So I hadn't talked with him in nearly a year. Not since I'd invited him to Annajane's funeral, given him detailed directions—complete with train times—and then he hadn't shown up. So of course he didn't know about the pregnancy, or about my having spent last spring out in California, where he's from, where he took me to meet his relatives long ago.
A couple of weeks ago the pressure from Beaker's mother about pictures had become too great to bear, so we'd put together an iPhoto book to send out. I sent one to Ray, too. I called him the evening after it had shown up. We were both embarrassed.
He really didn't want us to come up to his apartment; it was hard to tell why, but we didn't. We had and early dinner with him at a Chinese restaurant, just around the corner from my old elementary school. Tabby was cranky and needed the nurse the whole time; Beaker had a blood sugar crisis; but it was all right, in the end.
His hair is all white now, his face craggier, his walk slower. He worries about his bowels and his bladder, and New York is a cruel city for those worries. He cooed at the baby and made funny faces: everyone does, don't they? (Rumor has it that once upon a time he had a son who drowned at a city pool at the age of three. But I don't even know if that was with his first or second wife; I'm somehow convinced, though, that it was the Carmine Street pool, the one my daycare took me to every day all summer.)
He's stopped smoking and drinking. He says three years ago: I had no idea. He syays it's made him boring. It's true, in a way. He's quiet and a little paranoid. But my mother could only ever stand him drunk (and vice versa) so I only like him sober. He says he stopped both before his youngest brother was diagnosed with lung cancer.
At the end of the meal, we jousted over the check. I lost. It's not like him. But he needed to say that he's doing okay, what with Social Security and a little freelance editing and having lived in the same ratty walkup since 1977. Not about to starve.