Monday, November 1, 2010


Oct. 31, 2003 - First thing today I discover that, overnight, Jodie got into the trash can under the sink. Strewn across the kitchen and living room floors are used tea bags, wrappings, plastic crap, chicken bones, and so forth. She was, as always, charmingly contrite. I told her it was okay and scratched her ears. It was after all my fault since I’d had ice cream last night while she was out to fetch Émigré, the cat (Jodie barks to let me know when the cat shows up) and I’d thoughtlessly tossed the empty container into the trash. But Jodie evidently was enticed by the scent of cream from beneath the sink and couldn’t resist getting to the source.

I stopped at Hole-in-One Doughnuts on my way to work, as I’ve done every single work day since I started this job last March. My unvarying order is: a small coffee with cream and sugar, one glazed and one cinnamon doughnut. Though the crew there has always been super friendly it was only about a month ago that Howard – the one man behind the counter, he’s nice looking, dark blue-eyed, and maybe forty- or forty-five – asked me my name and introduced himself. He’s very funny and witty. As one instance, he owns a stupendous variety of peculiar hats, including many ladies’ hats, as well as many of those billed caps fashioned into various things … a lobster, a bunny, a hot air balloon, whatever. This man of many hats wears a different hat every day. Yesterday it was an imitation pumpkin, its color a horrible nuclear-blast orange, that sheathed his head, making him resemble those hysteria-prone fans at hoops games who wear cut-out basketballs on their heads – a style very popular in Indiana, of course, but not as eye-catching as the chunks of cheese the fans of the Green Bay Packers wear on their heads.

Since mine is an unremarkable life for the most part I look forward each workday morning to seeing Howard’s chapeau du jour. I walk in this morning and Howard’s in full friggin’ drag! He actually looks great! A long blonde tight-curls wig flows over his shoulders and down his back. He’s expertly eye-lined, mascara-ed, lip-sticked, and pancaked. He’s wearing a yellowish sleeveless silk evening gown. I am blasted away at the sight of him. I simply bust out guffawing, cracking up so bad, and I can’t stop. I can’t look at him and I can’t not look at him. Now everyone in the place is laughing at my being so helplessly broken apart that I can’t even speak. Of course, I don’t need to speak … by this point my regular order has been memorized by all the four or five members of the staff.

Finally I manage to say, “I must say, Howard, you’re absolutely gorgeous!”

“I’m not Howard,” Howard says. “I’m Howard’s sister, and he warned me about you!”

“Believe me, you’re absolutely safe with me!”

“Sure … that’s what all you guys say!”

Howard’s made my day. Plus it’s unseasonably beautiful, Indian Summer, warm, and sunny. I drive to the beach nearest my worksite as … creature of habit again … I’ve also done every workday since I started this job. I sit in the car, listening to “Imus in the Morning” or, on exceptionally fine days, sit out in the sun on a bench at an overlook, gazing at the Atlantic, ingesting sugar and caffeine for my blood flow.

This morning though, on Marconi Site Road, headed for the overlook, there is in the bright sunshine, walking towards me in the oncoming lane, a coyote. I slow the car and stop quite near him (his size indicates maleness). He casually veers himself off the macadam and stops about ten feet from me. For a good fifteen or twenty seconds he stares at me impudently. He is a handsome coyote, not emaciated looking as they often are, and with a rich-thick blond black coat with streaks of dark here and there. In the end he ambles into the forest. Just before disappearing he turns back to give me a who-the-fuck-do-you-think-you-are glance.

While several of us were in the break room, a young colleague named Will told a hilarious story about going with three friends to the Goodwill store in Hyannis last evening to buy costuming. They took forever picking through things, and it was nearing time for the joint to close, and so they felt rushed, but each finally found something. As they were heading toward the counter to pay, one of them noticed about ten brand-new identical dresses, all the same style, all hideous, all the same large size. “They looked like something Raggedy Ann would wear,” Will said. The four of them abruptly decided that instead of what they’d already chosen, it’d be cool if they all dressed alike in these atrocious dresses. A sign above the rack said $8.00. They put back the their earlier selections, each grabbed one of the dresses from the rack, and they proceeded again for the check-out.

The line in front of them was long, and meanwhile the line behind them grew long. When at last the first of Will’s coterie was being rung up it was noticed that the cashier rang up $14.99 for the dress. Will’s friend said, “Isn’t that supposed to be $8.00?”

The clerk – a harried-looking woman in her fifties -- had had a long day, apparently, and she had had enough. At this questioning of a price she went ballistic. “Look!” she yelled, loud enough that everyone in the store could hear, “I’m the one who makes the signs around here and I don’t need anyone coming up here and telling me what the signs say! If you’da looked careful you’da seen that below the $8.00 it says “Unless Marked Otherwise” -- but, no, you read only what you want to read! And believe me, I don’t care whether you but this or not – I don’t care if you buy anything or not -- but you’re not getting this for eight bucks! Take it or leave it! Either way I’m sick of your type coming in here once a year and thinking you can prance out of here without spendin’ nothin’ but a few pennies!”

Will’s friend was practically speechless but gathered himself to say, “I’m sorry … I’ll take it anyhow.”

Will was red-face humiliated! He’s sort of self-effacing, sweet, politically good, always kind, and possesses an admirable social conscience; what most humiliated him was having this sort of attention drawn to himself and his friends, fearing that others in line would think they were cheapskates even in a place known for bargain prices. “And to think,” he said he thought to himself, “that this is a charitable organization and the last thing I would want anyone to think is that we would quibble about the cost of anything in such a place!”

To say nothing of the your kind slur!

1 comment:

  1. Well life certainly is buzzing on the Cape, sounds ideal, hope the guys enjoyed their dresses and had a good time.
    You should also know, cats only ever let dogs think they are in charge!