Those of us who live alone sometimes a visitor stops by: #1 Robert Dager’s gin.
Last night I made a very small dirty martini. Never really liked gin but, Robert did. I always had a love of Robert Dager’s love for some specific” life’s pleasures”. The simple done well was his explanation of excellence.
Robert loved gin. “Oh, I’m so drunk” … Then a glance to me …. “Isn’t it wonderful?”. The thing about Robert was everything was always in good taste. And so very special. This would be said in private, across the patio, at his home: Toad Hall. His salt box at the top of a street in New Hope. Leading down to the Delaware River. It was everything Bucks County artists home was meant to be. Rather the kind of place I wanted to live.
So I try to keep a little gin about… In case, Robert comes visiting. He only came here once, while he was alive … And that was for a special birthday party for Christopher. In addition to good taste Robert was also kind. And Christopher was important to him, and I look back on it as a great gift to the two of us. I believe Chris was nine.
In those days, I received a yeast infection via the antibiotics given to me to combat the constant ear infections I had from the airline flights … Sometimes three a day, a tornado of cigarette smoke rising up and flying back when the no smoking turned off. So I had a very strict diet that allowed nothing fermented, and it was incumbent for me to tell Robert.
“Oh that’s all right, I’ll bring my own … Everyone does.” The last thing said as an aside, one friend to another. He quickly filled the small white, clear glass flask , wrapped in brown wicker, like the wicker from a British picnic basket. There was a cork, I think. With the white ceramic top that may or may not have been attached to the flask itself. It all went into Roberts basket or shoulder bag whatever he was carrying in those days was certain to be remarkable for its elan. So he arrived at our party, in his vest and long white ponytail. His Camels & and his naval ID bracelet from the great war.
A master human being, Robert, as always mixed wonderfully well with my other friends and Mennonite relatives. I said he was from the meetinghouse down toward the river … That would be New Hope … (Although most I know there at meeting houses are Quakers.)
So last night, under the lock down of the plague, there was just a tablespoon or so of Martini and Rossi vermouth … A half shot of indifferent gin & the remnants of black salty water from the black olives with which last nights pasta was Spiked. There was my dirty martini. With dinner and with Robert as he came by. We sat with Spiked with a Twist who rolled on his back and put his belly in the air.
Robert’s cat was Michelle, and his dog from rescue was Princess. We all sat there, together, in the old way,. The only way possible.
PS. Then, at Roberts memorial service, a nice woman came to me saying: “Are you Scott?” I smiled and nodded … she went on to tell me … that when she helped clear his last flat …. she found dozens of cards from me in his address book. From all over the world. I knew Robert was pleased that I found work … and & the kid met at 18 or 19 … managed his escape of sorts … so I wanted to send regards and a short story or two. As always, Robert made me feel better … no matter what rolls the dice were serving. Interesting meet interesting people tend to gather good folks. S.
A series of word profiles done over all these years, my style. Often heavily changed for publication, or spiked as they were selling nothing but friendship & it idiosyncrasies & their amusement in friendship. (Perplexitudes & Quizzicals by my reference.) It was harder to bring mediocracy to photographs of interesting folks. Pulled from all the word process programs in a journalists life … so weird things happen. If caught, I corrected or embraced. As suits my mood. As my friend Les Whitten quipped: more short sentence exclamation points. He also advised Chris to “get it down,” & worry about the fine points latter. Originated with the Bio sections of John Dos Passo’s USA trilogy. (elegant for anyone who enjoys novelized historic patterns. The photographs often seen in other context began here. Having no money, finding someone else to pay for them was mandatory as a quid pro quo. Appear here before transfer to my website
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