Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Soho Adventure

Nothing is happening.  Well, not true -- the big news is that it has stopped snowing.   So just in case you weren't with us then, here's a post from back when I really was 86 --

     One summer in the 1970s, I went to England for a week by myself.  We were empty-nesters, having recently sent our youngest, Anna, way off to study theatre at UCLA.  Norm couldn’t spare the time, but when a local group put together a cheap (“Mother, don’t ever say that, say inexpensive”) charter flight I couldn’t resist and off I went alone.
     One noon in London I found myself exploring Soho, in a street of tall narrow wooden houses all connected like townhouses.  In front of one entrance was a restaurant sign, offering “macaroni al forno” so in I went.
     “I’m afraid there are no seats available on the ground floor” and I could see that for myself.  The place was jam-packed.  “But if you’d care to try the first floor” --  so I started up the narrow wooden staircase.  Same story, full house, and I climbed the staircase that doubled back on itself all the way to the fifth floor before I heard “Would you mind sharing?”  Well of course I wouldn’t; dining with strangers promises tourist adventures.  “The table in the far corner has one empty place, back there with the two young ladies?”
      I snaked through the packed tables, and the young ladies smiled a welcome.  Squeezing into the corner, I put off the moment that I would speak and reveal I was American.  Instead I was thinking “I am jammed in to the farthest corner of a five-story wooden building.  I don’t see any other exit except that wooden staircase.  I’m all alone, nobody knows I’m here, if this place caught fire no one would ever know what had become of me.” 
     But another part of my brain was watching the young ladies, making a note to write Anna that girls in London seemed to wear a lot of eye makeup this summer.  And then – maybe I wasn’t so welcome.  They were whispering to each other, jabbing elbows,
      “Go ahead!”  “No, you.”  “Just ask her”  and finally one of them said,
      "Excuse me, but we were wondering if you were an American.  Because you look like a friend of ours, Anna Lank.”
      They were from California, taking a summer course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
      I never did think Annie and I looked that much alike.  Here are pictures from the early 70’s – what do you think?