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Vital Signs

A Day With Cyprien

Cyprien has been on my mind since last week, when I put on again the blue Daum earrings that I brought back from Paris a few years ago.  I hesitate to wear them when I am going out, although they don’t seem loose, and the hooks are not flimsy.  What makes me nervous is just the thought of having more than $100 worth of an artisan’s work in glass dangling from my ear lobes, as I walk on the sidewalk or get into the streetcar.  Nevertheless, I wore them to a wedding last week in the French Quarter, since they are such a perfect match for the blue garden-party dress I had chosen, and since the wedding was that of John Howard, a former student of mine who truly is steeped in French art.

I bought the earrings because of Cyprien, but not for him, as a coquettish woman might buy something to please a man.  That summer, I was in France for a few weeks.  He had come up to Paris just for a day, especially to see me, from Bordeaux, where he is one of the museum curators.  It was the first time I had seen him since the 1960’s—thirty years or so.  You could call it a reunion, but perhaps it was more a coda to the music of the past, the old phrases replayed briefly, in a different key.  Not that the past had been dramatic; we had been friends, with just a bit of romance thrown in, of the passing sort that flavors a friendship between a man and a woman without changing it into...

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