Okay, so I was all excited to recap an episode whose title seemed to be inspired by a line from one of my favorite poems, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (not that Prufrock, but a different one). I was curious to see how the themes would be worked in, and whether I'd be able to catch all the references, and it would be kind of like a fun little puzzle for me. So imagine my disappointment at how literal the title turned out to be. Might as well have listened to an Allman Brothers album. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let all that over-thinking go to waste. You ready to get pretentious?
Dessert is served! But not at some sawdust restaurant with oyster shells. We're crammed in around a too-small dining room table with five sext- and septuagenarians, and I can't help thinking the table wouldn't seem so small if these people weren't all built like tanks. Two of the older guys are smoking at the table, and I take a moment to wonder how Fisher & Diaz is going to get a client who clearly doesn't die in California. They all settle down to their dishes of canned peaches, except for the iron-haired guy at the head of the table whose eyebrows are each as large as his moustache. There's also a kid of maybe ten, who looks pretty out of place among all these folks of advanced age and indeterminate second-generation-European-immigrant ethnicity. His dad and his sister are also there so we're not too distracted by questions about the kid's provenance, but the latter two don't have any lines, and the kid's only purpose is to ask the Corpse-genic question, "Why doesn't Uncle Danny like clean peaches?" His aunt (or great-aunt, or whatever, not that anyone cares) corrects him on the proper pronunciation of "cling peaches" and explains that Uncle Danny likes canned fruit that uses a noun as an adjective just fine; he just can't have them "because he has the diabetes." Uncle Danny is the only older person who isn't talking nonstop. He's just sitting there, smiling serenely and sipping his coffee, while everyone talks around him, silently wondering why he went to all the trouble of aging into a reasonable facsimile of Omar Sharif if nobody was even going to notice. Being denied any dessert at all just adds insult to injury.
He's still sitting there and measuring out his life in coffee spoons long after dinner is over and the table's been cleaned (or should I say clinged?). He gets up and wanders right past his two chattering sisters into the kitchen. It's not exactly the sound of mermaids singing each to each. And it's not like they're singing for him anyway. Although looking at those two, it becomes clear how sailors got mermaids confused with manatees. Their blather masks the noise of the electric can opener as Faux-mar Sharif gets ready to have himself a little unauthorized dessert. He looks for a moment like he just wants to enjoy the smell -- and he does -- but whatever willpower he has quickly fails him as he reaches for a fork. Does he dare to eat a peach? He does -- a segment of one at least -- and the blissed-out expression on the face of Daniel Holzenchenko (1939-2005) tells us it was totally worth it after all, if only to get away from his family. Talk about eating a peach for peace. And as Eliot said, We have lingered in the chambers of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown. I don't actually know what that means or what it has to do with anything, which is why it's called being pretentious.