Trinkets

Elvis Presley loved to collect sheriff’s badges wherever he went. Peter Guralnick detailed the best case of this in his book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. Elvis arranged to meet Richard Nixon in the White House in December 1970 so he could get a badge meant to signify (in Elvis’s mind) that he was an official undercover agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. 

After getting his badge, Elvis got his friends, Sonny and Jerry, to also step into the Oval Office to meet the President. Nixon gave them tie clasps and cuff links with the presidential seal. 

“‘You know, they’ve got wives, too,’ Elvis reminded the President, and together he and Richard Nixon rummaged through the President’s desk drawer for suitable presents for the wives."

On dinner parties

“Just because they know everything about something that grows at the bottom of the sea does not mean they’re good fun to be sitting next to at dinner.” 
— Baroness Trumpington on an episode of Very British Problems

Gore Vidal, Jacqueline Susann

Gore Vidal remembers author Jacqueline Susann: “Although I have never read her I enjoyed meeting her several times with her large dark eyes whose thick false lashes resembled a pair of tarantulas in a postcoital state.”  From Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964 to 2006.

Weekend update

It was a quiet Sunday morning, the streets were deserted, and I was walking down the narrow sidewalk with big grocery bags hanging from each fist. A voice behind me said, “Excuse me, excuse me.” Rather than turn my head I just walked out into the empty street and continued in my direction. Back on the sidewalk a thin woman walked briskly past me, dressed in stretch fabrics, arms pumping, eyes straight ahead. I wondered why I had to be the one to vacate the sidewalk, but to be fair, she was Power Walking. 

The local stores have been doing more to encourage their customers to bring reuseable shopping bags. First they posted signs to that effect. Then they said there would be a seven-cent surcharge if they had to put your stuff in a new bag. Then last time the cashier asked if I would need a bag and I said yes, she reached under the counter and swung at my head with a baseball bat. I ducked in time, but still.

Collective nouns, S:

A squander of landline telephones was on display in the back corner of the store. 

Scattered around the lobby of the retirement home, a seepage of octogenerians occupied the armchairs and sofas.

A spite of Republican voters arrived early for the town hall meeting.

Contact your autonomy coach immediately

I don’t care if it’s an annual office tradition — I think Falsetto Day hurts our credibility, especially when we answer the phone. 

“Your whole house smells of dog, says someone who comes to visit. I say I’ll take care of it. Which I do by never inviting that person to visit again.”
— From The Friend by Sigrid Nunez.

I saw Supergirl (or a wannabe) walking from the direction of the Children’s Hospital last week.

Without changing what I wear, I have become a prude. I was the only one on the train who wore socks that covered my ankles. Why do I do this? Just out of habit. What would I gain by wearing socks that make my ankles cold? I am too scared to learn.

There was that species of disappointment, when you’re single and in your twenties, and you receive a piece of mail that is obviously a Valentine’s Day card, and you open it, and it’s from your mother. 

Thanks Mr. King

As a teenager I was working the summer in a branch location of the municipal library. This building was old and the wooden floors screeched and creaked every time we took a step. The interior of the library was one big room with a high ceiling and beautiful stained oak shelves and furnishings around the perimeter. 

This day there was no one there but me; I don’t remember where my co-worker was. It was a nice hot day outside; not unusual for the library to be deserted and perfectly quiet in that residential neighborhood. 

I was sitting on the high stool behind the massive checkout counter reading Danse Macabre by Stephen King. It had been staring at me from the New Books shelf directly across from the counter. In the book Stephen King described scary books and movies, and one of his recommendations for suspense was the novel A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin. 

It occurred to me that I was sitting in a large room full of books. I climbed down from the stool, went to the card catalog, pulled out a drawer and found a card listing the book. We had it in paperback. I went to one of the spinning squeaky metal paperback racks and found it — a beat up copy with vintage 1960s design on the cover. 

How popular was this copy? At that time all our books had the circulation card in the pocket glued to the first page. The card was stamped with all the due dates for when it had been borrowed. It hadn’t been checked out in 7 years. 

I acted in my capacity as a municipal employee. Any book that had not been checked out in 5 years was eligible to be withdrawn from the collection to make room for newer books. 

Back to the checkout counter: Sit on the high stool, reach to my far right for the ink pad and the little rack of rubber stamps saying REFERENCE, NEW BOOK, CHILDREN, here’s the one I want: WITHDRAWN. Stamp on the ink pad, stamp on the book’s first page, press that stamp onto the page good, no one wanted it. 

I started reading A Kiss Before Dying right then. Took it home, kept it with me at the supper table, read it after supper, I finished it that night or the next morning. I wasn’t disappointed; Stephen King was right.  Then I picked up Danse Macabre where I left off.

Postscript: You can’t go home again. I revisited that beloved building decades later and the beautiful interior had been replaced by smooth drywall painted teal with purple trim, the preferred look of that year.