Sunday, March 15 2009
Gretchen and I went to Penny and David's house at around noon for lunch with David's father and the relative of David's whose wife recently committed suicide. That widower doesn't cook, so he's been living off the massive quantities of food his friends have been bringing to his house, as well as meals such as this one.
It was a beautiful day today but perhaps a bit too cold to have brunch outside. So we sat at the dining table and had a brunch centered around bagels. To my right sat David's 78 year old father, who, in service to those at the table, started slicing bagels in half at their equators. As he did so, he turned them in his hand around their hollow poles so as to cut them all the way through without injuring his hand. He stopped after slicing two bagels, and it seemed appropriate for me to honor his effort by taking one of the two bagels he'd sliced. I then proceeded to assemble my ultimate bagel sandwich (or, as Gretchen and I refer to exceptional sandwiches, "my ultimate bagel snerch"). It contained slices of salmon (lox), vegan cream cheese, arugula salad, a slice of tomato, and even a chunk of pickled herring. But when I went to bite into it, I realized there was a problem. The bagel smelled of old man. By "old man," I mean the cologne a man 78 years old might wear. Such a man might have gotten a lot of fabulous pussy wearing this cologne, but to a younger nose it just smells like a pathetic old man. That's perfectly appropriate when the smell is actually on a pathetic old man, but in this case it was on my bagel. Evidently it had gotten there by being sliced in the hands of the 78 year old man immediately to my right, David's father. It seems the guy applies cologne to his hands as a way of transferring it to other parts of his 78 year old body, and then does things like slice bagels with those same hands, hands that undergo no cleansing process in between. At first I didn't know how to approach the situation. I thought about taking my sandwich outside and discreetly relocating its contents to a fresh, unsullied bagel. But there was no way I could gracefully pull it off. Everyone would demand to know why I was going outside with my sandwich. Already Gretchen was shooting me questioning looks and I found myself fending these off with my own icy looks demanding silence.
Lacking an obvious way out of my predicament, I ended up choking that accursed bagel down. From that point until the end of our visit, weak pangs of revulsion washed over me every time I caught a whiff of that cologne. It was a hard thing to ignore after eating that sandwich.
[In later discussions with various people about this incident, several said that they would have found a way to avoid eating that bagel. But only one person came up with a plausible way out: to "accidentally" drop the bagel and then "accidentally" step on it.]
Later this afternoon, I'd planned to drive out to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Willow to help with more phone and internet cabling issues (they wanted to put a webcam in their pig barn, among other things). But when I called to arrange the visit, Jenny insisted that Gretchen come out as well so as to meet a newly-arrived baby goat named Fern. Fern had a broken leg and was saved from a miserable life of stumbling around on it by the intervention of someone who later brought her to the sanctuary.
We drove out to the sanctuary in the accursed hatchback as a way of testing my oxygen sensor hack. It seemed to be working; if it had failed the dashboard check engine light would have come on.
We also brought the dogs, who are generally on their best behavior at the animal sanctuary. Sally, however, showed a bit too much interest in a rabbit and looked like she would have happily killed it. Later, when she thought she could get away with it, she briefly chased a few goats. Eleanor, on the other hand, seemed to have nothing but benign intentions. She went into puppy play position outside the rabbit hutch, though the brown rabbit within regarded her with profound (if big-eyed) indifference. Later she joined up with a band of piglets of about her size, though they weren't of much mind to play either (we often say that Eleanor resembles a piglet).
My wiring ultimately led to a series of cable runs in a finished building called "the medical center." As I worked, a couple of large roosters in some nearby cages occasionally cackled and crowed. They'd been dumped at the sanctuary the other day, and I found myself referring to them as "recession roosters." They were unusually big and healthy given how they'd arrived. One looked like he might be a purebred Plymouth Rock.
There were also a couple of orange barn cats who looked a little like Clarence, though they had much rounder heads and one was missing most of his or her tail. It seemed one of them had left the disembodied head (now mummified) of a Phoebe in one of the medical center's closets. The orange cat still in possession of his tail was named Cæsar, a factoid that reminded me that today was the Ides of March.
After all that cable stringing and what not, Doug and I joined Jenny and Gretchen and a couple volunteers in the house's kitchen. We drank wine and beer and Gretchen and Jenny prepared several delicious Thai dishes using spinach, noodles, and lots of coconut milk.
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