And now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart, high up in the sky the little stars climb reminding me that we’re apart. You wander down the land and far away and leaving me with a song that will not die, love is not the stardust of yesterday, the music of years gone by. Hoagy Carmichael, to whom we are all indebted.
I knew Peter in our younger days as a sensitive young man not given to common sentiment or corruption. He was a young lawyer working in the public defender’s office when he met Lilia, a court reporter for the city court system. Peter had gravitated to one the big cities in the Midwest, he had public service on his mind and didn’t mind the low financial rewards of public service. Today is a different story, public service pays more than private practice for the ordinary lawyer. Pete was never cut out for private practice, the thought of joining a law firm and becoming a partner was not something he thought prudent for a man with his moral sense of responsibility. Being over worked is a way of life in the public defender’s office and few last more than five or six years before seeking the safety of private practice, or at least the change to public assistant district attorney.
Pete thought a man was measured by his commitment to principles of law and social justice. I came to know Pete through a few friends in the legal system. It sounds strange but the commonality was wine. In vino veritas, as they say. In wine, there is truth. I was a wine connoisseur and one of the activities in which I engaged was the organization and hosting of wine tastings. I knew many of the winery owners and their wine makers, a number of wholesaler salesmen, and a few of the more important retailers in the trade. the seventies was an interesting period in California. French and German wine prices were still relatively cheap compared to today and the California wineries were just starting to make a name for themselves. so it was not too unusual for me to get to know a variety of individuals who found wine a fascinating hobby. Judge Mason was a superior court judge to the local county and Judge Adams was a federal court judge. Peter was one of the few attorneys in our group, the other two were Johnston, a workers’ comp certified lawyer, and Reynolds, a member of a private practice. The others were local owners of high tech companies that had not made the big time just yet.
I’d say that Peter was a natural when it came to wine. He had a very good nose for wine. Peter had champagne tastes and a beer budget. Maybe that is why I always included him in our tastings. It was always a pleasure to pour him some of my best bottles out of my cellar. Lilia was his girlfriend and a very lovely woman to have around. She was smart and funny. Now wine is something of a man’s hobby and back then women tended to be in the minority of participants. But Lilia could hold her own with most of the group members. Outside of myself, Lilia was almost as good as Pete. Maybe that is why they hit it off so well in the beginning. Point and counterpoint in music is the art of intertwining melodies into the structure of composition that that one can always enjoy the music that is common to both. If point and counter point is not matched, the music descends into noise that is unendurable.
The thing was, while Pete had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the university and scored in the top ten of his law school class, Lilia graduated with honors with a BA in English and Literature. They were two smart people and a common bond through law and wine. One might have thought it a match made in heaven. But as with wine and law, one tends to have a prejudice about the two. In wine, Pete appreciated the French styles, the blend of cabernet, merlot, and other varietals. where as Lilia was a true burgundy devotee. The likes of Domain Romanee Conti was her forte. Well, you might as well discuss whether the public defenders office was any better that the district attorneys office. So it was bound to happen. After being an item for about two years, Lilia broke off her relationship with Pete. I don’t remember Pete saying any harsh word about it. I mean, he was stunned as the rest of us. I personally think the incompatibility was more on the order or liberal versus conservative, to tell the truth. But whatever it was, she moved to another city.
Now, ten years later Pete has moved to a private practice. We were all surprised. Chalk it up to growing up, or at least what I believe. In all these years Pete has not looked at another woman. He remains stuck on Lilia. I’m not sure I agree but it’s his life, not mine. Stardust melodies is all it seems to be, yet, perhaps it’s more than that. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a song that will not die.