Thursday, September 10, 2009

She'll be apples!

See that apple over yonder if you'll take a bite
You and Adam both are bound to have some fun tonight
Go on and eat forbidden fruit
It's mighty sweet forbidden fruit
It's quite a treat forbidden fruit
Go ahead and taste it you don't wanna waste it
Nina Simone at Newport (1960)

An Apple in the Apple
My first remembered encounter with an apple was in the front seat of a Fiat Bambino, circa 1969.

It was a bright red Fiat, almost the color of the very apple that my "date" was in the process of crunching into. I believe he was in the process of dropping me home after seeing "Last Year at Marienbad" or some other just as incomprehensible film. Certainly it would have been in black and white. Like New Yorkers, the self-proclaimed Melbourne Uni elite didn't "do color".

Except for apples that is. And Fiat Bambinos. No one could accuse us of consistency.

You would not believe this, but after taking several large crunches of said apple, my date turned to me, exhaling his apple breath and tried to kiss me. Needless to say I hot-footed it out of the Bambino lickety-split. I was not to see him again for thirty years!

By then The Date was a solicitor, almost retired, and I was a computer person. It was at an art gallery somewhere in Melbourne. I was at the opening of an exhibition so eminently forgettable that I have forgotten what it was about.

"Michael S is here," someone (equally forgettable) hissed at me. I assume she told me because she thought he was important. Something like "my son the doctor", "my friend the solicitor".

I looked around. I couldn't see anyone even remotely like him. There were some old guys over in the corner. Paunchy-looking legal types. Was he one of them?

I asked the person who had informed me of her friend the solicitor's presence, and she pointed him out, the oldest looking one of the paunches. I interrogated her in some detail, as the person she had surreptitiously indicated looked nothing like the tall slender young apple-breathing person I'd last seen hunched over his apple core in a red Fiat.

"Yes yes I am sure it's him," she snapped. So I hot-footed it, this time towards the apple eater.

"Michael S, n'est ce pas! I'd recognize you ANYwhere. You haven't changed one bit!" I lied to humour myself, correctly predicting his conceit. He looked chuffed, in that sad way that only old men can. "Where's ya apple?" I asked, doing my best Elaine-Benes-mixed-with-Annie-Hall impersonation.

When it was all sorted out, who I was, how many times we had both been married, what we did after 1969, how many and how old were our children, he asked what I'd meant by the apple remark.

Funny, he had no recollection of the incident.

The next apple I remember was in about 1978. By then I was into color films and was married to a man who didn't believe in washing machines. I used to boil the clothes in a wood-heated copper and heave the steaming stew around with a stick. Don't ask me why. The stick bit, I mean. By then I had also born two children, the youngest of whom was around three year's old when he suddenly developed a phobia about my mother.

Now I'd had one for thirty odd years, but it seemed strange for my little chap to express his at such a young age. When we, our little nuclear family of myself, the man who didn't believe in washing machines, my daughter and little Pog as he was then called, were about to pile into the car to visit my mother, he'd dig his heels into the ground and scream blue murder.

When the car drew up outside her house he'd undo his seat-belt and try to crawl under the seat.

I though of taking him to a shrink but decided that any man who didn't believe in washing-machines was unlikely to believe in shrinks. So I tried my own methods to wheedle out of my little Pog, just what WAS the matter with his relationship with his grandma.

I was patient and it paid off. Turned out it was those shiny red apples she'd polish in anticipation of the grand-children's visits. She was a witch. It all fitted. The trendy whisk broom she kept in the corner of the vestibule. The peacock feathers. Her laugh. The apple was the clincher.

"It's OK, he doesn't hate you," I took pleasure in explaining to my mother on the phone. "He just thinks you're a witch. Cool it with those apples!"

You'd have thought by now that I'd have had enough of apples. But this wasn't the case. There was another very important apple lurking in my future. This particular apple would be 55 years old if it were around today. It was, in its time, a most mysterious apple, closer in many ways to the imagined witch's apple, yet left half-eaten like the law student's before he lurched so futilely towards me all those years ago. It was an apple both past and future. It pre-dated the season of the witch, but it was yet to affect what is now part of my history. It was let us say, simultaneously a prequel and a sequel.

And it will be THIS apple, past imperfect that will be written about in the future.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Ah, the past imperfect apple. I'm sure we are talking about the verbal structure here, yes?
Don't think apples have played a part in my past, but recently discovered my great liking for apple crisp!
Your groupies await your future stories of the PI apple.

Kate said...

You are correct with the past imperfect. I just added a bit. You may care to look back.

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