Thursday, May 26, 2011

breakfast with Mutant (m)

Of all the colorful characters in my life, my friend P is in a league of his own.  Exceptionally bright, funny and off the charts eccentric.  His nickname in college was Mutant because no one had ever seen anything like him.

Sophomore year, there were five of us girls living in a first floor dorm apartment.  F-11 was the room number.  Abby's bedroom was next to the entry way door.  Mutant never bothered with the door.  Instead, he would skulk through the bushes and creep up to Abby's window and scream "ABBA DABBA.....WHATCHA DOIN'?," scaring the crap out of her.

Although he went to a great boys' prep school before college, he disdained preppies.  For them, he devised the Prepometer, an imaginary divining rod that went off whenever some prepster walked past him wearing a Lacoste shirt with the collar turned up.  Mutant would extend his arm with the imaginary Prepometer stick and yelp, "Whoop!...Whoop!...Whoop!"  The kids in one dorm noted for preppies (the girls wore Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses to class) soon learned to walk in the other direction when they saw him.

Physically, Mutant had thick, dark eyebrows that knotted in a comical way.  He was slightly chubby and walked a little lopsided.  In other words, the visuals reinforced the persona.

I have kept in touch with Mutant since we graduated in 1977.  We email each other a couple of times per year and I see him once every 2 years or at college reunions.  He's the one I most look forward to seeing (aside from Abby whom I see frequently).

Mutant is in town this week for his son's college graduation.  He will be in Cambridge, would I like to meet for breakfast?

I could think of nothing that would keep me away.

I arrive at the Marriott Hotel in Kendall Square, Cambridge.  I look okay and am grateful that my weight is down significantly since last I saw him.  I even got a good haircut this week (unlike the Shemp-like "do" last time).  I am wearing a blue linen top and nice pants.  The flip-flops are not ideal but I have a blister on my bunion from the new loafers I wore to Fenway on Sunday.  It's Cambridge, land of flip-flops, so it's okay.

Mutant is waiting for me in the lobby.  He's barely recognizable.  So thin, his stomach is concave.  The outline of his jaw is very pronounced.  Is he sick?  I'm a little taken aback.

He looks like a regular citizen with his khaki pants and blue dress shirt and brown leather belt and loafers. 

Who is this guy?

Then he runs over to me and gives me the biggest hug and starts with the crazy-talk.  Okay, he's still in there but he looks like his body was abducted by aliens.

He calls his wife, "I", to come down and join us for breakfast.  I haven't seen "I" in about 20 years.  I remember her as a pretty brunette, minimal make-up. 

"I" is stick-thin.  Maybe 110 pounds.  She is wearing tight gray pants and a silky gray shirt.  No make up.  Brown hair in a page boy.  Sleek as a greyhound.  Well-chiseled arms.

We have breakfast, not in the restaurant, but at the Starbucks in the lobby.  I get an oatmeal with nothing on it and an iced green tea.  "I" gets a Light and Fit yogurt and nothing to drink.  P gets a coffee.  I ask if they've already eaten their breakfast.  "No, but we're going to have lunch today," they say.  Well, sh-t, so am I...the two aren't mutually exclusive. 

We talk for about an hour and it's great.  I miss him so much. 

Their younger son joins us.  It's refreshing to see him with his rumpled hair, ripped sweatshirt, slouchy posture, and baby fat on his face.  Shades of Mutant.

I look back at the parents.  At what point did they put themselves on this ascetic regime?  It's a little intense for me. 

And then I have an epiphany.  You can be too thin.

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