Let me pose a hypothetical situation. You’re entrusted with a simple but important job: gathering children from disparate locations along a preset route and delivering them to a building in time for them to begin their education. Do you:
* Practice the route the week before until you know the way so well your ears can pick out the address by the sound made by different blends of lawn grass as they grow (Huh – that’s a Kentucky blend with a smattering of fescue; must be Johnson avenue. Yep – I can smell the Log Cabin syrup on the Mattson boy’s breath from a block away. )
* Practice the route for a week but make the mistake of submitting to a Brain Wipe at the Labor Day picnic
* Show up for the first day with a map and an unshakeable sense of faith in your ability to drive this here bus, which I call Ol' Yeller
I’m guessing our bus driver did not follow option one. We were requested to be at the stop five minutes before the arrival, which was 8:24. All the kids were gathered. Great excitement. The parents chatted about this, that, things, the lovely day aborning. 8:30: no bus. Well, the first day they’re always late. (We expect that.) 8:35: no bus.
At a quarter to nine everyone gave up and drove the kids to school.
The bus arrived at 9:15, about 50 minutes late. I imagine it drove to the school anyway, and sat there for a few minutes before the driver shut the door and slunk away. Unbelievable. Why can't Johnny read? Because Johnny's driver can't read a map. At least in our neighborhood we have enough stay-at-home parents so someone can ferry the kids to school; I imagine this scenario was duplicated around town, and I can imagine the havok it played with families who depended on the bus to materialize at a reasonable time.
Side note: the bus for another school meets right in front of Jasperwood. This is new. All the kids sit on the stone wall I had built a few years ago at the end of the property. Without that wall, they'd have to stand. I watched them from a distance, thinking: I'm glad they have a place to hang out. My unsung contribution to the Youth of America. How cool.
After their bus left, I checked the stones to see if they'd been pushed out of line. Chances I'll do that every damn day: 110 percent.
The day was spent working at the kitchen table, more or less. At one PM the new contractors showed up – yes, I know. I’m an idiot. Here we go again. Well, I’ve dealt with this company before, and they’re good. They built the stone staircase, and now they’re building the retaining wall next to the stone staircase. The wall has bulged out, probably from the weight of the stone staircase. And so it goes. Whatever the reason, it’s not going to heal itself and exude a nice thick bead of stucco sauce, so I can either live with its unsightly appearance until it falls over, or fix it now. Anyway, they brought one of those big long dumpsters that looks like a garbage scow for Munchkins – a “roll away,” I believe they’re called, although they never do – and a small John Deere utility tractor. The John Deere is yellow. All yellow. This is wrong. John Deere machinery is green, with yellow accents. I’m sorry, yellow details; Nothing that large and mechanical has accents. In any case, it’s not right. It's like a Coke can with the Pibb font.
The tractor sat there all day, just like the Bobcat sat there for a day last year before the OIWF project began. My wife said she has a bad feeling about this.
“Don’t quote lousy Star Wars dialogue to me,” I considered saying, but thought better of it. Just because a stupid banal line occurs in six movies doesn't meant there's not a jot of truth to it.
I wrote a big wobbly thing which I think I’ll save for tomorrow; let it cook a day. It’s been too nice a day to be exercised about anything. The good news: a lovelier September day I can’t recall. The bad news: that’s what they said about another day in September.
Having written much and slept less, I am inclined to call this a light week. I'm having to write earlier than usual; the school schedule changes everything. And the night has a new duty: making her lunch. It’s hard. She doesn’t like peanut butter or jelly or turkey or honey. Granted, a turkey-honey sandwich is rarely the dinner-winner, but my options are coming down to two slices of bologna with cheese or three slices without. And there’s nothing as vile as bologna. It’s one of those meats that isn’t pronounced like it’s spelled, which should immediately raise suspicions. On the other hand, it does teach you about Italian pronunciation; if there’s a meat out there with that trick “gl” sound, I should buy some. But it’s just vile. It’s covered with slobber, it looks like it’s made of minced infants, and comes in an alarming number of varieties. Some day the cold-cut conglomerates will realize that the distinction between “Beef” and “Meat” is not one consumers prefer to confront. Eventually we suspect that if it’s not “beef,” it’s sheep anus. And then there’s the Turkey variety, which is indistinguishable from the rest – suggesting that the essence of bologna is its pinkish bland pliability.
Well, it’s the taste kids love. At least the bread’s healthy. Good stern 45% fiber, made from trees, probably. I didn’t get Wonder bread when I was a kid, and hence I craved it. Until I had some. Sorry, no. We had real white bread, fresh from the store a half a block away. I’d rip off the crust – the horrible, fatal crusts – and press the filet of the slice against the roof of my mouth, where it would slowly dissolve. Or I’d rip off pieces and roll them into balls. Wonder Bread was loser bread. Split Top Hornbachers White, that was the good stuff. (The top was split and drenched with butter! They probably pored in some DDT, if it was summertime.)
I add a ration of useless fun carbs in crunch form, some pear slices (proper Inner Party pears, not that prole gruel in a can) a Roaring Water drink bladder (zero sugar, trace elements of vitamins, cadmium, tritium) and a few jellybeans for dessert. I planned it very carefully and wrote a lovely message on the bag, realizing I was setting myself up for a new nightly obligation: finding something different to put on the bag every day.
Oh, great: another deadline.
Anyway, here’s the Fargo updates. Cool stuff, if you like old pre-mall cities. I bought one of the pictures at the postcard expo a few years ago, and it made my knees weak when I saw it. I think you’ll know which one I mean. New Quirk as well, of course. Forgot the Diner link; it’s here. Thanks for coming by, and I’ll see you tomorrow.