18 July 2011

Department of minor complaints


There is a man I see everyday when I drop Sarah and Gabriel off at camp. He has two children in the same classes as them, and we often wind up walking the halls together from one room to the next, chatting pleasantly about nothing.

The other day as I was driving away after drop-off, a car began to pull out in front of me, setting us on a slow motion collision course. I issued a light warning honk and swerved. But the driver ignored me, peeled out and cut me off. I looked over to see who this asshole was, and IT WAS MY HALLWAY FRIEND. I’m pretty sure he saw me too, because the following day, as we passed in the hall, our smiles were significantly less friendly, and there was no idle chit-chat. I took this as a sign that he was either ashamed to have been outed as an asshole, or more likely, had hardened into a self-righteous stance in order hide from himself the fact that he is an asshole. Either way, he shall heretofore be known to me as Mr. Not-As-Nice-as-I-Initially-Thought.


Camp policy requires that parents sign their children in to class every day. I can understand this in a pre-school, or on the first day of camp, when children may not know where they’re going. But at this point, Sarah and Gabriel have seven years combined classroom finding experience, and they have a one-hundred percent success rate. I am decidedly in the pro-autonomy, anti-helicopter parenting camp, so boo to you, Working Advantage, for making my children take a small step back.


1. There have been several times in the past few weeks when I have used public restrooms, and the person in the stall next to me has left without washing their hands. It’s kind of interesting, in a social experiment way, to see the gap between self-reporting and compliance in action. I would like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that if they’re not turning on the faucet, it’s because they carry their own bottle of hand-sanitizer. But still, as I tell my children, SOAP ALWAYS FOR NUMBER TWO. So for the sake of appearances, fellow bathroom going compatriots, couldn’t you at least turn on the faucet for a few seconds? I would be none the wiser, and it would make me feel a whole lot better.

2. Single occupancy restrooms in which the toilet is directly across from the sink, over which there is a large mirror, are an exceptionally poor design choice. The large mirror is good for fixing yourself up, but unless you scope out the joint in advance, and then remember the layout when you’re done with your business, you have the unfortunate experience of watching yourself wipe. I’m sure there are some fetishists out there who find this erotic, but I suspect, like me, the general populace does not.

On the other hand, props to single occupancy restrooms for allowing people to not wash their hands in privacy.

05 July 2011

Scenes from a mall

Although I hate malls with an abiding passion, this year for Sarah’s birthday, I set her and two friends loose there with some spending money. While I waited for them, I sat in the bar in Ruby Tuesdays. The White Horse Tavern it was not, and I could not even finish a single beer without fear of imperiling my ability to drive home, but I brought my notebook with me anyway.

I was still getting over the effects of my horrible ear infection, so I tried, as best I could, to eavesdrop with my one good ear. I overheard this conversation between a twenty-something bartender with Luddite* leanings and a conspiracy theorist patron slightly ignorant of musical history.

Bartender: I still think the best generation’s music was 1965-72.**
Patron: I just want to be alternative from everyone else.
Bartender: I am anti-Kindle. I still prefer CDs. I sample things on-line, and then I go out and buy them.

Unintelligible mumbling

Patron: If only she had talent she might be a crazy stalker girl.
Bartender: What do you listen to?
Patron: Depeche Mode, REM, Country (sic) Roses***, the Cure.
Bartender: Is that 80s music?
Patron: Yeah. Back in the eighties they used to call it college music.
Patron: Wasn’t Michael Jackson big in the eighties?
Bartender: Yeah, but I’m not even that upset he died.
Patron: Elvis and Tupac died, but obviously there are still spottings of them.
Unintelligible mumbling
Patron: All that classical stuff, like Beethoven and all that, it’s public domain now.
Patron: Didn’t Sirius and XM merge?
Bartender: Yeah; they have a nineties station.
Patron: So there’s only one alternative.
Bartender: Have you seen the Westfield Mall app?
Patron: Give me a number 2, make it strong; pineapple, Jaeger, lager.
Bartender: With a kick?

Unintelligible mumbling

Bartender: It’s your sister, so she doesn’t have you on a leash like a girlfriend does.
Patron: Yeah, I can’t get rid of that bitch.

Bartender: I don’t like the Wii. If I play video games, I want to sit.  

Unintelligible mumbling

Bartender, to me: What are you writing about?
Me: Oh, nothing, just taking notes.
Bartender: So you’re a writer?
Me: Not really, but I like to write.
Bartender: Have I given you any inspiration?
Me: Yes, you have.
Bartender: Alright! So if you can put something in your book about a really good looking bartender named Will, that would be great.
Me: I’ll do my best.

I was flattered to be taken seriously as a writer; apparently carrying a Moleskin, while pretentious, does connote a certain authority.

So Will, for you, here are your fifteen minutes.  


*Although this is the common usage, I recently learned that the Luddites were not so much anti-technology as anti-poor quality technology, which, in modern terms, means they were PC, as opposed to  Mac users.

**Given how I feel about classic rock, this especially chaps my ass. Of course you are entitled to your opinion, but you weren’t even alive during this era; was there no music made during your youth that was worth listening to? I think not.

***Stone, not Country, Roses. Youngsters, learn your musical history!