Sunday, December 31, 2006

Two Jeannette stories

While undressing, Jeannette cut her nose on the museum admission button stuck in the buttonhole of her shirt. She had been thinking of changing to a sexy nightgown from the layers of bulky winter clothes she was loosely piled with in order to elicit some interest from David who was as usual glued to the television. Clad in knee socks and panties, she rushed to the mirror to see whether the sharply stinging cut would ruin the effect of allure. Eventually deciding that the house was too cold anyway, she compromised with the ensemble of socks, sexy black gown and topped the outfit with a gray hooded sweatshirt from a college no one they knew had attended.
The sweatshirt was a sore point in that it came via a former boyfriend who had stolen it from an unknown source, which meant that it was from the wardrobe of another woman. It was one of the reasons that she had stopped seeing that guy. His infidelities were legion and he had a habit of adopting clothing from women. He was a small man, and so, could easily fit into a lot of women’s’ clothing. This sweatshirt, however was just the right amount of oversize, and was exceedingly soft, so she kept it although who it smelt like now was up for grabs.
David was absorbed by a nature show; not that it mattered, he alternated between sporting events and nature shows and spent little time conferring with Jeannette about her preferences. For her part, Jeanette saw romance sneaking away once more and turned to contemplate her magazine and the frequent query- When did so many nature shows suddenly appear on TV?


2.
When Jeanette left her husband, it was without premeditation. She left the house and was gone. Disappearing was a skill she had developed as a teenager. Hanging out with a group of kids for hours and suddenly becoming rammy or bored, she would leave a room without fuss or preamble and leave the house as well. Later they would say to her: “It was hours before we realized you weren’t coming back”.
It was hours before you noticed that you weren’t paying attention” Jeannette would reply.

It was much the same with her husband. One day he woke up and leaned over the bed to kiss her sleeping face and beheld her empty pillow. Was she here yesterday he wondered?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Makes Good Use of Time

A Man A Car, A Plan: Planaman

I was driving home for a change, when I saw something unusual in front of me. A guy on a small motorcycle kept sliding back to have a discussion with a person in a car. I suppose they know each other, I thought, but instead of keeping pace with the slowly moving car in rush hour traffic, the cyclist would bound ahead, and then slip backward for another word or two. This action intrigued me, but it was only a mild aberration.
In another mile, the cyclist veered off, and made a turn and the rest of us in the rat race plodded slowly forward, a metal taffy pull on the highway; go ahead, shrink closer together, etc.
The next thing I noticed was that the guy in the car who had been the friend of motorcycle Bob, let’s call him, pulled up to a truck that was carrying the equipment and workers for a lawn service, and I saw the guy take a business card from the guy in the passenger seat of the truck.
This guy makes very good use of his time, I thought. Here I am just driving home, and this other guy is making friends, getting contacts, contracting work to be done. What else could he do while I drove passively behind? It turns out, that he could go to the drive in dry cleaners and come out ahead of me at the next light, a neat trick. He also picked up some dinner, cleaned the inside of his windshield, went through some mail on the seat next to him, changed his shirt, and tie, combed his hair, applied fresh cologne to disguise what I could only surmise was the accumulated odors of the day, and picked up his date at a bus stop which he probably arranged by cell phone before I pulled up in back of his car.
At this point, I was completely in awe. If he had not already picked up that other woman, I was going to jockey my car so as to get a better view of the guy and meet him myself. After all, a man who was so productive on the road could only be a paragon of efficiency in his home. Unfortunately I was not quick enough to think of that plan in time to catch up with him; also, the road was very crowded, as the rush to home continued for the majority of workers on our route. We continued driving for a while and the girlfriend wrapped a package she had pulled from her tote, changed her outfit, applied makeup, made one or two calls of her own, rummaged in the back seat to come up with a newspaper wherein she appeared to be engrossed in the classified pages, but the light in the car was fading, and my eyesight is just not what it used to be. Perhaps they live in the car, I thought. All they need is a bathroom and a couple of blankets, and they need never leave the car at all. Perhaps he conducts business by phone and laptop while making the rounds of his daily errands. Most other people would feel claustrophobic, but I know of one or two people who have lived in cars, or claimed to do so, and who knows how many people there are who just spend their day in the car? I know a salesman, but he likes getting out of the car to stretch his legs and to do business with his clients. He prefers eating in restaurants, too, as would I in his place, but the couple in front of me seemed perfectly content to conduct all of the business of their lives in the front seat of that small sedan.
Before I could surmise anything else about the two, we came to a stop at a gaper’s delay, and I read his bumper sticker, to wit: You don’t have to believe everything you think. Ain’t that the truth? I thought. Even stopped in traffic, I was being made to think philosophically by his choice of reading material on the car. Wow! I was blown away by the fabulous functioning duo in front of my eyes. It is not often that one gets a show while driving their humdrum route home from the daily toil for cash.
I thought about going further, but was afraid of being at some point disappointed. Surely they would embark at some destination, ruining the invention of my imagination. With some relief, as I neared home, I made my turn, even then wondering about the magical life of the man whose teacher must have written in his report card; makes good use of time.

Friday, September 29, 2006

On the Radio

Norris was at work, listening to some god-awful caterwauling on the radio. Katherine, working across the table asked "who is that?" Norris's opinion was that it might be Curt Kobain.
"Nope, too happy" was Kath's repy.
"Well, how about Nirvana?" opined Norris.
"Still too happy".
"I don't know," said Norris, "It sounds pretty anguished to me".
"Yeah, but it is still a happier anguish" was Katherine's last take on the subject.
"That could be our band's name" Norris said, knowing that there would not be any band, but saying so anyway. It was kind of like what she used to tell Tessa all the time; "I saw it, and frankly, it was poignant, but boring."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Phone Solicitor

Norris was tiring of immersing her hands in water. Talk about sub urbanity she thought. As if in answer, the phone rang, “Hi, I ‘m calling for the children’s hospital” said a young woman’s voice. Norris was let down; it was not a real call from someone good.
“Oboy” she was good at getting rid of telephone solicitors, but did not exactly enjoy it.
The telephone voice giggled at Norris’s dolorous reply and Norris asked “Do you want money?” Just before the girl could resume her memorized speech- “no”
“Well, do you want children?” Norris was thinking ahead here, “Because I don’t have either”.
“No,” the girl replied.
“Well, what is it then?”
“I want to know if you want the paper.” By now the pre written speech was totally out the window and Norris thought why do I want a paper from the children’s Hospital? They put out a paper? Talk about non-sequitur, sheesh, I didn’t mean for this to get out of hand.
“When you get the paper delivered, one dollar goes to the hospital…” the girl seemed to be veering back toward her previous spiel.
“Wait, I pay the hospital?”
“No, you pay the carrier but...”
“The hospital gets the money and I get the paper?” This is not too awful Norris thinks, and then thinks of having her Sunday mornings shattered by the rude blatting of the front doorbell, and having to face some obnoxious adolescent while still in her pajamas. “No, thanks, I’m not here a lot.” (Subject closed)
“Okay,” the phone voice registers, ( lost another one.)
Norris reluctantly returns to submergence.

Dinner Plans

and household woes

Hi , I’m really depressed.

Oh? What is it this time?

Well, I just discovered while cleaning the top of the stove, that the funny burning smell we were looking for last night was the brand new counter top and the brand new cutting board. This apartment isn’t even a month old, and already I have ruined something. Lou is going to hit the roof and I don’t know if I can take it.
Did you know that the amazing Ginsu steak knife makes a wonderful wood plane? In fact, it worked better than the actual wood plane I used first. In my usual Lucy tries to hide a cow in the kitchen style, I was hacking burnt wood off the cutting board when I realized that it smelled just like hotdogs.
Does this mean that all these years I have been eating thinly disguised kosher wood chips? NO, what it means is that all those old hot dogs are being made into cutting boards since people got so hinky about nitrates in the food. They chop up the dogs and press them into clever wooden shapes. In fact, I hear they do a mean parquet floor too, but that could be salami. I’ll look into it for you. Does the extra cash I blow on Kosher mean I get hickory instead of knotty pine? What do you think?

Well, I think this is great material for a story- it’s pretty funny stuff actually and you should write it all down like I told you yesterday.
I’m getting ready to go to my new job now. I just love wearing this neat little tuxedo shirt and my patent leather shoes. Do you want to have dinner at the monster inn before the Comet dance at the Planetarium tonight?

Well, here’s where my life is starting to resemble fiction, I already wrote our conversation before calling you. Do you think our lives are losing spontaneity?
And to answer your question, I don’t know if we can afford it; even if we only get the “victim”, we just shelled out 80 bucks for groceries last night and what with the counter and all he’s going to be in one hell of a mood and it will be a miracle if we get to the dance at all.

Maybe you could put a potted plant on the burnt spot.

No, it’s right next to the stove, which would not be good at all.

Okay, so how about a lamp? You have to see well to cook, right?

No, same spot, it’s just awkward. Anything put there would be knocked over by someone’s elbow.

Oh well, Dave and Denise are coming in at 6:30 and we’re going out for dinner and then to the dance.

Yeah, when they say 6:30 that means 9:30 if you’re lucky.

No, they promised to come early which means they could show up on time, and if they don’t show by 8:30, we’re going without them because we promised Timmy and Bagwan we’d be there by at least 10.

Oh. We.., maybe we’ll meet you. Or maybe there will be a national disaster before he gets home and the burnt counter won’t seem so bad. I’m working on dematerializing in case that disaster doesn’t come through. How about that?

Good idea! If you perfect it, let me know. Actually, you could dematerialize over here but I have to clean. I’ll see you tonight. Maureen is coming from the suburbs; I think we can get a ride with her.

Okay. She goes to the phone, calls Tess and reads the story to the phone, and hangs up. No answer. She leaves a message:
Hi, I really don’t have to call you now because I have already written the whole conversation down in case you’re not home…..still, no one answers; how typical. At least I got a few pages of dialogue out of it.
She tries calling someone else.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

How to buy spices

An excerpt of the soon to be published Che Sera Cookbook:

When shopping for herbs and spices, get anything that looks good to you, or anybody with you, or the odd bystander in the spice store. Buy lots of colors, shapes and textures- you can find out what to do with them later, and if you don’t you still have the raw material for amusing home d├ęcor. Nothing looks better on your kitchen wall than a lot of glass jars full of great looking stuff.
Note: you may want to avoid buying some things which are too hot to serve as anything other than say, paint remover. This is precisely what sales help is for; don’t be afraid to ask for assistance in weeding out the more lethal items and hope this is not one of their “bad” days. If it is, buy stuff anyway, it will cheer you up some; probably nothing will help them.
Should you feel I have been too vague about suggestions, my guideline is:
1. green stuff
2. yellow stuff
3. red stuff
4. leafy substances
5. things that have shape
I don’t bother with labels. It astounds my friends and makes cooking look much more difficult than it really is. People are sure I am psychic. If you want to give this impression but are sure you will put curry into your tapioca, simply label the bottom of the jars. It is mistake proof and you sill still appear to be a culinary genius.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sleeping Beauty

We were sleeping in the single bed in my room at my parents' house, and the sun shone on our faces waking us up. My eyes were still closed and you thought I was asleep when you raised up on your elbow and looking down at me , and said "God, you are so beautiful." I moved about acting asleep until you kissed me awake.

That was the first and last time any of my boyfriends said that to me. You thought I did not hear it, but I did. The sad part is that no one of you ever said it in my hearing. Why not?

Yeah, you might have a false memory. It's not you, it's the guy who will probably not read this.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The 4th of July

I woke up this morning hearing a band playing. This is not unusual as I often think I hear music in the house, mostly at night. Usually it is a radio left playing upstairs.
I realized it was the parade. I threw on some clothes and went downstairs to find Jeff watching the news in his sweatpants. "Parade" I told him. "I hear the bands". He of course did not believe me, so I wandered down the driveway to see the parade.
It's a small town kind of deal, part of the town marches, children ride bikes and everyone gets a small flag(made in China).
It is the neighborly thing to do unless caught out later, when you can plead the sleeping late defense. This year they gave out balloons, beads (to the faithful, I noticed, as they came from the church) and ice cream sandwiches. Breakfast of champions. When the black high school band passed I smelled pancakes and bacon. I mentioned this to Jane. She asked me what that meant. I said it means someone over there (motioning across the street) is making breakfast. She laughed, glad I was not making a racially biased remark. Small minds, small town USA.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Email Woes

Nory questions her contacts.

Nory, tired of forwarded messages and terse responses, asked Tom to write her a story. What she got in response was a series of the usual inane and whiny messages. A story, she thought, has characters and a narrative. These puny messages, while original to the writer, could be improved upon if he tried. She could not complain much, however, because hardly anyone but Linda wrote cogent letters.
Linda’s letters were so pleasurable to read that there was an impulse to save them for posterity. Nory did have a small cache of hand written letters from Linda and a few others that she could not discard. The only hand written note she possessed and had ever received from Tom, was a scrap of paper which read: Back in a wink of a quark’s life. When she found it, he had gone out to get provisions for breakfast that they would share, or perhaps it was something else, she could no longer remember; it was that long ago. She thought at the time, that a quark might be some kind of bird. In the years which passed between then and now, she had learned via several sources that the quark lived in space, and was not so much a bird as a particle; of what she had no idea, nor did she wish to find any more information about it. If she asked, she would receive a ream of research on the subject. Sometimes she asked for stuff just because she was too lazy, and he was so good at finding the information she wanted. The note itself remained in the shoe box with the other hand written letters and cards she had deemed worthy of saving.
At least I get multiple notes to amuse me, was Nory’s opinion. She thought Tom might agree, although he rarely concurred with anything she wrote to him, she felt that his disagreement was calculated so that she would write again to counter his remarks, or to defend herself
. She had learned over time, that to argue with anyone at all was probably not worth the time and energy expended, but Tom made her experience her feelings on a more dramatic level than others did, and she was not sure of why that should be. Still, she had started to realize when she was being baited, and replied to him with the same kind of banter he used on her. He did not like it much, and had begun to complain about her replies, calling her “glib”.
Not thinking that glibness was a problem, she stayed her course, and eagerly awaited further correspondence.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ya call that music?

It's official, there is no music on late night television that I want to hear.
In fact, it may be safe to say that there is little new music that I wish to listen to at all.
It may just be the unnatural ringing in my ears (tinnitus) that is worse the last month or so, but I think it is just bad musicianship.

Have you any recommendations for movies I might like that I could rent? I am enjoying netflix, you get movies in the mail, and send them back. no human interaction required. No smell of rancid popcorn or rugs which smell of feet.

Evidently, the old ucch sound that you make that I make has been replaced partially by the newer and equally expressive yeish. Not quite sure how to spell it, but Jeff seems unable to resist repeating it after I say it. Sort of like Renee Chenault Fatah, whenever she is on I cannot resist yelling FATAH!!! and a woman on public radio : Latch mi Singh, Andy and I hear her at work and are powerless not to echo her name in unison.