A selection from
nice-looking one. He has the spry body of a wrestler, which he was in
high school. The wineglass before him is empty. He looks rakish
Our last meal in Paris is at a restaurant called Arpege. More
than the Picasso museum or the Opera or the shops along the
Champs-Elysee, Sam wants to experience Arpege. "Who knows
when I'll be here again," he says a little ominously.
Sam could describe for you what we ate. The herb-encrusted
pigeon, the beet glaze splattered like paint. The tray complete
with afromage from every province, a regular tour of the French
countryside, complete with bleating goats and milk cows and intoxicating fields of lavender. The tomato, which arrives squashed
as a baked apple, for dessert. "Taste it," Sam directs me. "Have you
ever tasted anything like this?"
I hadn't. But what I will remember most about this spectacular meal is the boy at the table next to ours.
He is fourteen and has the well-bred, well-dressed look of a
child dining in an expensive adult establishment. He has the tall,
gangly frame of an adolescent who is good at sports. He sits
closest to his father, with whom he shares glossy hair and long
eyelashes, and every once in a while I notice a silent glance pass
between them in response to something his mother says.
And then I have trouble seeing him at all. A hard knocking
behind my eyes blurs this image.
I too will soon have a boy. And sitting in that fine restaurant,
drinking the first wine of my pregnancy, the emotions I've tried
to keep in check hit full force. Fourteen more years is a long time
for Sam to survive prostate cancer, that much I know. Most medical studies are not nearly so optimistic, they compile mortality
rates five, seven years out. The knocking travels to the back of
my skull and down my spine. I feel the baby kick my heart. How
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