Before I tell you about Mimi and James, I really have to tell you about Mimi. She holds a special place in my heart, not only because she is a dear friend, but also because she performed an important rite of passage for me when we were kids: she introduced me to pop music.
To explain, I have to say that my Mom trained in classical piano, so there was lots of music in our house, but mostly Mozart, Brahms, Schubert and Chopin. (Not that I complain!) In any case the closest I ever came to “pop music” was George Gershwin, and I distinctly remember spinning to an orchestral version of “I got plenty o´nothing” until I fell to the floor… repeatedly. (Kids are so weird!)
I met Mimi when we were both about 12 or 13, at some kind of social event in a rural part of Austria. My parents had brought me so that I, the ever-reading, ever-unsociable kid would meet some children my age and have some fun. I wasn’t really up for that, and was all ready to get out my book and read in a corner as usual, when Mimi spotted me, for whatever reason somehow took a liking to me, and in her inimitable warm and chattery and fun way took my hand and dragged me outside to the other kids playing in the sun.
After that, we were best friends for a very short time – in fact, just long enough for said rite of passage. I spent a wonderful weekend at her family’s old mill in the countryside, and I remember this weekend so vividly that I might be convinced it was actually a whole week. The old walls of the building, the river right behind it, her father’s office filled with wondrous old object and books… and a tape recorder with just one tape: “A Hard Day`s Night”. We heard that one tape over and over and over, living through 2 days of real Beatlemania, and soon crooning along with every single song at the top of our voices. “Kenbaimi looooooo—hov. Looooo-hov…” Of course we didn’t understand a word of the lyrics.
So there it was, my introduction to pop music, via 1964sThe Beatles. I must say it was a good one.
The friendship ended only a few weeks later, in a drama of love, betrayal and revenge like only kids can devise it, and which involved me and Mimi’s best friend vying for her affection.
After that, we didn’t hear from each other for a very, very long time. The next thing I heard was that she was an actress, and living in London. And the next thing, years later, that she had just moved to Berlin. Which is when we got back in touch and discovered that we clicked just the same way we had as kids, doing impressions, cracking bad jokes and laughing our heads off.
Which is finally, finally, where James comes in. Or actually, not quite yet. On one slightly more somber coffee date Mimi and I had – she had just separated from her boyfriend – she took a vow. “The next one has to be the prince in shining armor. Someone who is courteous, intelligent, friendly, buys me flowers, and loves me for who I am. Wham. I won’t settle for less.”
Imagine my surprise then, when I heard her next about 6 months later, and she announced on the telephone that she had just gotten engaged. Engaged! And she wanted Daniel and me to meet him!
Naturally, we were skeptical. We ourselves took about 7 years to get engaged, so of course we’re highly suspicious of anybody who would take a month less. Let alone 6 and a half years less. Might he be a marriage swindler?
And then we met him. James. Who is truly one of the nicest, most thoughtful and altogether wonderful people I’ve ever met. And we were sold. Just like Mimi was sold when he asked her to be his wife, by tying a ring around her puppy Lucy’s collar.
He truly is Mimi’s knight in shining armor. Charming, intelligent, generous. They are completely different, and a perfect match.
So it really was the most joyful occasion to see the two married in Mimi’s hometown Vienna, with many guests from James’ native Holland and many friends from his home of ten years, Shanghai. And the guest of honor was, of course, Lucy.