by cheri block
Joe and I met Tuesday for lunch at a different restaurant, one close to Joe’s doctor’s office.
It was good to back in our routine, slinging around literary opinions loud enough for others to hear.
Joe has a booming voice and he doesn’t give a rat’s ass (to quote Joe) what others think.
Our conversation took many twists and turns, just like the rotini on my plate.
For my essay due in several weeks, I’m thinking of comparing Chaucer’s the Wife of Bath to Dante’s Beatrice. What do you think about that idea? I asked.
Good Lord, Cheri, why subject yourself to that much work?
Well, the topic interests me. I write for myself, not for the professor, I lied. So what if Dr. Soinso is a professor of comparative literature, his specialty being medieval and Renaissance literature and art, I thought.
Joe’s Italian eyes crinkle a bit; his eyebrows merge into a line of amusement. He smiles at my method.
It’s too much. You can’t get there from here. Plus, I don’t want you calling me six times a day this weekend. You will bury yourself. You need to find another person to call when your questions are late at night.
All right Joe. I will take a look at the Wife of Bath. After all, I am a wife. And I am married to an older man. Geez. Judge Blah could take a big hit this weekend.
Yes, but the Wife of Bath has a hell of lot more experience than you. And her tale has everything to do with her experience as a wife to five husbands. You’ve only had one husband, Joe observed.
I could have several more if he doesn’t shape up, I thought, strangely channeling the Wife of Bath.
Maybe I should write about sex and the character of the Wife of Bath. Dr. Soinso, a handsome silver-haired Frenchman in his fifties might appreciate the topic, I said loudly, hoping for a reaction by someone.
The dude sitting next to us—too close I might add—looked over at me and winked. I winked back and he immediately looked down. Things were steaming up, just like Joe’s bean soup.
I said, That’s what I love about Chaucer: he humanizes the human experience.
Cheri, Dante is the originator of Renaissance thought. He uses Beatrice to humanize the spiritual experience.
Hell, yes! I cheered, using my sour dough slice to sop up that red sauce.
And Chaucer’s pilgrims, are they capable of redemption without the Almighty? I asked, sounding like my father Hugh, whom I miss in conversations like this one.
Let me repeat myself, Cheri. Chaucer’s characters humanize the human experience.
The Wife of Bath is the real deal. Beatrice is the real ideal, said Joe.
OK. I get it.
Joe got up, more slowly this time, and we walked arm in arm out the door to his shiny black car with the license plate Cent Ani.
Next Monday, I am going to tell you about the time your dad and I went to see The Godfather. Did I ever tell you that story? Joe asked.