Monday I called the dealership to set up an appointment to fix the Element. They said they sent the cars across the street to a body shop. I said that was fine. They gave me an appointment for 12:45. So today I appeared at the dealership on time, and handed the service department manager the keys. Upon entering my information, she was confused – why was I here? I didn’t need an appointment. I could have gone to the body shop myself. But that’s not what the service desk scheduler told me, I replied. The manager called the body shop; no appointment had been made.


Off across the street to the auto body shop. The estimator took pictures and said they couldn’t replace the rear quarter panel. Well, they could, but it would come unpainted, and they’d have to match the paint, which would be hard, and require blending. Lots of blending. An excess of blendage seemed to be a major issue. Why not order one already painted? I said, hopeful and naïve in the ways of the world. He doubted that such a thing was possible, but vowed to investigate. Inside the shop he called the Honda dealership, and was informed that pre-painted panels were not available. Honda sprayed them on the assembly line, but would not release them to the general public.

So they’ll do a spot repair, and completely replace the bumper because of a small indentation. Total cost: nine zillion samoleons. (Might as well be, since someone else is paying for it.) I have to go back. Just as well; I needed to be home to meet the garage door repairman, who banged around for half an hour and decided I needed a new tension bar. USE MY SPINE, I wanted to say, but no.

Then I picked up Gnat from school, and the day became kind and mild. The sun came out. Birds emerged. The thermometer rose. Milk and honey poured out of my nose. Et cetera. She did homework and piano while I attempted to exorcize some rust stains from the downstairs commode, using CLR. Didn’t work. Checked the label – use goggles and leather gloves, of course. DO NOT use on stone tile! Of course the floor of the downstairs bathroom has stone tile. Of course I’d put the CLR bottle on the floor. I lifted it up; it had left a ring. Dang. I put in on the toilet tank, got a rag, wiped it up, and was about to return to the pointless attempt to remove rusty toilet tendrils when the CLR bottle slid off the top of the tank, hit the floor, and glugged a quart on the STONE TILE. Ah! AUUGH! Ran to the laundry room, gathered up all available rags, and swabbed the decks. I ended up spreading the mess everywhere, figuring that you wouldn’t notice the discoloration if everything’s discolored evenly.

(Secret message to someone I may or may have not met: bring this up on Sunday, and win a free cigar.) (Yes, I’ll explain. On Monday.)

At five, off to choir practice: back to the church basement, the lousy oily pizza, the silent mob of kids glued to the tiny TV while the moms chat. After I dropped her off I walked outside, grateful that the clocks hadn’t performed their annual predatory leap, that the sun at six was still strong enough to give  the world a late-summer cast. Not yet the thin light of autumn, the tenebrous dusks. It’s early mid-September. Best Fall Ever!

Maybe. If the body shop’s fast.

In between all of that I wrote much. I had to revise one column three times, due to conflicting information – a kind way of saying I got it wrong the first and second times – and scrapped entirely a column I wrote last night. It was maudlin and strained. Had to do with Monday, when I picked Gnat up from school; she’d noticed the flag flying on the porch of Jasperwood, and asked why it was out. I as shy on specifics, as you might imagine. Later that night, just to complete the whole 9/11 narrative, she picked up the New York City snowglobe on my shelf and gave it a shake. It has the Twin Towers – two crude strips of plastic. “It doesn’t snow in New York,” she said.

“It does sometimes,” I said, and I suppose that could be symbolic if one was content to churn out weepy hackwork, but oy: gah: no. So I had 30 minutes to come up with something before I went off to my car appointment. (Which I didn’t really have.) No problem. If you cannot write a column in 30 minutes, you shouldn’t be a newspaper columnist. He said, smugly. No, really – I was reading the intro to a Joseph Mitchell book (took it to read in the pre-choir church-basement pizza party) and he described a typical day at the paper: three interviews, three stories written, three stories filed. So it was when newspapering was a job, not a profession, when “journalist” was a word like “butcher” or “streetcar driver,” not “doctor” or “lawyer.” (Which made it easier for a newspaperman to interview a butcher, I guess. Although even then they were elevated above the teeming fish of the street, the koi polloi that filled New York City) (I didn’t plan that figure of speech, and will probably wince tomorrow should I remember it.)

Anyway. I always have a few small chained hammers stored behind glass, and if need be I declare a fire and crack the pane. (Huh: does that make any sense to someone under 16 nowadays?) Once I’d finished that, I was done with words for a while. Hit the web to find out what treats Apple served up today – ah. Ah! The streaming video box. Excellent. New Nanos? Don’t need one, but let’s look at the pictures . . .

The green one matches my car. I’m tempted to buy it just to annoy all the people who hate the iPod. This Fark thread is a hoot; the quantity of dork-hate the iPod inspires is always amusing. If you want the definition of a computer nerd, it’s someone who sneers at a pretty girl who likes the new Nano because it’s pink, and doesn’t realize that it lacks Ogg support and comes LOADED with DRM. Stupid girl. Now to go back to my Linux box and fire up my own homebrew music player. Ah! “Stupid Girl,” by Garbage. Love that tune.

Anyway. I snagged the new iTunes, which, as the tech blogs would say, dropped in the wild and shows some love on the sweet movie goodness for reals. (How I hate those words.) Then I did the Fargo site, had some family time, and did this. Now I’m done.

Except for this! Turns out I was on the BBC yesterday. The interview I did a few months ago finally aired, and you can hear it here. After which a certain typo on this page will make sense. It's like a scavenger hunt!

New Fargo & Quirk as well. Thanks for everything, and I’ll see you tomorrow. 






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