It’s sci-fi catch-up night and Jenn provides a CD her dad burned that holds recent episodes of my favorite shows. The Sci-Fi Channel moved to premium TV and I refuse to pay the extra because I don’t want cursing Sopranos and f---ing Queer Folk in my studio. We agree to watch only the first two hours from the CD because I don’t follow Galatica. I can’t place who’s invisible in that show and who’s a cyborg. And I don’t like that character who’s a whiny snit who gets away with everything.
Jenn was back east finishing graduate school and returned at the end of June. Eddie teaches painting at Morraine College and serves as the head of their Art Department. Jenn landed a position as adjunct instructor there and also one at Northeastern. They share the studio next to me, removed from deck politics but full of books and comic books and two white cats. She Polish-extraction, and his family is originally from Italy. Her married name will be Bagdzinski-Galatutti. “Not Catholics,” she insists. “We’re not Catholic.”
We cannot hear the Stargate episode because Jenn’s dad had the TV volume turned down when he recorded the CD. We try turning off the fans and paying close attention, but right away we start with more suggestions. Jenn improvises a solution by linking her laptop to my TV, but her speakers aren’t compatible. Paul has a set of speakers that work, and soon we can turn on the fans again and make popcorn and settle back. That’s the best part of living here, how everybody addresses today’s problem and pitches in.
I met Eddie when Roger finished Eddie’s hookup to the DSL network that doesn’t work. Eddie and I enjoyed long talks about sci-fi and comic books and surreal art which Eddie paints. We agreed to play The Fellowship of the Ring during movie night on the deck, this was last year, and Eddie just came out of his shell. Eddie even brought his guitar to a later deck event, and he and Candish sang folk songs badly.
Eddie’s sweet and shy and feels set back by my aggressive labeling of everything. When I grow quiet, though, he offers thoughtful observations. Through the winter I cooked for group dinners sometimes, experimenting with my new Cuisinart cookware and Roger’s taste for Korean food. Eddie joined us on occasion, especially on sci-fi night. An excellent guest, he even brought beer for everybody. And Eddie never responded to my endless complaints about Roger’s tardiness. We shared those craftsmanship talks that Rhonda and I could never make happen.
So for sci-fi catch-up night, during commercials we sigh over Paul’s cat with solicitous petting. Cat is about six months and has a cast on his right-rear leg from a tumble he took out of Paul’s window. Cat hasn’t yet figured out the purpose of the cast and how to stand, so he cries and demands attention. Jenn adores him; she’s an adoring person. Cat gobbles people-food, ham I think, offered from her hand.
Jenn knows all the sci-fi series character and actor names and behind the scenes gossip. Stargate is a mature series with new characters and a different writing style. Jack O’Neil is absent and Commander Mitchell, his replacement, is more like Daniel Jackson than O’Neil. When Claudia Black, who was in Farscape, and Amanda Tapping who just returned from having a baby in real life, are onscreen together, it’s like watching parallel movies because the tone is so different. Pam explains that the new doctor, who plays the daughter of Beau Bridges’ character, is Michael Shank’s wife in real life. Oh, stop.
“Stargate has become too much like Star Trek anyhow,” Eddie observes. “The Prometheus has a command deck with a captain’s chair. It’s like they took elements from all the successful series and mushed them together.” Maybe Eddie didn’t use the word mush, but that’s the gist of his idea.
Jenn also likes certain prime time series, especially Lost which I watch. She starts in with who wrote and who produced and their credits and how it’s all new stars but we’ll certainly see them again in later series. “I like the actor from the English Patient,” I say.
“We should play Scrabble one night,” she suggests.
So Jenn and I lust after the new character on Stargate Atlantis, the big one with dreads and a smoldering look. Great leather duster. He and Taylor have some sexual tension building. We giggle and look at Eddie who ignores us, then observes quietly, “He can act-out with weapons and threats where Weir and Shepard can’t because of military protocol. There’s chatter about him online.” Eddie’s alright; he can stay.
Jenn starts out of the blue on a new topic. “You and I were at SAIC together, you know.” That’s School of the Art Institute where I received an MFA in 2000. “I knew Beth N-----,” she adds. “A good friend.” I try to place the name, then realize Beth led the Writing Program and was my adviser during one term. I hated her. Jenn glows while delivering compliments about Beth, then adds. “I worked at F Magazine for three terms. You published in F, right?”
“Uummm, actually, yes. I had an article published in the school paper.” The magazine’s staff had nothing planned for the issue before Christmas, as I remember, and trolled writing classes soliciting anything that was more than 500 words. I submitted a confessional story about Daddy titled ‘Free and Clear’, then regretted the exposure because I wasn’t done with mourning him. Jenn is piecing together the past events. “I’m sure we met. My weight went up and down then. I looked different, but we had to cross paths.”
Eddie’s dad is also a painter and had a showing in July near the SAIC gallery on West Jackson. Dan and I attended, but we smoked a bowl first, arrived late, and missed Eddie and his dad with his new wife. The paintings were a hoot, though. Fifteen depictions of first dates he had through a dating service. Conversations presented in the dates’ voices were painted on each glass overlay; the lawyer, the feminist, the homemaker, the cat lover. The sixteenth one was titled the keeper, apparently the new wife/stepmother who Dan and I had just missed.
Eddie and Jenn will move in September to a coach house near Sheffield and Belmont. The space is rented already, but they are taking their time while they finish teaching summer classes and develop syllabi for next term. You can afford to pay double rent with a double income.
They were always going to move-up in life once the MFAs were secured. Jenn can’t wait. “It’ll be nice to brush my teeth at an actual bathroom sink instead of in the kitchen.”