Culture vulture

Betty on board
There I was on St. Paddy’s Day afternoon, skimming the surface of the blogosphere, trolling for images fit to suitably illustrate a story on same (see page 16), when my deskside phone rang. “Hey, man, what are you doing later?” a familiar contralto voice came over the wire. It was my dear friend, former housemate and mentor of my published writing career, Elizabeth K., also known back in the day as Bitter Betty.

Ye Gods! I’d forgotten she was coming to town, and now here she was, the pint-sized dynamo herself, and on St. Patrick’s Day, no less. Mayhem loomed on the horizon.

“I’ll be working till 6 or so,” I stalled, “then I’m not sure. I’ll call your cell phone once I get home and see what Daphne’s up for.”

We left things with Betty headed to Duffy’s with daughter Sarah and partner George on a mission to reunite with friend Kathy and hoist a glass or two in honor of the saint of the day.

After zipping home through the springtime evening to be joyfully welcomed by the household dogs when I rolled my bike through the back gate, I consulted the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie. We decided that rather than join the downtown festivities we’d offer an invitation to head out to a quiet restaurant where we could actually converse and catch up without having to shout in each other’s ears or be jostled by the reveling crowd. The tranquil and elegant Gen Kai dining room seemed like a perfect spot to enjoy company over a leisurely feast.

I dialed, fully expecting to hear the roar of the aforementioned revelers when Betty picked up. “Hello-o?” Came the response, unaccompanied by ambient crowd sounds. “Sushi? That sounds good. Yeah, we’ll meet you there.”

Daphne and self procured a table for five in the uncrowded dining room, and just as we were arm-wrestling for the last edamame in our appetizer bowl, Betty and Sarah showed up. George was jet-lagged, napping at Sarah’s.

It’s a funny thing when you see a good friend only once every year or three. It’s impossible not to assess surface qualities, and it’s great when your friend looks consistently healthier and happier and more at peace with herself and the world than you remember from bygone days.

Betty, the wily little rascal, seems to be thriving on her job as managing editor of a major paper in Honolulu. It’s a tribute to the best aspects of the American way of life that a rowdy kid from New York can transplant herself as far as possible from where she came from while remaining in the same country, and there find all the elements necessary to sooth bitterness, sustain intelligence and nurture an interactive career that enhances the environment she has chosen.

Of course Friday night wasn’t quite so sedate. Betty and posse stopped by Culture Vulture world headquarters just as the legendary Sin Twister was preparing to rattle the walls of the garage for the first time in almost a year. Tops were popped, Kessler slurped, volume knobs twiddled, guitar strings snapped and a general hootenanny ensued. Then we headed over to Off Limits to whoop along to the Asskickers.

Hats off to Betty, Sarah, George, Syb, 12er and Tom, and especially to my beloved Daphne. That was one sweet reunion. Actually two.