Our friend, the Monk, was a failed monastic. He found that he could not find true tranquility, a state of ataraxia, or freedom from anxiety in the secluded life. He needed more activity around him. He found it at the Folkie Palace. There was continual upheaval, life was fraught with anxiety, and we were always loud. Things might be tranquil around four AM, but that was a prelude to our normal noisy lifestyle.
If I was not on the road or running to some job, I was practicing guitar. The Teahead of the August Moon was loudly gargling while getting ready to head to the advertising agency where he worked. And other temporary or semipermanent residents were up by six and carrying on. Even the house cat, Neurotic, was serenading the neighborhood from the kitchen window.
This cacophony of noise was our customary day-to-day life.
We were so used to this that feelings of dread could overtake us when too many regulars were gone, and the apartment rang with silence rather than noise. Once, one of the communists from downstairs came up to see if someone had died. They hadn’t complained about the noise and were worried that they might get worse neighbors if we moved out.
It was a peculiar circumstance than when it seemed that the Palace would empty out over a Thanksgiving weekend. The Teahead was going home to Newport for Thanksgiving, and most everyone had someplace to go except myself and my friend Bill. The Monk who was the chef extraordinaire for the Palace was beside himself. This was one of the linchpin days of the year. Not only would he have almost no one to feed, but near silence would permeate the halls. The cat was an unappreciative audience for his talents, and Bill and I would run off to the Harvard Gardens the moment we finished eating.
Into the building crisis walked our almost friend John, the con artist. It seemed, said John, that there were many almost poor – “Dare I say indigent?” residents of Beacon Hill “…needful of holiday cheer and sustenance.” So whenever John started waxing eloquent, I always checked to see if my wallet was undisturbed. John’s pitch was that the Monk should lay on a feast for several seatings of the said indigent, and we would charge a modest fee for the meal. But, of course, it would be done in the spirit of uplifting the needy.
Typically the Monk had little time for John and his rackets. But the thought of an empty house reminded him too much of things like vows of silence, monastic cells, and prayers at four AM. So he agreed to do it.
Bill and I created some large ungainly trestle tables from planks, borrowed every chair we could find, and got creative with tablecloths taped together from newspapers. Finally, John primed the cooking process with enough money for the Monk to head to Haymarket and buy whatever he needed fresh from the pushcart merchants.
Thanksgiving dinner, “Dinner at the Palace” as we billed it, was a huge success. The Monk rarely was seen to be happier, the cat could barely walk after eating the treats, and John declared a dividend by distributing some of the proceeds among those of us who had waited on the tables.
That evening Bill became maudlin about being away from his estranged wife Jean during the holidays. Finally, after coercing me into joining him, we were off at four AM the following day to visit Jean and her parents.
This left the Monk with a kitchen full of dirty dishes and pots and two long trestle tables to clean up. John had disappeared, Bill and I were hitching out to the western end of the state. The Monk decided to visit some of his fellow former monastics, and the dirty remnants of Thanksgiving sat there. Except for the cat who gorged on leftover turkey.
Sometime late on Sunday evening, the Teahead arrived home to a cat who had gotten sick on his pillow, a filthy kitchen, and two long trestle tables covered in plates and rancid side dishes. After loudly complaining about the screaming, the communists stayed to help the Teahead cleanup.
The Monk, Bill, and I came home to find ourselves evicted.
The Monk returned to the monastery for a few weeks, and Bill and I departed for a three-week grand tour of beds, couches, and sofas in three cities. Eventually, the Teahead got sick of how quiet the place was and relented. We were invited back, “but only temporarily, mind you. After that Thanksgiving, there won’t be anymore!”
While there was plenty of noise for the Monk in the following months, the Teahead only relented his no-party rule for his grand birthday bash. That was when officer Cappucci wound up being the guest of honor, and John, the con artist, wound up doing a perp walk at Stationhouse Four.
But as they say, that’s a story for another evening.