How my Life Works, Con’t:

At Mall, note that the Frederick’s of Hollywood store has closed. No surprise; the Victoria’s  Secret store is right down the aisle, and they have the market on what once were unmentionables, but are now SHOUTABLES clad on lithesome manikins. File away for future column idea.

At antique store, buy a 1977 Frederick’s catalog for future Institute of Official Cheer site, “Dorcerlla.”

That evening, presented with the Quirk topic of “Style,” write a column about Frederick’s, and, in a spasm of paper-personal-site linkyness, tell the readers they can see pictures of the old catalog at the following URL. File and forget.

Thursday night, recall what you have done. Thank the stars you scanned some of the book the day you bought it; our new scan-in-advance policy has a payoff, then. Consider throwing the scans up without commentary – heck, I just promised pictures. Chastise self for taking the easy road. Call up the scans, crop, resize, do the graphics, lay it out, then bang out the copy. It’ll do for now.

Insert copy in site, and realize that it’s difficult to match the copy to the exact item on the illustration, since they’re huge. Tell self that it doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the box. Fix it later. Upload.  Check clock; sigh.

That’s my day. More or less. The rest of it was pure rote sleepwalking – finished the homework with Gnat in the morning, get some food down her before the bus comes, write a column, clean the house, drive to school listening to the Gervais / Merchant / Dilkington podcast v2 #2; this one was so punishingly funny I let myself laugh as loud as I wanted – if you can’t laugh out loud in your car as loud as you like, when can you? Then I picked up Gnat from school  (today she was silly and wanted to put her coat on backwards, so I put her backpack on backwards as well and made her walk balkwards through the hall, so she looked like Cousin It. Very amusing. Freaked out a couple of kids.) Then the grocery store; I was in an expansive mood, willing to dally and peruse. You feel civilized and urbane, knocking on melons to gauge their ripeness – be odd if someone knocked back, wouldn’t it. Doubled up on staples, queued up. A few days ago at a different store I’d entered the express lane – “About 10 items or fewer,” which is possibly the most indistinct parameter ever – and the fellow in front had a card with 32 items. I know, because I counted. I don’t usually count the number of items unless a quick visual appraisal indicates that the person’s clearly abusing the system, in which case I make a full inspection. But he realized he was in the wrong lane, and moved. I got behind an old lady who had 14 items. A hard glare she got from me, I’ll tell you.

And apparently she reported me to Old Lady Command and Control, because today at the grocery store – well, Gnat and I goof around with the shopping cart when no one else is around. She pushes one end as hard as she can; I hold her off with one hand. Wow Daddy. You’re really strong. She’s no slouch either, frankly; she has the Lileks upper body structure, which tends toward the broad. This is good: Daddys should always be strong, if possible. It does something good for a little kid’s psyche if you can put them on your back and do pushups. Anyway: part of the routine involves running the cart into me when I’m not looking, at which point I make exaggerated expressions of pain. She did this in the dairy aisle.

An old lady looked at her, and frowned. “You shouldn’t do that,” she said in a low cruel voice. “You could hurt someone.” She wheeled her cart past. “You shouldn’t do that,” she said.

Now. I fully respect the rights of the free-floating Adult Community to upbraid misbehaving youth when the parents aren’t around, and I want to teach Gnat to respect her elders on general principle. On the other hand, Gnat would never hit anyone else; the old lady was a lemony old busybody, and the fact that I was standing right there, playing the game, should have given her a hint. But no: this was just another WILD KID, crashing carts around, no doubt perpetually indulged. Penny-ante biddyism. Gnat covered her face and hunched up. “I didn’t like the way she said that,” she whispered.

“Well, she didn’t think you should bash carts around, which is right, but she didn’t know what we were doing. Frankly, I think she’s an old sourpuss.”


“Well, it’s true.” Then I underscored my point by beaning the woman with a can of corn. No, of course not. But really. I have no problem with people disciplining MY CHILD, but there was just something bitter and mean in that old woman’s face. If only she’d joined the ten-item queue with eleven items; I would have glared hot holy holes in the back of her neck.

It’s a war out there, I tell you.

Just realized I have two columns due tomorrow, not one. Well then! Off to work, so I can finish up and enjoy the weekly Firefly. See you tomorrow. Oh: here’s the Institute update. (Hit the Quirk link for the introductory essay, if you want the background.) It’s done in haste and far from golden, but on the other hand: it’s free! Enjoy. 




c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.