Friday, December 21, 2012

My Friend Chris

The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play
Through a meadow land toward a closing door
A door marked "nevermore" that wasn't there before - Henry Mancini

I don't have a photo of Chris. I searched my albums and though I can see many of his friends, and certainly his good mate, my brother Tim, Chris seems to have somehow always avoided the camera's eye.

I first met Chris in the heady days of the seventies when he was a wine-drinking hippie. With his olive skin and thick dark curly hair, I always thought he belonged on a Greek island lying under an olive tree drinking a rough red, instead of hanging out in rainy old Melbourne.

Whenever I meet up with Chris he's always got something philosophical to say about the world. Sort of hippie-sounding stuff but slightly off. Or should I say more politely, creative.

One thing about Chris, he practices what he preaches. Life is to be enjoyed.

In the eighties when he was helping my brother out renovating houses. Chris would do the bathroom tiling, and this fitted in with my view of him as a younger version of  Zorba the Greek.  According to Tim (featured left when he was a child - but more on children later) one day Tim couldn't be at the house they were renovating, and the owners were at work, so Chris turned up solo.

Like all Juliffs, Tim liked to embellish, so take this with a grain of yogurt ... On arriving at the house, Chris took a look at the bathroom and decided to take a break. He wandered around the house and spotted the red wine collection. A glass wouldn't hurt, he thought, and opened a bottle, then sat on the deck in the sun, contemplating life and how both good and bad the world is. The bottle finished, he went back inside and found another. Then came his Goldilock's routine. Being by now somewhat sleepy, he surveyed the bedrooms, and finding the master bedroom the most inviting, thought he'd have a little lie down. And promptly fell asleep holding a now half empty bottle of wine.

Eight hours later the owners arrived home from a hard day of work, eager to see their newly tiled bathroom. Instead the discovered, lying  on their bed - a drunken hippy, snoring contentedly with a smile on his face. The wine of course had been a Grange...

I phoned Chris last night to wish him happy Christmas, and he explained the state of the world to me in his usual knowing Chris-style.

I told him I'd just come upstairs from my building's Christmas party for children. I'd rolled up at around 6:50 pm (it officially ends at 7) and Santa was just about to leave. "Ho ho ho!" he told the little kiddies. "I am off to the elevator to the roof to check o my elves," and off he went. "Bye bye Santa," the little Manhattanites called in their polite Upper East side Manhattan kind of way.

Santa had barely gone and suddenly a down elevator arrived full of a new batch of two year olds with parents in tow. It was still 10 minutes before the advertised  Santa departure time, and their parents had been busy changing them from their their nursery school clothes into party wear. Wide-eyed with faces of wonder that only little children can express, they rushed into the party room looking for Santa.

I have to give their parents' credit. As the little one's faces dropped their moms and dads knelt down to explain that Santa is a VERY busy man and had to go to lots and lots of places, not just in New York but all over the world, so they mustn't cry because it was a GOOD thing that he was looking after as many children as he could.

The children hung around, looking wistfully at half eaten cookies that the early birds had left behind. They'd been anticipating the Santa party all day. No longer wide-eyed, they stared downward at the floor.

"How old are you?" I asked a pretty little girl with a woebegone face. "Nearly two," she answered. And then, remembering her manners, "Happy holidays and it is nice to meet you."

Of course the parents were furious, because after all, they had arrived during the allotted time. But like their kids they put on brave faces.

I told Chris the story. "God, how Dickensian!! That's terrible! That will affect them for life! One of them might grow up to be a mass murderer!"

"CHRIS!!!" I screamed! He remembered himself. "Yeah,. that was the wrong thing to say Kate. I am SO sorry. Christ! Why did I even say that?"

So that's Chris for you.

He later told me he'd given up drinking. "Not smoking though," he added, "a man's gotta have something."

He might have given the grog but somehow my inner image of Chris will always be of him propped up under an olive tree, or snoring in a yuppie townhouse owner's bed, clutching a bottle of red and trying in vain to work out what makes this bloody world tick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No doubt by now he is a successful stockbroker?

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