Monday, June 18, 2007

Two memories of an ordinary weekend

It's been a while since I've posted on the minutiae of life chez Cohen. Here follows a corrective, because I know you like stories with cute kids. And you will learn from reading that the local pizza delivery man is a CIA spy.

"Vous êtes francophone?"

I stood in blank silence for a moment before answering "Pas de tout" and handing the man his money. "And I don't think I've ever had someone delivering pizza interrogate me in French before."

"When I asked your son to give me haut cinq, he knew what to do, and said you taught him how to say five in French."

It's true, my French is so good that I can count to five. I also know how to recite the ABCs. Weirdly, I can also tell you what sounds many animals make when they speak en français, and that to a baby you say "coo-coo" rather than "goo goo ga ga." But I didn't expect to have a conversation about such things as the pizza arrived. Our deliveryman, it turns out, included among his former careers missionary in Africa, poet, and CIA language expert. He claimed to be fluent in five tongues. I can vouch for the fact that he spoke French with no accent. His Swahili and Russian seemed pretty good too, but what do I know?

He could also mimic any Loony Tunes character Kid #1 could suggest, leading to an extra large tip and very cold pizza.


A perfect evening: to celebrate Father's Day, we went to a playground in Glover Park and let the kids go wild on the swings and spinning devices. We then strolled to the local Whole Foods, which has one of those hot and cold food bars where the gourmet creations are sold by the pound. Kid #2 loaded her plate with three cucumbers; a hard boiled egg; and "truffled macaroni and cheese" -- only the best for her. Kid #1 chose sushi and minestrone soup, a cosmopolitan meal if ever there was one. We watched two DC high school teams playing baseball on the field nearby, then had dessert at a shop that makes their own ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream. Could life be better than this?

At the end, Kid #1 confided that he'd be happy when Father's Day was over and we could go back to Kids Days.

And a historical note, to make this all medieval: Glover Park is a neighborhood in northwest DC where the group of medievalists known as "Front 190" had their second meeting, during a December MLA. I checked out the Thai restaurant where it happened; no plaque yet. I remember I got in a lot of trouble with Michael Uebel at that dinner for chatting with the medievalist next to me when we were supposed to be setting forth our plan for domination of the discipline, if not the world.


Karl Steel said...

I do love these stories.

Why Front 190?

Eileen Joy said...

Ah, Karl--do you not know the story of Front 190 and where they got their name? It is [secretly] legendary. What I *will* say is that Front 190 was one of the major inspirations behind BABEL; I will let JJC tell the rest of the story as it is not mine to tell.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

I believe that if I give too much away there is a cabal of medievalists who will render me a human sacrifice. Or some such.

Suffice it to say that the name is connected to a pretentious London bar -- this one, in fact -- that used to serve absinthe, back when drinking the stuff was vaguely Poe-like and cool.

Karl Steel said...

Guests and local residents mingle with celebrities from the worlds of film, television, fashion, publishing and advertising.

Advertising? That jars a bit. I suppose the copy editors go to another bar.

Well, okay. I'm not satisfied. But I feel a bit better than I did when I thought it was a reference to a Belgian techno band that I just loved in high school.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

In retrospect it's a good thing the first meeting was at this bar, because "Front 190" (aka Group 190) is more sonorous than Front Busara or Front Bayona, the locations of subsequent gartherings.

Anonymous said...

If Emile Blauche is present, he may confirm the importance of an exhibit on the Fluxus movement at the Tate Modern which was at least partially responsible for the nomenclature of "gruppe" in Group 190.

But I've said too much...

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Absolutely, anonymous. The collective was christened with two names. Michael's formulation of "group" or "gruppe" stuck better than mine of "front."