Dear San Diego,
Roz is here.
So are a bunch of her friends.
Her magazine is covering some winery about sixty miles up the valley, so on her way through she thought it a fun idea to drop in on Parker.
Roz was at MIT with Parker before she dropped out in the middle of her freshman year and transferred to Wellesley. When they met, Parker was getting her first masters - she was sort of the Ruth Lawrence of her time. Parker became somewhat of a mascot, though one derided behind her back. That's when she started to have problems, though they remained under the surface for years before finally overcoming her.
Before his death, one of Parker's papers found its way into the hands of Paul Erdos. He wrote her a note saying that it was a good thing he was half the mathematician she was.
She has it in a frame somewhere.
She's received a lot of accolades in her life, and there are spells when she's good enough to go take part in symposiums and stuff, but even then the organizers know they have to treat her with kit gloves.
People are usually put off by her until she starts to speak. First in whispers and then loudly, her hands usually articulating the things she's saying in sweeping motions as if at a giant chalkboard. By that point she's not the 'crazy cat lady' anymore. She's a goddess translating the unknown to mortals.
Those in academia that know her story just sit and smile as they listen knowing they are seeing a glimpse of something truly phenomenal. For the most part they invite her just for their own pleasure, and by that I mean out of genuine respect. In my opinion, if they could make a movie about David Helfgott, they could make one about Parker.
But ya, Roz.
And Roz's fucking friends.
It's not my place. I live here but it's Parker's. And Parker isn't good the best of days. Even though she appears totally chaotic there's an absolute rhythm to her daily routine. And when that routine is interrupted it's hard to predict how she'll react.
So when Roz and her friends showed up at the door I was flooded with unease.
Leading them upstairs you could literally smell the arrogance wafting off them. That and the non stop Bolivian induced chatter. As uppity New York socialites visiting some po dunk crossroads in the middle of nowhere, everything in their immediate experience was met with unhinged, mocking laughter. Roz, it seemed, thought showing off her bizarre, crazy, college token would be a treat for her wine country companions.
After reaching the living room and offering them a seat, I wandered down the hall trying to figure out what to do.
Maybe Parker should be 'asleep' and therefore indisposed. Maybe it was 'a bad time'. I didn't know what to do. My mind raced as I paused in front of her bedroom door, my hand resting on the doorknob.
That's when I heard a very specific voice sound behind me from the living room that all at once solved my problem.
Parker had been on the roof when they'd arrived. So while I was walking down to her room she had appeared in the living room.
She was in her underwear.
Thankfully, that was about the only sign of her usual state of being that was present.
She was using the big voice. The voice she uses when she's confronted with lesser beings and she's pissed off she has to waste her time telling them to fuck off, as if they should already know, as if being in her immediate presence were indication enough.
I know that voice and that vibe well. I'm the one that's most often on the receiving end of them.
Walking back toward the living room I paused just at the end of the hall. Because, if I'm to be totally honest, I wanted to hear what she'd say.
The coke chatter had vanished. Roz's typically glossy, Pinot Grigio tickled voice silent. There was just Parker - in her underwear...
"Roslyn, you are absolutely adorable. Indefectible if I'm to be honest. But the museum is closed this afternoon. Thus, you find me quite out of sorts and, unfortunately, an inadequate show piece for these darling primitives that I've no doubt you scraped off some unfortunate floor on the Upper West Side to accompany you.
Now, if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to take a bath and masturbate."
As she passed me in the hall she winked.
Never underestimate the power of a schizophrenic with an IQ somewhere north of 180.