As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Think Under The Tuscan Sun meets Seinfield with ghosts. This one is an absolute joy to write, except for the alone part. No more Starbucks for me. I’ve been told I use strange hand geatures (Myra’s influence), and I never know what Myra and Ira will say to crack me up! Spitting out luke warm Earl Grey with a splash of milk is not a good look.
The gist of the story is this: Followed by her newly dead, meddling, Jewish parents, Elaine flees to Italy to reclaim the artistic life she gave up in her rebellious youth. When her selfish soon-to-be ex-husband Allen shows up in Rome with a reversed vasectomy, she must choose between the artist’s life she lost or the baby she’s always wanted. Would you like a little nosh? Here you go.
Myra made a slow pivot in front of Ira, hands in the air like a criminal to show off the brand-new overpriced dress Elaine had chosen for the burial.
“I hate black. Are you looking? I’m trying to tell you something. Why didn’t she put me in the sky-blue sequined Ralph Lauren hanging in my closet? She knows I was saving it for a special occasion. If this isn’t a special occasion, I don’t’ know what is. One hundred- and twenty-eight-dollars, including tax, a double discount for God’s sake.”
She glared at Ira in his favorite suit, double-breasted, like his women he’d joked. Some joke. Ira turned away to stare through the glass slider at the swimming pool, a rectangle of calm turquoise water sparkling in the late afternoon sun, and those majestic mountains rising like a wall of wonder beyond the emerald of the golf course. How many gallons of water did it take to make grass so green?
“I shoulda learned to swim,” Ira said and miming the breaststroke around the dining table. “The life you have is the one that matters, Myra even if you’re dead. I’m gonna learn to swim.”
“Elaine forgot the gefilte fish. Who forgets the gefilte fish?” Myra said.
“What do you care? You never liked gefilte fish.” Ira swam under the table and settled himself on the soft beige carpet.
Myra bent, twisted her head to look under the table. “Think of others for once in your life.”
“Don’t you think it’s a little late?” Ira said watching the crystal chandelier twinkle through the tabletop.
Myra balled her fists, squeezed her eyes shut than returned her attention to the food that was going to get warm and poison everyone. She inhaled the thought of corned beef, brisket, salami. Nothing. Not even a whiff of potato salad, and it had creamy horseradish in the dressing for God’s sake. The way Ira liked it.
“Poor Sheldon, look at him. Nothing on his plate. He looks like that famous orphan, looking through a restaurant window, starving, no money in his little pocket.”
“The one in the movie.”
“Never mind, Ira. It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember one of my favorite movies?”
A waiter in a white coat fanned out the napkins at the end of the table. As soon as the waiter turned his attention to rubbing invisible spots off the water glasses, Ira unfanned the napkins.
“Don’t worry about Sheldon; he’s pacing himself. Three days ago, sweating like a pig at the eighth hole, he tells me his doctor will give him a hundred bucks if he gets below three hundred pounds by Yom Kipper.”
“There’s nothing on that table a dog would enjoy.” Myra paced around the table.
“How would you know what a dog would like? You never let me have one. I’m counting my regrets, Myra. In two days I’m up to thirty-six. No, thirty-seven. I never got a dog.”
“Remember our twenty-fifth anniversary? I wanted to go to New York, see Broadway, but you? You insisted on Israel to bring back a little bag of the holy land. All the way to Israel, Ira, and what does she put on the non-kosher coffins? Lava rock from the eighty-one Honolulu Toast Masters convention.” A wine glass shattered on the table. The waiter ran over, nervously cleaned up the mess and rearranged the glasses to cover for the missing one.
“She’s distraught for God’s sake. She mixed up the containers. Give the girl a break, Myra.”
“Because she gave me a break? Forget about it.”