127 A clever way with words

The Patron of the Arts occasionally noticed the migrants to the Plip Plop Coffe Shop who were the Guss household’s worthless Sunday drop-ins, but she hadn’t dared approach. Different worlds. But on Ross Valley’s lawn . . .
“Terrific lemonade,” said the Patron to a slattern of the ilk, culled because she appeared to have at least heard of bathing, while the others were uniformly odious.
“And the slices of raw carrots,” the young woman generally concurred, “also terrific.”
The Patron of the Arts knew the girl had grown up in San Anselmo, but this sounded . . . perhaps Swedish, that is, Swedishy, the ‘also terrific’ thing, instead of a nice local ‘too.’
It was coming to the Patron . . . was this the girl who was an exchange student for a year? Much fanfare, perhaps seven, eight years ago, word around town and some newspaper stories . . .
Besides maintaining clean neighborhoods which looked with opprobrium on the anathema of Alder Avenue’s and Yolanda Drive’s gemlike confluence, San Anselmo citizens also took an interest in their young. Planning on matriculating at Princeton? Harvard? Stanford? And so forth, typical questions by typical parents to typical teenagers in the little town.
The Patron thought this girl, probably twenty-five or so, had been bound for Williams College. Something odd happen in Sweden? Without being obvious, she stared at the girl’s hair, nails, eyes, her beat-up dusty jeans, and thought, “I mean. . . .”
“Fantabulous blue cheese dip,” added the young woman. “Handifizes the carrot sticks.”
The Patron was caught off guard. She’d expected a half-their-age version of the Boomers, “yeh” and “whoa” “I’m down wit’ ‘t” and “‘sup.” Or however spurious young people spoke for the nonce.
The young woman seemed to notice the glancing pause, and nicely volunteered her name: “Pyp.”
“Pip! What a nice name . . . rather, ah, mm, somewhat different. Lovely.”
“PYP, Promising Young Playwright. So, yes, Pyp seems to have stuck. Jeffy . . .” She indicated one of the slugs among the worthless Sunday lie-abouts. “Jeffy’s always giving out nicknames. I accepted. I like it. Nicest nickname that crud ever came up with. He’s rather mordant, for the most part.”
The candor effected another glancing blow, from which the Patron of the Arts recovered quickly by introducing herself: “Pota.”
“I’d kill for it!”
“Patron of the Arts. ‘Pota’ just followed along and everyone calls me that.”
The next overture for information was the standard because the Patron of the Arts didn’t move like lightning upstairs, just normally. She asked, “What do you do?”
“I’m writing a play about Nietzsche’s final twenty-four hours of sanity. And then he threw his arms around that horse. Heroic and humane, then poof! Buggins. Yup, writing a play about Nietzsche, The Fonz of philosophy.”
“Who isn’t?” It slipped out carelessly, as ever when the Patron of the Arts wasn’t on firm ground. The Fonz of philosophy?
“True. Everyone’s writing plays about Nietzsche. But mine’s a musical.”


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