FRIDAY MARCH 31 2006
Dank and grey, but certainly spring. I’m wearing a duster. You walk differently when you wear a duster. You walk with a certain nonchalance, as if you’re trying to ignore the fact that your coat goes down so damn far, and this gives you that diffident Western Panache. Of course, you think you’re projecting flinty-grin Sam Elliot, and the world sees Wilfred Brimley.
I wore a tie to work – not a dusteresque choice, but I gave up string ties 14 years ago. Standing on a street corner outside the office I realized I didn’t like it. I’d made a Poor Tie Choice. I just took it off right there and stuffed it in my pocket. I’ve never seen anyone do that, perhaps because most guys are 100% solid in their neckwear commitment when they leave the house. If you have doubts, you push them deep down with the rest of the muttering caveats that collect in the cuffs of the male psyche. So if anyone saw me undo my tie and pull it off, they saw something rare. You’re very welcome. My pleasure.
Skinny ribbed-fabric ties: never coming back. Ever. Probably good. But I’d like thin lapels to come back; I really would. We’ve had, what, 20 years of 70s fashion now; Twenty years of wide lapels and wide ties and wide cuffs? If the pendulum does swing back as far as it’s swung in the other direction, the next fashion movement – The Thinning? The Thinnening? – will be inordinately severe. Ties will have the width of braided dental floss; you’ll have to bind your feet for six months before you can get them through the cuff.
At a coffee shop now, obviously babbling. Not the coffee shop, or the Strib coffee shop, but what is becoming the Thursday coffee shop. A few seats away is an old co-worker. I see her around the neighborhood; I give her the old nod: my brain has matched your facial features against items stored in its database and you come up as a positive match, therefore I should incline my head in your direction. I used to give her the nod, anyway. No nod was ever forthcoming, so I gave up.
Was I jerk then? Was she? Are we both jerks now? If so, shouldn’t there be some new common bond? Odd, but not really; there’s nothing about working together that necessarily says you should have any relationship, once the common bonds have dissolved. Nothing’s more pathetic than returning to a place where you used to work, and expecting some sort of hail-the-conquering-hero reception. The new people don’t care about you – in fact they’re rather peeved, since you’re being shown around like King Former, and they don’t see what’s special. The old people may resent that you got out – or, if they like the place, resent the implication that you were better than they. Or they don’t care one way or the other. A few strained words with the old crew, an attempt to reuse a catchphrase or some job-specific lingo, and then it’s done. Never works. Always makes everyone feel off. Never go back, I say.
But that’s probably colored by my general feeling about offices, which make me feel as though my spinal column is being pulled out, one long nerve at a time, through the base of my skull. It’s not the people, it’s not the job, it’s just the putty clutter, the eternal feeling of 1:57 PM that characterizes most offices, and all the souls staring at computer monitors. It’s like a factory where everyone has their back to everyone else.
I once worked at a place that actually had the “Hang in there ‘til Friday” cat hanging from a branch. Poor cat. Nowadays they’d photoshop him in, but back then I suppose that was an actual cat, actually dangling, without even the prospect of 2 for one drinks and half-off-potato-skins-at-TGIF to console him. Sometimes I think I should decorate my entire cubicle in ancient accumulated office sayings – “You want it WHEN?” “You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!” And that classic I can’t quite remember, the one where the person can only serve one jerk a day and today isn’t your day, or something like that. The chosen mantra of petty tyrants everywhere.
Anyway, I am hesitant to look up, lest she’s peering at me and nodding repeatedly, as if to make up for lost nods. It doesn’t work that way. Sorry.
Last night downtown was fun, to use a banal but utterly apt word. Ate at the same restaurant – but in a different room! Had better tickets for the basketball game – three rows up from the floor. It’s a cheerful thing, a Timberwolves game; the last Vikings game I attended was a deafening exercise in stupidity and with the momentum of a glacial advance, but the to-and-fro inherent in basketball keeps it lively, and the crowd didn’t seem to expect much. We sat closer to the cheerleaders this time. I don’t think they’re human. I think they are made entirely of makeup. Big dense globs of foundation, molded in human shape. They animate them by inscribing credit-card numbers on their foreheads with a magic stylus. Ladies and gentlemen, the Golemettes!
Before I came here to babble I stopped at the video store to get “King Kong.” They had 28 copies. Or rather 28 empty boxes. They did, however, have 150 copies of “Memories of a Geisha.” I noted this to the clerk, who had a simple explanation: the studios jack up the prices on the rental discs when they want to sell the DVDs. (He pointed to a rack by the door offering “Kong” for “19.99.”) They drop the price for movies like Geisha. Interesting. As much as I want to see Kong for the New York scenes, I don’t have a great deal of enthusiasm for it, since I’m not a very big ape fan. I mean, the stink coming off that thing must have been enormous. But it’s the length of the movie that annoys as well; I don’t have three and a half hours to spend in one sitting, and I’m less inclined to sit down and start the movie if I know I won’t finish it. And I’m less inclined to buy it if I know the special edition will be out in three months – but even though I’ll own that one, and won’t have to worry about returning it, I will be even less apt to watch it, because it’s four and a half hours.
I assume “Kong” was the name the natives gave the creature; what if they’d called him King? It would have spoiled the whole thing. Come see, uh, King King, 8th Wonder of the world! No, they lucked out, vowel wise.
Off to do the Diner. I assume, if you’re reading this, that the MP3 version will be here; the iTunes feed will be delivered automatically to subscribers, or you can watch it by clicking the link below and perhaps going to the archives (don’t ask me why the main page doesn’t always update; I’m used to forgetting about this problem every week until I confront it anew on Thursday nights, and then I’m too tired to care.) and by “watch it” I mean you can thrill to the occasionally-changing graphics. Enjoy; have a fine weekend, and we’ll see you Monday.