“Right now?” I gasped as I gripped my knitting before he pulled it off my needles and out of my hands. I must have looked like a mime as my mouth opened and closed and no words came out. Flustered, I poked the sharp ends of the needles into the maze of colors to ensure the knitting wouldn’t come off and tried to gather my wits about me.
“You don’t have anything planned right now, do you?” he asked with some humility as he realized he might be invading my life. “I mean – do you mind coming right now and teaching her how to knit? You know, she’s a new Mom – and I think all Moms should know how to knit, and you looked so at peace doing it and so happy – and I’m babbling…..”
I laughed a bit and shook my head as I stood up and gathered my belongings. “Right now is fine – really. It’s just not how I was expecting to spend my afternoon. I thought I was going to get that sleeve done……”
“Oh! I’m Brad of course,” he said as he shuffled the basket to one arm and held out his hand.
“I’m Ani,” I said with some embarrassment and who knows why.
“You don’t mind walking do you? We don’t live too far from here – or – we could take a carriage back if it’s a problem.”
“A walk would be lovely. I love to look at all this old architecture and get some inspiration from it,” I said as I bent backwards a little and stretched my back. An audible crack raised his eyebrows and I made a brushing motion in the air with my hand, “it is just age – something you’ll recognize once you hit 50.”
Skirting the cathedral, we soon found ourselves on Royal Street and we both admired the old gas lamps and famous buildings as we hurried along. Brad chatted about their move to New Orleans and how much they loved living there, and I admitted I was a bit envious. How could I not be? New Orleans oozed inspiration, history, music and love. We weren’t stopped once by the paparazzi or admiring fans, so I guess the word should go out to all celebrities – if you don’t want to be recognized on the street – hang out with a nondescript commoner – nobody will notice. A few streets later, Brad unlocked a beautiful wrought iron gate and led me up a walkway to an old antebellum mansion nestled under towering Cedar Elms and surrounded by flowering Magnolias. A couple of gardeners were busy in the yard as they pruned and weeded, and Brad waved a hello to them as we made our way up the back walk. I was acutely aware that my palms had started to sweat as we neared the house and I was amazed that I was nervous about meeting his leading lady. Before I could give it any more thought, Brad ushered me in through the door and yelled out a great “Hello the house – I’m home!”
A great clattering of feet could be heard coming down the stairway, and I clutched my sweater about me in nervous anticipation as squeals and laughter echoed about the house. Glancing at Brad, I took in the huge smile that spread across his face (while I made a quick check for those vampire fangs). He let out a whoop as arms encircled his legs and he bent down for the kisses that were waiting for him. When I finally managed to figure out there were three children instead of four attached to him, I think I let out a small gasp before slowly looking around the entranceway. Angelina stood at the bottom of the stairway directing a stony gaze straight in my direction, with Shiloh perched on her jutting hip like some afterthought. I tried a smile and shrug combination, but that only elicited a raised, perfectly plucked, eyebrow. The silence between us loomed and I hurriedly turned back to the commotion happening to my right.
To be honest, I’m not sure now if I said that or if Angelina did. However, it did make him look up from his group hug and he quickly identified the problem.
“Hello my lady,” he said as he gave her a courtly bow. “I want to introduce you to Ani. I met her in the square and she is going to teach you how to knit.”
As the other, perfectly plucked, eyebrow slowly rose, I could see he realized that perhaps my presence needed a bit more explanation than he had given. Looking around in desperation, he finally spotted my knitting basket that he had dropped beside the door when we entered. A large golden retriever had its nose deep in the balls of wool and was spilling them over the side of the basket, obviously in search of something to eat. The brightly colored wools stood out against the ceramic tiles with a glow of their own in the muted tones of the entranceway, and I paused as I took in its understated elegance.
“River! Get out of that!” Brad yelled as he grabbed the dog’s collar and hauled him back. The dog’s tail wagged slowly back and forth, and the happy look on its face as his master chided him was endearing. “That’s a River Runs Through It – not a River noses through it dear pal.” Brad rubbed his ears hard for a moment before calling Maddox over and putting the dog in his care. Grabbing the basket again he scooped the wayward balls off the floor and piled them in the basket before hurrying over to Angelina’s side.
“Hon! You’ve got to look at this! It’s beautiful and Ani is making it with her own hands! I sat down on a bench in the square and she was sitting there knitting and I got thinking that you should knit too. You know, being a Mom and all that….”
His enthusiasm was hard to deny and rather infectious too. I could see her turning it over in her mind as she turned over my knitting for a closer inspection. I can’t tell you how happy I was at that moment that I had learned how to wrap and carry colors on the back of the work. I knew there wasn’t a single loose strand hanging anywhere, and I think I might have preened a bit with the knowledge.
“Let me get this straight. You want me to learn how to knit?”