The good career news: mailed off the contract for the next book. The bad career news: there is no bad career news. It'll be another Christmas season book, hardcover. Details to follow . . . in a year and a month.

Well, there’s no way I can write much tonight – the house has been taken over for Bunco, and the noise level of hen party makes it hard to concentrate. Besides, I’d like to go downstairs and chat. Also, I have nothing to add to anything, really.

Aside from a brief summation of the night: since Bunco nights are Chuck E. Cheese’s nights, we went off in the chilly rain to the great Rat Arcade. “Do you know what the E stands for?” Gnat asked as we approached. I said I did not. At the time I was thinking how consarned adorable she looked, skipping with happiness, holding my hand, a good little kid who has no idea what's running through my mind at the moment, how happy I am just to walk across a wet suburban parking lot with her. It's a terrifyingly large emotion. “It stands for Excitement,” she explained.

"Do you know Chuck is a nickname? It’s short for Charles. So his real name is Charles Excitement Cheese."

“Wow,” she said. New information. I imagine she'll tell that to the kids in school tomorrow, and no one will believe her.

We did our favorites – air hockey, skee ball, that damnable stop-the-light-between-the-goalposts game that consumes half our tokens. I won once; she won once, and like slot jockeys who still remember that one machine that paid off big, we pump in the coins again and again, missing the big payoff by a fraction of a second. We played the punch-the-duck game, which suddenly struck me as rather cruel; it’s shaped like a big barn, with a conveyor belt carrying an infinite parade of rubber duckies. You push the button, and a boxing glove on a stick shoots out. Hits the little  guys right in the head. I taught her how to get a perfect score -  punch every other duck! – but all of a sudden it seemed a little surreal. If you caught your child punching real ducks, you’d threaten them with consequences . . . like not going to Chuck E. Cheese’s to punch the ducks.

Has a rather catchy ring to it, as insults go: what a duck-puncher.

Afterwards we went to Target. I always like an evening trip to Target; the pressure’s off. We got a copy of “The 12 Dancing Princesses,” this year’s big Barbie movie. Spent half an hour in the Halloween aisle, a subject I’ll have to save for a future Quirk. Although I will say that for once I have made my peace with the early arrival of Halloween merch; the weather’s been so Octobrish it’s hard not to get into the mood. This year promises to be different than others  – I think I may well relinquish my usual post as Thankless Sugar Distribution Manager. No more standing by the garage handing out candy to ungrateful teens who smell like cigarettes. We’re going to block out one of the streets in the down the hill, build fires, and have a party for the kids. I suppose I’ll do an hour of dextrose-dispersion for the early crowd, since they’re always the precious two- and three-year olds in fairy costumes or Spiderman outfits, and you want to give them a nice Halloween memory. (Which they will not remember.)

This year's bargain-rate skeletal robot, the Nicole Ritchie model:

There were also many amusing tombstones. "You should buy a tombstone, Daddy," Gnat said.

"In due time, hon."

Target was absolute torture for Gnat, since she wanted to go home and see the movie. So we did. I walked into a house in full party swing, said my hellos, poured some wine for the guests, queued up the movie downstairs in the Battle Bridge, then retired upstairs to get some work done. I got no work done. Kept wandering downstairs to snack and chat, which is fine. Given that my human interaction in the course of the day usually consists of Gnat and my wife, I need to talk to people before I lose the knack altogether. Tomorrow is busy – I have an actual business meeting with an actual television producer, and something might result, six years down the line. You never know, but it’s fun to talk. At least this isn’t airborne-pie stuff – it’s a Real Actual Show, I suppose tomorrow’s meeting will help determine whether I write it, appear on it, or both. Or neither, of course. In any case, it will be good to get out of the house and be among fellow homo sapiens. Then piano then pizza then the happy simple comforts of Friday night, with the busy Saturday and broad yawn of Sunday to follow.

Me, I’m content. Sorry for the smallish Bleat; thanks for your patronage and indulgence this week, and I’ll see you Monday. 

    << >>


c. 2005 j. lileks. Email, if you wish, may be sent to "first name at last name dot com."