Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Genuinely Frightening Things I've Been Experiencing Third-Hand

I've been considering writing an entry like this for a while... and I keep thinking that I shouldn't. I think that I don't really have a right. I guess I'll just start writing and if, through the act of getting it down, I find some kind of justification, I'll post it.

A few months ago an online acquaintance of mine posted about his friend, infamous for telling distressing stories for the sheer love of distressing his audience, sharing a story about an Adams-Morgan landlord emptying an apartment whose tenant had vanished and failed to pay the rent for an extended period of time. When he looked into a duffel bag before throwing it out on the sidewalk, he found the dismembered body of the missing tenant.

This is a distressing enough story, but moreso to me because the person in question, nicknamed Tymex, was someone I had met at a party a few months earlier. It was a party at the apartment of a former coworker, and I knew maybe three or four people there. Introvert that I am, I wasn't doing too well with rooms packed wall to wall with strangers. Tymex introduced himself to me and we immediately started talking music. He introduced me to several people there and generally made me feel more at ease. He seemed very excited about the upcoming Fischer-Spooner show at the 930 -- "my BOYS!" he repeatedly called them -- and offered to get me on the guest list. I gave him my email address, but never heard back from him.

That was the only time I met him, and yet the news of what had happened to him distressed me greatly.

Why is it that loss of life seems so much more tragic when you can put a voice and an actual experienced personality to the name? Maybe the real question is why it seems so much less so when you can't-- when the person is just a name and a photograph. An abstraction. Yet how little it takes to breathe life into the name.

{In college, Junior or Senior year, I met a first-year once or twice who later ended up on the front page of the Brown Daily Herald. He had died either by suicide or in an autoerotic asphyxiation gone wrong, exactly which being a point of no small controversy. We had never, I believe, had a full conversation. I don't remember his name. We were at a meeting or two together, he danced (to the music on his own headphones, out of step with the rest of us) at a friend's birthday party. I recall my actual reaction being one of disbelief. Denial. Death is the kind of thing that only happens in the abstract. It couldn't happen to someone I'd actually met, even so briefly. I suppose the same is true with Tymex, except moreso due to the horrific nature of his death.}

A few weeks back I joined a coworker for a few drinks after work at Saint-Ex. I had mentioned to her previously the strangeness of such a violent thing happening to someone I had met, but this night she had something even more distressing to share: "Remember that thing you were telling me about the guy in the duffel bag? How you knew him?"

"We'd met once."

"Well, I knew the murderer!"

The guilty party had turned himself in. I hadn't previously known this. "This was a guy who I partied with, he gave me a ride home a few times. And he's a murderer!"

One more to go...

A good friend of mine who goes to school in Baltimore makes extra money modeling. The photographer she usually works with lives in Philadelphia. When he has work for her, she'll go up there or he'll drive down and take her to the location for the shoot. After her most recent job with him, he had tried to get out of paying her, first claiming to have left the money at home when he dropped her off at the train station, then claiming a sudden death in the family as an excuse for not coming back with it before her train left, and finally saying that he was having money problems and couldn't pay her right away. When she insisted he write up a contract at least giving a deadline for payment, he became more and more belligerent, finally refusing to take her calls and announcing that he'd delete any Emails from her unread. He finally agreed to put something in writing when she threatened him with a lawsuit.

Then the truly distressing news came: The photographer had been arrested in the murder of one of his models.

Apparently many of his models had noticed his personality becoming darker and darker. Some of them became frightened of him, someone they had trusted before. My friend, understandably shaken, now questions her instincts. She had done similar light-bondage photoshoots with this man, even worn the same gag the victim was found in.

Finding a personal connection with death, no matter how tenuous, even sudden violent death, while distressing, is no comparison to learning of a personal connection with depraved slaughter. That these kinds of things happen is common knowledge, but it is a knowledge through a reasonable buffer. A reminder that the people who do these things are real people, people we could have met, people who could have harmed our friends... it's... well... a little too overwhelming to put an adjective to.

In Lighter News...

D. is running off to Paris. She will be taking the Bernie, world's laziest cat, with her. (I amuse myself imagining Bernadette in a beret and black-and-white horizontal stripey shirt, squeaking at the Parisian birds.) I need to find another housemate or another place to live. Last time I was in a situation like this, my friend M. came through and offered me the room I inhabit at this very moment typing these very words. She has since moved out and bought her own place, and now she's offering me her basement. There's an odd not-quite-symmetry to all this. M. first introduced me to the Cafe where I now work, along with a significant percentage of the people I know in DC. It seems almost as if taking another not-quite-favor from her would put me dangerously close to having my very soul in hoc. Also, it's twice as far away from work, the basement has purple carpets and wood paneling, and I shudder at the thought of packing all my books (among one or two other things) yet again.

Still, faced with few leads from friends and therefore the growing specter of having to take out an ad and interview strangers, it seems more and more like another move may be in my future.
Monday, March 22, 2004
Wherefore Nostalgia?

Nostalgia isn't the right term, if you want to be correct about such things. Strictly defined, nostalgia is a sense of pain and loss at the thought of a past one cannot reclaim. It isn't the flattened camp of retro or the glorious celebration of a better time. That clarification made, I will now proceed to butcher the concept.

OK, no actual butchering is to follow-- rather my 3/4-assed theories on retro. Last night I was reminded of the existence of Magnapop (apparently they're back together and touring) and dug out my old copy of Hot Boxing. The songs were neither as tight nor as fierce as I remember them being... in hindsight, and through the lens of the music I moved onto, many of the bands during the pop-culture shift from grunge (Nirvana) to punk (Green Day) seem poppier and less heavy than they did at the time. Then I realized the problem: I remember the bands from when they were current, how they seemed back then. New. A revelation. Not enough time has passed, Magnapop is not long enough forgotten. Instead we get stale early-80s retreads or (much rarer) bracing early-80s reimaginings.

And much of the audience for this music was too young at the time to be fully into the music. For them it's barely-remembered, something they heard briefly from their older siblings' bedrooms before it was cast aside as old-hat. Wait! they silently cried, What was that? I wanted to hear more! And at long last they have the chance to hear it, and it has the power of the new combined with the sheen of a half-remembered dream, a sense of deja vu. Like finding a new edition of that bedtime story you always suspected you'd made up.

But does the music drive the fashion or vice versa? My theory of fashion retro is one of thrift-store ecology. In the 90s, young hipsters scoured every local salvation army for polyester and t-shirts with slogans meaningless out of context. The t-shirts are still out there for the bin-divers, but all the cast-off clothing from the 70s has been bought up. The retro moves to the Urban Outfitters of the world, recreating more expensive versions of the fashion for trendies, but the hipster remains in the thrift store.

The thrift store: a bleak landscape, victim of a fashionista Tragedy of the Commons. Nothing to be had, until the hipster starts noticing the previously overlooked 80s castoffs. One niche ravaged, the species fits itself to another as yet unfilled, thereby beginning another cycle of fashion retro.

So, do the clothes follow the music or vice versa? Or is it all a brilliantly timed dance of convergent evolution? As soon as I exhaust my grant to study why people in DC are always walking backwards or sideways without looking where they're going (and, further, why this movement is always either in my direction or intersects with my intended path), I will turn my scientific eye to a study of the matter.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
I slept a lot today. This makes a certain amount of sense, as I went 12 rounds with insomnia last night and have vague recollections of noticing morning-slanted sunlight through my blinds.* It was my usual trick: wake up at 10 or 11, go back to sleep, take brief naps between blasts from the alarm clock, go back to sleep for a few more hourlong spurts, finally haul my ass out of bed... all three feet to my desk chair and start surfing the web. (Suddenly occuring thought: Maybe if D. ends up going to Paris, I'll eventually reclaim the third bedroom as my office so that I at least have to walk down the hall first.)

{*this was after my spree of what the litany of odd emails I am currently receiving suggests to have been DRUNK FRIENDSTERING! I am ordinarily very particular, see, about whom I'll consider a friend. I don't usually go around thinking, "Oh, I met that person once" or "Oh, I see that person around and we've almost had a conversation" and reaching the conclusion that we're friends. Not so while drunk. So my Friendster circle is now enlarged by several random scenesters and coffee lovers}

When I sleep in fits and starts in such a manner, I tend to remember my dreams much better-- which is to say at all. There were several of them and they all involved work, distressingly enough. In one of them I had ridden my bike up to Baltimore on my day off and decided to drop by the Cafe franchise up there. The layout was entirely bizzarre, more like a house than a coffee shop (though the actual backrooms at the actual Cafe could be described as such pretty accurately). The espresso machines were self-serve, and when I tried to use one I discovered that instead of coffee grounds, I was packing hummus into the basket.

The other two dreams I remembered both took place at closing time and both involved several coworkers showing up at once to help and getting more in the way than anything else. The first one involved customers refusing to leave. I have taken to bringing a copy of Lou Reed's Transformer to work so I can play the last track, "Goodnight Ladies," at closing time. It's more polite than turning the stereo volume way up and seems to get the message across better. In the dream, I was looking for the CD but I couldn't find it. I kept looking desperately, as if it were some kind of talisman necessary for the closing. But people kept on coming in and ordering, or asking questions, and I had to keep running back and forth.

I think it was the second dream in which I actually got into a shouting match with a guy who refused to leave. This time I kept trying to clean up, but there were all these strange new items (tray of brownies!) that I had no idea what to do with. Then somebody turned off all the lights -- I think it was the most recent hire, who bugs the hell out of me for no real reason I can discern (which in turn bugs the hell out of me more-- I find it annoying that I'm so easily annoyed) -- and I had to explain that we don't usually turn off the table lights unless the store lights are on. And that's when I discovered the secret compartment above the cake fridge full of empty bottles...

My plans for today were of trying to get my car working again (at long last) and then calling up the bass player who contacted me through Friendster about playing together. After about a month of our failing completely to find a time when we were both free, she Emailed me on Friday to say that she would be in town Sunday after all. And I never got around to calling her back. I thought D. would be back in town and able to try giving my car another jump, but she didn't show up until about an hour ago.

I ended up watching Citizen Ruth from Netflix, making myself an omelette with green peppers and onions, reading the Sunday Times while listening to the burned copy of that Olivia Tremor Control album the one Cafe regular lent me, and finally going back to bed.

Either my fundamentally introverted nature demands a day without human contact after five straight days dealing with customers and coworkers, or I'm more depressed than I have been wanting to admit.

Everything seems clearer after the nap, though possibly this is because I no longer have the shame of not calling someone I was supposed to call battling the slinking dread of possibly being thrown into a new situation with a new person. Days like this make me marvel that I haven't yet moved into that windowless basement apartment and become an urban hermit.

I am, however, partway there. Rather than beat back my severe disinclination to leave the apartment to buy groceries, rather than even pick up a phone, I just ordered a pizza on the internet. It will be here soon, so I should get out of this bathrobe and put on some pants.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Let's Get This Party On

Will I ever post anyting sober?

I will not respond to IMs sent to me when I'm still asleep. That's just the way things work. And I will not add any feature for people to respond to these entries, not just because it would be too much damn work but because I like being the Voice Of God around these parts. All this stuff I write isn't me fishing for compliments. I will quarter no undercutting responses to my self-flagellation.

But if one takes a simple step back, anything in life becomes entirely absurd. And you just gotta laugh. Like how much I hate my Lizardbrain, but it's the Monkeybrain that's equally to blame. That ol' stupid Mammalian hardwiring for The Pairbond. And the synapses go and wire themselves to the facial features of one person and then that person comes in on an unexpected day for her expected soy chai and even though she returned the favor when you pretended not to see her, she'll still call you on it the next time she sees you... that's just her way, you see... so yeah, I was there briefly, but I left because the DJ was lame, it had nothing to do with seeing you there... and sure she's one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen, possibly the prettiest girl I've ever worked up the nerve to talk to, unquestionably the prettiest girl I've ever asked out, even to be shot down, and that's something right there, but you take a step back and how many women are there in the world? Even in such a teeny tiny city pretending to be a Nation's Capital as my dear District? Tonight alone-- three? four? not unattractive, maybe without quite the same hypnotizing eyes, disarming smile or flawless complexion, but... so what? Demand perfection? Perfection? Stop and think, must be something... well, not the greatest bust... meh, since when did I care for tits? Thursday? How long since she came in on a Thursday? Sunday! And I have Sunday off this week!

Hardwired for the one face, how unspeakably ridiculous is that? Any more or less ridiculous than the fact that I hardwired my own damn self? But STILL! Why should I need to go through so much pain to rewire myself? When will modern science be able to install a reset switch on the unruly bundle of misfiring synapses?

I thought this was going somewhere, but once again...
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Shit Fuck Cunt Fuck Bollocks Merde Bloody

This is now officially linked on every 'blog in the world, but if you haven't seen it yet... like if you're borrowing your friend's computer after seventeen years as a Buddhist monk and this whole internet thing is new to you... you really owe it to yourself to click on the link.


The editing is brilliant: the rhythms of the profanity, like jazz or poetry. If you watch it enough times it becomes hypnotic, almost prayerlike. How long before people have entire discussions made up entirely of quoting it over and over again, like when we were hopelessly geeky jr. high kids whose social life revolved around carefully memorized Monty Python skits? Or now that we're hopelessly geeky grownups whose social life revolves around obscure Homestar Runner quotes?

I think I'm gonna go watch it again.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Knowing Nothing Ever Happens

Right. Today I tested out the barber recommendation I got last night. This involved riding my bike down all kinds of state streets right to the edges of downtown. Cars downtown know how to deal with cyclists much better than on ghettoward streets, probably from dealing with all the couriers who ride like maniacs-- my 'act like a car for the most part' routine must be a refreshing change for them.

As the bartender last night said, "You need an old guy who doesn't speak English very well." This matches my idea of what a barber should be very closely. I didn't get the straight razor treatment, and the cut cost $17 (12 is usually my limit), but the guy knew what he was doing. Whenever I get a cut and the barber starts with the back and sides, there's a moment when I see myself in the mirror with the sides short and the top still long and wonder if I could get away with it as a look... a bit retro 80s, maybe, but isn't that what's hip now and wow these days?

Then back up to P street and over to Georgetown for my monthly comix buying spree. Not too much interesting, though I did pick up Paul Pope's "Heavy Liquid" at long last and Craig Thompson's "Blankets." I hadn't realized before I saw it that "Blankets" was the size of "Gravity's Rainbow"! Quite the tome... I'll get to it once I finish "Jimmy Corrigan," which I always pick up, examine the cover and endpieces, and become discouraged. I've heard "Watchmen" called the "Ulysses" of graphic storytelling, but in complexity, stylistic audacity and personalness, I think "Jimmy Corrigan" may be the more appropriate choice for that title.

On the way home I stopped at the Cafe to grab some (free) coffee and read a few pamphlets. Everyone I saw had the same reaction. First: some form of "I didn't recognize you at first!" then, "do you have a job interview?"

I would have stayed longer, but I'd left my phone at home and I needed to call my parents to wish them a happy anniversary. They were impressed -- all but shocked -- that I remembered. Always good to see such confidence in one's ability not to be a scatterbrained loon, though I suppose given my track record in such matters I have no right to be offended-- the surprise was well-earned. (But how hard is the Ides of March to remember, honestly?)

Then I sunk into an odd depressed state, the kind of unfocused low-level thing wherein everything seems somewhat muffled and detatched. This lasted until I sat down with my guitar, determined to figure out that Mekons song. The one that gave me the title for this entry, and the previous entry. The one which I'd had on repeat play for a good half hour this afternoon. After a few false starts the song just came out, all four chords of it. And suddenly everything lifted-- all the obsession over past failures, all the certainty of more to come. I couldn't remember the words except for the chorus, but I was singing, and the words expressed a sadly hopeless hopefulness that captured everything I've been feeling or trying to feel.

Maybe I should give up on trying to write, which just makes me depressed, and focus on music. I kid myself that I have talent or potential for crafting prose, but in music I know I'm crap. Any time I try to write I give up halfway through in disgust and self-loathing, while in music the slightest piddling accomplishment fills me with joy and satisfaction. And part of me is convinced that if I ever manage to get up on stage and play music, every hip beautiful woman in DC will fall hopelessly in love with me and my days will be spent evading screaming hordes of them like a third generation copy of a Monkees episode doing a third generation copy of a Beatles movie.

Earlier this year a regular at the Cafe, impressed with the music I put on the stereo there, suggested that I try getting a dj gig at a club. The idea planted itself in my head until it's reached the point of having similar resultant fantasies of hordes... less screaming than requesting mix tapes/CDs. From the Monkees to John Cusack in "High Fidelity." That's what a celebrity crush on Natasha Gregson Wagner gets you!

wow, here i thought i was wrapping up and suddenly i'm into full ramble mode...

Last Monday the pretty nordic redhead came into the Cafe. We hadn't seen her for several months, and suddenly she was there for the second day in a row. She was sharing a booth with some guy, and they were talking and she was playing with her hair. It struck me suddenly that I always see beautiful women playing with their hair at someone who isn't me and said as much to my coworker. See, I don't reserve all my self-pity for the online sphere. And we got to talking about missing body language cues, and being too nervous to be witty and charming around the people around whom we most needed to be charming and witty. It is a great irony of my life, I have recently noticed, that I am very good at interpreting body language except when it's being directed at me.

The upshot of this story comes at closing time. Another coworker and I had finished up with the cleaning, and were sitting at the counter, she smoking a cigarette and I finishing my beer. We were chatting and I was looking off into the middle distance as I too often do and I noticed that she was holding a lock of hair straight out from her head...

One thing I've noticed about myself over the last few years is my unfortunate tendency to misinterpret flirtation. When somebody is flirting with me just because they think flirting is fun, I take it seriously. When someone is flirting with me because they're genuinely interested, I think they're just having fun. Knowing this, I second guess myself constantly. Into paralysis. Until on occasion a growing infatuation forces itself past my social paranoia and I succeed in making an ass of myself. The rejection, so long building, is absurdly shattering-- so much more so than it would have been had I simply made an attempt before everything reached a fever pitch.

At this point I really should try to sleep, as work is a mere 13 hours away and this entry has become an unmanageable beast. At least my loyal readers (all none of them) have something substantial to reward their patience (all none of it) through my long silences.

It'll be all right...
Monday, March 15, 2004
I Wanted to Say Fall in Love

I was supposed to work today (Sunday-- yesterday if you want to get technical, but it's not really tomorrow until I've had some sleep) but I traded shifts with a coworker so I could go to Iota and catch The Mekons. This had the added advantage of getting a Sunday off and thereby avoiding having to deal with a certain person, dealing with whom I'm still not feeling entirely up.

{He hides his pain in quirky syntax. He feels stupid for still feeling it, so he makes himself sound just as stupid.}

Anyway, has anybody else noticed how screwed up the interhole has been lately? The other day my friend M. had to cancel her plans of working from home due to internet non-function. I've had to reset my router a half-dozen times in the last few days to get things working right again. And this afternoon (while I was trying to figure out "Einstein's Day" on the guitar, so the gain was cranked up to try to get the solo sounding right and I didn't hear the phone ringing) Snarkout left a message on my machine that their internet had gone down, his lovely bride had a stack of papers to grade, and there was a distinct possibility that they wouldn't make it to the show.

The doors were supposed to open at 8. I planned to get there at 7:30, on the theory that Iota is tiny little and the show would sell out quick. Due to Metro schnavooz I arrived at 7:45 and found that the doors had been pushed up to 8:20. The doors did not actually open until closer to 8:45, so I was standing around in the almost-semi-cold for about an hour. As the door continued not to open, I got more and more depressed. I considered abandoning my place in line to go home and not have to worry about catching the last train.

It is not a common occurence, at least not in recent years, that the crowd at a punk rock show makes me feel young. I was in line behind some folks talking about how many dozens of times they'd seem the Mekons before, one fellow how the last real argument he and his S.O. of thirteen years (now wife) had had was over whether to leave a very crowded show after three encores.

The show did not end up selling out. Iota is actually bigger than I'd remembered. Johnny Dowd was the opener, and my FUCKING GOD it was amazing. I was expecting mellow country tones, but instead there was Dowd himself, wringing feedback ("Man, I love this new guitar") and railing against war; a keyboardist making incredible organ sounds wedded to electronic noise; and a drummer who played bass on a big keyboard with his left foot. The whole thing had much more rock/blues/soul energy than I was expecting.

I was reminded of the story of the guy who saw Gang of Fout open for the Buzzcocks and had left after their set, knowing that nothing could top it and not wanting to spoil it. The Johnny Dowd Band was just that good. But, tempted though I was, I did not leave. And for this I am grateful to myself (a rare occurence).

{How long has it been since he's written such a long entry? He must be drunk}

John from the Mekons came onstage during Dowd's last song (a Hank Williams cover, one of several with an anti-war theme) to sing backup vocals on the chorus, and ended up being handed the guitar to play a solo.

The Mekons themselves came on at about 11. In case you were wondering how I remember all the times so well, it's because I was mindful of 11:42 PM, the departure time of the last Sunday train to DC.

John explained that their latest album was called "Punk Rock" because they were the best punk rock band in the world, because they were the only punk rock band left in the world. All the other punks were retired or dead. Billy Idol is off somewhere operating a forklift.

This is what I had been hoping for. I'd seen the Mekons twice before, both times in big clubs. Iota was the perfect venue, allowing John and Sally to riff off each other to sidesplitting results. During their second or third song the bass began feeding back, leading to sidelong glances from Sally while people rummaged around midsong trying to fix everything.

John: That song was attacked by a herd of elephants, but we managed to solve the problem. It kind of reminded me of the Lord of the Rings. I just want to make sure that everyone out on the battlefield is OK... because that bass frequency that got amplified can cause people to automatically void their bowels.
Sally: We wouldn't know, because we've been on tour. None of us has eaten for five days.
(incomprehensible shouting from audience)
John: What was that again?
Sally: If you're going to heckle us, it has to be in a language we can understand.
John: I understand Elvish is very popular these days.
Sally: I thought he was dead!
John: We practice this ahead of time you realize... Actually, I thought that's what "The Return of the King" was all about, and then there wasn't any of his music throughout the whole film...

As 11:40 rolled around I decided to stick it out. They were playing one of the best cuts from "Journey to the End of the Night" and absolutely killing it, and I just couldn't ditch. I'd take a cab home if needed. I was rewarded by more brilliant banter, an amazing version of "Last Dance," and two encores, rounded out with "Dan Dare," "The first song we ever wrote."

The thing about seeing the Mekons live-- after it's over you want to buy everything they've ever recorded. I managed to restrain myself to "Punk Rock."

I thought I'd seen my interhole buddy Chris earlier, so after the show I pushed through the exiting crowd in his direction. Not only was there one person I knew at the show, he offered me a ride home!

Instead of taking the ride all the way home, however (as would have been wise, at least in hindsight) I had him drop me off in front of Saint-Ex. I have Monday off, so I figured I'd check out the Sunday night RAWK scene. So I went downstairs. Shortly thereafter I saw precisely the person I'd been so ambiguously happy to avoid. And the same DJ as last week, playing the same songs.

Some day in the future, scientists will examine my genetic code in search of what exactly it is that caused me to be born to be ignored by bartenders. While I stood at one end of the bar waiting to be noticed, She came to the other end of the bar, got her drink, and left again. She pretended not to see me and I returned the favor. I have a deep hatred for my lizard brain for still pumping me full of enough adrenaline to essentially incapacitate me whenever I see a woman who has already shot me down. I may have tried to say hi to her, except I saw she was talking with the guy I suspect is her ex, and who I have good reason to think she's still hung up on. I try not to let the roiling resentment show when he comes in for coffee...

{How much has he had to drink by this point?}

I went back upstairs to finish my beer and talked to the bartender up there about good DC barbers (he'd been recommended to me as knowledgeable of such things) and got a good recommendation. Finished my beer, walked home.

Depression to joy and right back again. Vodka makes life more bearable, but I don't think there are enough potatoes on earth to help me now.
Friday, March 12, 2004

I had Wednesday and Thursday off from work. Wednesday and Thursday have basically been my weekend for the last month or two. This will last as long as it lasts, until the next schedule flux. My days off used to be Monday and Tuesday. All this is entirely unimportant. All that matters is that I had planned to try and get my car working again this weekend, but instead managed only to watch the Sopranos DVDs NetFlix sent me. That and drag my ass to the dentist for today's appointment.

First off (uh oh, he's gonna start bitching again, I can already tell) my appointment was for 3:30, but I didn't get in until 4:30. Secondly, the dentist wouldn't stop asking me what I wanted to do with my life, and I get enough depression demanding an answer to this of my own damn self, I don't need a man with bona fide torture implements joining the inquisition. But his torture was not in response to my lack of any direction, but instead to my lack of any decent flossing habit.

"Your teeth are so great-- you need to pay better attention to your gums! I know, I know, it's OK, I give this lecture all day long. You don't even need to do it every day, just three or four times a week. I expect gums to bleed a little, but not that much!" He sent me into the bathroom to rinse, and I spat blood like I'd just gone a round or two with a kickboxer. He told me to eat only soft food for the next 24 hours. He took that much out on my mouth, apparently to drive home just how deeply runs his disdain for gingivitis and the scoffflosses who come down with it.

My mouth still hurts, almost 12 hours later.

Thursday, March 11, 2004
The Strange Tale of Two(?) Toenails

Since everything I think about maybe writing about in this thing always seems, on further reflection, too silly and trivial to bother with, I'll just post the silliest and most trivial thing I can come up with to lower the bar on future entries.

Monday night I went in to work. From the time I put on my shoes, I noticed something poking my right foot, but I was in too much of a hurry to take them off again and check. The rest of the evening I endured the sharp pokings on the bottoms and in-betweens of my toes, shaking my foot to try and move whatever it was to a less sensitive area, and at one point even limping slightly due to it. When I returned home I took off my shoe and sock to find (what else?) a toenail. A little toenail clipping. Probably not from the littlest toe, but possibly from the next one in. Not in the shoe, but in the sock itself. That tiny thing had been causing all the trouble.

Tuesday I also went in to work, and this time when I noticed a similar poking-- in exactly the same place. This time I went straight into the office in back and removed my shoe and sock to find another little toenail. This coincidence spurred my latent paranoia into overdrive. What are the odds of two right socks two days in a row containing a sharp toenail? All the nails on that foot were intact, so it wasn't a case of them shedding or any such thing. This was obviously some kind of conspiracy. "Your roommates are trying to drive you crazy," suggested a coworker. I dismissed this possibility-- anybody who has lived with me knows that any such thing would be wasted effort of the same degree as importing hipsters to Portland. Yet the coincidence was too great to write off as meaningless.

I tried not to think too much about it, but obviously it remained cycling through some back part of my brain: in the middle of washing a load of dishes, I suddenly realized that it was in all likelihood the same toenail! The previous night I had simply thrown the offending shard on the floor, the next afternoon I had stepped on it and it had clung, unnoticed, to some part of my foot while I put on my socks. A much simpler, more elegant explanation than either coincidence or conspiracy.

I didn't mention this to any coworkers, as they were tired of hearing about things related to my feet, and were even starting to complain of lost appetites. So I had to share my cleverness with somebody somewhere.

Here put down as a record of my heroic solution to the least significant mystery in my life!
Monday, March 01, 2004
Another Post, Another Weirdo (not me this time)

I always say I don't want this to turn into a workblog, with endless tales of strange folks coming through the Cafe and their wackiness... but the other night we had a genuinely entertaining crazy person come in for a change.

I was wiping something down behind the counter, or setting another batch of coffee adrip, or possibly slacking off and reading Confederacy of Dunces... it doesn't really matter and should suffice to say that I was distracted enough not to notice the guy at first. So I don't know how long he was standing there. He wasn't actually at the counter (not that I'm being defensive about not noticing him, why are you calling me defensive?) so much as a yard or two back from it, just standing there.

I went over to the register and gave him my best "can I help you?" face. He stood there for a few seconds before announcing, "Oh, I just wanted to introduce myself."

"Oh... OK."

"My name is Shef'!"

"What was that?"



"Shef', John Shaf'"

"Oh really? I hear tell that you're one baaaad mother--"

To my slight chagrin, nobody was quick enough to demand that I shut my mouth. He headed out and introduced himself as "John Shaf'" to a table of people.

"He's a complicated man, and nobody understands him but his woman," I explained to their bewildered looks.

"John Shaf'!"

As he walked out the door I couldn't resist one parting shot: "Hey! Hey Shaft!" He turned around. "Hey Shaft, where you going?"

"I'm goin' to the liquor store!"

Powered by Blogger