We left Newport at 6:45 AM on Sunday, looking back from the top of the Newport Bridge at the Kruzhenstern, bathed in the golden early morning light, anchored in the mirror of seamless blue waters off Goat Island. An easy Southwest Flight to BWI, and a painless Thrifty rental car pickup (free, of course, after our last unfortunate Thrifty experience in Fort Lauderdale and an ensuing letter from Farklempt). We drove through downtown Baltimore, like so many U.S. cities, rejuvenated and sparkling, to the Inn at Government House, a gorgeous B&B, once an old mansion. We were here to attend the wedding of Jennifer Kaplan, daughter of our dear childhood friend, Elvin Kaplan.
The wedding began at 12:30 PM at the Peabody
Library, in a three-story spacious room, lined with multiple balconies
of books, all closed in with an intricate wrought-iron grillwork.
It was stunning, elegant, unique. What a creative idea, to have a wedding here. Jennifer is a teacher and Adrian is a neurologist, whose family comes from Peru, and now Miami. The ceremony and Rabbi were warm and inviting, tradition-based.
After the ceremony, we adjourned to a foyer for drinks and hors d'oeuvres--all vegetarian and delicious. The bar brands were top drawer, including a wonderful Laphroigh single-malt scotch. Back for a sit-down dinner. I cannot say enough about the band. When I saw that my seat was the closest to the band, I thought I would die, and prepared to go to the men's room to stuff my ears with toilet paper, which is my custom at most weddings that feature big bands that play loud rock through huge speakers. This band was a small jazz band, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, led by a fabulous drummer, one of the best I've ever heard. It was like being at a jazz club or festival.
The food was wonderful, primarily vegetarian, with a delicious fish main course. Elvin gave a long gracious toast in Spanish--so what if he sounded like Dubbya trying to win votes in San Antonio: "Benveneedoze a toedoze!"--he must have spent hours learning it by heart.His Spanish accent is a close second to that of Dubbya, but it came from the heart, and people were thrilled.
But the best part was to sit with Elvin and Lee, and renew relationships with their kids, who are all wonderful, to see Ellen and Morty and Nancy and their dynasties, and to see Sara, who is still quite nimble of foot, and whose memory and clarity of thought blossomed as the day went on. Elvin is my earliest and still dearest childhood friend. The Kaplans and we have been through so much together, some of the high points of our lives, and some of the worst. The Kaplans are a tough bunch of good people, who have ridden through storms and emerged loving and united. I said to Sara, "You have a wonderful family," and Sara, who turns out to be quite clear and articulate, answers, "When we talk about family, we need to use the word 'we'."
We took a short nap and then joined the Kaplans and the Monros in Fells Point, a funky section of downtown Baltimore, where we shared seafood and sushi and memories.
Monday morning brunch with the Kaplan-Munro-Goldszmidt clan at the hotel, and then on to Washington for the 4th. But first a stop for a water taxi ride around Baltimore Harbor. Baltimore is another city that has undergone gentrification and beautification. There is an underside to it that is teeming with poverty and violence, but the public face is shining and beautiful. Our water taxi ended at McCormick & Schmidt's Seafood restaurant, where Carol had a delicious cod sandwich with wonderful french fries, and I indulged in a sampler of a dozen oysters and clams from assorted venues. They were good, but did not compare with those of the Acme Oyster Bar or Casamento's in New Orleans, and cost three times as much. The fresh-squeezed lemonade, however was great.