Utter disaster and catastrophe. And on such a nice day, too. Off Gnat went to camp again. I had my trepidations, since she wasn’t going with her friend – but she wanted to go, and besides it’s not as if they turn the tots loose in a field crawling with snakes and buzzing with skeeters unable to fly fast because they’re so engorged with the West Nile Virus. This is a highly structured event. If I sound defensive, it’s because I’ve gotten a lot of crap for sending her to camp at her age. People! Please! This is a camp made for tots of her demographic bracket, and she marches on the bus with blithe cheer. She gets more of out this than she would with another week with me. And she’ll have another week with me when camp concludes.

But . . . yes, I do enjoy the time to myself. I feel guilty at first, but it passes. This is the first time since the summer of ’00 that I’ve really had some uninterrupted summery days to myself. Alas, I spent them inside, working. In the morning I banged out the weekly site update (a break from the dank dreck of Stagworld – this week we have 1971 Peter Max paper airplanes) and digitized some of the June family movie. Shower. Lunch. Banged out the Thursday newspaper column. Ah! Job well done! Nap. I had one of those 20-minute toss & turn episodes last night, all due to worries over camp, so some sleep was nice. It was fitful – the crew was still working on the storage room, and this required using a water faucet in the front of the house. It was last oiled during the last days of Kaiserism, I think. Every time they turned it on I woke. But 25 minutes was enough, and I bounced out of bed happy and complete. Organized a few drawers, did some cleaning, headed to the grocery store for meat and corn. I arrived at the bus stop to pick up Gnat 15 minutes early.

Read “The Rake,” a local glossy free weekly notable for having about 37 columnists. A brisk read, and surely more interesting than City Pages, which exists to convince you how much everything SUCKS and will always SUCK until that high holy day when the particulars of their inchoate obscure agenda are implemented to the letter, and everything ceases to SUCK. The bus was supposed to arrive at a certain time – never does, but you never know. I sat in the grass and consulted a small cigar, reading an interesting piece about a local architect who’s come up with a new paradigm for pre-fab housing. Is this the future of architecture? The article asked. Short answer, from me: nope. If people wanted flat spare Neutra houses they’d beg for them, but they don’t; they want McMansions full of vague historical allusions to housing styles of previous eras, tricked out with modern geegaws. This infuriates the theorists, I’m sure: sheep! Content to be herded into gabled pens! But certain architectural styles and details spell “shelter” for most people, and oughtn’t we accommodate their wishes? Even if the end result is an aesthetic refutation of the historical inevitability of modernism? Yes yes they’re all dreadfully inauthentic, but if the bourgoise clamored for the modern they’d still be held in contempt. Eventually. The suburban rambler in its Brady glory was quite modern, after all. And no one exactly praised Middle America for embracing that style. They were excoriated for the usual reasons, and the urban theorists complained that the streets were too wide. The stone was fake. The garages too gauche. I swear: some people will not be happy until the people who are usually happy aren’t.

These articles always quote Corbu, drop the “machines for living” line. As if anyone wants to live in a machine.

Hey, where’s the bus?

It’s ten minutes late. I flipped open my communicator, hit 411, asked for the number for the camp authorities. James Earl Jones assured me that Verizon was connecting me: hey, thanks, Darth. According to the authorities, the bus was on time. Well. Where was it?

Where was my child?

I was on hold waiting for additional information when a counselor appeared, and told me that the bus drop had changed. They were now over there, and they were waiting with Gnat. Oy. I sped over just as the Hugh Hewitt show started. This was bad. I was supposed to be on that show at the start of the second segment. Would I make it home in time?

The bus was empty. Gnat was alone with a counselor. Waiting. She had a sad bereft expression. I picked her up – uh oh. Dampness in the hinder regions. The counselor explained that she’d had an incident on the bus. Numero dos.

Gnat was not happy. She was worried about sitting in her car seat, given the general disposition of her drawers. I put down a newspaper, assured her we’d be home soon, and floored it. She was morose. Oh, that happens to lots of people, I said, and I told her about a grownup I knew who thought he was tooting but hey presto, poopage. She giggled.

Hey pesto poopage.


You’re not mad at me?

Why would I be mad?

You didn’t come to the bus.

Broke my heart. I could see how it all conflated – she’d had an accident, Daddy didn’t show up, ergo . . . no, no honey, I was at the wrong place. It’s okay to do poopage by accident. And remember that when I’m an old man. Meanwhile I’m phoning the show: busy signals. I don’t have the supersecret studio line in my communicator, so I can’t warn them off. “We’ll be back with James Lileks after the break,” says Hugh. “Go nowhere, America.” I shoot through the Lyndale intersection: almost there. I get home, get her out; we head through the tunnel to the basement, to the Battle Bridge – phone rings. I grab it: can’t do the segment now, give me 20.

Fine. Upstairs. Towel off child, clean & clothe her, take her down to the Battle Bridge, fire up the Classic Post-War Mickey cartoons, give her milk, run upstairs, phone rings: and we’re on.

Did the show. Hung up. Ever wonder what people do after they’ve been a guest on a radio show?

I made tacos.

Ever wonder what they were doing right before the interview?

Now you know.


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