Naturally, my column bitching about cold weather ran on a day when it hit 73 degrees. Newspapers: day late, dollar short. At least one of us got to enjoy the day; Gnat had a field trip downtown to visit the Farmer’s Market. The adult / child ratio was about 2:1, so I didn’t worry. Much. Sure, I had a nightmare vision of her wandering off, but that’s just me. And that’s just our times. My wife tonight told me that she walked to kindergarten by herself. Kindergarten. She also told me some things she’d never revealed – her memories of being five, of living in a duplex with all her siblings and a parakeet, of jumping off a picnic table with her siblings to fly like the pet bird did, of going to an Indian friend’s house for a playdate and enjoying an exotic treat: graham crackers with butter. She lit up as she told these stories, and I was fascinated – I’m sure she told them long ago, but never compressed like these, and never with the added context. Her family moved around a lot – her dad was a military doc – and these stories came from a place she’d love to revisit.


My wife was a child in Cleveland. The things you learn. Or rather are reminded that you should have remembered.

It’s a column night, and so this is short. I’ve been working on the book proposal most of the evening, eliminating ghastly passages, tightening stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time. You can get away with a few indulgences when you assume the reader knows the passage was banged out in 25 minutes for grins, but it won’t fly for a book proposal. Oh, I see, it sucks because you did it quickly. Very well! Here’s a hundred thousand dollars. Right.

If it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t sell. On to the next thing. Anyway: I have nothing to report. I slept well, woke rested; I was in such a good mood around ten I put on “Opus No. 1” and danced with Gnat. We spent about half an hour getting ready for the field trip, since she wanted to look nice for downtown. (She later confessed that the boy she likes [!] said that she looked beautiful. She told this to my wife, not to me. In a whisper. From the earliest age, they confide and conspire; it’s delightful.) After work and school we had some time to kill, so we headed off to Bed Bath and Beyond, an ill-named place where “Beyond” is apparently defined as “a place where there are cast quantities of ceramic frog-shaped cookie bins.” I had purchased a cheap table with a mosaic stone top. The curly legs aren’t to my liking, but the hues of the stone match the stone around the family room fireplace, and it fits well in the gazebo. It fit so well I thought I should get another, because I love symmetry, and because it’s 20 bucks. They were out. But a charming clerk took the time to place an order and ensure prompt home delivery in five days. Midwestern cheer and earnest assistance at its finest; Gnat watched her work the computer, rapt, and told me – in a whisper – “I want to be like her when I grow up.”

And if she ends up at a Bed Bath and Beyond, happy with her work, full of brio? Good for her. I know, I know – she should be a nuclear physicist who performs opera on the side and paints gigantic dioramas of water lilies. Fine, if she’s happy with that. I’d rather she be happy and smart and good than important and miserable and ethically confused. Happiness is not enough; brains are not enough; goodness will get you by, but without the other two it’s a shield made of straw.

Back to work. If you wish, here’s the last Joe for a while. It’s a good place for a cliffhanger, such as it is. I couldn’t have predicted it, but the alphabetical order of the matches has spoken. (Subsequent research on the restaurant in question has informed me that I’ll have to rewrite this one a bit, but that’s for later.) See you Monday.

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