|Possibly the creepiest frozen-vegetable commercial ever drawn. As the old wives said: the devil may appear in many pleasing and sympathetic shapes. And then sometimes the devil appears like this.
About milady’s hat – designed after the brief vogue for plumage-vomiting volcanoes that was all the rage in the spring of 51 – I will say nothing. Except that I didn’t get out to take many photos this week, so I might as well start using old stuff that doesn’t go elsewhere for that “retro” feel the kids seem to like.
The ads for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” say “Deep inside, you know you’re him,” and I almost proved the point. I’m waiting for the order at Big Bowl, and wandered over to Pottery Barn. They had some Halloween decorations marked down 30% - spooky little bats with votive candle holders behind the eyes, good for scaring kids and burning down the house. (Do not leave candles unattended, they always say – am I supposed to just stand around after I light them? To make sure they don’t cross the street alone?) I picked out two, wandered through the store past two clerks talking about how exhausted they were. I bent down to examine a drawer of pumpkin-shaped candles, one of those items you could see yourself buying if they were two bucks, but forget about it if they were nine; you’d never burn it. And if you’re going to buy a decorative candle and never burn it, you might as well just buy decorative wax, but no one would. “We’re doing the season in wax this year” doesn’t sound right. I checked: six bucks.
“Is everything all right, sir?” I heard. I assumed the clerk was either talking to someone who had staggered into the store clutching the blade of a knife which was embedded in his shoulder, or someone who otherwise looked in need of clerkly ministrations.
“Is everything all right,” sir?” she repeated. I looked up. She was talking to me. I had no idea what to say, really – I mean, standing in a store looking at candles while waiting for your food is pretty much the definition of things being all right, with the other end of the spectrum being eaten by tigers or falling out of an exploded airliner over a cactus patch.
“Uh – sure,” I said, without as much confidence as I might have had.
“Because some of those don’t have prices on them,” she said. Whereupon my Inner Larry David wanted to ask: well, why don’t you put prices on them?
Huh? She would have said.
Why don’t you put prices on them, instead of talking to the other clerk? Because then you wouldn’t have to worry about whether I was traumatized by an unpriced flammable gourd, and was unable to deduce that this one, which has a sticker, might somehow be different than an identical item in the drawer that doesn’t have a price. Then everyone would be okay.
But I didn’t. Still, my “Uh- sure” must have been wan enough, because it earned me hard looks from both clerks when I left. I know, I know – it’s probably policy. No customer must be unmolested. Molest first, then chat. But I came away from it feeling like some ungrateful ogre for not springing up and assuring her that yea, even though I squatted by the valley of unmarked pumpkin candles, my grasp on happiness was reasonably firm.
Of course I am making too much out of this; that’s the point of this entire site, when you think about it. But if I could design rules for clerk-customer interaction, I’d tell the staff to leave people alone unless they had that questioning expression, that vague casting-about for eye contact with someone who wore a badge.
It goes without saying that if all the pumpkins had been unmarked, and the clerks had chattered on without inquiring about my well-being, this entry would be entirely different. But just as long and petty.
What did I do this weekend Worked on the site, fought the email (and the email won), exchanged empty propane tanks for new ones. There’s something about driving around with two tanks in the backseat that makes you a more careful driver. On the other hand, if someone t-bones me at an intersection, the fireball will astound all those people who scoff when cars explode in cop shows. Well, I’ll certainly have to rethink that criticism. What else might I believe that isn’t necessarily so? Perhaps Kojak always could find a good parking spot in New York purely by chance. Really, who am I to say. Sat outside and read, mostly; the weather was in the high seventies, rare for October, and the world is still predominately green. Enjoyed the gentle plosh of the backyard Water Feature, which is still in a state of partial construction – Friday was the completion date, and I think it goes without saying that Friday came and went without completion, let alone electricity to the site, let alone cleaning up the various messes I was apparently expected to stare at all weekend. Am I preparing a nicely detailed summation that will live eternally in Google for future customers to reference? I am. (Obligatory disclaimer about how this problem, in perspective, is not worth a hill of beans compared to the problems of, say, Rick and Ilsa in “Casablanca,” whose own problems – life and death! Love and betrayal! – also regarded a heaped arrangement of legumes when contrasted with the geopolitical trends of the day. On the other hand, there’s the matter of the boulders. Three weeks ago three boulders appeared on the boulevard. I call it the Bushmiller Memorial. After most of the stones were brought up to the site, the boulders remained. I inquired. They said they weren’t theirs, which suggested that the neighborhood has some stupid vandals who severely overestimated thier ability to fling a rock through my window. Dude, that’s too big. I can do it, I’ve been workin’ out. Uh – thud.
Okay, but three rocks? So they drove around and tried again, maybe. I told the contractors that they had brought the rocks; no one recalled such a thing, which isn’t surprising since the composition of the crews are rather fluid. They suggested that the boulders might have been excavated from my property. Right. Sure.
Maybe they came from heaven. A shrine unto them we should build, then, and sing hosannahs and anointeth their rocky brows with oil and myrrh? OR MAYBE LOOK AT THE DESIGN, and find the part where it says BOULDERS GO HERE.
Just a thought.
As for the electrician, well, he was supposed to come Thursday. On Friday I was informed that he wouldn’t come, due to a mix-up. What sort of mix-up? He was horribly injured in a car crash, and the surgeons attached the arms to the leg sockets and vice versa? Because that would severely hamper his ability to run power out to the pump, but unless they sewed his mouth shut he could supervise.
After explaining, firmly but politely, that I was not happy and that the forecast called for Scattered Lawsuits, an electrician appeared. (Praise Be the Three Rocks!) He told me what he planned to do, then left. Said he’d be done by Tuesday, which means Friday. It struck me that he could have come any time in the last five weeks; it’s not as though they didn’t know where the electricity would be needed, or whether they would require a special kind.
And if you’re wondering why they don’t work on weekends, well, apparently they do, because someone came to the house and put a flier in the mailbox advertising their services. Jaysus. The end result of this makes me agree with people who say I should pay more taxes instead of wasting it on things like hiring people – for once, I see the point.)
The usual pleasures of the weekend were varied – the movies weren’t particularly engrossing, but yielded a few interesting things, as you’ll see tomorrow. I finally got around to “Napoleon Dynamite,” and everything I had inferred about it was correct. One of those movies some people just absolutely love to pieces, memorizing every frame because it completely conforms to their own mental, emotional and spiritual DNA. And for those people I am happy, because they have found something to give them succor. Me? Eh. Some amusing moments, but mostly it’s like “That 70s Show” directed by David Lynch. And I like David Lynch. “Napoleon” had this modern tick that leaves me cold: saying something that isn’t funny, holding the moment waaay passt its expiration date, and thinking this is somehow hilarious, as though anti-humor + time = hilarity. (See also, or rather don’t, Family Guy.) The other tick: calling something by its real name is inherently hilarious if repeated often enough. Thus “Tater Tots” becomes a fall-down-hold-your-ribs joke if edited down to “tots” and spoken in a fashion that does not seem to brook the presence, let alone the existence, of irony.
I’ll finish it tonight, but only after I’ve had more to drink. Maybe that’s the problem.
Friday Gnat had no school – still parent-teacher conferences – so we hung around. Watched that insect documentary together; she was duly impressed, and later announced that she had found a fly masquerading as a bee outside. Come look! I expected to see an actual BEE, but no: a fly with a flat abdomen and black / yellow stripes. No stinger. Amazing. So we had learned a bit about nature, right there. Useless information, too – what, I’m supposed to react differently when I see that black-and-yellow combination, as if it could be a fly? Ignore that buzzing cloud heading for your head, dear; it’s probably just nature’s way of evading predators by mimicking the Africanized death-swarm.
Then Target. The Christmas decorations are not only up, they’ve been up for a week. Filled the cart with requirements and non-essentials – the cost of a fog machine came down to $20.00, and apparently that’s the price point that makes me say “what the hell,” because I got one. This will be the year I do Halloween right. And this will be the year it snows and the kids all stay home. On the way to the checkout Gnat said “Daddy, look at all that blood” just as I saw two paramedics sprinting through the checkout area. I turned around, and there was an old lady flat face first on the floor, blood flowing out on the tiles. They got her up by the time we checked out, and by the time we got to the parking lot they were wheeling in the stretcher. And somewhere in the city was someone who had no idea they would soon get a call. And somewhere else on the planet was someone tapping away or whistling or making dinner or sitting on the toilet, unaware that the next ring would bring just two words: Mom fell.
At least I hope there was someone to call. It’s possible there isn’t. And if ever I find myself in the ambulance looking up at the ceiling, knowing there’s no one who needs to know, I doubt I will take comfort that it could be worse: the Water Feature could have been seven weeks instead of six.
New Matchbook; penultimate Sunday column; see you tomorrow, with 68% less unattractive peevishness, I hope. Bring your own corn.