Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dolly and Circular Breathing

I had a chance to chat with Dolly this week.

"Hey Paula, I went to a club the other night and saw the most amazing thing. The saxophone player did circular breathing."

"What the hell is circular breathing?" I ask.

"It's when the guy never comes up for air, he just keeps circulating the same air over and over again."

"Sounds painful" I say.

"Wait, here's the best part." she says,

"I go up to the band at the end of the show. They're these really cool, jazzy, hipster, black guys, so I figure there's no shocking them.

So I say to the saxophone player,

"Wow, you were circular breathing, that was incredible. Can you do that when you're going down on a woman?"

Now Dolly has my complete attention. That circular breathing concept has a whole new application.

"So, what did he say? Can he do it?" I ask.

"I think they were too shocked to answer. I'd probably have to date him to find out."

Dolly and me, we both laughed that good belly laugh. Damn, I love that sister.

34 East McMillan, Cincinnati, OH 45219

The house at 34 East McMillan was actually built on a traffic island strip that separates East McMillan, which is one way east, from Calhoun Street, which is one way west. What obviously had been a grand old house, with fireplaces in almost every room, had been broken down into five small apartments.

My apartment, which I always think of as my "Mary Richards" apartment (you remember Mary, Lou, and the gang from Minneapolis), consisted of one large room, an eat in kitchen, and two bathrooms. In on bathroom was an old claw foot tub and marble sink, in the other bathroom, located right next store, was the toilet. The rent was 175 dollars a month, heat included, and was on the third floor.

Across the hall from me lived Cindy Robinson, with her husband Jr, and along the way, baby Molly. Cindy and Jr were all of seventeen or eighteen years old at the time. Cindy was wise beyond her years, rough and tumble, raised by herself, for herself. This little vagabond girl gave me my first lesson about what a family really is, and the notion that "there's always room for one more." Long before Hillary ever said "it takes a village", Cindy gave me my first taste of what it meant to be part of a "village".

Beneath me, on the second floor, lived Loretta and Jim. Loretta, rest her soul, was Jr's grandmother and Jim was her common law husband. Both were in their seventies at the time, and Jim was a bit of a raging alcoholic. Some of my favorite evenings were spent listening to their drama playing loudly out.

For the first few years, nobody lived on the first floor, which was a "Dutch split", until eventually, the Robinson's moved down. The apartment consisted of a large kitchen and living room on the left side of the common hall, and a big bedroom on the right side of the hall. In the kitchen, in the back of the pantry, they found a secret staircase that led to the second floor apartment, which had been vacant the entire time we lived there. Once the Robinson's moved to the first floor split, Patrick moved in across the hall from me.

The house was owned by Charles Baum, who had inherited it from his father. Charles was not especially good at fixing or maintaining, so the house took care of itself for the most part, decaying a little more each year. Several years ago, perhaps a decade or two, one loses count, Charles sold the house to developers, who promptly tore her down, and replaced her with new commerce. I barely recognize the block today, except for that everything across the street from us remains the same.