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Thursday, 1 January 2009

Lily Pulitzer Pink Stuff and Dave

A Christmas Gift For It

By David Houston
Junto Staff Writer
My late mother was a great gift giver, great in a special way. She didn't so much hit the bulls-eye, as simply knock the target down. Her last present to me was a pair of pink Madras Bermuda shorts with a pink polo shirt. Truly stunning!

Before that I was gifted with what I called the poodle pelt sweater (no poodles were harmed); it was made in a giant criss cross puffy cable knit pattern, each puff about the size and texture of a teacup poodle. It inhabited its own spot in the left field of aesthetics, not so-bad-it's-good, not camp, too ugly to be gay, a stand alone item, very alone.

One Christmas she sent an apricot colored sweater. Hmmmm. I was wearing it to a Robert Raushenberg/Tricia Brown event and took it off. At the end of the piece, which involved dancers climbing around on a big web, they brought out a pile of used cloths and there was some kind of audience participation bit. My sweater got caught up in it and was never seen again, somewhat to my relief because I knew I'd wear the thing,
telling myself it was somehow 'subversive' to mess with people's expectation.

Anyway when I told Robert, thinking it was funny how involved I'd gotten, he apologized up and down and invited me to his loft for dinner. While at the table, I noticed a groove in the molding about half an inch from the floor. A minute later a turtle came out from behind a side-boy and very, very slowly made it's way across six feet of open area and disappeared behind a chair. Twenty minutes later it made the return
trip. And then back again, over and over all evening.

Eventually I had to ask about it, the turtle. 'Oh, he's blind. That's where he lives now. His shell has worn that groove in the baseboard.'

In my memory the turtle is paired with the beaver in the Central Park Zoo that made a dam endlessly. It was terrible place run on the notion that if it were a children's zoo it was OK to have 'children's size' enclosures for the animals.

So the result was one beaver in a seven foot wide concrete pool with one piece of wood, a piece of a branch about a foot long that he would take out of the water, carefully
arrange, take back into the water, return, arrange 'next' to the ghost of itself, back in the water, arrange again and so on until he had a dam you could almost see, and all with only one piece of wood.

OK,back to my mother. I thought of her recently when I got a little loose at a Sunday-Go-to-Meeting clothing store the other day and became the owner of a pair of pistachio- coloured shoes. I got them to go to a costume ball. The Art Deco Society has different Twenties, Thirties and
Forties dress up events, and you'd be surprised that the guys are straight and the girls are detail perfect.

It's kind of spooky, actually,the hair everything. They look like people I knew who would be 95 years old today. I am sort of the walker for one of my friends who became my daughter's play Auntie.

That's how I end up at these things. Having
lived through it once, that is, come home from school to a stack of invitations to dances where, guess what 'Dad' has hired an orchestra that sounds like Mitch Miller, and it's now 1964.

I'm not that taken by the scene. Perhaps it shows and contributes to the looks I get, equal parts bewilderment and consternation. I've sometimes wondered if there isn't a special catalog for moms, filled with screamingly 'off' presents: lilac chenille bathrobes with gigantic poofs, shirts with huge grating plaid patterns, pointy grapefruit spoons to confuse the young, gravy boats for the vegetarians, the list goes on....