Monday, September 27, 2004


On Sunday nights I often go meet my friend Christina and her boyfriend Urban for dinner at the Rainbow. The Rainbow is world famous as a hangout for rock stars and other various and sundry “personalities”. Although I eat there quite regularly I often feel like a tourist as I sit there and watch, wide eyed, as people in all kinds of get ups wander through. The women, many of whom look like porn stars with their huge fake boobs often displayed in not much more than a bikini bathing suit triangle top, clomp past in their insanely high stripper shoes. The men, many of whom look like rock stars, and maybe they are, but I’m thinkin’ that most of them just want to be, their skinny bodies encased in leather pants and their arms covered with permanent tattooed sleeves. And then there are those who are trying to achieve the look and not quite hitting it – the slightly overweight girl in the too tight dress with the scuffed white high heels. The obese girl with the bouffant hairdo and the dress made out of what looks like a crocheted piano skirt which barely covers her bottom when she leans over to hug the valet.

Urban and Christina are good friends with Mario and his wife Scarlet who own, not only the world famous Rainbow, but also the Roxy and the Whiskey – venerable venues which have featured the world famous and not so world famous rock stars and bands. I have been lucky enough to get to know Mario and Scarlet over the last couple of years and while I love hearing the stories about Robert Plant, Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger from the 70s, what I love even more is just being with a couple that love each other like Mario and Scarlet love each other.

They have been married for 50 years after meeting in a nightclub in Chicago where Scarlet was a waitress and Mario asked the floor manager to make an introduction. They have kids, and grandkids and great grandkids. They still hold hands and fuss at each other. Now I’m sure that they’ve had rough spots – but what impresses me is that the obvious affection they have for one another and the friendship is so clearly between them. I asked Mario how they have managed to stay married for so long and still like each other and he said, “I take care of her like she’s a little girl and she takes care of me like I’m a little boy.”

When I think about it that wouldn’t be the first place I’d go. I tend to get resentful when someone treats me like a little girl. There is a man in my life who occasionally calls me “little girl” and my feathers get ruffled even though I know he means it affectionately. But I think that if I really trusted someone to take care of me the way one would a child, with all the love and protection that’s inherent in that care, then it makes sense that a bond would be built that could last 50 years or longer, and that I would want to return that care.

It’s an interesting concept. Last night I was sitting with Mario and Scarlet and they told me that Mario, who has not been feeling well at all lately, has been diagnosed with an aneurism. They haven’t been able to do the surgery to repair it because he’s retaining water and it’s around his heart. He’s been on medication to reduce the fluid and hopefully they will be able to do the surgery this week. Although I am certain that Mario will be just fine, because he is a strong man who has by and large taken good care of himself, I still take that step forward into a world without Mario and it breaks my heart. I would miss him terribly yes, but it would be so hard to see Scarlet without Mario – they go together like a matched set. Like two people do after sharing more than half a century of life together. So say a prayer for Mario. And for Scarlet too.

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