Friday, December 13, 2013
On the Edge
By J.P. Devine
OMG, the Pope is retiring. Pope Benedict XVI is retiring from the Vatican only months before she, who retires from teaching in June. Of course, this is a coincidence, but still of interest.
These two Catholics, both infallible human beings, will be leaving the stage. They are not alone. NBC says that “a retirement perfect storm” is coming in 2013, and that “an estimated 7 million Americans” will be dropping off the working grid.
This is why I’ve been missing so many of the aged that I have come to know in the neighborhood.
Once, they were there picking their AARP mail from the frozen mailboxes, shuffling down the street in hopeless pursuit of the final perfect weight, and then they were gone.
There is trouble in my city, and it starts with an R and it’s called retirement.
Now, like the proverbial wolf, it’s come to my doorstep. Before she fell into what Francis Albert Sinatra called the “Tender Trap,” otherwise known as love with a perfectly charming stranger, her career had been on the stage in New York and several years touring in New England repertory, where she was the favorite of every actor in the various companies, not just because she was beautiful and good, but because, in addition to a preternatural mastery of her lines, she knew everyone else’s, especially mine.
The rigors of summer repertory are well known to generations of stage actors. One rehearses “Death of a Salesman” during the day, while going on stage at night to perform “Picnic.” It can be quite a strain on those who enjoy spending between times in the local bars. She was famously known for being able to turn from the audience and whisper, inaudibly, the forgotten line.
But after rejecting life upon the wicked stage, and taking up the rigors of teaching, she has finally come to the end of her scholastic walk. This is good news and bad. The good news is that I will have her closer to me 24/7. The bad news is that I will have her closer to me 24/7.
She would like to spend more time reading and hopefully, traveling. Reading is cheap; traveling is not. As I am a freelance writer, I must keep my nose to the laptop stone in order to keep pasta and wine on the table. Her income, never famously large, but which has kept us afloat all these years, will, of course, be dramatically reduced.
If we keep a tight budget and take all the bottles back to the store, eat one meal a day, launder all our clothing, including woolen sweaters and other items that specifically say “do not launder,” we may creep by.
But we have our dreams. Should I win the lottery, we can then travel, and I can write from almost anywhere. Would you really know if I were writing this from a cafe in Rio de Janeiro or a Starbucks in Portland?
Italy is high on her dream list. We thought maybe we could drop in on the retired pontiff for tea and chats. Surely, relieved of the strenuous duties of the papacy, he will have a good deal of time on his hands. Such a transition hasn’t happened in more than 600 years, so what does an former pope do with himself? Open a bed-and-breakfast?
I understand that he will have this nice house on the edge of the Vatican gardens. Despite the rumors that he will be living a monastic life, it’s possible that he will be receiving guests from time to time, and we would like to be on his guest list.
She and he are both Catholics in good standing and might have a lot of things in common to chat about, like the real story behind the Inquisition, who really makes those fabulous garments, and the possibility of women priests.
Well, maybe we had better leave that one alone. We don’t want to be unceremoniously escorted out right after the pasta course, and before the parmesan gelato, which I’ve heard is amazing.
Maybe we’ll just hang around until President Barack Obama retires, and then we’ll all go to Rome together and stay for the gelato. Andiamo!
J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.