Summertime, and the livin’ is easier with the temperature in the warm zone, rather than the hot. Yes, the neurologically compromised aren’t terribly fond of the heat. Perspiration founders in hot weather, leaving the body high and dry. High in temperature, low in evaporative moisture. Screwed, in other words. But those other words are no longer necessary, for it is now summer in the way summer should be summer. Pleasant.
No better summertime reading than Carl Hiaasen, I always say. Particularly at a time like this, when his Florida atmospherics are a sort of corruptive balm to the soul. After all, the soul has been overproducing. It is exhausted. It has nothing by way of soul-searching or soulfulness to offer. All it can do is what Hiaasen’s characters do. Which is to waste time, and to do so in ways both bumbling and colorful.
Perhaps it was Friday that pushed me over some sort of edge. Jane and I had a crucial meeting with the architects. It’s not every day of the week that I meet with an architectural team. For that’s what it was, no less than four of them. Thing about designing a house is not only that it doesn’t happen very often. But that it can’t be readily undone. You don’t just wipe away walls and stairways with a blackboard eraser, do you? No, there’s a damned permanent feel about the whole thing. But when one is overloaded, and there’s no mental capacity left for much of anything, even house design can fall dangerously into the background. Still, there we were, Jane and I, driving north, having left in plenty of time for our meeting in San Francisco, on-site, on property, on the street where we will live. But not without keys to the new place. Which we remembered somewhere near San Francisco International Airport, forcing us to reverse course, drive all the way to our suburban home. Then begin the thing again, another drive northward.
And then there we were, Jane and me and three architects and one architectural intern, meeting in the garage of our new home. The simple reason being that this is the one part of our property that my wheelchair can enter. A strange thing happened to the summer heat, by the way. In San Francisco, a cold maritime wind was blowing fierce along Chenery Street. One of the architects offered Jane a wool pullover. He had a supply, it seems. At first Jane demurred. Then she accepted. No fighting it. We had a good preliminary meeting, which included a few brutal surprises. One being that everyone seems quite at home with the notion that our new place needed to be fitted with various block and tackle arrangements to hoist my aging carcass in and out of bed, on and off toilets, and so on. Not now, they assured me. The future. I can’t wait, I thought. But, of course, why wait for fate’s collision? Why not prepare for a soft landing? Yes, terribly sensible, but only in retrospect. Not that any of this had particularly dire impact. For the simple fact is that I am generally burned out. Later that afternoon, when the phone call came from Old Jerusalem – our caterer – it took every ounce of concentration to deal with matters of hummus, chicken schwarma and so on. I put Jane on the speakerphone. I don’t care, I honestly don’t. Too many details. Too many moving parts to this, my once simple life.
For never mind little things drifting in and out of view, like the availability of wheelchair accessible rooms at the London Hilton Paddington in the months of July and August…a very trying phone call having addressed this matter earlier that very day…there is something much bigger on the horizon. My van. My new one. I ordered it months ago, many months ago. And the law of things screwing up being what it is, I just know that the whole project will be done…at the worst possible last minute. Meaning that the Chrysler caravan will be parked at my door, left for me to drive it. And to know how to drive it. Days, even hours, before I hit the road for London. And does this matter?
That is the sort of question that arises when reading about rednecks and lowlife South Floridians of an afternoon. It’s a tacky place, Carl Hiaasen’s world, where everything goes wrong, efforts at respectability likely get ignored, and the atmosphere is pervasively fetid. So whether I did, or did not, complete the wheelchair repair form requested months ago by United Airlines…well, it doesn’t really matter, not when you’re bungling a kidnapping and, on the way, losing $14 million somewhere in the swampy shallows of one of the Florida Keys. It just doesn’t matter. And, big surprise, somehow I invited more people than the fire department will permit in either Jane’s San Francisco church or the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House. Too bad. I can’t wait to see what happens with these amateur militia guys with their stolen boat and stolen lottery ticket…100 pages to go.