Posts Tagged ‘humor’

A Tale Of An Evening Stroll, With Hyperlinks

January 5, 2009

This afternoon, after I’d finished watching some porn (No, I won’t link to that,) I got my ass off of my chair and headed over to the Sprint store, to pick up the replacement for the HTC Touch that I had broken a few days before. I picked up my copy of Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night…, the loaner cellphone that the Sprint store gave me, and walked to my bus stop.

The bus took four minutes to arrive. I know because a gentleman who was also waiting for it called some service that I was hereto unaware of that allows you to ask when the next bus will arrive. Ingenious!

On the way there, I read a few pages of the Calvino novel. It’s pretty ingenious itself. Waiting anxiously to get to the end of it.

At the store, I had to wait in line. When I was at the head of the line, this guy walked up and stood in front of me. There was no sign-up system nor anything else to indicate the order in which people had arrived. I immediately went into a panic, that this person would attempt to receive service before I did. It didn’t look like any of the employees were competent enough to notice who had arrived in what order. This meant I would have to challenge the newcomer should he choose to cut ahead of me. I hate making a scene and he would be making me do it. I felt my heart race and I had to force myself to calm down by trying to resume day-dreaming about whatever it was I had been day-dreaming about before the interloper had appeared. It worked — I was thinking about how cellphone sales people would be more successful if they knew things about how cellphones worked and how the device makers interacted with the carriers in choosing what technology is developed, what content is made available to users and what the pricing for a phone is. There, now that was easy. As my head filled with all these thoughts, I managed to almost forget that there was a potential conflict coming up between me and this other customer.

I wondered what made a successful salesperson in a Sprint store. How does HQ keep track of them, and reward the ones that are doing a good job?

One of the employees finished talking with the customer he had been helping. As I had expected, he had no clue whether I or the guy in front of me had arrived first. Infuriating! I said I had, in a measured tone, but I checked in with the other guy. He graciously assented. Wonderful — no unseemly struggle!

I explained why I was there to the employee. He went inside to pick up my new phone, brought it out, pointed his laser beam device at it and after a few minutes told me I couldn’t take it with me because I hadn’t brought the old device to the store. Which I hadn’t because when I had come in explaining that I had broken it a few days previously, the guy who had helped me then hadn’t thought to mention that I need to return the old one when the new one came in. “Darn it,” I said to the employee. “This turned out to be the greatest wasted evening ever in my life.”

“No, really?” the employee said, with a faux-aggrieved expression on his face, one of those elaborately constructed downward smileys. He seemed to be quite the queen, his face jowly and pock-marked from shaving poorly, a pair of round metal-rimmed glasses sitting on his nose. The store was in a gay neighborhood and most of the other gay men hanging out there were appreciably more attractive than this man. Not that I am gay or anything.

“And I thought I’d made a good friend tonight,” the queen went on. I hate queens.

“Oh. Yeah, you have been … very nice … it was .. thank you,” I said. I hate the way I stammer and get all uncomfortable when responding to someone’s witticisms, especially when I think they aren’t being funny. I especially unfunny queens. It’s not easy trying to play bitchy and funny.

“Well, you have a good night.”

“Thanks. You too.”

I thought it was okay that I was bitchy to him. He probably expects it from people, and would be at a loss if someone were just plain nice to him for once. The poor queen.

I stepped out and decided to eat myself a burrito, to cheer myself up for not having gotten a replacement as I had planned to. At the burrito store (and why aren’t any of them called burriterias?), I decided to eat a vegetable burrito. It had broccoli in it and I like broccoli. They are all crunchy and shit, no matter how much you cook them, which is cool because usually stuff gets pretty soggy in a burrito. A woman came in with a child, speaking in Spanish to the employees behind the burrito ingredient counter. The child didn’t know Spanish and she was teaching him to speak it. He said to her that the people working the burrito line were the “friends of burritos.” She told the employees that with a bright laugh, and then told him to try and say, “amigos de los burritos.” He shrunk into her arms, embarrassed that his epithet had been revealed to the world in so blatant a manner. He must have wanted to kill her.

How old must one be to be able to form the thought of offing someone? I can’t remember when I first fantasized about having someone removed from this planet for offending me. I can remember being pretty angry and resentful of people from pretty early on but when was the first time that prompted to think of how they might be disposed of for their offences? No clue, strangely.

I didn’t read any more of the Calvino until I got to the train station to take a train downtown. I needed a monthly public transit pass for January.

I noticed a stationery and gift store near the convenience store where I usually buy my monthly passes. I really should find another place to get them at, because I no longer work near there, which I did for about six months. Then I got laid off but I still go to that store to buy my passes. It kinda makes me sad to think off that. I need to dissociate myself completely from the environs of the company that laid me off because let me tell you, not that you would need to be told this but it lets me vent so let me tell you, that getting laid off was not a nice thing that happened to me.

I wanted to go to the gift store because I had had an idea, that I would send my girlfriend a love letter. I read recently that  Molly Howard tore up Ted Howard’s love letters over fifty years ago, and then he spent fifteen years piecing them back together. I don’t understand love letters — they are repetitive, full of cliches and hyperbole, and sometimes not much more than an account of one’s daily routine. Had Ted Howard perhaps forgotten what he had done during those days in 1953 and been struck with a sudden thirst to recollect? Perhaps someone he had met at that time and done a favor had turned out to amass a fortune and on dying had declared his desire to help any one who could prove they had helped him in the past, raising in Ted the vain hope that he could piece together the evidence in his letters to Molly. But I rather think that Ted did what he did for love rather than avarice.

I couldn’t write a love letter for love. I wrote “lust letters” once; in fact, many times. Or perhaps they were “calf love letters.” But the way one becomes with one’s partner somewhere down the line, after one had lived together for a year or so, and all of each other’s idiosyncracies start to settle in like the weather report, that doesn’t merit much literary effort in my book.

But I know my girlfriend wouldn’t like that idea, so I have decided to write her a love letter. I knew I could find a card with a frog on it somewhere. That’s the thing about frogs, their image has a certain ubiquitousness to it. They are like flowers, puppy dogs and middle-aged, crabby women. Card designers like putting them on cards.

I found one shaped like a frog. Perfect!

My girlfriend calls me Froggie. Because I have frog fear. So.

I thought I’d inscribe a message along the edges of the card, spiralling inwards until it vanished into the final period. Better still, I decided to have it end in a heart. Now how sweet is that?

So yeah, I can be sweet. But I can’t sustain it. I don’t know why, what makes my brain different from other people’s. By all reports, other people have a great time being sweet to other people that are not themselves. I am too self centered for that. I especially have a problem with timed sweetness, the kind that demands a scheduled delivery of good cheer and love, as if these things were like vegetable basket deliveries from organic stories.

So I decide that what I need to do is treat this whole Be Nice To Me thing as an art project. My one year art project for 2009 is to create a love letter for my girlfriend every month. Whenever I see an artifact that I think would make a nice little gift for her, I can purchase it, make the gift and give it to her. I always have pretty ideas, I just need to put them into practice. Maybe I will even take photos of the things I make and have a little scrap book all of my own.

And I will post them on this blog. Brilliant. And ingenious!


The Dry Cleaners

November 21, 2008

Mother, Chinese, works in a dry cleaners that she and her husband own. Son, in college, writes poetry in the dry cleaning store, when he’s not listlessly attending his classes.

“Life? What do you know of life? Have you done a day of real work to give you any education about life? You sit there and write on pieces of paper and it’s supposed to be poetry, but poetry is about life and you don’t know what life is, then how it can be poetry?”

Not sure where to go with this. It made more sense this morning when I was in the dry cleaning store, and looking at the woman at the counter, and what I assumed was the husband behind this large metal box with strange knobs on it, and inhaling the strong fragrance of the chemicals floating around in there, I got to thinking, man, this lady’s life sucks. And it seemed to look like that on her face too. She was grumpy, to say the least. Her lips drooped downwards, like there were little invisible weights attached to the ends. She would have made a perfect clown with that face, a sad clown, not a happy one.

I thought to myself, Man, what a life. She collects the dry cleaning, then she does the dry cleaning, then she hands out the dry cleaning and then she tallies up the day’s earnings. Where does it all go? How often does she think about it, why she’s doing it, what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the day after, or at some point down the line when dry cleaning ceases to be as fulfilling as it is today?

Of course, dry cleaning will never cease to be fulfilling. She doesn’t do it because it fulfills her but because it pays the bills. It’s not what her forefathers did; she doesn’t do it for love; she isn’t making a career out of it; and she’s not going to be starting a vast chain of dry cleaning stores.

Maybe her son starts the world’s first dry cleaning store chain, even though he thought he was going to be a poet. He’s an accidental dry cleaning store magnate.

Why are there no dry cleaning store chains in the US? I don’t get it. On Google, a search for “dry cleaning store chains” reveals two in India. Obviously, dry cleaning is big in India, but not really so in the US. It must be something to do with the chemicals used, maybe the regulations are so tough, it’s not very cost effective to run a whole chain of these things and battle each county or city or whatever for the right to pollute it.

So if the Great American Novel must be about something that hasn’t been done already in this country, I can’t think of a better idea than a nation-wide dry cleaning store. Started by an accidental capitalist. The bemused Romantic hero, failed intentional poet and successful incidental owner of a conglomerate of establishments for the lavage of fine clothing.