When he opened the door, Blue Poorman could not have been more surprised or delighted. There stood the lovely Effete (Sloughheart?) Mann with her two handsome, boyish boys, all smiling and simultaneously offering their “hellos.” He grinned from ear to ear and held the door wide open with his left arm extended straight toward the inside, graciously welcoming them with an elated, “Come in! Come in! What an unexpected delight to see you here! Please, come in!” They did, of course, with Effete leading the way.
“Mind if we make ourselves comfortable,” Effete boldly asked. She’s already decided that with the shy Blue Poorman the direct approach would be best.
“No, no. Not at all; in fact, I hope you will,” Blue answered, still grinning with a bit of a flush to his face. Effete noticed and rather liked it; he truly was gracious and just bashful enough.
“Hey! Can I get you guys anything to drink?” Blue courteously offered. “I have spring water, fresh home-made lemonade, unsweetened iced-tea, Sprite®, Gatorade®, and milk. And … that’s about it, I’m afraid, but it’s some variety at least.”
“Ha, ha, Blue Poorman,” Effete laughed kindly with a sparkle in her eyes, “you are, indeed, a gracious host … a bit self-deprecating, but certainly most kind and gracious. And, yes, I believe I’d love to have some iced-tea, and my boys could probably do with some Gatorade® after their hard play this afternoon. Thank you … Thank you so much, Blue.”
Blue quickly gathered the drinks and handed them around, then sat down with an iced-tea for himself. Now he was a bit nervous, not exactly knowing what to say, but oh-so glad they were here … especially Effete. He couldn’t manage to make it past the surprise of it all, but small talk was easy enough to begin with, so he opted for, “Well, it certainly has been an exquisite day, and I take it Rue and Bane had an exciting time at the park… I trust you found it … umm, restful and … uh, enjoyable, I hope.”
Effete kept her eyes locked on Blue and just laughed again, friendly and warmly. Blue suddenly felt stirrings in his heart and soul that he hadn’t felt for years as he looked back at this really rather strong and stately woman. She’d been through an awful lot – something, perhaps, akin to purgatory on earth – but she was very evidently recovering quite well. Blue might now have very well placed her in one of the spheres of Dante’s Paradiso, except he might very well have added one especially for Effete: the sphere of Courage, Humility and Beauty.
“The day was gorgeous, and still is, really,” Effete remarked, taking a sip of her tea. “You know, it was only a few short hours after school, I guess, but it felt so much longer, and … it was like it was unreal. I found myself sitting against a grand, old hickory tree wondering what tales he would tell if he could but speak to me. I seemed to be caught up in another, much grander world, and I enjoyed it except for one important, missing part … you. When it occurred to me that you hadn’t come that afternoon, I felt a pang in my heart and suddenly wanted you there … to immensely enjoy what I was enjoying … the superb, mystical unreality of it all.”
“Nebulous streams flow through an exotic day, uninvited but welcome, and the unseen dances with reality re-creating our world into one rooted in the numinous, overcast by the barely audible chanting of seraphim, shot through with glorious mystery and peace beyond what we could ever ordinarily know…”
“Yes,” Effete answered with tears welling up in her eyes. “Yes, Blue, that’s it exactly, and put so poetically. I just wish…”
Rue and Bane had already left their half-empty glasses on the coffee table and shot out into the backyard. They liked Blue very much but, after all, they were little boys who, as of yet, had little interest in deep philosophy or theology, and still less in esoteric mysticism. Normally, Effete would not have been all that interested either, but today she was, and she was even more interested in Blue Poorman. And she liked being with him, and looking at him, and listening to him. Did this make her feel uncomfortable? Not in the least. Point in fact, Effete had decided she had never been married – not really – and had never really had an intimate relationship … and had never really had any truly meaningful relationship in her entire adulthood! So why not spend time with Blue and build an agreeable, beneficial, healthy relationship … wherever that might lead sometime in the future? Blue seemed mighty open to the possibility.
“I’ve had a few extraordinary experiences like that,” he reminisced. “Very rare, but very exquisite … and they actually ended up being powerful inspirations for my book, The Chords of Cecilia: Aesthetics and the Soul of Humanity, believe it or not.” Blue suddenly felt embarrassed talking about himself, so quickly changed the subject. Effete thought it was quite cute, even endearing. “So tell me, I know you graduated from an Episcopal school, Lancelot Andrewes, I believe; did you pursue anything beyond high school … if you don’t mind my prying, of course.”
“No, you’re not prying, Blue Poorman; you’re just getting to know me, and if I minded that I wouldn’t be here,” Effete smiled and winked, which caused Blue to blush. “Yes, I graduated from Lancelot Andrewes Episcopal School magna cum laude, then in keeping my promise to my greatest hero and man of my life, my father, I did attend junior college, where I at least managed to earn a General Associate’s Degree. Oh, but if I had it to do all over again,” Effete laughed sardonically and shook her head while looking at the floor.
“Why don’t you?” Blue inquired. “Why not go back and earn that Bachelor’s degree you evidently wanted to earn, what, twelve to fourteen years ago? It’s entirely possibly, you know. You’ll have the funding and an excellent network of support, and the College here has an upstanding reputation… You just have to nail down what it is you want to major and minor in, and as an aside I’d encourage double-minoring. So, what do you think you’d like to do, Effete?”
“Oh, that’s easy!” she responded with enthusiasm. “Actually I’d like to major in ethics, and double-minor in creative writing and French.” Effete’s face glowed in sharing her dream. “The French part is really a tip-of-the-hat to my dear father; besides, I love the beauty of the French language, and I’m sure I could clip a couple of courses. Anyway, so far as writing is concerned, I have all the material I need for my first book, and more, and I’ve started arranging it already.”
“Wow! Will you let me in on it?” Blue was excited now and truly curious.
“Sure will,” Effete laughed again. “In fact, I wouldn’t have brought it up if I hadn’t wanted to share it with you, and you’ll be the first.”
“I’m privileged, Effete … really and truly. I’m humbled.”
“Well, it ties in with my wanting to major in ethics, if I really do have an opportunity to go back to college. Anyway, the title of my book summarizes the content quite well: The Devil is the Shepherd: My Life in the Hell of Fundamentalism.” Effete let her announcement sink in. Blue only whistled in reply. “I believe I’m a fairly good writer anyway, but I do know enough to realize that I need further education and training. Beyond this, I also need to work the book into a clear, coherent whole that is not only interesting but provocative. And if I have my wishes in the end, I’d like the Reverend Joy Brighterday to pen the forward, and Dr. Sage Wiseman to write an introduction. Finally, if I can convince you after the work is completed, I would like you to offer an appendix specifically upon how the Ideal of Beauty qua Beauty interrelates with the lack thereof – or Ugliness – of the whole subject matter just presented.”
“My heavens! I’d be more than honored, Effete! And there’s no question in my mind that you’re a capable writer.” Blue exclaimed. “You’re certainly intelligent, well-spoken, and elegant…” Blue caught himself in all his excitement. He blushed again, but Effete only smiled and chuckled.
“Hey, it’s kind of late and I don’t particularly like the kids and me walking home alone. Do you think you’d mind escorting us, Mr. Blue Poorman?” She smiled and winked again.
“Absolutely … of course … don’t mind a bit, just let me grab my wallet, and … and whatever.” And off Blue dashed to his bedroom. Effete went to the backdoor and called the boys inside. Old Father Time had, indeed, given her another slice, a damn good slice, and the simulators, whomever they were, had just gone up another three or four notches in her estimation. This was good… Just plain good.