Thursday, April 27, 2006

Random Insanity

I got off work today and headed to the store. I was checking out some produce in the fresh foods section, minding my own business. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the guy next to me fondling a bunch of asparagus. He turned it end over end, pushed at the stem, flicked at the heads, and overall made it reasonably apparent that he wasn't certain just how to determine whether or not he'd picked up a decent bundle of edible mini-trees. Suddenly, he stopped, looked up from his inspection, and asked, "Are you single?"

Eyebrows up, I shot him a half-cocked smile. "Well, yes," I answered, waiting for the terminal carry-over.

He nodded, pursed his lips, and went back to groping his asparagus, seeming completely engrossed in determining if that was, indeed, the most perfect bunch of the group. After a few seconds, it became obvious he wasn't going to say anything more. I shrugged, dropped a few potatoes into a sack, and wandered off.

On my way out, I was walking behind this tottering old broad, leaning near as heavily on the basket as she was on her walker, which was nestled beneath the push-handle. Trying to do the right and noble thing, I dropped my sacks in the trunk of the buggy and headed back across the aisle to help her out.

She stopped, smiled at me, and said, "This is one of the few things I can do any more on my own." I smiled back, nodded, and walked back to my car.

I was still smiling whistfully as I pulled up the ramp to get off the highway, thinking of the woman and her fragility and tenacity. A semi-truck barrelled past me on the perpendicular road, effectively snapping me out of my reverie with a couple blasts from his air-horn. Pressed against the window was the trucker's hand, first-finger and pinkie up, thumb extended in the classic sign of "I love you!" Grinning ear to ear, I beeped my little VW back at him and waved.

All-in-all, a strange and interesting day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Flowers in the Doghouse

I'm sitting at my desk, face to face with the shining visage of a salmon-colored Gerber Daisy, which was brought to me by a lovely man I had a date with last week. So here I go again with that thinkin thing...


Great Reasons to Bring a Gal Flowers
  • She makes you smile.
  • You want to make her smile.
  • You love that little girly squeal she makes when you show up at the door with a fistfull of her favorite blooms.


Terrible Reasons to Bring a Gal Flowers

  • You thought she'd be more likely to sleep with you.
  • You thought she'd be less likely to make you meet her parents.
  • You did something stupid, but can't swallow your pride enough to tell her, "I'm sorry," so you try to make up for it by stopping off at the gas station and springing for the $1.99 wilted wonder in a cellophane diaper.


I remembered a spot on my local radio station a few weeks ago, about men who bring women flowers when they've done something wrong.

I really don't know what most women think about that, but I can tell you, for myself, that flowers will absolutely not get you out of the doghouse. In fact, it's not even a good idea to think about flowers when you're contemplating sleeping on the couch. Here's why:

1. You make a habit of bringing me flowers when you're "in trouble". Today, you were driving home from work, thinking of me, and struck with the brilliant revelation that it'd be a stellar plan to do something simple and sweet and totally out of the blue. You swing through the local florist and pick up a fist full of fragrance, then come sweeping through the door with them, grin firmly plastered across your mug. My first reaction? "Okay, what'd he do this time?"

2. I'm not for sale. If you wanted to make nice-nice and crawl into the bed with some one, you'd have been better off hittin the corner and picking up some leggy blonde in torn fishnets and red lipstick. Instead, you came home to a leggy brunette in torn fishnets and red lipstick. I'm still pissed, and you're still not gettin any, but I know what the outfit does to you, so yeah, I'm gonna wear it while I put together a pot pie.

3. When FTD claimed, "Nothing says -I'm sorry- like roses!"... They lied. You can't make up for being an asshole with a dozen long-stemmed buds. Try this novel concept on for size: the next time you do something stupid, apologize. That's right, just come right out and say, "Yanno, that wasn't the most brilliant thing to do. I really didn't mean to hurt your feelings." You don't need to self-depreciate. I don't want to emasculate you, or bludgeon you over the head with it. You're human. You make mistakes, just like every one else-- except me, of course... we all know I'm perfect!


Don't strew me with roses after I'm dead.
When Death claims the light of my brow
No flowers of life will cheer me: instead
You may give me my roses now!

(Thomas F. Healey)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Belting thy Neighbor

One of L's neighbors died. The remaining three were standing on the porch last night when we pulled up, watching a storm roll in and talking about Heaven.

"Charlie died," said the ringleader. "I went to his funeral, and now he's in Heaven... up there!" He pointed to the sky, excited.

I smile. "Yes, Charlie's in Heaven now. You should pick out a star for him." They didn't hear me. They were too busy laughing about the lightening. L's neighbors are what the politically correct would call "special". They all have Down's Syndrom.

I stood there in the driveway, watching them laugh with each other and look up in wonder at the stars, and thought of a story L told me.


A month or so ago, L was vaccuuming his living room (which he does compulsively... L's a bit of a neat-freak), and one of his neighbors came knocking on the door (beating it down, if you ask L). He doesn't recieve many visitors, I guess; at least, not many unexpected ones. When he opened the door, he was face to face with a very agitatated neighbor, who happened to have his pants around his knees.

"It's broken!" he scowled, thrusting a belt at L. After a few minutes of trying to mend it, L realized he wouldn't be able to repair whatever damage had been done to the belt. He went upstairs to his closet, and came back with one of his own belts. The neighbor simply stood there, holding his shirt up, so L knelt down and actually threaded the belt through the pant-loops, then fastened the buckle.

Pants safe and secure around his waist, the neighbor waggled a finger at L. "You fix that, okay? You fix it!" he admonished, walking back towards his own door. That afternoon, on his way home from work, L stopped at the store and bought another belt.

When he knocked on the neighbor's door, the caregiver, who lives with them, didn't have any idea that some one had L's belt. "Hold on for just a moment," she said, disappearing into the house. She returned with a shopping bag filled to overflowing with belts. "Is it in here?" she asked, holding the sack out for L's perusal.

I don't know if they purchased all those belts, or if it was a collection of other peoples' belts that the guy showed up at home with, and she just collected them in a sack, thinking their owners would come in search of them later on. L didn't think to ask.


I'm unsure if Charlie was the belt-bandit, or if it was one of the men standing on the porch laughing at Nature's fireworks. I don't know, if he's alive, if the man who stood on L's doorstep with his pants down even remembers it. I guess there isn't any way of knowing. At that moment, I simply appreciated the innocence and wonder with which they view the world, and made a mental note to remind myself to appreciate the beauty around me.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I've got the Blues

They closed Parker's. They'll re-open again in a few weeks in a different town (which happens to be closer to me, luckily), but I have no idea if they'll continue with the Sunday Night Jam Session. I certainly hope so... it was uplifting at the end of a long week to be able to go and sit and listen to some one pour their heart out into the mic.

Damn shame, though... for now, I guess I'll have to sing 'em myself.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


As is habit on Saturday morning, I scheduled breakfast with my sister at the local greasy spoon. I was driving down Broadway (which is Broadway in the way only a Broadway can be in a small midwestern town), enjoying the trees with their vibrantly green new leaves, the daffodils coming up in the gardens, the precision painting that decorates the old Victorians lining both sides of the street. The sun was shining, there was a crisp breeze tousseling my hair through the sunroof, birds were singing their spring song.

A sense of peace flooded over me like a tidal wave. It isn't something that struck me, like the slap of cold water in the face. It was sort of an enveloping warmth, a realization that's been creeping in for awhile. Life, somehow, has righted itself. I am in awe of the methodical, plodding way in which order and sanity have been reestablished in my life.

I thought of some of the people I know: friends and acquaintances for whom I wished the same sense of peace, the same feeling of calmness and the strength that comes from knowing that everything is as it should be. I thought of people falling on hard times, of long-standing relationships crumbling, of family members passing on. I said, "Thank you," to whomever it is that I thank when beauty strikes me, and wished with the deepest part of my heart good things to those I know deserve a bit of respite.

Today was a beautiful day. I can't wait to see what comes with the sunrise tommorow.

"God never slams a door in your face
without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies." (Elizabeth Gilbert)


Thursday, April 06, 2006


The parking garage at my new job has a strange setup. The entire garage is double-parking, so that one person pulls in behind another person, and then leaves his keys with an attendant, who will move the car if the person on the inside needs to get out.

I don't mind so much leaving my keys with a stranger. I'm not worried that the man in the booth will steal my little Volkswagen with the busted headlight. I am, however, concerned about my clutch. The car is a 6-speed, and the gears aren't situated on the column the way most standards are.

When I dropped my keys off with the attendant this morning, I tried to explain to him that you have to actually push the stick down and in, and past first, in order to put the car into reverse. He laughed and shook his head, saying, "I been drivin' longer than you been alive." And you know, he's right, he probably has. The man's got to be at least 65. I shrugged it off, left the keys, and went on about my day.

When I went to pick the keys up from the booth, however, the man met me with an altogether different laugh. "You know, you was right," he said, grinning at me with stained teeth. "Couldn't get that thing to back up. Had ta move the other one."

Luckily, I'd parked down the center row, where the cars are three deep, with an aisle in front of the first and behind the last. Both the first and the last car leave their keys, and the man was able to move the car on the front end.

I wonder how often it is that we refuse direction from some one out of ego. "Surely this other person, this stranger, doesn't know better than I do how to do this thing I'm so very sure I know how to do!" We've all done it at one time or another. Not every one is able to admit to it after the fact, though. The man was humble, but not in a kicked-dog sort of way.

It reminded me to be conciously humble, as well... to not let my ego get in the way of learning in this new job of mine. Sure, there are things I'll be able to figure out if I hack and slash at them long enough, if I'm persistent enough and determined enough, but I bet if I take the role of student, instead of conquorer, that there are others who have been there longer who can show me ways to do things without getting my feet muddy in the pits.

I look forward to the experience.