Friday I went to a funeral, which is unfortunately getting to be a more and more frequent occurrence as I get older. My Dad’s best friend Larry, who was like an uncle to me and my sister. I recall him as a large, roaring presence, full of life and enthusiastic about everything. His wife, Diane, was like the Jackie O of my small town growing up – they had a lot of money from the bespoke suit store his father had started. Diane was a great friend to my Mom, having two children years ahead of my mother having my sister and then me, and providing wise counsel and much-needed friendship during some difficult times. I learned this weekend that Larry gave my parents a used car as a wedding present, which they desperately needed. My Dad ran that Peugeot into the ground, finally ending it’s sad life by driving it’s limping shell to a junk yard, while Diane and my Mom followed behind in Diane’s Mercedes. She had to go to Columbus to get the Mercedes, as there was no dealership in my home town. The junkyard gave $50 for any wreck you could drive in, and after some time inside the shack my Dad emerged holding three tomatoes. “Is that all they gave him for the car!?” Diane shrieked, bursting into hysterics and my Mom laughed so hard she cried. (He got the $50. The junkyard owner’s wife grew tomatoes and was giving extras out that day.)
My Dad and Larry were part of a car-nerd club in Cleveland, spending a lot of time at Mid-Ohio. Once my Dad figured out he would never reach the level of a professional driver, he quit driving and instead photographed the races. A lot of famous people came through Mid-Ohio. There is a picture somewhere of Larry talking with team owner Paul Newman, and there was a photo up at the funeral home of Larry at the track with Steve McQueen, my Dad’s idol. I wonder if my Dad was there that day. Surely I would have heard about it if he had met Steve McQueen.
Larry was apparently a huge Bengals fan, and was one of the first season ticket holders, only missing two home games in more than 40 years. That’s pretty amazing.
Diane got cancer towards the last years of my parents’ marriage. I remember being in middle school and seeing her at the pool, so very thin, but always elegant, in expensive looking sunglasses and a smart black swimsuit with gold trim. She died, and it crushed everyone. She was just the nicest person in the world.
Saturday was a blur of errands and grocery shopping and cooking. I don’t remember sitting down to rest until really late.
Sunday we drove out to Mentor Headlands beach. I would seriously be there every day if I lived closer, it’s such a great beach. Very clean and safe, with lifeguards, a concession stand selling lot of junk food in case you get a bad craving, and the Sheriff’s boat cruising by slowly occasionally just to make sure nobody is acting like an asshole. D played in the sand and put toes in the water and I actually got to read about half a magazine, which seems to never happen anymore. I have a stack of unread magazines. The only ones I try to plow through soon after getting them are RS and Esquire. We had a cookout after awhile, and even made s’mores. I can’t imagine why I ever liked these things, they are so, so cloyingly sweet. How one’s tastebuds change, eh? After the junky lunch of (local) hot dogs, chips, sliced tomatoes and s’mores, I fixed a much healthier tapas-style dinner, and everything came out just the way I envisioned, which doesn’t always happen with cooking and experimenting, but it’s nice when it does. I even found a way to prepare beets that I can say was not really too bad. I will keep eating them and eventually I will like them (see: Steingarten).
I went to bed with legs sore from all the walking on the sand, hands aching from carrying too many things with arthritis, and slightly sunburned. Which is ok.