.
	49:20: Joe takes 1&1/2 valium the night before the surgery.
He wonders what his mother would do if Freddy dies, they having lived
together the last 40 years.  (They married in 1945, which would date
this story to about 1985.)
	51:50: The growth is a melanoma, but it hasn't spread, so it
may not be serious.  He seems to have recovered well.  (He died in
	55:50: Joe repeats the account of scuba diving originally at
16:10, and the 2 following segments.


	'A death in the family' has the same words, different music.
Joe re-used much of this material in 'Too close to home'.

russell bell

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