Better all the time: Love and friendship



Some things just keep getting better over time. For example, my wife, Roselle, keeps on getting better and lovelier. It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on 40 years of marriage.

People often ask her how in the world she can “put up with Alan.” She nods and says, “It isn’t easy being married to Alan.”

But the truth is that Roselle is the dominant figure in our marriage. She calls the shots.

Just the other day, I bought a new pair of glasses. It’s one of the few times I ever bought anything without her approval.

As soon as I walked in the door she asked, “Where’d you get those?” The icicles were hanging from each word.

She said, “Well, those can be your second pair of glasses.”

She has made our home a beautiful place to live. She has made Murray into the dog he is today. Ditto our kids. She’s a great cook and a great gardener. She’s working on her fourth book. Her students tell me that she’s a great professor. She has an unparalleled ability to appreciate Berkshire art and history. She’s a collagist. You have until Sept. 1 to see her show at Rouge in West Stockbridge, and starting Sept. 12, she’ll be exhibiting at the Stockbridge Library.

People ask me how I can compete with her. I tell them that would be impossible, but I remind them that behind every great woman is a trailing spouse.

Speaking of art, there is a wonderful gallery, Douglas Flackman Fine Art Gallery, right next to Wheeler and Taylor and the South Berkshire Community College campus in Great Barrington. The guy is just terrific and, keeping with the theme of this column, just keeps getting better.

I love his landscapes. They get directly to my soul. His barns and nature scenes are as good as it gets. You are there. You are in it. Let’s face it, the art market is not what it once was. Housing sales and starts are down. People are out of work. Art is not selling as it once was, but these are the very times that each of us should take advantage of the sage advice, “Buy low, sell high.” That goes for art, too.

I keep going back to see Flackman’s art. I hope you will too.

Also getting better and better and better is Café Adam, opposite the Plaza on Route 7. Owner Chef Adam Zieminski never rests on his laurels. Last Sunday, we went for brunch. We saw the most discerning people there, like Lila Berle, her lovely daughter and their great brood. They were shielded behind a partition where Governor Patrick has been known to sit with his crowd.

Sunday, Roselle had this incredible (by now, you should be drooling) huge soft-shelled crab BLT. This crab must have been stung by a radioactive spider because it was huge and immensely succulent. What a treat. I broke every dietary vow as I had half the gigantic sandwich on a baguette. It came with bacon and tomato and all kinds of stuff like delicious fries. It cost me all my Weight Watchers points and then some.

As for me, I had a quail. In order to get half of Roselle’s giant crab sandwich, I played the old game of immediately cutting my small quail in half and putting half of it on her plate. She immediately repaid the great favor with half the crab. As I said in paragraph one, she just keeps getting better and better.

This is one of those pieces that I will live to regret. The place is almost always filled to capacity so this probably means I will not get my usual good seat. Of course, I know Adam’s wife, Sylvia, who is not only beautiful but wise. They make a great couple.

Then there is the department of good friends. Some of them just keep getting better and better. There are many ways to define a good friend.

Remember the time you were down and going through tough times? Maybe you were ill, maybe you had just been fired. So who was there? Aren’t those the people you’ll never forget?

Well, one of my personal favorites is the incomparable Kate Maguire, the manager of the Berkshire Theatre Festival. Every time I have needed a helping hand, Kate has been there. The night that James Taylor and WAMC got together for a magical evening to help out Haiti, our wonderful Kate selflessly stepped out of the spotlight and led a gang over to Albany to answer phones. I’ll never forget that or her wonderful work with children.

This year she’s putting on “Annie” with hundreds of kids from almost every school in Berkshire County from kindergarten through 12th grade. (Sept. 10, 11, 12, and the weekend of the 17th. ) Well, Kate just gets to be a better friend every day.

Now there are “fair weather friends” who are with you until it’s inconvenient, and then there are those who are with you even if there is a personal cost to be paid. The good friends get better and better.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 8/28/10

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One Comment on “Better all the time: Love and friendship”

  1. Elly Shodell Says:

    Alan, how’s about your thick and thin Fire Island buddies? Who show up at the oddest times and in the strangest places. Speaking of which we have Ann Peck and Carole Shodell Frankfurter Shapero on the agenda for October.Might throw in a Pugliese or two. Hope you and Roselle will join. Speaking of old friends.


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