Ugh - and how!

08. 30 .00

Driving to work I got stuck behind a truck. It was a flatbed doing about 72 MPH, so I can’t really say it impeded my progress, but when you’re behind a truck for any length of time you start to resent it. You can’t see. You don’t know what’s coming. Especially when you’re in my car, The Defiant, which is as low to the ground as . . . as . . .

Man. Tired. Can’t even finish a sentence. Have to call 1-800-MET-AFOR to complete this one. Or maybe I could use their web version; they have all my credit card info, which simplifies things. . . Nah. Save the money.

As low to the ground as a low thing.


Anyway: eventually I realized that the truck’s cargo consisted of two gigantic pieces of stone, bound for a downtown building. Two pieces of perhaps five hundred. Where had they come from? Were they fabricated in a suburban yard, shipped in up the Miss, brought in by train? I recalled that PBS series on a skyscraper (titled, with evocative imagination, Skyscraper) - it detailed the start-to-finish story of Worldwide Plaza in Hell’s Kitchen. A huge building, and a groundbreaking structure in several ways. First big corporate tower in that part of town. One of the biggest post-modern structures from the SOM office. I remember the many scenes with the frog-lipped developer, one of the latter Zeckendorfs (now in severe financial trouble, for other reasons.) I remembered walking around the building myself a few years ago, and finding it a cold, empty place. I was thinking all of these things as I tailgated a speeding truck, both of us doing 72 MPH, and then I thought:

As a new father, I really should stop tailgating trucks carrying three-ton rock slabs.

So I did. I have to stop daydreaming while driving. Correction: dreaming, period. It’s hard to tell when I’m awake and when I’m asleep, particularly after a night like last night. I had the late shift, as usual, but Gnat didn’t wake up for her usual feeding. Slept right through it. At 3: 50 AM I thought: well, I can stay awake no longer. The movie was over. (Stigmata, a surprisingly smart Exorcist remake.) I’d watched the Director’s Alternate Ending. I was starting to nod off. So I put Gnat down . . .

Wa!

Pause, wait, cross fingers, pray -

Wa!

So I fed her. Heated up the frozen milk, fed her, changed a diaper, whapped her little back until she burped & ruped, then put her down in the crib . . .

Wa!

Sara took over, and I went to sleep, but it was a night of fussing and wa!ing, and I ended up on the sofa, with earplugs, wide STARING AWAKE at FIVE AM, thinking: I have to write two columns tomorrow. Tomorrow? TODAY.

Up six hours later, and back into the work behind the truck. And then:

In the middle of the day I took a walk downtown to get my favorite cigars. Had the camera, of course. Passed the ugly new hotel going up on the site of the old Doctors and Professionals building, and lo: there were the two slabs from the truck. Just sitting there. Where they go, I don’t know; I wish they’d been hoisting them into place as I’d walked by, but from now on I’ll always look at that building and remember driving to work behind those slabs on a day when I’d been up with the kid. That’s one of the things I love about working downtown. Every inch of every block means something. Doesn’t usually mean much, - just the accretion of details as personal as they are banal. But it means something.

Wretched trauma for the dog yesterday. While throwing the All-Important Rope, it got hung up on a tree branch. It was just low enough for him to get it, but not without a lot of worried barking. I thought: good thing it didn’t hang on the power line. So, naturally, three throws later, it got hung up on the power line. It was perfectly balanced. Immovable. He barked, and barked, and barkbarkbarked in great distress: this was inconceivable! An affront against dog and man! His rope, hanging in the sky out of reach with all the insouciant disdain of - of - of a squirrel!

Tonight we were playing with a tennis ball. I’d throw it, bounce it; he’d leap and catch it. The usual drill. Then I decided: let’s see if I can hit the rope.

Bang. Nailed it. Down it came. Rope and ball. Jasper was astonished - old friend! Comrade! Buddy! Pal! Rope! As I live and bark and breathe, ROPE!

He just came into my room a few minutes ago, which is what reminded me of that dramatic anecdote. He just rolled on his back, looking for some attention, so I’d better give it to him. I’m glad I never treated him as a surrogate child; he would seem like some uninteresting beta version now, a rough draft of the real thing. He was always a friend. No less so now.

To sum up: downtown is full of memories, and I like my dog.

Come back tomorrow for another fascinating essay!