In Los Feliz a young man in a diner strikes up a conversation.
"I got to thinking that if I could have her, the woman with the garden, I could have her kind of life. I could wind down a little, enjoy life a little more, work a little less. I'm thirty-four years old, never going to make CEO, it's time to settle down. Maybe she was married, had a boyfriend, whatever. But if she wasn't, maybe I had a chance. All I had to do was make her like me. She wouldn't like the guy I was, but let me tell you - and it's not easy, I'm laying it on the line here - I didn't think much of myself either. I talk too much, could lose a few pounds, stuff like that. But we've all got someone better inside us. It just takes time to dig him out. Well, I swore that's what I'd do. Become the kind of guy that a woman like her would like."
In Ben and Joe's a middle-aged gay man remembers the bar he once knew
"I was one of the afternoon shift. We were the older generation who strolled in an hour or so after the daily routine of lunch, shopping or the gym.
We'd perch on stools around the crescent-shaped bar, watch old films on the tv and pass judgement on politicians, film stars and anyone else in the day's news.
Our favorite game was encouraging Richard, the impossibly handsome twenty-three year old barman, to invent outrageous cocktails. We would stay until the early
evening, when we were surrounded by more strangers than acquaintances and the door swinging open showed that the last of the stores across the road had closed. Then by ones or by twos we drained our glasses and returned home to a lover, a pet or a memory."
In Sunset a grandmother recalls her first date and her marriage
"Slowly we fell in love again. We were adults falling for the person we knew, not youngsters infatuated by the unknown. I saw it in your eyes, heard it in your voice. The kindness that for years had been little more than politeness became kindness again. I had a husband who was fifty, putting on weight and losing hair, who I did not see for most of the day. But he was a husband who loved me and had come back to me. A man with a sharp mind and a dry sense of humor. A few quirks - a passion for hockey and a lack of dress sense - that I could easily tolerate. I only had to hear the complaints of friends and neighbors - he never washes, he drinks too much, he's too friendly with the neighbor's daughters - to remind myself how lucky I was."
Martin Foreman is the author of two novels (Weekend and The Butterfly's Wing) and two short story collections
(A Sense of Loss and First and Fiftieth) as well as non-fiction and journalism.
First and Fiftieth comprises fifteen narratives, all told in the first person, spanning the globe, ages and sexes, from a
teenage boy in middle England to a grandmother in the hills of California. Three of these stories were adapted for Californian Lives.
Since Martin began acting in 2011 he has appeared in stage productions in London and Edinburgh and in short films. He has adapted several short stories for the stage (all available from Arbery Publications). He has also directed his own work and J B Priestley's The Rose and Crown.
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