We do this: We go out for coffee in Wayzata. We go to the Caribou that is next to the bookstore. Harry, an early retiree and investment strategist and good man, world traveler, stops at our table to ask if we had seen it: the Porsche Carerra parked just around the corner. He estimates it costs $350,000 and that there are fewer than 10 of them in the country, six more likely. We hadn't seen it, but Lena, my friend, says, "That's how much my house costs: $350,000."
Later, we're eating hamburgers at the Wayzata Legion -- they are very juicy and cost $6 for the basket -- and Lucia walks in with Karen. Karen is carrying a gigantic gold Chanel purse. Both are in pants sets and heels. They have been to Gianni's, the best steak house, and are coming in to the Legion, the only place in town to smoke inside. Lucia is loud and friendly and affectionate. She runs her arms around the "Duke" and squeezes herself in between his legs. He is bald and yellowing and spotted, at least 70, and she is 65, but she looks ageless, like Sophia Loren. Karen ties us up with talk. She tells us her father is a three-time veteran, and people at the Legion are always good to her even though she wears Chanel and Cartier diamonds. We look at her finger. It's big, a wide band up to the first joint. She wears a diamond cross that covers her breastbone. I can't figure out why she is wearing a leopard print chemise; she is very married, as she tells us in plain detail. She says that she and Lucia are going to a private dinner with Bush in Wayzata for $5,000 per person. Lena says she would only pay $5,000 to eat with Elvis, and only if she got to sit right next to him.
Karen walks away and Lena says that she has Cartier, too, and Chanel, but she doesn't talk about it with strangers at the friggin' Legion, for crisessake. Of course, I say. Lucia is German, and we had a conversation auf Deutsch at the coffee shop on another day. She said my German was commendable but that she knew right off that she didn't like me. That was the week before she went to the Cheney luncheon in Excelsior.
Lena and I grew up together and vote for Democrats. We've talked about politics, which is a little surprising considering that so few people do. The men in her family are Republicans and the women are Democrats, going back to FDR. Their women and men disagree about the war. In my family, we vote for Democrats, without ever being sure if they represent our views. My mother is more like a moderate peacetime Republican, my brother a member of a Christian leftist party not invented yet.