I'm supposed to be asleep right now. Someone mentioning The Green Man in something I read, set off a whole series of memories. I never read the words "The Green Man" without remembering one particular friend called A. I was in my twenties, and A was a good friend from when I was 18 until I was in my mid thirties, when we lost touch, due to me living interstate, and being in the chaotic existence of bringing up an ADHD child.
The Green Man was a café that a group of us often went to in the eighties, at night, I think. It was small, with acoustic live music, and poetry readings. Here is a video I found of it, it contains virtuoso guitar music, and goes for 9.50 mins. The music is how I remember it. Unfortunately there's no sense of the comforting envelopment of the old building, the quiet unravelling of interior lives in conversations, the history in the old floorboards, the mural of The Green Man, a mythical figure from antiquity. I was very sad when I heard it had closed, A was too.
I remember A in association with the cafe, because of his habit of ordering a cup of hot water to drink. I don't remember why he did that, when the rest of us were having tea, coffee, coke etc. He must have told me the reason at one time,because I was just as analytical then as I am now, and I would have got it out of him, as we were close. We would write each other letters, yes, in those days with a pen! Mine of course were very long. He made me mixed tapes. (Music). We could talk about anything. In those days I always had one boyfriend or another, but also some platonic male friends, all of whom drove me places. A. would drive his family's huge old Chevy. There was enough room in the cavernous back seat to do the deed, but we never did. He did once take me to a lookout with a twinkling view of the city and try kissing me, but I saw him as a precious friend , not that way.
I remember his family had a beautiful big magnolia tree in their front yard, and I once made an embroidery of it on white satin, which I turned into a case for lingerie and gave away as a birthday gift. I think it's the only gift in my life that I somewhat regret giving away.
We went gallivanting to many places with our friendship group, and I remember A being a fantastic dancer, the kind that a lady knows will lead her in the complicated steps correctly and make her dizzy with the fun of it. There were many 18th, 21sts, engagements and weddings during those years. I showed up to one party as 99 from Get Smart, in my mother's "Chanel " type suit. My boyfriend naturally went as Maxwell. He had his shoe phone. But we were upstaged, as A appeared as 99 too! This is a man who sported a beard...Wearing a tight skirt suit and bob cut wig did not slow him down as he was chased all over the garden by some young children.
There were many nights out, too, for pizza meals around long tables, nightclubs, pub bands, trips away. One "pizza night" stood out for me, as I was wearing a fashionable dress that was above the knee, 1960 s mod cut, black spliced with dark green, and had a zip at the front from neck to hem. I remember a couple of the boys saying to pull the zip down further, A was among them, and my fiancé saying no, keep it done up! A was like that too, when my fiancé would tell me to push my skirt over my knees when seated, A said to push it up if I wanted to. I guess he didn't like how my self was being subsumed into coupledom. I guess I didn't either, briefly, as I remember writing a poem about it.
A is Italian/Australian , so his wedding to his beautiful wife was enormous. The last time I saw the two of them together was at my son's christening, sitting in a marquee my hubby and father in law had put up in our backyard. They danced so well together at functions, I had told him, years before, you too will meet the perfect person for you. I wonder now if they are still together, I hope so. I heard they had kids.
He introduced me to my first husband at one of his parties, and years later closed the circle by being there at his funeral, travelling interstate, a true friend. Indeed, he rallied some of hubby's friends to make the journey too. That was the last time I saw him. When I read the words "the green man" or hear Dire Straits, or at some other times, I miss him. I miss others too from those days, but they deserve their own stories.
It would not matter what song of Dire Straits I chose, as they all remind me of putting on those mixed tapes in my radio cassette player in my green and aqua front bedroom of my parent's house. Here's one, therefore, for my long distance friends around the world.