It all started with a word. Specifically, “deracinate”, a word submitted by documentarian Cyndee Readdean which resulted in a post picked by WordPress editors for promotion, which resulted in all sorts of amazing, provocative, heady words from you!

Reposting “deracinate” as tonight Cyndee Readdean will be honored for producing FREEDOM SUMMER (click for trailer), which was broadcast on PBS’s American Masters and garnered a prestigious Peabody. The Peabody Awards are airing this this evening (6/21) — watch the video trailer HERE  in the U.S. on Pivot broadcast network (check their digital platforms for streaming in other territories).

WordBowl Word of the Day “deracinate” — which I did not know essentially means “to uproot” until I Googled it — is courtesy of Cyndee Readdean. Filmmaker. Culture Creature. Twin. 

deracinateA few weeks after the birth of my baby brother — disappointing, as I specifically requested an OLDER brother, not this red-faced mewling thing taking up residence in my mother’s lap —I greeted the arrival of my road-weary father with suitcase in hand, assuming this Houston apartment was as temporary as the others, Phoenix for Spring Training, Tacoma in the off-season, San Francisco or San Mateo for games played in Candlestick Park, Evansville for dips down to Triple-A ball.

A travel savvy almost-five-year-old, I packed my own case, a miniature replica of my mother’s (hard-sided, top-stitched), with a few of my favorite outfits and matching socks (we dressed to the nines, my mother and I), a swimsuit (swimming pool hopes, often the case), paper and crayons (if we flew, stewardesses cooed and gave out coloring books, but I liked to be prepared for any travel situation), an assortment of books (of course) and my Giants jersey (adult-sized, doubling as security blanket). All set, ready to Hit the Road.

imgres-1We — Mom, Dad, me — may not have had a home, but our lives had a rhythm, bound to the tides of baseball fortunes, the ebbing minor leagues, the crests and swells of the majors. Shifts in destination and timing, the little dramas woven into the cycle of arrival, unpacking, practice, game, celebration or consolation, re-packing, waiting, departure, freeway or airport, motel or apartment, arrival.Vagabond days marked by gas station treats and airport gifts and occasional exotic meals cooked by one of the other ballplayer’s homesick wives.

Vesper Martini at Raoul's: a classic at a classic

Vesper Martini at Raoul’s: a classic at a classic

Ballparks, with their enormity of noise, swells of sound, announcements crackling, great waves of people, anticipatory, asserting statistical knowledge. Cries for beer, hotdogs, yes, even peanuts, better seats. The players loping onto the field, scattered shouts from the fans, weak clapping gaining strength as the crowds turn from their dissertations on the team’s chances for the season and acknowledge the actual talent hitting the field. Lazy balls arcing through the air, belying the precision with which they are thrown, even during warm up, the nonchalant preening of players on display but not yet at work, playing. Me, near the dugout, in uniform, an indulged team mascot.

Are not all fathers applauded by thousands upon arrival at their office?

wayside coffee bar, east village

wayside coffee bar, east village

Now, Houston, this apartment without a swimming pool, was to be our home for the next few years as my father — retiring at 27 from the only job he had ever known — attended pharmacy school.

I did not share my parents’ enthusiasm for kindergarten, the opportunity to play with kids my own age. I enjoyed my solo status, my books and my crayons, the company of grown-up players — Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Mansori Murakami, Willie Mays — and their wives. In Houston, all the adults looked alike, the kids had known each other since birth, and everyone spoke with a singular syrup-drenched accent.

Adrift in this sea of sameness, I began plotting my escape.

Today’s WordBowl Word of the Day was handwritten at the SoHo institution Raoul’s and edited at the latest jewel in the East Village artisanal coffee crown, Wayside. 

“Baleful” courtesy of Debbie Kovacs:

Editor. Adventurer. Pioneer of the possibilities (and risks) of software-meets-storytelling.

IMG_3013

STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, GO SEE WHAT GOOGLE THINKS IT KNOWS ABOUT YOU screamed across the social stratosphere, a link to access your Google profile, the basis of their vaunted ad-serving model. I was curious. Or procrastinating. I clicked: Male, 27-34 years old, two kids, New York City.

Only one of these characterizations is true.

PRINTING PRESS cocktail at The Up & Up

PRINTING PRESS cocktail at The Up & Up

LOOK BACK Facebook commanded, celebrated “our” Decade of Sharing — their platform on which we shared our lives and they in turn shared our data with others, minting money in the process — with a slideshow retrospective of selected status updates. The one foisted upon me opened and closed with my former Significant Other, framed in curiously wan achromatic balloon GIFs and set to tinny orchestral flourishes. My abruptly Dead Ex who eschewed social media entirely, those snapshots I uploaded in our first heady years — Argentine wine country vacation, Newcastle castle wedding — the only digitized photos posted of him anywhere, ever, buried so deep in my feed I had nearly, gratefully, forgotten. Until this self-congratulatory commemoration sprung from some brand marketing brainstorm, executed in code jockey sprints overseen by a ship-date sweating product manager, dredged up these superlative-seeming moments along with more benign memories, a randomized montage, a haphazard mash-up that aspired to curated mix-tape cult status.

What fairy tales an algorithm can spin.

Editing at Spreadhouse

Editing at Spreadhouse

Makes you reconsider all these multi-billion dollar market capitalizations, ostensibly tech valuations, but essentially based on you, us. We fickle, fragile, willful, capricious creatures who click and surf and post and swipe and comment and stream and purchase. And, occasionally, exist offscreen.

Code once referenced human principles, beliefs, morality, ethics. Is there a Code of Code? Code blazes new trails, hack roadblocks, lays waste to legacies, indiscriminate. Almighty Code with the omniscient view of everything — words, music, images static and moving — as a string of symbols, discrete functions, modules to be stacked, optimized, scaled. Enter the Money Men, the Marketeers, the stock market subsidized drive to classify consumer intent, divine meaning, derive a measurable, monetizable outcome from every pixelated interaction. Our fingertip actions dissected, decrypted, patterned post-facto, fed into the formula that is the price of free.

The view while procrastinating at Spreadhouse

Spreadhouse: The View

Social conversations systematically analyzed, categorized. Searches whittled to Google AdWords, Key Words, words ripped out of context,solitary soldiers in the War for Attention, pitted against each other in popularity contest, hashtag death matches. Language stripped of nuance, parsed past the point of poetry.

What wonders technology has wrought, this Golden Age of human connectivity, accessibility, participation. This personalized, on-demand world of virtually limitless information, content abundance. But as the once-upon-a-time stories forewarned, all magic comes with a price.

LONG AND DANGEROUS SLEEP - a cautionary cocktail?

LONG AND DANGEROUS SLEEP – a cautionary cocktail?

We chortle over predictive text misfires, tell cautionary tales of posting ill-advised photos, consider less the ramifications the ubiquitous login, the accesses to access, or an idle click, a gratuitous like-heart-pin, an inadvertent swipe. Our real-world usage — not to be confused with “user stories”, the scenarios run by UX specialists — recorded, reported, data to populate the databases. Presumed preferences purchased via programmatic advertising auctions, or stored in a pixilated equivalent of cryogenic freezer, banked for birthing the next generation of advertising, sponsorship, branding.

Our lives every increasingly mitigated by behind-the-screen processes fueled by great gushes of data twinned with market capitalization zeal in pursuit of the Holy Grail, a dizzying ever-upward market trajectory, a perpetual motion machine, the Algorithm of Everything.

The writing's on the wall at The Up & Up

The writing’s on the wall at The Up & Up

Ruminating on a word with such powerful connotations, I opted to write at in spots helmed by folks I know from their previous establishments where I spent many an hour writing WordBowl pieces. For cocktails, I headed down to  The Up & Up, the West Village subterranean spot from the former owner/operator of dearly beloved, lavishly awarded, much missed The Beagle. For caffeine, I visited Spreadhouse Coffee, a chill spot on the Lower East Side run by one of my go-to coffee gurus, offering vegan goodies baked by the uproariously creative @CakeTheivesBakery. 

Do you have a favorite word? A word begging to tell a story? Send it along:

This week, spring bloomed here on the East Coast (at last!) and I had a flurry of conference calls with Hollywood folks (new project!). With Southern California and movies on my mind, I scrolled through the WordBowl archives to revisit a flash fiction piece inspired by a word suggestion from Los Angeleno(a?) Jan Ostergard, which I share with you below. 

Do you have a favorite word? I would love to see it! Drop it to WordBowl HERE

“conundrum” is from the brain of Jan Ostegard who profiles musicians/actors/authors/filmmakers, writes about all manner of creators/creation, and is a “Phantom Creations” co-conspirator. 

conundrum

These executives were presented as important, but none wear ties. Confusing, business-makers dressing same as artists. Do they want to be artists? No one handed him a business card, which prevents him from addressing anyone by name. None of them have been to Japan, one says he has not left California except for tripping a road to Mexicali.

Rhythmic, mexxxxicaaallleeee, a word for Satoshi to stretch-beat-pulse into a fight sequence soundtrack. He wishes Satoshi was here. His producer only agreed to send him, alone, after many requests from the film festival — hinting, awards — and calls from studios.

Conundrum 2013-12-02 at 7.27.04 PMHe wants to ask these movie executives why interest in his film. Hollywood is big movies, big explosions, big stars for global audience. Japanese film is for Japanese. They discuss remake, “Americanize”, colonial word, to make something not from America into an American thing. The conversation whirls, smiles stretch across faces, English whips through his head before he can fully translate, they interrupt, overlap, agree, agree, agree.

He struggles with the order of the words, multiple negatives, questions within a question. Any answer may offend his hosts.

Perhaps he misunderstands, his many years of English inadequate preparation. He has not slept on this side of the globe, the elastic hours snap him awake.

They keep turning to his film festival escort— Reena, difficult for him to pronounce — who speaks a bit of Japanese. His English is much more, but she is native-speaker so they are reassured.

Mizubasho Sake at Wasan (east village)

Mizubasho Sake at Wasan (east village)

Important he does not make a mistake. Making a U.S. film changes everything. He looks around at expectant faces, laughs a moment after everyone else. The room nods. Smiles, handshakes, laughing bows. Exit. Reena hugs him, says they never meet with anyone that long, ever. Time for drinks with naked women at hotel pool. Did she say this? She says, this is just the beginning, of the night or his U.S. career, uncertain.

Their arrival greeted by an aquarium-lounging, bare-breasted mermaid blowing kisses through scarlet lips; they join a parade of ropey women in flimsy dresses, led by the trajectory of their impossible breasts. Hollywood, hard masquerading as soft, or the inverse. Poolside, everyone smiling at their barely-sipped drinks, scanning potentially prettier parties, whispering names of spotted celebrities.  Thumping music impairs his hearing, he surfs waves of laughter more easily with every florescent cocktail.

imagesSushi appears, the rice is wrong. A man as indiscernible as any American waves over a Taiwanese Toy Tycoon who orders shochu, which this bar does not stock, settles for a bottle of premium tequila. They converse in English, their common language.

No one is attending the festival, but all are impressed Scorsese is introducing his film. Their party swells, lights shimmer, bright-haired, big-teethed girls spill across laps, mermaids all.

Reena is with him again, skin glowing, her American breasts inviting his admiration, as big and welcoming and possibly insurmountable as America itself. He asks, again, if Scorsese-san watched his film before agreeing to introduce to American audience. Reena laughs, what did you say?

“conundrum” (which started out as a much longer story and required considerable whittling before it was suitable for you to read here) was written with a gorgeous sake and perfectly pickled vegetables at Wasan (east village, nyc)

Do you have a word just begging for a story? Send it in! 

Your words power WordBowl! Click here to share a word: WordBowlWord

Salubrious: Favorable to or promoting health (for the record, WordBowl is all about the health)

salubrious

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 “Salubrious” comes courtesy of Warren Bobrow, aka the cocktail whisperer and, fittingly, the author of (among other lauded tomes)   Apothecary Cocktails Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and TodayHe can be found @WarrenBobrow1

Photo: Buzzfeed

Photo: Buzzfeed

Morning ritual, double espresso with a sidecar shot of Fernet Branca, a combination my Italian bosses assured was a most balanced breakfast: Fernet to settle the stomach, espresso to jumpstart the brain. It was my post-collegiate job, the stopgap job to cover rent while stuck in the interview loop for the dream job newly minted graduates presume awaits, I assumed all sophisticated big-city grown-ups — unlike my parents, or those of the kids I babysat in high school — kicked off their professional days in some analogous spirit, an unspoken rite of passage into the secreted world of professional adulthood.

IMG_2813

This is what greets you at      The Happiest Hour

Rude awakening, my first magazine job, expected to fetch and pay for my own Americano, and no restorative amaro in sight. Not that a little alcohol was foreign to this work environment, either. Our tight-knit crew — in the time honored tradition of journalism melding with the emerging ethos of tech startups — decamped from office to bar, debating the fates of technologies and companies spotlighted in our pages, or arguing over sales tactics or angling for attention from higher-ups at the competing publications we consorted with after hours in a succession of favored watering holes who courted us with complimentary shots but unfailing failed to fill our water glasses. Mornings, we were left to our own devices, groping through the ritualistic San Francisco fog, attempting to placate our churning stomachs with socially acceptable foodstuffs, deadening bagels slathered with spread, chocolate muffins, egg-and-cheese sandwiches. Breakfast breads thudding in our guts like daily dread.

Although I admittedly had an affinity for all things Italianate after spending my fifteenth birthday getting drunk with a monk en route to Rome, my first immersion into cultures not my own, I suspected the Italians were on to something with their appreciation for the inherent powers of food, beverages to heal, nourish with none of the associated guilts.

HappyHappyJoyJoy

HappyHappyJoyJoy

My own dietary habits distinctly American, shaped by 1970s childhood convenience foods, uniformly-sized Bird’s Eye vegetables, Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks, Pillsbury biscuits popped out of a refrigerated tube. Upon turning teen, I graduated to my mother’s diet of skinless chicken breasts and Fresca, SlimFast shakes and grapefruit, sugar free gum to stave off food cravings. Years of mother-daughter trips to sneeze-guarded fast food salad bars for insipid vegetables we drowned in Ranch dressing and sprinkled with cheddar cheese confetti as we congratulated ourselves for passing on French fries, weeks of cabbage soup and liquid fasts interspersed with Pizza Hut and Girl Scout cookie binges, a cycle as predictable as the seasons.

A Bloody Mary makes any hour happy...

A Bloody Mary makes any hour happy…

“Healthy” equated with substances consumed, a state to attain, a moral badge of courage. Something to be soldiered through. Clever corporations divorced “health” and “diet” from their original meanings, leaving a national trail of bitterness and regret in their wake, marketed foodstuffs to ameliorate the pain. Dazzling scientific breakthroughs — we can have our cake and eat it too! — SweetnLow-Aspertame-Stevia, Tab-DietCoke-CokeZero, Snackwells, Lite Beer. When it comes to diet, even the most fervent religious practioners ascribe to science as salvation. Science, who would deliver us from moderation.

Coffee + Amaro = Amor y Amargo

Coffee + Amaro = Amor y Amargo

I grew up, the years sped by, our Information Age boomed, insatiable. Nutritional science — once the domain of prim HomeEc teachers — conscripted by Big Food, Pharma and co-opted by telegenic physicians, lifestyle gurus. Every day, hour, breathless news cycle, another pundit, talking head touting the latest controversial findings — controversy, the Holy Grail of Clicks — the magic bullet of health (re: thin, beautiful) or it’s second cousin, longevity. Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, or not, the contradictory research persuasive enough to support an individual’s preference. Coffee, red wine, salt — Himalayan Pink, specifically — re-labled, fat-free falls from fashion. Bullet Coffee! Cold Press Juice Fasts! Goji Berries! ChiaSeedsTigerNutsCoconutOil. The incredible, edible egg.

Data whiplash.

A sneaking, subversive suspicion snaking through overwrought brains: our grandparents might have had it right all along. Know where the food comes from (better yet, know who grows it). Eat your vegetables (preferably, in season). Indulge in moderation. Take a brisk walk, allow a moment of meditation or giving grace. And raise a toast, with loved ones, in celebration of this one life we have to savor.

Whipsawed by the fickle East Coast weather this “spring”, I ducked into The Happiest Hour (west village, nyc) to scribble notes for this “salubrious” story. And what a happy hour it was! Familiar cocktails with unexpected (yet accessible) twists, AND complimentary French fries to rival the McDonald’s of my youth. Scrumpdillyicious. 

Crafting this piece took several tries (some days, the muse plays coy), so I popped into Amor y Amargo (east village, nyc) for a taste of inspiration during their weekends-only Double Buzz (coffee cocktails, genius) for an iced-coffee and Amaro pairing. Breakfast of Champions, my friends.  

WordBowl does not happen without your words! Click here to share a word: WordBowlWord

The unexpected female empowerment spirit at the 2015 Oscars (#AskHerMore, Patricia Arquette’s speech) sent me scrabbling through the WordBowl archives for one of my more conversation-sparking pieces — intriguingly, most via private comment (rather than public) or e.mail — and I am forever grateful to Lynn Messina for providing such fertile word fodder. In honor of #ThrowBackThursday,  EUNUCH

Do you have a WordBowl word suggestion? Click HERE.  

Talk about a stumper of a word…

eunuch

1. A man or boy deprived of testes or external genitals (cue arias..)

2. A castrated man placed in charge of a harem or employed as a chamberlain in a palace (cue Game of Thrones)

3. One who lacks vitality or power (Oh. A relatable emotion at last…)

“eunuch” comes to us from the mad mind of Ms. Lynn Messina who, when she is not writing books both paper & digital, can be found ruminating on Motherlode, the parenting blog of The New York Times or baking treats to serve at Authors Unbound.

boxkiteYou do not acknowledge “victim” in relation to yourself, a weak word, feminine in all its steerage class citizenship. A term wielded by stoic stars of police procedurals, emphatic talk show hosts, news anchors parroting teleprompter feeds. A media word to manipulate emotion, a word smacking of petulance, self-pity as the complicit cry for attention. If you were any word, it would be “survivor”, but it, too, loaded with connotations, pop culture references. You will not be branded by a moment you remember in flashes, as though watching it onscreen, as fleeting as a YouTube clip. You stuff it down, the thing you refuse to dignify with a name, lock it in some dark mental attic where it remains — your own personal Picture of Dorian Gray — fresh, blooming, vulnerable as youth, even as your exterior armor hardens, your soul steels itself. You pull it out on occasion, at a certain point in a relationship, like an offering, but it is an unrequited gift, there is no comfort in the telling. You learn to catch the words tipped on tongue, as if in the not telling, you can muffle the power of the story. Smother it with silence.

BETTER & BETTER cocktail at Attaboy (and yes, it was)

BETTER & BETTER cocktail at Attaboy (and yes, it was)

To all outward appearances, you look the same, lulling family, friends into thinking you are intact, as though something essential has not been hacked away, hijacked. As though you had not been rendered helpless, just once, just one moment. Your stomach roils while your face remains placid, and you — the you that you remember — remains caught betwixt the truculent truce between interior and exterior. Your fantasies, if you allow yourself to fantasize, spiral, veer into unchartered territory, titillating and repellent in equal measure. Fearsome, what you may be capable of, what you may crave. Or what you withhold, or acquiesce to, in the playgrounds of power, negotiating the intricacies of intimacy with this foreign body of yours.

ATTAGIRL cocktail at Attaboy

ATTAGIRL cocktail at Attaboy

You rise through the corporate ranks, notable for your canny emotional control, perceived ruthlessness, casual disregard for Human Resources guidelines, like the male executives. You chose not to secret yourself away, shrink to the size of unnoticeable. You will not invisible yourself. You count this as a victory. Another brick shoring up your defenses, tangible evidence you have, once again, staved off defeat in these internal battles you wage with yourself. Because you were once breeched, and the war rages on. You are powerless against the roar of emotions you refuse to feel.  Powerless, in the face of what you faced. You do not know what it was about you, why you were singled out. What you had — have — done to deserve this. You will not say, even in your own head, “perpetrator”, “victim”. Or “prey”. There are many ways to survive — you need only find one — but there is only one word for what surviving transforms you into, as if all horrors were equal. If you were in charge, if you possessed the power, you would demand there be at least as many words for “survivor” as the Eskimos have for snow. If you possessed the power.

“eunuch” was scribbled by hand with a couple of bespoke cocktail at Attaboy the more populist incarnation (no reservations required) of beloved LES speakeasy Milk & Honey that takes their booze (and ice) quite seriously which results in delectable imbibing tailored to taste. The painful editing process was ameliorated with a fetching Americano presentation at Box Kite (east village).

Do you have a WordBowl word suggestion? Click HERE.  I look forward to writing a story for you!

Today’s luscious WordBowl word comes to us from Lydia (thanks, Lydia!) of Urban Sound Review

loquatious

“…so we’re all up in it, mad drum’n’bass, excellent tracks I picked up in the UK — what a trip, Raindance, Genisus88, the beatmasters who ignited this thing, you gotta get your ass over there — I’m scratching in some funk, and we roll the video, projected wall-to-wall, blown-up and out, slow-mo, I’m deepening the groove, heavy sub-bass, and no one recognized it, even though it was on CNN like non-stop for a while, such sick shit — literally sick, everywhere — George W. Bush yakking into the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister, and the faces, the horror on all those faces surrounding him,”

Bloody Mary schlurp, bits of horseradish clinging to the stubble above his lip.

"Jerked" Margaritas?

“Jerked” Margaritas?

“Oh man, I can practically feel the vitamins coursing through my veins! Whatever that sparkly girl, the one with the butterfly wings, handed out was cut to shit with speed,”

Thumbs drumming scarred bar.

“You were already out of there, right? Damn! Check it: when the camera zoomed in on Bush’s face, we paused, and I sampled the “turn around, bright eyes” snippet from that Bonnie Tyler song, it was transcendent — seriously! — the humanity in those eyes, they melted the screen. Our president, the leader of the free-fucking-world, but in that moment a man, a human felled by microbes or parasites or some shit, all his political power meaningless. He who gave us Desert Storm, our first fucking televised war, captured on video bowing — literally, doubled over — obsequious to a higher power, to the body, or nature, primal forces the existence of which is unacknowledged until we are felled by their effects.”

Calloused thumb flicking lighter to flame, flicking to flame, flicking to flame.

“Like this Rodney King shit. unacknowledged undercurrents, fears and resentments gurgling underneath this construct we call civil society, and I’m not talking just about anger, righteous anger. I’m talking about hope.”

Plucking ice cubes from his glass, dilated pupils dancing, still raving.

Not your everyday cuppa

Not your everyday cuppa

“Don’t look at me like that it was hope, is hope! Hope for a future without artificial barriers between races, man-made class structures, peoples housed in specific geographic zones within our city, like Indian reservations, all the same bullshit, inflicted by those who seized power, declared war, claimed victory. So even as shit-crazed as these past weeks have been, as Los Angeles burned, so did something else, and at some point we rubbed the ashes from our eyes, looked at each other and really saw each other, as people, because once rage burns away, we are left with is hope. And love! Yes, I said love!”

Tugging frayed jacket, exposing fresh t-shirt, rainbow graphic L-O-V-E beaming bright.

Miss Lily's ONE LOVE BELLINI

Miss Lily’s ONE LOVE BELLINI

“Someone was selling these last night, LOVE a sellout, we wore our love like tribal colors, a love tribe! It’s 1992, we are dancing toward a new millennium, we are shaking off the shackles of a corrupted past, rocketing past corroded ways of thinking — designations based on race or gender or nationality, music ticking to a specific meter, sexuality codified within specific confines — we are all human, we are a world race, we are melding into one glorious, orgasmic species, Our Brave New World an extended middle finger to Huxley and Orwell because we survived the Apocalypse, we are post-apocalypse, post-race, post-gender, there is no turning back, we incinerated those bridges, we are beyond just getting along, we will be worthy of our hope, worthy of love.”

 

Out of loyalty to the dearly departed 7A (although in truth I had not been in for a 3am patty melt in years), I initially eschewed Miss Lily’s Avenue A but on a bitter winter weekend afternoon their World-Music-by-way-of-Ibiza vibe proved irresistible.

And if you have yet to experience Everyman Espresso, drop whatever you are doing and head deep into Soho for — depending on your mood — one of the most thrilling or satisfying cups of caffeinated deliciousness in town.

Coffee for everyman...

Coffee for everyman…

What’s YOUR word?

In honor of #ThrowBackThursday, revisiting one of the first WordBowl entries while resisting the temptation to re/write and re/design! Such a loaded word, REPARATION (click for definition). I initially started scribbling a fictional piece, but the act of (hand)writing jogged a memory, which became the story I share with you here. 

It remains the only WordBowl post to have been entirely conceived, written and uploaded in a bar(s).

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from Jeffrey Q Sholemson, Chicagoan by way of Long Island, Expert Listener, and once, long ago, my college Freshman Orientation Leader.

This story is in no way in references him. 

 

reparationphotoConundrum: what to wear to an Amends Meeting.

You recognize the courage it took for him to call, reach out after decades of radio silence — you heard through the collegiate grapevine he fell hard fast, cleaned up good — you have seen enough Oprah/Dr. Phi/Dr. Drew/BarbraWaWa to appreciate an addict’s narrative arc. Still, a surprise, the call, the formality of the request for a “meeting”. Not a “get-together” or “a coffee” and obviously not for “drinks”.

A meeting to make amends. To you.

You wonder what the proper preparation is for an amends, this momentous occasion not of your planning.  What your role is in his story: Recipient? Protagonist? Heroine? Victim?

You notice “heroine” is only one letter but a whole world away from “heroin”.

12-Stepping, there are handbooks, guidelines, amends processes. Are there any such materials for the amendee?

Balance, you think, somewhere between sartorial sophistication and sartorial seriousness. You jettison “sexy”, despite your history of drunken fumbling in your relative youth, the two of you studying and partying with equal abandon, the late  — or early, depending on the night/morning continuum — heartfelt, booze-fueled discussions which inevitably dovetailed into an unarticulated need to for a physical closeness as bared as the conversation. As if to manifest the talk.

Post-call, memories flash, flood.

You flip through your times together, legendary stories, hazy moments, half-recollections. Fragments. You try to figure out what he could possibly want to say, so you can formulate a response.

Because if the moment was so significant, a betrayal, what does it say about you, that you don’t remember?

That you do not remember them as THAT, whatever it is they see as the fulcrum of your relationship.

You wonder what your culpability is in all of this.

Dredges of Classic Margarita, Rosa Mexicano, union square, nyc

Dredges of Classic Margarita, Rosa Mexicano, union square, nyc

The night before, you go a drink too far attempting to drown out the questions arising unbidden as a result of the call. You wonder how an addict is defined, wonder where weed falls these days on the addictive substances spectrum, now that it is legal in some states. Prescription pills, legal, too. Alcohol, also legal. You live in NYC, so cigarettes are virtually illegal, sugar nearly so as well. You debate personal responsibility with your bartender as he refills your wine, gratis. You go out often, you are accustomed to the appreciation of bar staff.

On the big day, A-Day, you wear black, as you have lived in Manhattan long enough to be considered a New Yorker. You convince yourself your quavering hands are a result of too much caffeine, a day of coffee shop meetings before the main event, at a hotel the choice of which you cannot help overanalyzing.

Your high-heels click-clack on the reflective marble as you cross the lobby, he is up out of his lounge seat, waving, as you approach. He smiles a familiar smile. You reach out to shake his hand, he clasps the whole of you in an embrace, trapping your arm between both bodies.

There is no turning back now. You are in this. You are to be Amended.

This responsibly consumed cocktail-fueled post was written at Bakehouse (meat packing district, nyc) and uploaded at Rosa Mexicana (union square, nyc)

Do you want a WordBowl story of your own? Use this form (or drop me a word: wordbowl@gmail.com)

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