Sunday, April 25, 2010
#80-C – MARIO
In the less than two weeks I was back before heading again up to Vermont for the summer I went to meetings and museums, and I took Gillian to dinner at the outdoor places in the Village. When I went to the Met I of course walked in Central Park, whose formality so neatly complemented the New England landscapes in my mind. So too when wandered again though the Brooklyn Botantic Garden beside the Brooklyn Museum. This changing city landscape that complemented the changing landscape of my life. I hardly used the subway. Sometimes I rode my bicycle. More often now I was in the Mustang, getting the knack for driving and finding parking places in the city. One day I drove up the Merritt Parkway with my new ACOA friend Mario to look into another part of my past – Weston, Connecticut. Mario is poor but he looks like a dramatic aristocratic Italian who has aged well. A resonant voice with a hint of Europe in it. Wavy gray hair. All charm. A confident stride. He is only half Italian, the paternal half, but he grew up in Florence, his American mother coming and going, he said, stopping just long enough to tell him he would never amount to anything. And indeed in his accounts it seems like he has never quite had a career, which does not seem to bother him. He deflects questions about what he does by saying, firmly, that his life is his art. I admire such confidence. He tells of how at one point he was living in style with a rich wife in Wilton, Connecticut, which I knew long ago as the extreme of wealthy understated Waspy Connecticut towns that are no place for flamboyant Italians. And once with a rich wife he had a summer house in the Berkshires. Now he is in a quite bare third storey walkup, a tenement even though it is in the West Village rather than the lower East Side. Thin-walled rooms that open onto each other. A shared toilet in a closet in the hallway outside. His life nonetheless has a sparkle to it.
He speaks of a secretive and sexy plump lady full of promise whom he knew in AA and I have seen in ACOA, and whom he had bedded, though now she pretends they do not know each other. This is hurtful, he says.
I visit him in the tenement. He lives there with his latest pretty wife, this one a young and quiet half-Japanese girl who works as a theatrical agent, which is apparently what they live on. Her father, he tells me in confidence, is a steely CIA man. They have a German Shepherd who obeys no dog owner commands. The place is dominated by tall speakers for Mario’s sound system. He talks of how when he was young he met Toscanini. He says he used to pretend that he was a conductor too. He goes through the motions of waving a baton as he describes how he did it. He tells of how he used to play classical music records loud while doing his mock conductor act while in bed with some beautiful woman.
He talks of other past conquests, other past times of living like he was wealthy himself. It is drama and it all sounds plausible. But he also talks of how he is trying to change things by always walking, literally, on the sunny side of the street, and that now instead of Toscanini he plays Doris Day doing movie songs. This is a little like hearing Donna tell of her Jesus dream. He speaks of celebrities he has known like Judy Collins, but it turns out that the connection with Judy Collins is that he has been to AA meeting she attends.
All of which makes me feel the fragility of life.