Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Home Improvement

The rustic Hampton Bay chandelier hangs in the dining room at 56 Voorhees Place.

Remember the Clarks of New Jersey before they were “the Clarks of New Jersey?” They were the Clarks of New York City – 63rd Street between First and York. That’s where Theo, Margie, Casey (and even Inay) enjoyed the great metropolis. Those were the days. We ate meals on a little bistro set from the Bombay Co. I will now take questions from the floor.

Q: How many bedrooms did you have?
A: Bedrooms? We didn’t have bedrooms. We had one small rectangle – 20 feet by 8 feet — in which we conducted all of our lives. Eating, sleeping, working, nurturing a newborn, entertaining relatives.

Q: So, wasn’t that terrible?
A: Terrible? It was glorious! The greatest city in the world surrounded us, comforted us, entertained us. Every day was an opportunity, an adventure, a conquest!

Q: What about your car?
A: Well, that was a difficulty. Although it is true that I became expert at shuttling the car around the boro of Queens and its alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules, I will admit that the car (a 1994 Saturn) posed a serious challenge to convenience and happiness. I don’t miss that part of city life. I love my driveway in Metuchen. It welcomes me always. Now, I believe I have time for one more question.

Q: Where were you on 9-11?
A: Everybody asks me that. I wish I could say I was some kind of a hero, but the truth is very different, and kind of bizarre. Because of a persistent scratchy throat, I had arranged a doctor’s appointment on Sept. 11, 2001. When I left work, I was aware that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. When I stepped into my doctor’s office at 34th Street, a small TV showed both towers in ruins.
I asked him: “Should we go through with this?” My doctor, who was younger than me, answered: “Might as well, You’re here. So, what seems to be the problem?”
“I have a scratchy throat.” And on it went. All that blood and destruction, and here I was complaining of a scratchy throat.
Margie’s story is a little more touching. She was a schoolteacher in Chinatown, which is not far from the financial district. She had an emotional day with her frightened children, and then she marched uptown several miles to our little apartment.
I’ll say this about 9-11, too. The weather was beautiful. Sept. 11, 2001 and June 3, 2000 -- our wedding day – are two dates that I’ll always associate with major events and beautiful weather. As long as I live.

No more questions. We have a dining room now at 56 Voorhees Place. That dining room has a brand new Hampton Bay chandelier. Margie and I installed it ourselves, with a little help from Joyce and Goose, the Clarks of Pennsylvania. Thanks mom, thanks dad. It looks great.

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