This Side of Paradise

There was a street fair in the neighborhood a few weeks ago. I do believe I've had enough Peruvian flute music to last me the rest of the year.

The high point and low point of the year are, so far, food and a phone call, respectively. A narrow range of experience. No naked marathons to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, no improvised explosive devices blowing my arms and legs off.

The highlight was discovering donuts and bacon on the treats table at work. Context is everything: It was a surprise, it was 3:00 in the afternoon, and for the year preceding, the treats table had nothing but stale licorice and dusty packets of generic microwave popcorn. Then on that Magic Day, March 3, I came around the corner and there was more bacon and donuts than a person could eat, and I was the last one to find it. I could take as much as I wanted because everyone else had already had their share. There had been a meeting of important people upstairs and they had cast off the remnants to the little people. When I first saw it I involuntarily made some little grunt. I took a handful of everything and scuttled back to my cube and made it disappear in an efficient manner. With great dispatch. You can go to Donut Lodge or Bacon Plantation and get the same food but it's not going to be a surprise; the impact will be like a tap on the nose. A light touch. (There were no ill effects.)

For the low point, understand first that I turned off my phone's ringer about ten years ago. If a caller is someone I know, they start to leave a message and I can hear that and pick up. But tonight I turned on the ringer in case my brother returned the message I left on his phone. I was anxious to hear whether he had landed a better job. The phone's ringer had been on for less than an hour and when it rang, like a chump I picked up instead of screening it, and godDAMN it was somebody else who wanted my money.

They are so good at my alma mater. My old institution of higher learning. Their highly refined technique is: Get a young female graduate who can maintain a smile (you can tell it's there) on the phone, be bubbly and act interested in somebody twice her age, strike up a conversation about the school you have in common, and propose that the alumnus pledge $200, or $100, or $50, or $25, or how about just $10, and Oh My God their endowment is $5.9 BILLion, I just looked it up (wow that girl is good) and now I'm glad I didn't pledge anything but invited them to send me a mailing. If girls had been half that interested in me while I was a student there, well, it boggles the mind, it would have been like... unexpected fried dough and cured meats.