Leo 3° (July 25)

Day Three

I woke up to the following email from a first cousin on my father’s side—of which I originally had seven and now just four, two of whom I’ve only seen, like twice in my life, but not for decades, and probably will never see again…actually that is probably true about all my remaining cousins on my father’s side. This from the one, of all of them, with whom I once was closest and whom, even so, haven’t seen in over thirty years…the subject line of the email was “Branding” and I represent the body of the text in full:

Funny how much money is spent on branding and how some simple brand memories last decades

Today, I had a thoroughly crap day that Monica had an inkling about.

After dinner and sitting on the couch to relax she walked up to me and said.  “ I know you had a bad day and when I went to the store earlier I thought I would get you a special treat to brighten the day.”

She was holding a box of Haagen Das Ice Creme Cookie Bars.

 Special treat. Being the recipient to   Numerous fat genes need to minimize carbs so it was a nice unexpected  surprise.

When I looked up first thing that registered was how much your mom liked Haagen Das.

I looked around since not everything from shopping and asked her “ what else did you get?”

It was then I saw Band de soleil.  Over the weekend we talked about how I get a red bronze tan and Monica gets a yellow tan. I asked her to get a bronzing tanner.

Bingo just like the Haagen Das can’t think of band  de soleil without thinking Aunt Peggy

Probably because she also made her rice with noodles, butter and College Inn Chicken broth

Ok I’ll get of the reminiscing diatribe and seems like people sometimes are better branding advertisements than any commercial ever made.  

Have fun and enjoy 55

To deconstruct, in my opinion, he “sounds” drunk. And you can see that he “edited” it as certain words mid sentence are in upper case, still, supposed remnants of previous versions of lines nad phrases. It’s very odd overall that he would write me and begin with “Funny that…” as if we are somehow always mid conversation, which we are not. He also has some facts quite wrong. And though I appreciate (which has proved to be) an ongoing obsession with my mother, his romanticism of her is wholly narcisisstic and rather intrusive. I don’t appreciate being taken, as I sometimes am by him by email, perhaps once a year, down some memory lane in a park whose theme is my mother not his, especially when it’s revisionist, if unconciously so.

First off, my mother didn’t eat Haagen Das, the spelling of which, I trust, might be correct in his email and which I thus replicate here. She either bought and relished Breyers “vanilla bean” which came in a square box or, more often and later in her middle age, she would buy pints of different flavors, though typically also still a supplementary pint of vanilla as well, from one or other of our local seaside homemade purveyors of the stuff. I will concede that she might have at one point purchased a box of “cookie bars” but it wasn’t a signature move that would have defined her, but perhaps something she tried, drawn by the promised convenience of being able to unwrap one and not have to struggle with scooping. That is entirely possible. But I doubt my cousin ever spent multiple nights, let alone one, at my parents house during whatever time he cites from his faulty mists of memory, whereby “cookie bars” (did he misspell creme or was it intended and perhaps Googled for clarification?) would be some kind of ritual of hers in which he partook, parenthesis: I didn’t.

Next, she didn’t wear the misspelled Band de soleil. She did wear Bain de Soleil. However she did not, being fair skinned and freckled, red-haired, 100% Irishwoman, wear the greasy orange variety (that might have created a bronze effect, even, in part, from that orange being something of a dye) which was basically hard oil; but instead she opted for the white somewhat more protective—although this was before SPF percentages—white cream, which I chose to spell thus—accented by zinc oxide on her nose and lips, which would nonetheless have been shaded by a cap. My mother did “tan” in a sense, but it was really more of a result of her ubiquitous freckles being brought out by the sun and banding together in solidarity into some kind of overall semblance of color, which was my mother’s actually word for it. She never said “you’ve got a tan”, or “you’re very brown”, she would say, “ooh, you got color today” and it wasn’t spelled colour.

As I’m in a snark I will add that I don’t believe I ever met “Monica”, my cousin’s wife, just as I have never met the two daughters I believe he has with her. The only child I know that he has is a son called Daniel who was born in the late seventies and whose conception precipitated Joe marrying Cheryl which was his girlfriend dating from the Saturday Night Fever era and who would have, by the late eighties, been a model for some friend character that the main character in “Working Girl” would have left behind in Staten Island while the Carly Simon song played to sweeping scenes of a crossing ferry. Daniel had big blue eyes. Joe did not. And in order for Daniel to be his biological son, Joe’s father, “uncle Joe”, my father’s sister’s husband, would have had to have blue eyes or else no dice. I do not remember if he did or he didn’t. I think that is perhaps a grace.

And in case you’re wondering about the final kicker to that email: Yes I will be 55 this year and, yes, my cousin wants me to know he knows that. But there is an edge to ending the email that way, too, don’t you think? To me it says: Even you, little Billy, whom I envy for having the mother you did (and whatever better life he imagines I had over him) will shrivel up and die, and you are well, now, on your way. So enjoy that….

I must also tell you and remind myself that breakfast today was fruit and a delicious egg and spinach filo pastry tart which I tried and failed not to eat. (There is always tomorrow—yeah right, who am I kidding?) The boat continued to make its way south and we happened upon an island of noisy sealions we could also smell from a distance. Then we went seeking whales in earnest and found them in abundance. We spent the morning, all of us, watching a feeding frenzy that entailed groups of humpback whales “bubbling.” This is what they do. They all dive down deep below and release air from their blowholes which bubbles krill and other yummies up to the surface….then, they all head to the surface straight up, like rockets, with their mouths open, such that, all of a sudden, a group of giant whales emerge together, straight up, into the air which is terribly exciting. Then they dive down to do it again, and again and again. As they’re below seagulls on the surface bob and wait; then the seagulls all take to the sky, calling out to one and other, and hover over the spot where they giant black heads, mouth agape, will again appear, giving all of us with fingers perched on the red buttons on our phones to start a new video some semblance of a heads up, no pun intended, but there it is. That went on for hours and we watched some of it from the bridge, where we also got to see some naviation maps detailing where we were and where we were going.

Then lunch of a rich mushroom risootto with morels and black truffles with both breaded veal cutlets and breaded cod cheeks and a delicious minerally rosé from the Languedoc. Nary a vegetable in sight but who cared. While we ate the boat made its way into a little cove where there were apparent hot springs. Post lunch and very full and even a bit swollen from the gluten I was now consuming at every meal—I didn’t mention there were giant breadsticks laced with anise seeds of which I gobbled two—I needed the kind of lie-down that I got: one where I sweat out, mainy around my upper chest and neck, whatever my digestion couldn’t filter on its own, feeling slightly nauseous slash fluish. So I made my excuses and didn’t go ashore; neither, I learned, did anybody but Jill and Flo and Kenzie.

It was apparently a more treacherous climb than anticipated, and there were some “old geezers” (Florian’s words) already there when they reached the spot. The water was scalding in spots and resulted in actual burns; but they did find a place to wade in without being boiled alive. We have surmised there is a literal hot spring which derives from far above and cascades down to these “baths” which are really man-made soaking ponds. But it gets better or worse depending on your perspective: Neil, who didn’t join the trio, later went ashore to walk the dog, the cutest white Westie in the world. There he saw a house on stilts which turned out to have three, let’s call them, cubicles, each of which was outfitted with a “domestic bathtub” not porcelain but probably plastic, that was also continually filling with the steaming hot water, but simulataneously emptying as well, through it’s unstopped drain. I have to say I’m a bit intrigued and might have to check that out on the morrow.


To view the original Sabian Symbol themed 2015 Blague corresponding to this day: Flashback! The degree of the Sabian Symbol may be higher than the one listed here  as the symbols culminate in the next degree. There are 360  degrees spread over 365 days. 


Typos happen—I don’t have time or an intern to edit.*
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