Sunday, June 20, 2010
Happy Birthday to My Friend Liz
Liz, going to college, worked as a waitress in our restaurant up in Vermont. I started to love her very quickly because she was smart and witty and beautiful. Since her father had died young, I wanted to adopt Liz so I could have a closer, even legalized, connection with such a smart and witty and beautiful person. She didn't go for my idea but she accepted my love and loved me back. She thinks I'm really funny and I think she's really funny.
One afternoon I wrote a short story called "Doctor McDonald Gets McLayed" and asked Liz to read it. She read it that night on the bus going home from work and phoned me to say it was the funniest story she'd ever read. How could I not love her even more?
I later mailed the story to The New Yorker. I got a form rejection but with a note written by the esteemed editor (and now novelist and memoirist) Daniel Menaker. To have his initials on a personal note was a good tickled pink for me.
Now, nearly 25 years after meeting her, I still love Liz as if she is my daughter. She's the only person I know who would please me by saying, as she did a few moments ago on the phone, and saying it with a certain pride, "All three of my boys are atheists!" Her boys, all whip-smart, are maybe 10, 8, and 6.
When the oldest was asked if he wanted to go to the ceremony marking his graduation from elementary school, he said, "No ... why would I want to sit through two hours of shit just to be handed a piece of paper?"
My kind of guy. His mother? My kind of woman: Gorgeous, funny, morally and ethically outstanding, and really really smart.