While we’re in Texas with Bryan’s family, we have dinner at the hotel where we’re staying. On my way to the bathroom, I realize the hotel is also hosting a high school homecoming dance. The hallway is jammed with boys in ill-fitting suits and extravagantly rouged girls, all fiddling with their itchy wrist corsages.
In the women’s room, a the girls are jockeying for a bit of the mirror, applying lipstick and fussing with their severe updos. When they notice me, they give embarrassed smiles and scoot aside so I can wash my hands. Just then, two girls enter and stop inside the door. One is in a tasteful chocolate dress with cream piping, cut in a fifties silhouette. The other is wearing a Barbie-pink gown, festooned with glitter, and transparent from her feet up to her knees. She is very slim, just leaving behind her gawkiness, and she begins to hike her skirt up in front of the mirror. Her friend objects:
-You’re doing it right here?
-You’re just going to do it right here?
-Yeah? Why not?
She reaches up her skirt, wriggles, yanks free an enormous, elastic, tan girdle. She lets out a heavy sigh and pats her flat tummy.
-Why were you even wearing that thing?
-Because my mom told me I looked fat.
-She said, Here. Your stomach is sticking out. Put this on.
-What a bitch.
Bryan: I donï¿½t know where my keys are.
Me: I have mine.
Bryan: Thatï¿½s not going to keep me from thinking about mine.
Me: But it will keep me from worrying about being locked out.
Bryan: Itï¿½s all about you.
Me: All the good stuff, anyway.
An excerpt from my Writer’s Almanac a few days ago:
Today is the first day of autumn. In the next few weeks, the shortening of daylight hours will tell the trees around us that winter is coming and they’ll begin shutting down their food-making process, preparing to live on the sugar they’ve stored for the winter. All the green chlorophyll in their leaves will be withdrawn into the trees’ branches and the leaves will turn red and yellow and orange and brown.
-So I the only vaccination I have left is Hep B, but there’s yeast in it, which I’m allergic to. So I have to get a note from my allergist saying they can give it to me.
-How do you get Hep B?
-That’s the thing, it’s like, body fluid exchange. I don’t plan on engaging in a lot of that.
-But apparently you can get it by, like, sharing someone’s toothbrush or razor. Though I also don’t plan to approach random strangers and ask them for their toothbrush.
-True, and it’s not likely someone is going to come up and spit in your mouth.
-You never know.
-That might be a local custom.
– Right. You’re in some remote little town, surrounded by a group of angry villagers who are offended that you won’t engage in the local custom of spitting in each others mouths as a friendly greeting.
-But I didn’t get my shots!
-They’re all screaming, Spit in my mouth! Spit in my mouth!
-You’re cursing the guidebook authors.
-Spit in my mouth! The gods will be angry!
do not think me twisted
when, despite the world’s galactic
ricochet of violence, i prefer, these days,
the retreat of breakfast.
over strong, creamed coffee i have time to contemplate
the blessedly innocuous catastrophes:
burnt toast. a shortage of butter.
how to make the meal for two using only one egg.
i know how lucky i am.
-Maya Stein (who has a blog)
A few things you would like, if you were me:
- Dancing with old men at weddings
- Sourdough toast
- Watching jellyfish swim
- Children who whisper when theyï¿½re talking to small babies
- The feeling of breath on the neck
- Red winged blackbirds
- Sotto voce
- Slicing fresh ginger
- When little kids jump, how they sometimes do this thing with their arms. They spread them like wings, like they’re about to take off.