The French Cafe

“Well how was I supposed to know you can’t let a dog swim for nine hours?” My mother explains and inhales the Capri Ultra light that hangs from her lower lip, no doubt. My mother is mid-story here, recounting the events of last weekend’s escapades involving the family dog and the swimming pool.

“I dunno mom, maybe it’s just like…common sense?” I say, trying not to sound snide, but feeling oddly protective of the family dog they got after I moved to California.

“I mean, these dogs are like children. They don’t know when to stop. Honey! Mochi started having a stroke. No one knew what to do, so I called the police. She was laying there convulsing, and then your father leans over to your cousin’s new husband and says, ‘If this dog dies, it’s on you!’” She bursts out into hysterics, which finish in a few subtle cough-coughs.

“Well, if that poor man didn’t know what he was in for marrying into this family, he does now.” She ashes her smoke into the kitchen sink, pausing, exhausted from the energy it took to recount.

And then…

“You should have seen us running into the Emergency Room with the dog on the stretcher, ‘Look out! Dog coming through!’ Oh, we’re all nuts.”

Jolie. I’ve arrived. I see him calmly sitting at a table for two underneath the peach canopy, sipping on a coffee. I end the conversation with my mother, try to let my family insanity dissipate, and head into the French Cafe, Jolie, where I’m to meet Aaron Jackson, sponsor of both my orphanages in India.

I order a Moroccan tea. It’s served loose-leaf by the flirty French waiter with a thick accent and wandering eye.

Aaron futzes over the items on the menu and settles on Caprese and a bottle of sparkling water. For a man that spends most of his time in huts in Haiti overseeing his own projects, it’s surprising to see him order with such style. He’s so Paul Farmer and I admire this about him. He catches my curiosity.

“I always feel guilty ordering clean water, but what can you do, right?” He smiles and orders another coffee and continues.

He recounts a story about being brought to Vanilla Ice’s house the last time he was in L.A. and being awe-struck. The food arrives and he doesn’t rest the napkin on his lap. He makes a comment, “If my girlfriend were here, she’d tell me to use this.” He laughs and tosses the tan cloth off to the side.

On the way home I’m beaming with inspiration. Aaron tends to have this effect on me. My mother calls again. I hesitate. Then pick up.

“The doctor just called — Mochi’s fine.”

Hallelujah.

Alice can be reached at AliceActress@yahoo.com.

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