You probably know that James Bond was an ornithologist. Ian Fleming took the
names of several characters from life; since he was interested in birds and
lived in the West Indies, he had Bond’s, “Birds of the West Indies” to hand. I
mentioned this fact in a speech I gave recently for my father-in-law’s eighty
fifth birthday. I added that Ernst Stavro Blofeld comes from the name of a
Norfolk farmer who was a member of the same London club as Fleming and James
Bond’s mother, Monique Delacroix of the Canton de Vaud—get this—was named after
Fleming’s own mother, Evaline St. Croix Rose *and* a fiancée, Monique Panchaud
de Bottomes, whom the mother scared off.
I gave the speech in San Diego. Those of you currently suffering in snow and
slush might want to avert your eyes for a moment here because La Jolla in
February has pelicans and seals and sunshine and light winds, many things which
might make a person envious. Also stupid. We went down onto the beach and
watched the seals from a respectful distance, obeying the rules they make clear
in Hawaii in regard to turtles. Not so some youthful twerps, who decided to
take selfies and photos right beside the wild creatures. When one idiot put
her hands on a pup, the mother flashed her teeth near the girl’s arm. The girl
I enjoyed looking at all the boats in the harbor and the naval fleet, which is
protected by high-speed boats and armed guards and who knows what else. An
American Bond possibly?
Downtown we passed a parking lot with a sign, designating it “historic.” I
assumed that a presidential motorcade has stopped there, or perhaps it had been
used in a movie shoot. Nope. It was “historic” because it had been a parking
lot since nineteen fifty something. Surely no one was alive back then?
At the airport the shoeshine guy’s list of prices included “athletic shoes,”
which cost nine dollars to polish. “Exotics” cost twelve.
This morning the chickens came out of the coop and rushed over to the food.
Four of them made contented noises as they gobbled. Mimo followed me to the
door, looked annoyed when I slid it shut, climbed the outdoor stairs to
anticipate when I passed another door. I opened it a crack, “Yes?”
“This has got to stop.”
“You’d like me to stop an absence?”
“And how would I do that?”
“With your mighty powers.”
“Fine,” I said, “absence begone.”
Mimo looked with one eye and then the other. “No,” she said, “didn’t work.”
“Give me a clue,” I suggested.
“The house sitter didn’t supply treats, is that it?”
“She didn’t sit on the house. At least we never saw her sitting on the house.”
“I’ll get a moldy muffin,” I promised. “Run on down.”
Mimo was not convinced that the ideal place to be when muffin was coming was
down among the masses. Thus she had to fly from the top of the steps into
their midst when I heaved manna heavenward. I gave them old milk too. So
beneficent am I. Me and the Pope.
Now I have to prepare to be interviewed by a reporter from the Times… the
Beaverton Valley Times…about my play. Fame at last, fame at last.
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