scary pole experience
Thursday, August 31 2000
After work I rode my bike to Kim's place, executing a zig-zagging diagonal route through the neighborhoods that lie between my workplace in east-central Santa Monica and Kim's apartment in south central Venice. A number of parks, golf courses and the Santa Monica Airport block the way, so it was not as straightforward of a journey as I imagined it would be. But it didn't take very long. The key to rapidly making this trip is to avoid being sucked into a walk down the Venice Boardwalk.
Though we're no longer involved and we don't see each other very often, I still owe Kim many thousands of dollars. Furthermore, I'd like to see her be successful at these ventures she's been developing. For these reasons, then, she still exerts some power over me. And as long as it's only one day a week, I sort of enjoy the adventure of going to Venice to help her do things.
When I arrived I did the Romeo and Juliet thing up to Kim's balcony, though my Juliet in this case was Sophie the Miniature Schnauzer. Though she was far below the ledge and couldn't see me, she squealed with excitement just to hear my voice.
Today my assignment was to help Kim buy a new computer, something with USB ports and a modern processor so she can set up a webcam and edit video. Kim thought maybe we could find a cheap computer somewhere on Lincoln Avenue. Lincoln has the look and feel of 50's-era strip development, complete with cut-rate furniture stores and wacky fast food restaurants beneath a riot of fading one-of-a-kind lighted store signs. "Lincoln reminds me a lot of Ypislanti [Michigan]," Kim has observed on several occasions.
But we had no luck finding a cheap computer store. We ended up in a Staples, where the only brand for sale was Compaq. My experience with Compaq consumer equipment has been nothing but negative; I swear to God if I ever have to deal with another proprietary Compaq interface I'm going to upgrade to a Timex Sinclair.
For a time we considered driving down to Fry's Electronics in Manhattan Beach (even though we swore never to go to a Fry's again back when we lived in San Diego), but it was getting dark and it just seemed like to much of an ordeal. So I wrote down in detail everything Kim needed to buy and figured out what it was going to cost. "As part of your payments to me," Kim asked, "do you think you could pay for this?" I didn't exactly leap at the suggestion, but after finding out how much money Kim has to scrape together each month just to pay the rent, I agreed to fork over the lion's share.
As I tried to specify the exact terms for the things Kim needed, I realized something sort of troubling (in an "Oh shit, I'm getting senile!" sort of way). I'd forgotten the technical terms used to describe some of the essentials of computer hardware. Mind you, I could still visualize what I was trying to say. It was just that I had forgotten the actual left-brain terms. The two things I was forced to look up on the web were "PCI" (the kind of motherboard/daughtercard interface built into Macintosh and x86 computers since about 1993) and "PS/2" (the non-serial, non-USB variety of mouse interface that came out with the IBM model of the same name).
What came next was a scene featuring me up the utility pole out in front of Kim's apartment. I was trying to connect up her cable television at the pole-mounted breakout box, but in the darkness I couldn't figure out which wire was which. Then, when I went to unscrew one of the cables, the motherfucker wouldn't budge. I was way up a pole, standing barefoot painfully upon a hard little metal utility pole rung, reaching out precariously to unscrew a cable that might not have even been the right one. To top it off, I was a little drunk from some red wine I'd been drinking. I started to doubt if I was doing the rational thing. And with this doubt came fear. Was I going to slip and fall and die tonight? It didn't seem worth it, if the only payment for my trouble was a former girlfriend getting free cable teevee. I began to shiver with fear that I might give up on live and let myself fall. So I did something I don't normally do so easily. I gave up on the project and climbed down the pole.
Kim took me back to my house and while she chatted pleasantly with my housemate John and his friend Sharon I wrote Kim a big $400 check.
After Kim was gone, Sharon commented on how tall Kim and I appear to be, adding that we're "taller than the average people I hang out with." This was puzzling; Kim and I are about average for heights in our respective genders. For her part, though, Sharon is decidedly tiny, something less than five feet tall. She went shopping today to buy some new jeans and the only pair that fit her were capris designed for a woman of average height.
Tonight I realized that when Sharon is agreeing with me with a rapid-fire "Right, right right!" she actually pronounces it more like "R-r-right!" - but it's not a studder. It's just shorthand for three instances of the word "Right!" Her personality actually reminds me a lot of Matt Rogers in an odd (though mostly positive) sort of way. It's partly her posture, partly her unctuous conversational positivity and her need to explore in detail everything that I say, no matter how absurd. I actually think she'd be a good match for Matt Rogers. It's not geographically impossible; though she lived in Burlington, VT until two weeks ago, now she lives in Seattle, the same ecozone as Matt Rogersville.
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