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Saturday, January 18, 2014

In a state. By John von Daler

                 In my time in Denmark I almost always have lived in a part of town populated with a great number of old ladies. Frederiksberg, as it is called, houses these hatted and haughty ships of state in large, bourgeois apartment complexes. On their way to stores, doctors, or civic offices these matrons sail down the broad streets snarling and griping. Most people steer clear of them almost as if they were drunken sailors on leave.

               
Unfortunately I always have had a way with ladies over sixty. Even when I was in my twenties, they would home in on me instinctively brandishing their purses and cocking their feathered headpieces. Through the years I have learned to defend myself even to the point of disarming them. Sometimes I am able to siphon off a smile or a chuckle or a word or two from the positive end of their inner thesaurus.
                One such schooner sailed the waters of my street some years ago. I would see her careening along the sunny side of the avenue, her purse held on her right side and strapped over her head onto her left shoulder (she had once been robbed by a teenage boy on a bicycle). Sometimes we would meet in the sun and I would hail her with as pleasant a greeting as I could muster.
                The local idiom demands that you should start a conversation with a few words about the dastardliness of it all, something like, Awful weather we are having! or You would think they could get finished with those steet repairs without all that noise! But my ruse, tempered over time, was to shock the old souls with a sopping bucket full of pleasantries. This would stymie them and joggle their rudders out of course.
                She was a tall woman, statuesque you might say. Through all the gray hair and coats and the hat and the turned up nose you could see that somewhere, sometime she had been incredibly beautiful.
                The hint of that exquisiteness got me into deep waters. As she barged her way through one complaint after another, I would suddenly get, deep from within my own intuition, a flashback of what she had been like at my age. More precisely I would see that stately body a half century ago, naked, entwined with her lover, desiring life, pushing towards tenderness, seeking softly a haven to lie in. Then I would look into her face as she ranted and think, I know you. I have seen you at the start of your journey just as I see you here now close to the end.
                I would not ever intimate to a lady that I know what she has looked like in the throes of passion. But this secret knowledge has in fact helped me hold my head above the churning waters of the deep sea of Frederiksberg. Let us hope that I never get caught. Then I might have to stop my strolling, the tipping of my hat, the wink of my hand, or my pleasantries in the sun. Defrocking old women indeed!



                My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) will be published on January 28. Order through Amazon.com, the publisher or your local bookstore. Please feel free to write a short review of "Pieces" in your own language at Amazon.com or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!


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