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Thursday, March 14, 2002

The Boss knew I was going to lunch with Mom and Suzanne today, so of course he called this morning to make sure I wasn't taking the whole day off. "Are you planning on working after you get back from lunch?" he wanted to know. He had a couple of assignments for me. We wouldn't want the whole day to be wasted.

The trouble was, he also said, "I don't think you can answer these questions without my help." And then he disappeared. I wasn't able to raise him by phone or fax this afternoon, after lunch, so I did as much as I could and faxed my work to where I thought he was going to be later.

I met Suzanne at Mom's and the three of us took off for a new Italian place here in town. I mean, a really, really, totally Italian place that opened recently in a reconverted McDonald's. I didn't even know that you could do that — take an old McDonald's and turn it into a place with class, atmosphere, giant wine jugs on the wall and at least four calamari dishes on the menu.

We all decided more or less independently to have the calamari steak dorato. In mock dismay I begged for someone to choose something else, so that we all wouldn't look like the bumpkins we are. (I am, anyway. I won't speak for anyone else.) But our waitress (who was terrific, by the way, and was well compensated for her good humor and attentiveness) overheard me and played along.

True to form, no one was swayed by my pretense at embarrassment, but no one regretted the choice. We had a pleasant afternoon, away from the usual demands on our time. It's good to step away from routine, and we try to make a point of doing this when we can. Which is not to say that it would ever become routine itself.

At Santa Rosa JC tonight we had the pleasure of taking in the Theatre Art Department's production of Steel Magnolias, which I'd never seen on stage before. I've always liked the movie version, but then you probably knew that without my even telling you. Anything with laughter, tears, and a cast of strong, smart, sassy women is going to appeal to me.

And on stage it's even better, because it's all women, and it all takes place inside the three walls of Truvy's beauty shop. The men in these women's lives are referred to with varying degrees of bemusement, scorn and affection, but they never appear. The student production was beautifully staged, and so well-acted that the middling Thursday night audience laughed and cried in all the right places.

The lively young women sitting behind us in the theater were also quite entertaining. Before the play they came in talking animatedly about their classes. One had told off her English teacher, informing him that Shakespeare was not meant to be deconstructed, and that Hamlet was written to be performed, not analyzed. She was quite pleased with herself for having stood her ground. Another had a complaint about an art teacher whose criticism of her work she disagreed with. It was refreshing to hear students bubbling with excitement about their classes.

And then, at intermission, they dished on the costumes. They thought the clothing styles were hilarious, but then the play is set in the early eighties, just about the time these kids were busy being born. Perspective is everything when it comes to art and fashion. I'd love to hear what they'd have to say about themselves, projecting back from twenty years in the future.

puffy clouds

We had an unexpected break from the rain today, just a few clouds.

Fifteen years ago, this date fell on a Saturday. I have a special reason for remembering March 14, 1987. It's the day my dad died, and that's why we survivors spent the day together and kept ourselves occupied. Maybe a play in which death figures so prominently doesn't seem an appropriate diversion, but Steel Magnolias makes such an uplifting statement about how life is meant to be lived that the strength and spirit of the characters carries over to the audience. We left the theater smiling, and I don't think we could have asked for more than that.

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Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Read the Sign
"I should have taken before and after pictures, but you don't get another chance if you don't think of it in time."

Two years ago: Foul Tips
"The Pope and I take it back."

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