My Life at Age Twenty-Seven

Aerial View of Green Lake
Aerial view of Green Lake in Seattle WA USA.

Green Lake draws about fifty thousand visitors a day in the summer. Whereas in Panama I had learned to explore the jungle, in Seattle I explored the murky depths of Green Lake. With goggles on, I learned to catch crawdads on the lake-bottom by grabbing the center of their body just behind the claws. It was fun to bring them up on the dock and let them crawl away to fall back into the lake. One lifeguard gave me the name Crawdad Man and another lifeguard showed me how to punch holes in a coffee can to bring up sand speckled with coins and silver jewelry and gold jewelry.

In the same month that unrequited Fourth Love was being born back East for me to meet twenty-three years later, I was hired by Robert Dean Palmer to be the new Latin and German teacher at The Overlake School in Redmond WA USA. My housemate Aardvark liked the school so much that he got a job there as a carpenter helping to build the Art Barn. Fourth Love and I did things in spates of years: two first years, then a gap of five years, then three new years hanging out together, then a gap of twelve years, then a week of watching evening TV movies in her basement while she nursed me back to health from a mishap common among computer programmers. First Love and Fourth Love were both Registered Nurses ("R.N."). First Love and Third Love were "cover girls" -- that is, their images graced the covers of a Blanchet Alumni Newsletter and a Report to Bondholders.

Green Lake - Duck Island - fog
Third Love would one day swim around Duck Island with Crawdad Man -- from Flickr.

My favorite thing that ever happened to me in life, my most treasured experience, was getting involved with Fra Latona -- my codename for Third Love, who arrived in my life a prime number of years after Melody January (Second Love), to whom this autiobiography is impermissibly dedicated, begun as it was on the anniversary of our defining moment in Husky Hollow. The loss of Second Love made me leave the country and made me miserably unhappy for a sizeable prime number of years, until a calendar year arrived whose eve of New Year brought not only a re-connection with Fra Latona but also my first hearing on television of "Wien, Wien, nur du allein, sollst stets die Stadt meiner Traeume sein."

Year in and year out, whenever I would be in a coffee shop or other phobic agora and I would hear some one call out the not very common name of Second Love, instantly I would look to see who was being addressed, and until my buddy Howard opened the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, it was never the Kommissarin from my Russian class. Since the New York Times had full-page ads showing the Roastery, I made a special trip to check it out on the day before Beethoven's birthday. I found a nice table at the bottom of the steps with the thirteen-thousand-dollar railing made of wood slats. I put down my stuff, paid no attention to the group of three people facing away from me at the nearest table, and made a quick trip to the weird arrangement of seven or eight bathrooms clustered around a series of sinks. Even after I came back, I paid the one guy and dos hermanas no regard, until one hermana said to the other, "But [Kommissarin]!" and instantly I glanced to see whom she was talking to, and it was the Dreamed-Of One. After one-half to a whole hour of sheer agitation on my part, they got up and left, except the Commissar Lady stayed behind at the bottom of the steps that Howard Schultz would climb two steps at a time. I stood and faced her but could not speak, for I was afraid that she might make an unkind remark as her last-ever words to me. I marveled at how petite and pretty she still looked after all these years, and then I cast my eyes down to the floor and she vanished. If I had had my wits about me, I could have said, "I am here because of you," since she made me take my first of ten thousand sips of coffee. About a month later, I had a ten-year reunion with Third Love, Fra Latona, so named because she had an aura about her like the most famous painting in the Louvre, Fra Gioconda -- the Smiling One.

When I first saw Elvis Presley in Love Me Tender, to my eternal discredit I did not believe in Elvis. I thought that Elvis was a phoney because the screaming, love-sick actresses in the movie looked phoney. (They were indeed phoney, but what they were trying to portray was not phoney.) When I came back from swimming in the Arboretum one August and I casually looked at the Seattle Times headline gasping that Elvis had died, followed by a week of cathartic mourning nation-wide and my own playing of my Elvis tapes over and over on the Blaupunkt of my Karmann Ghia, I regretted not having believed in the true phenomenon of Elvis. Every year since the King of Rock-and-Roll died, my Christmas season starts when I first hear Blue Christmas. I mention my sin against the true spirit of Elvis because no Netizen in his right mind -- except those who actually did meet her -- will believe now what I write about Fra Latona qua Third Love.

In that year that began with Kathleen Battle singing Scieczinski's immortal song -- funny; nobody has ever heard of one-hit wonder Scieczinski but the entire population of Vienna knows his song by heart -- Fra Latona made a deal with me that we would go to German restaurants together and speak only German for most of the meal. We went to Woerne's European Cafe and we went to something called Bavaria House on Spring Street in downtown Seattle. While we ate German food and spoke German, suddenly the music of Mona Lisa wafted over us. My own Mona Lisa (Fra Gioconda) did not realize that she had left her umbrella in the restaurant until we were down on First Avenue and we had to go back. A group of two or three inebriated male denizens of Skid Row began walking up the hill with us, and something about being in close proximity to Fra Latona made them giddy with earthly bliss and happiness. They stuck with us all the way up to the German restaurant at 315 Spring Street, laughing and smiling and blissing out in come-what-may fashion.

Another time I was with Fra Latona in a grocery store and a male employee there turned a corner to face a real-life Mona Lisa and he instantly went into some kind of shock and he started grinning deliriously and juggling the items he was carrying. Time after time I saw the male of my species fall instantly in love with Third Love -- faster than the Non-Serviam fall of Lucifer from Heaven on high.

One evening Liebe Nummer Drei and I set out to walk from the center of Wallingford over to the University District. A famous Seattle writer, Clark Humphrey, who relished every opportunity to snub me and distance himself from me, succumbed instantly and mad-hatterly to the intoxicating Kundun or "presence" of Fra Latona and he attached himself as a giddily happy puppy-lover to the most charming Ewig-Weibliches that he had ever encountered. While Fra and I merely walked the mile or so, Clark floated on air with us all the way to the U District. Fra herself, however, never realized that she was mowing men down by her divum incedo regina and friends of hers had to alert her to the effect she was having on each damenta phrenas himero. One photographer kept his picture of her on display for more than a year on University Way, and KM1 (Key-Master One of The Constant Society as described in Mathematical Cranks) kidded me mercilessly for all the time I spent pining into that window. The Italian girl codenamed Bionica who once walked over to my father after he had played Fruehlingsstimmen from memory on the Honey Bear piano and had said to him "I understand we share the same birthday" (June 28th, e.g., Elon Musk), sat in shocked silence one day when I forewarned her that the woman I loved was coming to meet me and did indeed interpose herself between me and *Bionica.

Now I must think of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista for a moment, in order to remember the applicable line of Latin poetry, "Fulsere vere candidi mihi soles". Sure, I die some day, but I die a happy human being because "ich besass es schon einmal, was so koestlich ist, dass man's doch zu seiner Qual, nimmer mehr vergisst."

*Bionica came after Musette and Dervissa in my galerie of dalliances, but before **Dakota and Daffodil. Her codename comes from her intense study of biology at my favorite coffee shop, so intense that she was unapproachable and many a guy got cut down to Napolean's retreat from Russia when he dared to attempt the miseri quibus intentata nites. One evening I was writing a Grauschrift and making mention of her as she actually sat imperturbable at the table to my left. I had tried all kinds of tricks, such as ostentatiously reading Anna Karenina in Russian so that Bionica might notice it. What she did indeed notice was all my pathetic ploys and tricks, true to what Third Love once told me -- that all my devices were totally transparent. But suddenly on that night of blustery weather Bionica turned to me and coyly asked if I could spare a couple sheets of notebook paper. Stat(im) came two blank sheets from underneath what I was writing, and I had made SETI-esque First Contact with Bionica. When I continued to write my diary, I suddenly realized that the Italian girl could simply rub pencil lead over the top sheet of paper and read what I had been writing about her. Luckily, she covered the page with her own writing. But our Dance of the Deathlock had begun -- as I once described it to the co-worker who introduced me to Fourth Love.

So one day I was sitting at my favorite ramp-side table in the Honig Baer and I saw still unapproachable Bionica move from a ramp-table to her own favorite table back by the Karlsbad, which was my codename for the boys' bathroom in the deepest innards of the Honey Bear. But Bionica had left an assortment of bio-books on her abandoned table, and I jumped up to walk over and remind her of them. As I dared to come within firing range of her anti-guy artillery, she looked up and was loading both barrels with scram-shot when I gently pointed to her previous table and said that she had left some books there. "My books! My books!" she dropped from DefCon One to DefCon Five in non-plussed stuttery. From then on I could at least talk to her, and so could my buddies, with one of whom she declared an instant rapport because they both suffered from migraine headaches.

Bionica was double-majoring in women's studies and pre-med. One day she was writing a fifty-page paper for a competition among the women's studies students, and I volunteered to proofread it for her. After all, my employer's husband, the world-famous Dr. Mansour Samadpour of Escherichia coli fame, had once dropped me off for an hour or two at the Honey Bear with the awesome responsibility of proofreading a scientific paper that he was about to publish, and he rewarded me handsomely for my work. But for Bionica, not for money but just to see deep into her mind, I went through several iterations of proofreading, not re-writing, her competitive paper for which she won a monetary prize.

One day Bionica told me that I could do all kinds of things independently, but one thing I could not do alone was have a child. Shades of Dolly the sheep! I told Bionica that I was hoping eventually to clone myself. At that moment I lost all the territory and aphroditory I had ever gained with Bionica, and from then on we were mere acquaintances. Several years later, when I was moving out of Wallingford and destroying all my journals, I discovered that I had once been introduced to Bionica and had found her so remarkable that I recorded the event in my diary.

Working at the magazine and book-store in Wallingford, I kept on hand a stack of index cards on which I kept track of apartments for rent. A young couple at the store told me they needed an apartment, and they found one when I gave them one of my index cards. They came back to thank me, and with them they had a petite, 105-pound Italian girl of such radiant beauty that I made sure to record her name and the fact of meeting her in my Grauschrift diary. It was Bionica, but I did not realize at the Honey Bear that I had already met her, even when she puzzled me by telling me that she knew where I worked. Ah well, I had better delete most of this chapter some day soon. It has been therapeutic to write it.

**Dakota showed up one day getting on the bus with me from the Zoka coffee shop down to Wallingford, and I tried my Japanese out on her. Then I got to know her in the Honey Bear after I bombed out with two Japanese girls who did not want to talk with me. Dakota had a few caustic remarks about my luzer episode with her countrywomen, and when offered a choice, she went out with Stockbroker Depp instead of me. Aktienmakler Depp is immortalized in a painting which hangs in the hallway of Zoka, and he was written about in a hilarious "I Saw You" item in "The Stranger", which caused not-yet-Fourth-Love to call me up and read the item to me over the phone. It was something about one homosexual guy trying to arrange a hook-up with Stockbroker Depp, along with a fits-none-other description of Depp. I told Not Yet that I knew exactly whom the I-Saw-U was talking about. In fact, the future Fourth Love came and sat with me one night in the Honey Bear and Stockbroker Depp came over and told her that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen Arthur with. Quartus Amor took it in her stride, because everybody told her she was beautiful. I took it a little further, and I always told her that she was a "classic beauty", and she would tell me about her plans to become the trophy wife of some super-rich man. When Luv4 went to the bathroom, after complaining to me that we had no napkins, Gonzales overheard her gripes and came over to me with a wad of napkins for her, and remarked to me on how beautiful she was. I told him that she may be beautiful, but that she was a real spitfire, and that he would see her erupt in furious anger before the evening was over. Sure enough, when she asked me where the napkins had come from and I told her that Gonzales had brought them, she got quite angry. She got even more angry when we were walking away from the Honey Bear and she found out that I called the guy Gonzales because he looked like the Frito Bandito. Since her ancestors came from the Canary Islands and she was of Hispanic extract, a petite little 96-pound trifecta of pixie and fawn and China Doll with a mastiff dog that weighed more than she did, she had no patience with me using Latino stereotypes. But I digress from Dakota, who had that codename -- and she told me that she really liked it -- because she reminded me of Yoko Ono who had lived in the Dakota Apartments with ex-Beatle John Lennon. She went out with Stockbroker Depp only one time, and then she settled in with me as her table-mate at the Honey Bear. Every Sunday I would wait for Dakota and I would buy her a coffee and a pastry from the half-price day-old rack. She lived in some rip-off constantly rent-increasing student apartments centered in a triangle of my own apartment to the south, the Honey Bear to the north, and Green Lake to the west.

Since I worked as the night auditor in a hotel on Highway 99 Aurora near Green Lake, Dakota fell into the practice on Saturdays of walking over to my hotel and sitting in the lobby to wait for me to get off duty at 7:00 a.m. Then she and I would walk part way around Green Lake over to Starbucks, where I would buy her coffee and a pastry. Some Caucasian woman who also worked at the hotel was quite amazed that geeky dweebish nerdy Arthur had a Japanese maiden sitting in the lobby and waiting for him. A local business, the classsic Twin Teepees restaurant, came in and gave me some free-dinner coupons for directing tourists to dine at their eatery a few blocks away. Dakota accepted my invitation to dine on seafood with me at the Twin Teepees on August 6th, Hiroshima Day, and then to walk across Aurora with me to the Toro Nagashi ("Floating Lantern") ceremony held every August 6th near Duck Island.

Lanterns Floating on Green Lake
Toro Nagashi Floating Lantern Ceremony -- from Flickr.

Dakota, who herself was born in Hiroshima after the war, was quite moved by the Floating Lantern ceremony, but she was quite shocked when she saw the Ugly Americans popping flash-bulbs during Toro Nagashi. She told me that in her native Japan no one would ever dare to pop flashbulbs during a ceremony so serious and august as the commemoration of the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians inhabiting the first city ever attacked with an atomic bomb. Dakota was learning that Americans have no cultural sensitivity to other nations. She also went with me to Oktoberfest in Fremont and she visited my father with me and she played Chopin quite well on my father's grand piano. I introduced Dakota and Bionica and even years-later Fourth Love at the Honey Bear, so Dakota was able to let me know that she had seen "the Italian girl" (Bionica) at a concert on the campus of the University of Washington.

One Sunday afternoon my M.D. shrink father came to visit me at the Honey Bear after he played golf at the Sand Point Golf and Country Club. Sitting with Dakota and me just inside the windows, while Bionica sat with her pre-med books back near the Karlsbad bathroom, my father suddenly walked over to the upright piano and beautifully played Voices of Spring from memory. When I saw Bionica stand up and walk forward, I knew what was about to happen. After the pre-med student told the medical doctor that they were both born on June 28th, my father embarassed me cringeworthily by asking the Italian girl how much she weighed. "One hundred and five pounds, the last time I checked," came her polite response.

Love-in-the-fourth-degree showed up early one day for a meeting with me at the Honey Bear and found me sitting with Japanese Dakota. I was supposed to be in Future-4th-Love's orbit and not that of any other woman, so Love^4 tried for a while to divert me from Dakota by calling me up and inviting me to go places like downtown Seattle, anywhere but the Honey Bear. At the Bon Marche she sampled all the perfumes and daubed them on me. But soon the later Fourth Love gave up on me and kicked me out of her life for the first of several banishments. Even now I am waiting for her to show up one of these years and commandeer me again. She owns the copyright to both my Amazon author photographs, since she took them fifteen years apart. Cabo Bob flattered me immensely by opining that I looked okay in the earlier photo where pre-Love wrote "Arthur is a liar" before she snapshotted me, and that I looked better in the fifteen-years-later photo.

Dakota went back to Tokyo and returned only once on an assignment to write about bread in Japanese for a food magazine. She re-connected with me and we made a visit to the Zoka coffee shop. Then she e-mailed me a few years later when Seattle had a serious earthquake.


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