Some of my first memories are of my grandfather’s “swell sixties” suburban house. In addition to the heated in-ground pool, I remember a fabulous pink-tiled sunken bath in a large room fronted by a glass wall overlooking the pool. My uncles kept a three foot long boa constrictor in a large glass aquarium in that room. I found the combination of pool, tub, and snake utterly foreign and exotic. Later I would discover shrunken heads, masks and spears made of strange dark woods, banana plants and other incredible finds in my grandfather’s house things he brought home from his travels around the world.
My grandfather was married to a woman named Terry, an elegant, stylish woman who wore coral-colored lipstick and nail polish, and whom I imagined knew how to make a martini and smoke cigarettes in long ivory holders. It was Terry who once invited me to take a bath in the pink sunken tub. It seems to me that she had just flown in the night before from Mexico, and still carried the scent of flowers and dust and jet fuel. She drew the bath for me, and held my hand as I walked down the steps to float in a lacy froth of bubbles. She kept me company beside the bath with an endless easy stream of one-way conversation. At some point she produced a box of Chiclets and offered me some as if she were a maître d’ presenting champagne. I had never seen Chiclets before, and I took a very long time to make my selection from the tiny yellow, green, orange and white squares. Eyes closed, savoring my gum, I allowed my hair to be washed while sunlight streamed in and made me feel as lazy as the snake draped over his branch.