Father's Day happened. The only thing I know about my father is that he likes coffee and doing the ironing. So I bought him a gift certificate to Latitude for about 20 cups of coffee, and took him down to Sarasota News and Books for a couple of hours. I'd arranged to meet Grace there, since our parents are friends and I thought I might as well find out who she was. So Grace brought her father and I brought mine, and we all sat drinking coffee and making small talk until our fathers left. She and I then looked round the bookstore for a while, I looked at a book containing pictures of interesting swimming pools while she tried to get rid of this creepy thirty-something artist who hangs out there and has taken to following her around.
In the end she got roped into sitting at a table and making conversation with Josh, the creepy artist whose hair was flat on top, but curved down and out in a semicircle around his head, making it look like someone had sliced a hair umbrella in half and dropped it on the rear half of his skull. There was also this eerie space between his head and the hair that wrapped around it, a large hole that made you want to plug it with something. I eventually joined Josh and Grace outside at their table and tried to assist her in getting rid of him. He wore a button down shirt and creamy paint splattered shorts, with the shirt open so the world could gaze at his hairy tanned leathery chest.
Alas, getting rid of him was no use, he and I got into an interesting conversation about Hunter Thompson blowing his brains out. With creepy people like him you hate getting into interesting conversations, because it makes you like them a bit, and getting attached to someone you need to get rid of is is exactly what you don't want. So I quickly changed the subject back to the weather to make things boring again, hoping he'd go away, but he was stubborn and kept trying to provoke us into saying interesting things.
Soon a truck went whizzing by and ran the stop sign next to the shop, nearly causing an accident and sending the noise of screeching tires through all of the previously peaceful downtown art district.
"Hey, I know the guy in that truck!" pointed out Josh, the stupid creepy artist. Well, that's just lovely. Soon the man in the truck had pulled over into about three parking spaces with another tire screech, and before we knew it we had to deal with both Creepy Josh and Creepy Zeke. Zeke was less creepy than Josh, but he liked to smoke cigarettes, which gave him a boost in repulsiveness over Josh. He also liked to dangle the cigarette he was in the process of smoking right near your face, a task made easier by the fact that we were sitting down and he was standing up. He wore thick framed glasses and a hat from a trucking company, though he looked like the least likely person on earth to be a trucker. He also came complete with sandals, long cargo pants, and a five o’clock shadow, which made him especially appealing.
Zeke was a conspiracy theorist, of the old fashioned breed. He started preaching about the government coverup of the true cause for red tide, and the big fuss that had been made when he walked shirtless into Mote Marine's main entrance and demanded answers about the Red Tide Coverup.
"As an institution 52% sponsored by government money, you'd think as a taxpayer I'd be entitled to the information they have on the topic," Zeke babbled. Apparently he made so much of a fuss that they eventually had him removed, but gave him the number of one of their researchers and told him to call them rather than walk into the fish exhibit shirtless and smoking a cigarette screaming. He said they were reluctant to even do that, but he has a special power of persuasion.
Zeke also mentioned JFK, as any conspiracy theorist must, and how the pollution from the building sites caused the water downtown to run white. “It looks like skim milk running into the drains,” Josh added.
After Zeke went on his way to the beach to do research to help his red tide investigation, we asked Josh exactly what Zeke’s purpose in life was, a.k.a. what exactly he contributed to society.
“Well, Zeke does a little bit of everything,” Josh explained.
“By which you mean a whole lot of nothing, I assume,” I responded.
“If you want to use the technical term, then I suppose he would be.”
“And what is the term he uses?”
“Is that in the same way as you being an artist?” I asked, perhaps stepping a little too far over the line. I didn’t think I was, but he seemed a bit taken a bit taken aback. Well, he and his puffy hair can sod themselves, I thought. Nevertheless, it was to make for awkward conversation to come.
Luckily we didn’t have to face any of that, as just then, right on cue, Grace’s mother pulled up in her station wagon. She stuck her head out the window and asked us if we wanted a ride to Whole Foods. We hadn’t asked for one, but that was where she was going and we decided Whole Foods was better than Josh.
I had a sandwich and Grace had sushi at whole foods. Sushi. The ultimate food of the free spirits. And that Grace definitely is. I didn’t want to ask her why she’d shaved her head, but for a narrow minded person like me, that question constantly nags at you.
That day ended predictably, I went home having met a few new and fascinating people and having had an interesting day. Grace, in her rush to jump in the station wagon and get away from Josh, had left her Vonnegut book on the table next to him. When she called him (he’d given her his ‘business card’ (which said simply Josh: Artist: 555-1234 or whatever)) he decided he wasn’t giving it back since she’d left rudely. So that was that.
Today I was bored so I hopped on my bike and went down to Wendy’s. I had the meal I always have when I’m trying to feel particularly American, burgerfriescoke. I got my burger, as usual, with nothing on it but a solitary piece of lonely weepy lettuce, and I took a seat in the sunken section that has glass for both its walls and ceiling. “Poor lettuce,” I thought. I was in one of those awkward seating situations where there’s no one at the other side of your table, and you’re left looking the guy at the next table, who also has no eating partner, right in the eyes. The sitar music on my Mp3 player reached a frenzy and I got freaked out by the guy’s glare, so I quickly changed sides so he’d be looking at my back. I think he noticed. But I didn’t care, he looked like a pedophile anyway, and I couldn’t concentrate on my meal or my sitar while he was looking at me. Thoughts of being Abducted came into my mind, but I realized that no good-hearted Wendy’s employee would allow me to be dragged off by the creepy old man behind me. Nevertheless, I got out as soon as I could.
My Mp3 player gave out somewhere between Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and Bruce Haack’s Electric To Me Turn, frozen up from my sheer good musical taste. In order to fix it, you have to jam something pointy into a little hole at the bottom, but the only thing that works is a long pin, and I lacked one. Fortunately, I knew exactly where to get one. I biked several miles to Publix and asked a kindly toothless lady if she wouldn’t mind lending me either her name badge or her Please Don’t Tip The Employees pin for about five seconds. She said the name badge was too special, and that the company would fire her if they knew she wasn’t fully announcing her untippability, but she lent me one that said Where Shopping is a Pleasure (Remember Not To Tip). I jammed it in and fixed the problem, thanking the lady for her help and making sure not to tip her.
I went into Borders for a while and burned my tongue on a coffee, reading some Tom Wolfe along with an archive of The Onion. A phone sat on a table not far away from me. Suddenly it began to ring. After about 11 rings (exactly 11 in fact), it was starting to irk me, and no employee seemed to be picking it up. So, being the good hearted citizen I am, I wandered over and answered it, using my Professional Voice that I’ve developed through over a year of practice answering phones at the Sarasota Family YMCA.
“Borders Books and Music, how may I help you?”
“Is that Borders Books and Music?” (they do this at the y too)
“Yes,” I responded calmly and professionally.
“I’m looking for a book by Vonnegut.”
Spying an employee off to the side, I motioned to her.
“It’s for you,” I said. “They’re looking for Vonnegut.”
She gave me the most menacing look I’ve ever been given in my life, and was about to give me a wonderful lecture on Why You Shouldn’t Do My Job For Me, when she realized that the phone customer needed to be tended to. While she apologized to him for something he didn’t know had happened, I casually slipped out the front door.
Vonnegut. Grace had been reading Vonnegut. My caller asked for Vonnegut. It’s a sign. It’s got to be. I have to go to the library. I have to go Right Now.
So I hopped on my bike, cranked up the Hendrix, and embarked on the perilous journey along U.S. Highway 41 that takes you from Borders Books & Music to Downtown.
Everything was pretty blurry. Blue smoke poured out of somewhere, and Hendrix’s hopped up, tripped out guitar wailed in the background. The sky went overcast all of a sudden, and I rode through the nightmarish confusion that is 41 during rush hour. The gray of the sky gave everything a depressing light. Blue smoke. A black man wearing a cape and carrying a shopping bag. Honking horns, angry people, another bike I almost hit. A large bump that nearly sent me flying. Blue smoke. Waffle House. The Hospital. Blue smoke. Purple Haze. Wailing guitars, psychedelic blues riffs flying at me as I traveled through the 7th circle of hell. Gray light. And then! Downtown, with happy people waving as I went past. A cheery song came on and I was out of the nightmare. Thank God. Alive. Made it out. Done. Through. Ordeal is over. The library.
My journey was over, and I dragged my sweat-drenched person into the Ivory Temple that is the Selby Library. The big white sanctuary, air-conditioned heaven, the place my trip had led me too. It was beautiful. I plonked myself down in a chair and began reading something by Nabokov. It reminded me of Noah. He was Nabokov in AP lang. Why am I thinking of Noah at a time like this?
I sat down at one of the Computer Stations and looked up books. I scribbled down my thoughts with one of those Library Golf Pencils on one of those Small Library Pieces of Paper that are made out of cut up flyers and sit in a basket beside the computer for people to write down catalog numbers on. I have what I wrote here. It’s in scribbly all caps, but my capital letters are far more legible than my lower case so I’ve taken to doing things in all caps but with bigger capital letters for the letters that are actually supposed to be capitalized.
The computer station smelt of this lovely perfume that must have been left by the lady before me. It was one of the prettiest scents I’ve smelled. If I ever have a wife or girlfriend, I want her to smell like that. But I’ll probably never smell it again, so it doesn’t matter and I’m sure she’ll smell nice anyway.
Bicycle oil was running down my leg because my father thinks chain guards are for wusses. I sat there rubbing the oil off and wondering why you have to be 18 to get your own library card, but only sixteen to drive. One of life’s great mysteries, that. Oh sure you can get a card in Your Name, but your parents have to sign it. Life is unfair.
The bicycle oil wouldn’t come off. It just rubbed in further. I realized that Selby Library smells like shoes. It’s odd because I thought it would smell like books. But I know what books smell like and I know what shoes smell like, and the library is definitely closer to shoe scent. I suppose, though, that over time, the amount of shoes that pass through the library must equal the number of books.
Motorcycle Version Floor is the mot appealing combination of words I know. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s written on my library scrap, and so I thought the need to bring it up again. Motorcycle Version Floor. Say it. motorcycle version floor
I came home. Time happened. I’m here. I’m going to read. I hate livejournal.