My friend’s husband has just lost his job.I have another friend going bankrupt. In his 70s, he says he’s tired of being a good boy scout. A third friend, in his 40’s, just had his home go into foreclosure. It is tough here in Florida where real estate has plummeted and the many people able to pay their mortgages are “under water,” a particularly scary way to put it because we in Florida live where hurricanes are fierce.
On our drive home, my friend and I spot a Denny’s. Let’s do it, we say. We are all dolled up with long earrings and good hair. The man who greets us says, Thank you for coming! I say, Table for two, please, though the place is almost empty. Even Denny’s has fallen on hard times. My friend and I write a list poem about what might have happened to our poet friend, one line after the other. It seems lately everything is going wrong and writing helps relieve our anxiety:
Maybe Jennifer Lopez forced him into her limo at the airport parking garage
in Vermont and whisked him away to be her lover and twin wrangler.
Maybe he was abducted by tech-challenged aliens who can’t figure out how
to text message for ransom. The aliens think Major is a high-ranking
military official because of his name.
Maybe he was quarantined when a potbellied pig escaped the Prada bag it
was being transported in, causing swine flu panic on the flight.
Maybe, distracted and listing end words for his double sestina, Major got on
the wrong plane and is in Pflugerville, TX where he’s eating fried
Maybe he stopped to be a good Samaritan and realized he had no idea how to
change a flat tire.
Maybe he dropped his cell into the plane’s toilet and it was sucked away with
the force of a White House intern in a blue dress.
Maybe he slipped sideways into an alternate universe in which each pinprick
of light contained the dreams of all the sleeping poets in this world.
My friend and I each want two pancakes and two sausage links, but all we can find are Grand Slams on the menu and our waiter says, I can do that for you. My friend’s husband calls to see if we made it to the airport OK (because we are directionally challenged). My friend tells him, in fact, that we found the airport terminal (on the third try) but not Major. My friend’s husband offers these insightful scenarios:
Maybe he was captured by hopelessly lost landlocked Somali pirates.
Maybe he was busy trying to explain his latest visual poetry project to the fire
department after an experiment with scrabble tiles, lingerie, authentic
maple syrup and saran wrap went terribly wrong.
Maybe with Scrabble tiles spelling out POETRY GOD still stuck to his
forehead, Vermont Airport TSA officials pulled him aside for special
But, in the end, we two Denise’s decide:
Maybe, arriving at the wrong terminal, Major asked an American Airlines
worker to page “Denise.” Denise Richards showed up and kidnapped
him for the next season of It’s Complicated.
My friend’s husband has just lost his job, but we are having fun, writing anyway. Being in Denny’s with her reminds me of my dad who loved their Moons over My Hammy and the free refills of coffee. My dad was a Depression baby, born in 1927, and, shortly before he died, he told me he felt that maybe another depression was coming. The pancakes are amazing. The fluffy butter and the little cups of wonderfully fake syrup, also amazing. The waiter is attentive—Anything else? More water? My dad was very optimistic—and hoped that he was wrong about the way he thought the economy was going. Our waiter is trying to be optimistic too.
My friend’s husband just lost his job, but she is stunning as she reapplies her lipstick and picks up the tab. The total comes to $9.13, our friend’s flight number. We choose to take this as a cosmic sign that Major Jackson is OK and that everything else is going to be OK too.
-- Denise Duhamel, Hollywood, FL.