Liquor Store, University Av. St. Paul

Get up. Drink coffee. Shave, shower, pack lunch, fill coffee travel mug. Get Gnat in car. Drive in traffic for 34 minutes. Drop her off. Head home, listening to Dragnet. (It’s pretty good. It’s better than anything else on the radio. Odd how the show was so “realistic” on the radio and so stilted on TV; Webb just transplanted it whole without realizing that TV required something else, like a camera that moved less than Webb’s arms when he walked.) Get home. Fix lunch. Change. Drive to the office. Get to cubicle. Learn that I’m about to be moved again. Whatever. Sit down. Turn on computer. Cellphone rings. Gnat has pink eye. Leave office. Drive home. Call doctor, make appointment. Shove down lunch. Drive to the other side of town, where the kids are playing at a park. Gnat’s waiting with a bag of ice over her eye. Looks fine; probably a reaction to too much chlorine yesterday with excess scratching. Well, can’t tell. Go home. Put her on sofa for nap. Go upstairs, flip open laptop, type this without knowing quite why.

The picture above is a liquor store on University Avenue, a rare glimpse of undistilled Forties signage. I think it goes without saying that if they have LIQUORS they have beer, but I am not the boss of signage.

For a liquor store, that clock has so much promise, doesn’t it? The sun is almost over the yardarm; quitting time is nigh.

Now off to the doctor’s; if she’s fine, back to the school; if not, then home, then all night doing something because my wife’s at some work-related post-work event.

Exhausted. Later

And it’s later. That was a nice four-hour chunk of the day blown up for no good reason. The doctor checked her eyes, and said she was fine. I said I suspected chlorine; the doctor said it was indeed an irritant, and was starting to explain why, when I interrupted: “well, it’s chlorine. I mean, it’s a World War One death gas.”

“Exactly,” she smiled. “Poison! And they do dump it in, don’t they.” She peered at Gnat’s eyes and asked her if she opened her eyes in the pool.”

“Well,” said my five-year old, “not recently.”

I love it when she uses words like that. So: back to the school for the afternoon class. Unfortunately, everyone was still at the park, so we sat in the empty room and drew pictures for half an hour, drawing a park with flowers and grass and a pond. Then everyone returned and I was off to Costco.

I’d heard it was like Sam’s Club but better, and indeed it was. Slightly. I ended up with bulk foodstuffs and a brown leather jacket – just the number I’d been looking for, and half the price of comparable items. I saw something I didn’t need, but I almost wished I did, simply because of the name on the box:

Interfolded delicatessen paper.

What a lovely phrase. Say it! Interfolded delicatessen paper. It just smartly gavottes off the tongue, no? Interfolded delicatessen paper.

When I signed up for my card I had my picture taken, and noted to the clerk how I’d let my Sam’s Club membership lapse because the stores were, well, somewhat junkier and less useful.

“I don’t go there because of the way they treat their employees,” she said. “But I’m still stuck in the 60s. I don’t order Domino’s pizza, because . . . “ and she let that one go.

“Thomas Monaghan hasn’t been connected to Dominos for years,” I said. “The owner. He sold out long ago. No Dominos money goes to anti-abortion groups.”

“Really?” she said. She seemed stunned. “Are you sure?”


“Wow. I’ll have to look into that.”

Like I said yesterday: every day you should learn something that completely invalidates something you held as gospel. Speaking of which – today I learned that the inhabitants of Greenland do, indeed, have 49 words for snow. This and other facts can be gleaned from the rich furrows of Krakatoa, a nonfiction book on history, culture, biology, and plate tectonics. The author’s style is incomparably deft, and the book brims with energetic intelligence.

Picked up Gnat, went to the local mall, had supper. The mall was nearly deserted, but there was a knot of giggly teen girls running around shrieking over some boys on the lower level. The gang leader was a stick-thin harsh-faced blonde girl with moxie and lungpower in equal amounts; boy-crazy, I believe the term is. The other girls stood behind her omigodding and tittering. “What’s your name?” she shouted down to the guys below, who were stumped: how can we be indifferent and cool and mumbly now? They’re up there making eye contact with us! What if our pathetic bravado is put to the test tonight, in the parking lot? What if they want to kiss? It was very amusing, especially when the girls zoomed by in one skinny-legged mob and piled shrieking into a photo booth to hide. Gnat found it very amusing, and mocked their giggling.

“Teenagers,” she said. But not without a certain amount of awe.

short excerpt
Back home, driving the back roads, listening to one of those obscenely catchy Europop dance numbers, which has become the official anthem of the third week of August of the summer of 05. (A year after it was released.) This one is “Tu Est Foutu,” an 04 tune that could still be the new numa-numa song if someone did a hilariously humiliating lip-sync video to it and put it on the web. What makes the song work? Accordion. Yes, Professor, accordion. It’s one of those sounds that must strike the French heart like an arrow dipped in black coffee and bitter chocolate; it sums up the 30s, Piaf, smoky Montmartre cafes . . . just a few notes nearly make me nostalgic, for heaven’s sake. Check out the excerpt if you're at home or have headphones; it's banal and synthetic and calculated, and like any good fever you can burn it out of your system quickly. But if nothing else it shows that any instrument can be turned to the service of pop. Even the cowbell. (I omit the obligatory Walken link here, lest it confuse. Google cowbell Walken if you don't know, and prepare to be confused even more.)

More tomorrow – I have to appear on a panel about blogging for a journalist convention, so I should have something interesting to report. And now I’m done.

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