“I would buy a brownstone and fill it with tall plants and Persian rugs up to the ceilings.” She pauses. “Or I might just go to Graceland!”
Later that night, I join Paz and her mother for dinner at Trattoria Cinque on Greenwich Street. As I walk into the restaurant, Paz is antagonizing Judith, still punishing her for all her years spent working abroad, Paz left with her nanny and sister. Judith is slender, a beautiful, blonde, Waspier version of Paz. Her hair resembles The Great Wave at Kanagawa as sculpted by John Waters. It is difficult to picture her exiting a helicopter in a Third World war zone.
Their argument returns to the subject of Paz’s upcoming move from her Gay Street apartment into the Tribeca apartment adjacent to her mother’s.
“I’m not moving unless I can bring my bed! I’ll knock down the wall if I have to!” Paz pouts.
“Pothy, stop it. You were raised as someone with a little more dignity than this!” Judith looks slightly embarrassed.
“And I’m going to paint the walls black!” Paz adds. She continues to needle her mother for another few minutes, then storms off to the bar.
In Paz’s absence, I ask Judith whether she’s concerned about her daughter’s future.
“Paz’s strength is in her naturalness and her innocence,” Judith says. “I worry about her soul. She’s always searching for fodder for her roles, but I wonder what will be lost.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Paz says, deciding to sit back down.
“Your innocence,” I respond.
“Don’t listen to her. She wants me to be a prude.”
“What do you expect me to say, Pothy,” Judith says as they enter into another quarrel. “I was in London and I open the paper, and you’re going to a movie premiere with Jack Nicholson. It was not only a mother’s worst nightmare. It was a grandmother’s worst nightmare!”
“See!” Paz says.
“Pothy, remember when you were 6 years old, and your sister was stung by a wasp?” Judith says, changing the subject. “Your sister was crying, in hysterics. So what did you do?”
“I hate this story,” Paz interrupts, facing away from the table as if to block her ears.
“You took the dead wasp and sat on it, stinging yourself so that you could divert the attention back to Paz. You’re a born Method actor.”
“Talk to my father!” Paz tells me. “He’ll have better things to say about me.” She passes me her cell phone. A raspy voice answers. It’s three in the morning in Spain. “Hello?”
Paz whispers into my ear that I should ask him what type of animal she is. “What kind of an animal is Paz?” I ask Iñigo de la Huerta.
“A female Jack Russell terrier,” he snaps.
“Because I have twelve of them already, and she makes thirteen!”
“What did he say?” Paz pleads.
“I couldn’t hear him.”
Paz decides to end the conversation. “I’m going to walk home.”
“That’s a great idea,” Judith replies.
“No, that’s a terrible idea,” Paz says, putting on her coat.
“Paz y amor,” she says to me, kissing my eyelid, barreling out of the restaurant and into a windy spring evening in New York City, my scarf wrapped around her face.