Donuts, coffee, and hot romance

The guy was probably just trying to establish some kind of rapport, but when he was ahead of me at the donut shop and said, “Those pumpkin spice donuts — are they any good?” I had to wonder what he expected as an answer: “No, they’re essentially baked vomit with frosting on top. And don’t get me started about the rats’ tails inside.”

Imagine here a clever transitional sentence from donuts to coffee.

One particular guy at work used to be a Navy Seal and he carries his official Navy Seal coffee mug wherever he goes.  Once he must’ve been in top physical condition.  He still uses military slang in his casual conversation.  I have this perverse idea to buy the identical Navy Seal coffee mug for all coworkers, male and female, young and old, so that we can all carry them around the office. 

Here would be a good place for a graceful change of subject from Navy Seals to little old ladies.

I was standing (up straight) at the PC terminal at the public library and an elderly lady brushed against my butt as she walked past.  I attributed it to faulty eyesight or unsteady legs.  When she brushed against my butt a second time walking in the opposite direction, I had to speculate.  Still, I did not pursue this relationship with someone who, as Dana Gould says, “shouldn’t buy any green bananas.”  It would’ve been a charming story to tell how we met, though.

Hands up don't taunt

In my suburb police torture is distressing to the locals.  Cops will confiscate your smartphone and replace it with last year’s model.  They will force grown men to ride their bikes in the street instead of on the sidewalk.  They will take a black permanent marker and mark out the “H” in the logo of your North Face jacket so it looks like “The Nort Face.”  

They will use that same black marker to draw big circles on the headlights of your BMW so that the front of the car looks like it’s cross-eyed.  They will glue junk food to the flowering shrubs in front of your house so it looks like they're growing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  They will trick you into thinking that, under the teachings of traditional Chinese medicine, your dominant element is Metal when in fact it’s Earth.  Advocates for reparations are getting organized. 

Unknown pleasures

I just found out that my oldest co-worker, the one closest to retirement, used to be a drummer in a postpunk band around 1980. This soft-spoken expert in government data had a secret past, I found, while I was looking for his research online. This was like discovering that Queen Elizabeth played baritone sax behind Little Richard on “Tutti Frutti” in 1955. 

In the ten years before this, the only time he and I talked about music was when he had gone to see Wagner’s Ring Cycle, an opera production so long that it takes four nights to see the whole thing. “My tastes have changed,” he admitted when I brought this up. 

His band had originally been punk, playing in the style of the Clash and Sex Pistols, he said, but they dropped their entire set list and switched to a Joy Division kind of sound just to attract a better-behaved audience to their live shows. 

Top ten military drones or Old Spice fragrances

1. Arctic Force 

2. Hercules

3. Pacific Surge

4. Outlaw Seahunter

5. Fire Scout

6. Danger Zone

7. Smooth Blast

8. Global Hawk

9. Hawkridge

10. Switchblade

Numbers 2, 4, 5, 8, and 10 are U.S. military drones; numbers 1, 3, 6, 7, and 9 are Old Spice fragrances. 

Why chicken, why?

At the office, it’s not that strange to see a newspaper discarded in the wastebasket in the men’s room.  But I don’t understand why I saw the remains of a chicken leg in that same wastebasket.  I wasn’t there to see who walked into the bathroom, lunch in hand.  

Theories: He needed privacy to eat.  The smell of bathroom deodorizer whetted his appetite.  He liked to watch himself chewing in a mirror measuring twenty feet wide and five feet high.  He went in there just to wash his hands before lunch but then on impulse he tore into the chicken like a lusty man.  He didn’t go in there to eat, but when he cleaned out his pockets he found some lint, a gum wrapper, and a chicken leg.  Or actually, he went in there after lunch and coughed up a whole chicken leg because he didn’t chew thoroughly.

Three eligible bachelors

I was on the train sitting behind a lone man who was talking loudly into his smartphone, using non-stop profanity to tell someone to leave him alone.  He wasn’t pausing in his speech; it was a continuous monologue and it was a classic, including references to the U.S. Marines, the Kennedys, and repeated threats of litigation.  I doubted that anyone would be on the other end of his call listening to all that abuse.  The phone's display indicated that he would have been talking to someone whose phone number was “9.”  

A woman sitting nearest to the man got up and moved to a seat further away.  This angered the man and he put his phone down to curse only at her.  She looked horrified until the man got off the train five minutes later.  Weirdly, he started talking into his phone again as he stepped off, saying he had a question about the album cover for the Rush album "Hemispheres."  

On another day, another train, a talkative single man was benign, simply asking every man who stepped onto the train if he was an attorney.  None were. 

The third case was again harmless but different.  He had come onto a train that was almost empty.  A row of aisle-facing seats was empty except for a young woman at the far end.  The man walked with confidence past all the empty seats and sat almost on top of the young woman.  She asked him to “please” get off her lap.  

This is when the few passengers present looked up from their phones and the man seemed embarrassed enough to curse at us all, especially at the one guy who seemed primed for a fight.  They both got off at the next stop, each daring the other to throw the first punch.  They were still standing awkwardly, arguing as the train pulled away. 

Because, in this country, guns are more important than life itself, I have to remember to keep my mouth shut.  In these cases (all from this year) some perverse part of me was tempted to say “He’s actually my daughter’s violin teacher.  He is so good with kids.” 

Sowiwoquy by Elmer Fudd

Bweathe deep the gathewing gwoom,
Watch wights fade fwom evewy woom. 
Bedsittew people wook back and wament, 
Anothew day's usewess enewgy spent. 
Impassioned wovers westle as one, 
wonewy man cwies for wove and has none. 
New mothew picks up and suckews hew son, 
Seniow citizens wish they wew young. 
Cold heawted owb that wules the night, 
Wemoves the colows fwom ouw sight, 
Wed is gwey and yewwow white, 
But we decide which is wight. 
And which is an iwwusion. 


Words and music by Justin Hayward and Peter Knight

Arizona business acumen

Last week Arizona’s governor vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature.  The bill would have allowed business owners, on the basis of their religion, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.  I hadn’t been following the news closely so I’d missed the larger story that Arizona business owners have acquired the power to deduce a stranger’s sexual orientation just by looking at them. 

This is significant.  Gossip magazines and sites devote lots of space to whether certain celebrities are gay or straight.  As soon as famous people went to Arizona, they’d be outed, if necessary.  

How did business owners acquire the skill to spot the gay/lesbian minority on sight?  I suspect that it’s simply part of that discernment that boosts any person above the level of common employee to chief executive officer.  

Even though the bill didn't pass, all the same, whether you’re famous or not, if you’re in an Arizona convenience store trying to pick up a gallon of milk, men should be extra-masculine and women should be obviously feminine to avoid suspicion.  

But what if you’re another kind of Arizona business owner, like an internet service provider?  How can you confirm that all your customers are hetero when you can’t see them?  A quick fix would be to add another Terms of Service agreement to certify how the customer uses his/her genitals.  The downside is that when the company forwards all its customer’s private data to the government, it lacks the gays’ information.

In the big picture, for the sake of consistency, the state might consider expanding the “denial of service” concept to also prohibit “breathing the same air as gay people.”  The short-term remedy for businesspeople would be to hold one's breath, as was proven to be effective against cooties in the first grade.