Some interior design projects require discretion. A dear friend convinced me to participate. When the friend had me put on a blindfold, and pushed me down into a car, I started to shake. She kept chattering: “No, you’re not being kidnapped, but we may or may not be taking a private plane or a ship… Here, put on these headphones.”
Arriving at the mansion, removing my headphones, shaking out my hair, and removing the blindfold, perhaps too soon, I saw them handing stacks of cash to a building inspector. He laughed: “You do know that burying a building in concrete up to the attic is a safety violation, um yes, but yes the attic windows are the entrance and exit. I see…”
Anyway, it’s a challenge to decorate an Attic as a grand entrance hall and ball room with a trapdoor and wooden folding stairs in the middle. The Blue Attic Club has done well and I’m proud of my design.
However, I must say that my friend Zawmb’yee helped me with the project. Doug has written about our adventures visiting the Blue Attic Club for a lecture:
Doug said in his diary:
Going to the Blue Attic Club
I came early and waited at the bottom of the hill, surprised to see a crowd milling around, looking at posters for the Blue Attic Club. Only a few people, not shy to be officially early, walked up the hill, and climbed in the attic window. Some who had difficulty were helped by the security guard to sit on the sill and be guided in by hands in the interior. One guy, wanting to be a big-shot, vaulted in, probably gracefully, but I liked to imagine that he flew in with too much speed and fell on his face, although, I couldn’t actually see that.
I was feeling a bit out of place when I heard a voice behind me.
“Doug!” said Chloë, and she pressed her lips on mine so hard that my toes urged my arms into an overdrive of exploration until she laughed, “Not here.”
Damn, I thought, that is natural red hair, and the legs of a gazelle, the grace of a dancer, an actress in the play of ecstasy, a leap in my elevation …
“Oh hi,” I said to Zawmb’yee who had arrived behind me. She kissed me with a quick tongue brush.
Zawmb’yee said, “You’re really going to like this place. I have our tickets — let’s go in.”
We began up the hill. I said, “Zawmbee Warmbee, you’ll never guess…”
“Guess what?” she said.
“I’m making us garlic lime chicken for dinner tonight.”
“Hmm, that sounds good. It’s like marinated or something?”
“Yeah, you’re really going to like it. Marinating things seems to soften and entice the hunger, don’t you think?
Chloë said, “Cumin in the cilantro with red pepper?”
“Um, yes,” I said.
Zawmb’yee started singing the folk song, “She’ll be comin’ around the mountains/when she comes/when she comes…”
We joined in, dancing up the hill, singing, “She’ll be
cumin around the cilantro when she comes, when she comes.
She’ll be cumin around the cilantro when she comes,
She’ll be drivin’ around the hilly,
drivin’ around the hilly,
She’ll be drivin’ around the hilly,
when she comes, when she comes.”
We continued singing at the top of the hill:
~~“ ‘She’ll be driving six red buffalo
~~When she comes
~(When she comes)
~~She’ll be driving six red buffalo
~~When she comes
~~(When she comes)
~~She’ll be driving six red buffalo
~~Driving six red buffalo
~~She’ll be driving six red buffalo
~~~~~When she comes
~~(When she comes)’ ”
Chloë’s friend, Susan, who was a helper at the window and the doorman/windowman began singing,
~~“(Oh) ‘She’ll be climbing in the window
~~When she comes
~~When she comes,’ ” then Chloë –
“ ‘Chloë’s climbing in the window as I come, as I come.’ ”
‘Oh I’m climbing in the window as I come, as I come.’ ”
“ ‘Zawmb’yee’s sailing through the window, sailing through the window and … ’ ”
~~“ ‘Doug is climbing in the window, as I come, as I come.’ ”
The grand entrance made us all laugh. I think we three made for the best arrival performance of any attendee. It was certainly an odd venue for a club. In the middle of the floor was a trap door with a folded wooden ladder mounted on top of it. In one corner was a round cutout in the floor with a fireman’s pole in the center.
Chloë said, “Isn’t this great? Geez, it was such a challenge to balance out the ladder in the middle of the floor. It serves now as a kind of central sculpture until its utility is demonstrated. But Zawmb’yee is the one who made the perfect placement for the couches and added her spectacular ironwork, ‘Spiral Staircase to the Stars’. It reaches up like a tree that never quite touches the moon, though the birds are quite happy to rest on a branch that is somewhat lower than heaven.”
“Um, Chloë,” said Zawmb’yee, “does anyone really believe this drivel. I mean, it is just a hunk of metal.”
“Yeah, I know, but you have to let the nouveau riche enjoy their elitist status. How else can you keep the price of abstract junk up high? Remember the slogan of design: ‘Abstraction above meaning will analyze emptiness into a feeling of fulfillment. Let a dolt be happy and the universe is yours.’ ”
Zawmb’yee said, “You’re so cynical Chloë. Y’know, even if I do say so myself, I think my sculpture in a weird way is kind of beautiful …”
“Well, yeah,” said Chloë, “you’re an exception to every rule — you do add a je ne sais quoi to everything you do. ”
“Thanks, you’re quite skillful hiding in French phrases, but I guess ‘I don’t know what’ does it, huh.”
“Gads,” I said, “you two are both grand sculptures of joy, however you want to define it. I think you both did a great job with a difficult space!”
Susan unlatched the trap door and pushed it down. Someone from below reached up to pull down and unfold the ladder. Climbing up the ladder, a line of people marched straight for the window, and ran down the hill.
“What happened to them,” I asked.
“Oh, the early advanced lecture,” said Susan, “creates that reaction. They’re purging their emotions and releasing some energy … but, anyway, don’t worry about that — you’ll enjoy the introductory experiential. When the crowd clears, you can go down.”
Zawmb’yee said, “You really ought to fix that so you don’t have to keep the door latched up. I mean, it only happened once that someone walking around the floor up here accidentally stepped on the folded-up ladder and fell through …”
“We’re working on a plan for a regular staircase, Zawmb’yee.” Susan shouted down, “Is everyone out?”
A voice shouted up, “We’re ready for the next group.”
Susan said, “OK, Chloë, lead the way.”
Chloë took off her high-heeled shoes and threw them down to the floor below. She faced the ladder barefoot and reaching up with her hand said, “Doug …”
I thought it was some sort of ‘temple’ ritual, so I removed my shoes and threw them down the stairs.
“No, no, no,” said Chloë, “you don’t have to remove your shoes — I just did that because heels are hard on ladders.”
Zawmb’yee laughed so hard that she crashed into me, and fell to the floor. She took off her sneakers, and threw them down the opening.
Somebody down below said, “What are you people doing? Just come down.” We all came barefoot down the ladder.
“Welcome,” said Carl, the group leader. “Please sit anywhere in the circle of chairs.”
We sat together in three chairs. Poor Carl stayed at the bottom of the ladder while people threw shoes at him. He finally had to climb up the ladder and tell Susan to please tell everyone that they don’t have to take off their shoes.
An odd bunch of people filled up the chairs. It was an even mix of men and women. Some of the women were really hot and … oh, never mind, Chloë and Zawmb’yee were plenty hot for me. But a few strangers were quite peculiar as Chloë and Zawmb’yee pointed out. A little too much everything: height, weight, jaw shape, and various things busting out.
Carl, a tall thin man with a gray beard, strolled into the circle of chairs, a center of the wheel, gazing on the spokes that emanated from the seated. “Welcome to ‘Introduction to Mystical Quirks’. I will demonstrate to you today that thoughts penetrate into surprising places. We will learn a little bit of ‘psychometry’. From the Greek ‘psyche’ this means we will endeavor to measure and interpret the ‘soul of objects.’ The theory of operation is unknown, but thoughts and emotions seem to embed themselves at some level into material objects. Is it at some Quantum level? — I don’t know. By what principle of action does it occur — I don’t know. Psychics get into a lot of trouble by proposing speculative and flawed theories about what they do which are easily shot down and ridiculed by physicists. However, psychometry works, and has been demonstrated to work, although the mode of operation is unknown.
Before we begin, let me emphasize that the reception of information comes through the subconscious. We will do a meditation to quiet the ego.
Yes, a question?”
A man of great stature who threw out his chest like a pregnant woman trying to get her stomach into a comfortable position, who would knock over anyone who would disagree with him, stood and said, “Don’t we have to think rationally at all times to overcome the meanderings of our emotions which wander into unsubstantiated feelings about what is true? There has to be a rational explanation for everything. Doesn’t there?”
Carl said, “Sir, may I borrow your ring for a minute. I’m just going to hold it in my hand, and then I’ll give it right back to you.”
“Well, if you like.” He pulled it off his ring finger, and brought it to Carl.
“Let’s see … give me a minute. You and your wife are still arguing about a divorce. She wants to know why you first even considered having an affair with Emily. She thinks you never cared about the children, and you’ve destroyed Thomas at a vulnerable age and …”
“Stop, stop,” the ringless man shouted. “I get it, I get it, but it’s a lucky guess … Can I have my ring back, please?”
Carl returned the ring. He said, “OK, we’ll just proceed without any further explanation. Just relax and have fun — believe whatever you want …”
Carl pushed a button on a remote control. Baroque music began to play. There was a throbbing bass, the sound of an undulating whale, and an overhead strobe light flashed slowly like a slow-motion disco.
Carl said, “Everyone stand and hold hands. Let go of your ego chatter, and meld into the relaxing music. Some of you are thinking, ‘what the hell is this crazy person doing, and why did I come here, because he’s nuts, and I feel silly — I wonder if I should leave now…. Please put this ego chatter aside, have an open mind, think about nothing. Just allow the music to flow over you like a wave of bliss, warmth on the beach of paradise, the vacation you’ve always imagined, lying in the sun, knowing you have everything you’ve always wanted. The warmth of the sun relaxes you. You are one with the universe, and feel the kind essence of every human being. You are at one … Open to the all — the matrix of knowledge. Be a visitor to every atom. Extend yourself into the flow of energy … listen, see …”
Someone said, “I’m spinning …”
Carl said, “Don’t worry. Just focus on a star that is still. Rest there and enjoy.
“You are now receptive to the ineffables of connectedness. Let the music be mystery, a tide of being.
“We will continue, but hold onto your receptivity. Those of you who need to, please open your eyes. I am going to pass around a hat. I want you to remove something that you wear often — a watch, a ring, or something else and place it in the hat. Alright, pass the hat along and put something in it.”
The hat was passed around. I took off my watch, and put it in. The hat completed the circle, and reached Carl’s hand again.
Carl said, “I’m going to mix this up and pass this around again. I want you to select an item at random, take it in your hand, and infuse yourself into every atom of its being.”
The hat was passed around again. I pulled out a ring. I didn’t see what Zawmb’yee took. Chloë took out a purple bracelet.
When everyone had taken something, Carl continued, “Hold the object in your hand, close your eyes, and allow an image or a dream to appear … at this moment, don’t try to interpret it — just observe. OK, let’s take a few moments for this …”
After what seemed like a long while, Carl said, “Would anyone like to describe what they’ve seen?”
I raised my hand.
“OK, you can be first. What is your first name?”
“OK, Doug, tell us about your vision, or experience.”
I said, “I saw a dining room table that was not being used for its intended purpose. There was a draw in the table, and in the draw were needles, sewing equipment, scissors, leather — some sort of arts and crafts materials — but nothing that would be used for eating or dining. I saw a wrecking ball come through the wall and destroy the dining room…”
“Can anybody,” said Carl, “relate to this?”
A woman in pink said, “Well, I’ve been trying to run an arts and crafts business out of the dining room. I do all my work in the dining room, all my tools are in the draw, and we never get to eat in there anymore. I want to open up a shop and we’ve been thinking of moving …”
“Interesting,” said Carl. “Yes, you’ll definitely be moving. Good. Doug hold up the object.”
I took the ring out of my palm and held it up.
“Is this your ring?”
“Yes,” she said.
Carl said, “Good. You can give the ring back, Doug.”
I brought the ring over to her. Hmm, I’m thinking, I didn’t pick up much, but maybe it worked a little.
“OK,” said Carl, “anybody else?”
There was silence. Carl said, “Are we having a problem? I see a hand — yes, and you are?”
“Chloë. I’m holding this purple bracelet in my palm, but no images seemed to form. There was just blackness. ”
“OK. Try putting it on. Close your eyes and try again … Everyone quiet — let’s give Chloë a few moments to meditate.”
About fifteen minutes went by and then Chloë spoke up. “I see great sheets of ice coming down from the North, covering all the major cities. There is great suffering and chaos. There are spontaneous rebellions all across the world and all the major powers collapse. In the midst of a famine, a great Queen appears who brings endless supplies of food. Seeming to be wise and benevolent, she is not challenged as she seizes all the reins of power. Slowly the people are enslaved and her secret police become apparent to everyone … and um …”
“I can’t continue … I’m overwhelmed with her hatred and seething anger and …”
“Well, take a rest for a moment.” said Carl. “This sounds fascinating … Whose bracelet is this?”
A large woman in a purple and green dress raised her hand. An armful of bracelets clanged as she signaled. She was wearing big gold earrings and a purple choker.
Zawmb’yee stood up immediately, glanced at Chloë, and said, “Excuse me, I’m feeling sick. I have to use the Ladies’ room.” Chloë stood and they both left the room quickly.
Carl said, “Well, OK, this might be a good time for an intermission. We’ll come back to this.”
After twenty minutes Zawmb’yee tapped me on the shoulder. “We have to go now,” she said.
It seemed urgent. Chloë was upset. Zawmb’yee ran to the corner of the room to pick up a broom. She used the broom handle to tap on the ceiling. The trapdoor came down, and she pulled the ladder out. Chloë stumbled up the ladder in her heels. I followed Zawmb’yee up.
Chloë called to Susan, “Call us a cab. We have to go right away.” She followed Susan to the phone.
I asked Zawmb’yee, “What’s the matter?”
She said, “That lady was Ngheufel in drag. Chloë is sick — she’s sorry she ever dated him, but there’s more to it. I saw something too, but I can’t tell you now … Um, do you have enough chicken for Chloë?”
“Sure,” I said.
“OK, we’ll go to your place.”
Chloë came back. “The cab is on its way,” she said. “Let’s go down the hill now.”
We scrambled out the window. The summer air seemed much too warm for snow.
Returning After Odd Trauma
We arrived at my apartment, a trio of evangelists without a cause, nude of belief, looking for shelter and the loincloth of minimalist humility or an orgy. Zawmb’yee unlocked the door, and Chloë charged in.
Chloë, picking up a chair and throwing it across the room, screamed, “I run the council!”
Zawmb’yee whispered in my ear to put on some music. “Chloë,” said Zawmb’yee, “you’re still wearing the purple bracelet …”
Chloë said, “It’s mine now. I’m keeping it …”
“Chloë, you’re such a great dancer. Go ahead. Get into it … Doug, you know this one — sing it …”
Chloë picked up a lamp and smashed it on the floor.
“OK, OK,” I said, “I’ll try — uh, well, let me rewind to the beginning …”
Zawmb’yee said, “Rock ‘n Roll! Shake it Chloë. Dance, dance, dance …”
I sang, trying to let the music drown me out,
get on up
Thunder in your true light
Raise that thunder white
Hey flash me
be just right, and
stamp, stamp, stamp, stamp
when dancing feet
Your lover calls you
up the hill
to squeeze you
like a grape
to ferment you some
palpable love yeah
I call you sunshine
my rainbow love;
you make my rain, darling
tears of glory.
Cry me happy
Cry me true –
Can you love me
like a raindrop
’cause I will be your downpour
flooding you with love. ”
When I stopped mangling the lyrics and was silent for a moment, the rhythm got to me and I got up and danced with Chloë’s gyrating cheeks and soulful thrusts, danced with voluptuous spins, syncopated with bends of sorrow and leaps of ecstasy, the anguish and the hope.
Zawmb’yee joined us. They are such great dancers. Never stop, never stop. I don’t want to die in my sleep. I want to die dancing. Move me into heaven.
Zawmb’yee clapped for Chloë and I joined her. “Chloë,” I said, “you are the hip of curvaceous beats. You lifted me into jumping so high I thought I could dance like a plane down a runway and take off. I am surprised I did not hit the ceiling.”
Chloë said, “You are not a bird, and cannot fly. I am a bird.”
“Yes, you are a pretty bird. We love you pretty bird. Awaken into us.”
Zawmb’yee said, “Wake up Chloë. You are with friends.”
“I think,” said Chloë, “I’m done with Ngheufel. Let’s have some garlic lime chicken.” She took off the purple bracelet. “You can have this Zawmb’yee.”
Zawmb’yee said, “Thanks Chloë. Doug, let’s eat.”
Zawmb’yee finally got to set the elegant table that she bought for special guests. She was in her glory, bringing out the good dishes, and the silverware. The candle that she lit made the blue of her eyes sparkle, and she smiled like a duchess in a time of peace, no enemies at the castle gate.
Somehow, I managed not to burn the chicken, and the sugar snap peas, broccoli, red peppers, and cauliflower combo from the supermarket with olive oil and balsamic vinegar wasn’t bad. Zawmb’yee loved the colors of the fruit cup too; I threw slices of everything in there: kiwi, strawberry, white grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums, peaches, a little lemon and orange juices.
I loved watching them enjoy their meal. When they savored a morsel with the contemplation of the tongue, the pause in the chew to purr in satiation, I could gaze upon them to taste their beauty with my eyes. Gusto was mine, theirs, and ours. My sugar passes me the salt and I am spiced.
I was so turned on to lust by the dance of Chloë and Zawmb’yee that I struggled to remember the cliché, ‘look up here, and love me for my mind — not every breast has milk’. But Chloë was sick over Ngheufel. Zawmb’yee decided to get us a bottle of champagne.
My cork screw had a gentle lift, and nothing was spilled. I’m glad I bought the deluxe version that lifts the cork gracefully, allowing celebrants to do their own popping, and own bubbling.
Zawmb’yee said, “My Mother said that wine made her sleepy, but she was a liar: she got silly; she got high; she denied she had inhibitions (she denied she had ambitions). I toast in praise of intoxication when a shy one can say, ‘I love you’, without a blush or a stutter, and the foolishness is harmless poetic exuberance. Gee, I always wanted to use ‘exuberance’ in a sentence — I think I’ve done it.”
“Oh Zawmb’yee,” said Chloë, raising her glass, “you can be so elegant, and um, I’ll drink to that.”
We clinked our glasses together, and we all sparkled. I almost said it, but I didn’t know how to express the nuance of it — I knew I felt to say, ‘I love you both,’ and yearned to know them completely, but how could such an aroused creature as I admit that I wanted them to love me for my mind as dessert or is it as main course — I don’t know: metaphors confuse me. I must rise to the occasion (ha).
Zawmb’yee said, “Well, we don’t have a drawing room, so for dessert, Doug, why don’t you read us a poem.”
“Um,” I said, “I was hoping for ice cream.”
“Yeah,” said Chloë, “go get your book and pick something.”
I walked slowly to the book shelf trying to compose myself. Maybe I could do a handstand instead — they might like that.
Zawmb’yee yelled, “Anything. Come on.”
“OK,” I said, “here’s one called ‘Blubber’:
The psychic woman
had showed her
rough seas ahead,
said beware the tides
and flowing kisses,
but that seemed like
shallow waters to her
She had a fifth
her thick handkerchief
mopping up her eyes
highly high on her trumpeted mope
slipped on her poor spilled
cocktail of his love kisses
across the stage
where she was to sing beige
before a sea of mahogany tables
over drunks and hecklers
sticky stinky beckoning
bass strings plucking her heart
woe tale wagging about him
the bragging whale
who blew his spout
and left her high and dry.
Seeing her collapsing,
I could not bear her despair,
rose to say,
“I have always loved you,”
and we all stood,
hecklers and all,
to beg the last song
She knew me at last–
kissed me, the little one
Turning from beige to blue
caressing the mike,
she rasped in weeping harmonies
‘Stand for me
the stood-up one;
harpoon my love and
sail me to the Port,
wine me down mellow,
me, a cello solo
singing this tale of prophecy:
the big ones get away, and
the little ones stay.’ ”
Chloë said, “Yeah, Ngheufel is big enough to be a whale.”
We all laughed.
Zawmb’yee said, “About intoxication and the toast … Did you want to say something, Doug?”
I said, “Well, um … Are we all shy?”
“I am,” said Chloë and Zawmb’yee in unison.
I took a breath in and out. I said, “I love you too.”
Zawmb’yee said to Chloë, “You should crash here. I’ve got a baby doll nightgown you can wear. I’ll show you.”
“Yeah,” said Chloë, “good idea. I’m exhausted.”
“Doug,” said Zawmb’yee, “can you clear the table. Thanks, and can you find us some cheese and crackers and some wine on a tray?”
“Sure,” I said. I piled everything up and dumped it in the kitchen sink. Tray, tray, tray — where was the tray? I found it. I put some crackers on a dish, smeared a cheese spread over them with something that looked like a palette knife. Can opener? I found it. I opened a can of anchovies, and put a few on some of the crackers. What else? Olives looked nice and … I took all the cheeses we had, dumped them into a corner of the tray, plopped down the box of crackers, threw down a bunch of napkins and utensils, put a bottle of wine under my arm, and grabbed onto the tray. “I’m coming,” I yelled out.
I carried everything into the bedroom. Chloë and Zawmb’yee were sitting on the bed in some frilly things.
Zawmb’yee said, “Put the tray down over here, and take off your shirt and jeans. I think it’s bedtime and you don’t need any pajamas.”
I put my jeans on a chair and sat between them. They did something with the crackers, and I drank some wine.
Chloë said, “You have the anchovies, Doug — I know you like them.”
“Pass the wine,” said Zawmb’yee. “I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to tell you what I think I saw, and …”
“Let’s not,” said Chloë, “think about all that right now. Let’s just relax. Sweet dreams, and …” Chloë yawned.
Zawmb’yee yawned. “I’m so tired.”
I thought I would say something clever, but my eyes were drooping. I blinked, and my eyes closed. I forced them open, and went to the bathroom where I splashed water on my face. I wanted to stay awake a little longer. Coming back into bed, the fatigue was overtaking me, and I yawned again. Chloë’s eyes were closed. Zawmb’yee kissed me and turned the light off. My thoughts were fading into nothingness, a gentle buzz hushed me, and my body felt heavy. I fell asleep.