Yesterday evening I was walking over to Safeway to get some ice cream. Halfway through the Safeway block, I looked up and saw Lisa walking toward me. I was a little surprised – this isn’t her neighborhood.
When I said “Hi, how you doing?” and she started to respond, the guy that she was walking with made some quick gesture that I didn’t catch and just kept walking, not missing a stride. As that happened I almost caught a puzzled expression on her face – as imperceptible as his gesture had been. If not for these ticks, I would have thought that they weren’t together, that they just happened to be walking at the same pace.
We stood there puzzling over the situation for a minute, she asked me if the Indian restaurant a few doors down was good, and we sort of confirmed our vague plans to “do something sometime” (recycling part of a previous phone conversation). We parted, and she headed over to the Indian restaurant to rejoin the mystery man.
Now I can ask her what that was about. It’ll be fun because it’ll be weeks from now and the whole play-by-play will be more complicated than if I’d asked about it as it happened.
Our fine summery weather has been replaced today with a consistent drizzle interrupted occasionally by minor downpours. A good day for reading, you say? Well on that note, I started Don Quixote again yesterday. I’m not sure I’ll get through it, since I’ve already gone in search of other reading material. First, I went over to Bailey-Coy to have another look at a book of travel essays about Cuba. I balked at the price and headed out to some other stores to see if I could find a discounted copy. I ended up picking up Take Me With You, more expensive, but it looks interesting. At the checkout counter, I noticed that I was missing my ATM card – I’d left it in a cash machine. I headed back up to the bank and, luckily, got there while someone was servicing the machine. Came home, wheeled the recycling bins back from the curb (got to wear my raincoat). Good stuff.
Catching up with Lisa yesterday, I was pleased to think about how she always has an ongoing secret project tucked away somewhere. She’s just finished a class in documentary film-making and today she’s competing in a triathlon. (Which briefly brings to mind my friend Cedric, who within a short period after I met him released an album, ran a marathon, and read James Joyce’s Ulysses.)
Regarding a former coworker – best known for his knee-jerk defensiveness and his repressed bitterness and resentment – Mari remarks about how laid back he’s become since he was laid-off and went leather-biker. “He’s even given up being vegetarian,” she says. “And vegetarianism is a symptom of uptightness?” I ask, knowing the answer. “Well, . . . yes!”
All this as I continue to hem and haw about vague travel plans, push back invisible departure dates, and fret over the deflated stock price of the only holding in my portfolio (which costed me nothing).
One might rate their humility on a scale, with genuine humbleness at one end and shame on the other.
These are strange days and I’m starting to convince myself that this is a strange place. Appropriately, with this essay about the re-gentrification/suffocation of Pike/Pine (from nine months ago) and this current, less personal editorial about the simple degeneration of Broadway, the Stranger chronicles two contradictory phenomenon. How can they both be true?
More on this later, I think.
Myrtle-Edwards Park, I sit down on the beach and soak in the sun. I laugh at my t-shirt and jeans, they’re practically my uniform, I never wear anything else. A nice breeze, I lay back against a log and read my book. A steady stream of joggers go by on the path above me. A tired-looking man sits among the debris at the other end of the beach smoking a cigarette. A woman wearing layers is picking through the rocks; she hides from the glare of the sun under a giant umbrella. Two girls on lunch break from work run out onto the beach, stop in different places and lay down in the pebbles.
At home I inspect my sunburn: the back of my arms and my face. The area of my neck that was covered by my chin’s shadow and the left side of my forehead (covered by the non-cowlick part of my bangs) are unaffected.
Six things that are true, one that isn’t true, and three books I own but haven’t read (in no particular order):
1. At the zoo, I saw a monkey slip between the bars of its cage into another cage. No one else noticed and I didn’t tell anybody.
2. Don Quixote
3. At a bar someone asked me, “What are you laughing at?” in a threatening way. I responded by laughing.
4. I watched the first season cliffhanger episode of Friends when it originally aired.
5. I redesigned an EDI system.
6. I ate a dog biscuit because I wanted to know what it would taste like.
7. Kesey’s Garage Sale
8. Data Modeling
9. I reached over a barricade to touch an exhibit at Rembrandt’s house and set off an alarm.
10. When I cut myself shaving, it’s always in the same place.
I’m not so much writing as I am listing. In place of 1, 2, 3’s, I’m using “I said”, “I went”, “anyway”, and “so”. Inspiration strikes, I may just as well compose a top ten bands list.
There’s a little picture of a maple leaf on the label of the brand of maple syrup that I get, so I thought that it must be made in Canada. Then I realized that as maple syrup, it has an excuse to have a maple leaf on the label without being Canadian. But then I looked at the label again and it said “Made in Canada”. So now I don’t know if the maple leaf is for the tree or if it’s for Canada.
I got this email on Monday morning: “Guess what… you’ve got a secret admirer! Want to find out who it is? Just click to [URL excised]!”
I immediately suspected one friend who might be teasing me. I considered calling her on it, but I had some doubt and wondered if someone else may have registered a genuine crush or was playing some mind games. I investigating the site a little, made up a list (taking into consideration the time the email was sent, Monday before 9:00.), but decided it was just to much of a mind-fuck to mess with. Plus I thought, I would basically be fishing for a crush – which might be against the nature of the thing.
On Tuesday the “service provider” sent me a hint. Or rather, hey sent me through a couple of hoops to find a hint. I had to register for a job search site (for which I guess they got a referral fee) using a phony address, then fill in a quote from the job search site to show I’d been there.
The clue was that my secret admirer’s first name started with a letter from within a particular range of the alphabet. I checked my list, but only one name didn’t fit the bill. The odd thing was that, though there’d been no other clues, the email and the site both said, “This is your THIRD hint.” “THIRD” in allcaps, I assumed that this meant it was from someone whose first initial is the third letter from that range, i.e.: my original suspect. I checked my sent & deleted folders and my address book for others’ with that initial, but didn’t find another likely candidate.
I forgot about it for awhile, but this morning decided to call her on it. I filled in her email address and hit “send”. There was no confirmation, meaning it wasn’t her and I’d just sent her an anonymous email. A little later I asked her about it and she’d immediately passed it on to people she suspected were messing with her head. And so it spreads among the insecure – like a computer virus or like the email about PBS funding.
I’m not going to play this anymore. I’d like to know who it was, but I don’t want to expose myself to potential embarrassment. I think I’ll give someone from that list a call though.