Stare.
 
2001 Notebook: Weak XLV
 
   
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5 November 2001
Free Rainier Ale
I patronize two local Rainier Ale dealers. One sells six-packs of Rainier Ale in efficacious sixteen-ounce aluminum cans, the other offers my favorite adult beverage in forty-ounce bottles made of real glass. I try to buy equal amounts from each vendor, since it’s in my interest to keep them both in business and competing with each other.

Asad’s Market sells six-packs for five dollars and ninety-nine cents, including California sales tax and a container deposit. Each time I hand the gentleman behind the counter six dollars, express my sincere thanks, and walk away, he insists that I take the penny in change.

I refuse. He insists. And so on.

We’ve enjoyed this pointless debate for as long as I can remember, so I was surprised tonight when he tried a new strategy.

“Look at it this way,” the clerk explained. “If you keep the pennies, every six-hundredth pack will be free. That might not sound so great on a chilly November night, but by next July or so you’ll be glad you did.”

“So if I come in here next summer with five hundred and ninety-nine pennies,” I asked, “you’re going to give me a six-pack?”

“Hell no,” the clerk responded. “Pennies are nothing but a damned annoyance.”

“I think we may have found some common ground,” I agreed. “I look forward to continuing this discussion at a later date.”

Later that night, I fantasized about free Rainier Ale.

6 November 2001
Exaggerated Anthrax Fears
Ronald told me that he’s in a great deal of pain this morning, and I believe him.

“Ron,” I began, “do you remember riding your bike down the courthouse steps?”

“Say what?” Ronald replied with genuine ignorance.

“Ron, you tried to ride your bike down the courthouse steps several times last night,” I explained. “That’s why you’re covered in bruises.”

“I think I have anthrax,” Ron announced hesitantly. “I think the terrs got me.”

“I think gravity got you, and got you good,” I countered.

“There’s something else,” Ronald added gravely. “I found a white powder on my desk this morning. I’m thinking anthrax.”

“Try thinking munchies instead,” I suggested. “Do you remember buying a half-dozen donuts covered in sugar powder after we left the courthouse last night?”

“I did that?” Ronald asked hesitantly.

“No,” I lied, “some al-Desirée terrorists we met at the bar said they’d kill you. Looks like death by bike to me.”

Ronald looked sick. Ronald had every right to be sick.

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7 November 2001
Concurrent Plagiarism
I was wandering around the building that once housed the San Francisco Museum of Modern [sic] Art, when I discovered that careless movers had left one of the pieces behind.

I clearly remember the day the piece was created: 16 October 1989. That was the day a large earthquake struck San Francisco. The quake killed scores of people, and knocked a huge chunk of plaster off the wall at the top of one of the museum’s stairwells.

By the time I discovered the piece, it had been signed, “God.” No museum curator saw fit to alter the attribution, so that was that.

Or, more accurately, that was that ten years ago. Today, I discovered that three other artists have claimed credit for the piece.

The most obvious signature was neatly printed on the wall inside a carefully-drawn box.

    “Unframed”
    June 2, 1992 1:35 p.m.
    Rebekah Eisenberg
    Gift of the Artist

And then I discovered an elaboration on the original attribution.

    GOD b. 0000
    UNTITLED
    masonary [sic] and plaster

And finally, there was a third, more modest claim: “also Sarah C 1992.”

So who really deserves credit for the piece? A corollary: who needs curators? A final query: who cares?

8 November 2001
A Most Embarrassing Situation
I was caught in one of the most embarrassing situations of my life tonight. More embarrassing than the incident when she was wearing the dolphin suit and the mayonnaise. More embarrassing than the exploding toilet. Even more embarrassing than the “wrong twin” incident.

This is how it happened.

I was visiting a friend (who shall remain anonymous for what will be obvious reasons), and we ran out of beer. She left to get some more, so I decided to entertain myself. Nothing in her library looked immediately rewarding, and I couldn’t figure out how to turn on her ridiculously complex stereo system. That’s when I took the path of least resistance and turned on the television.

I was trying to figure out how to operate the controls when my friend returned with more beer.

“What are you doing?!” she shrieked with laughter.

“Uh, nothing,” I said.

“You’re watching The Fast Women in Fast Cars We Love to Love, aren’t you?” she asked derisively.

“I don’t know,” I replied, “I was just trying to figure out how to change channels.”

She laughed at my answer even though it was true. Perhaps she laughed at my answer because it was true. In any case, I can’t dispute that she saw me watching the television, or that this was one of the most embarrassing situations of my life.

9 November 2001
Better Than True
Rudy emailed me an amazing story.

    ARKANSAS CITY (EAP) — A Little Rock woman was killed in mid-October after leaping through her moving car’s sunroof during an incident best described by dozens of eyewitnesses as “a mistaken rapture.”

    Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pileup resulted from drivers trying to avoid hitting the woman who was apparently convinced that the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she claimed was Jesus.

    “She started screaming, ‘He’s back, He’s back,’ and climbed right out of the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car,” said Everet Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene.

    “I was slowing down but she wouldn’t wait till I stopped,” Williams said.

    “She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky,” he went on to say.

    “This is the strangest thing I’ve seen since I’ve been on the force,” said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene.

    Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was dressed up as Jesus and was on his way to a toga costume party when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blowup sex dolls filled with helium that floated up into the air.

    Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who’s been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration, and said “Come back here,” just as the Williams’ car passed him, and Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into the sky as they passed by him, according to her husband, who says his wife loved Jesus more than anything else.

    When asked for comments about the twelve sex dolls, Jenkins replied, “This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen.”

I forwarded the report to Chuck Shepherd, who publishes News of the Weird. Chuck promptly sent me a thank-you note, and told me the story wasn’t true.

Fortunately, I didn’t mind that it wasn’t true. I never let a lack of facts stop me from repeating a good story.

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10 November 2001
Doggie Ambush
I was housesitting for friends last night, a favor that involved walking their dogs, Mick and Lune. Although these particular dogs aren’t the most brilliant canines, they do realize that I don’t really appreciate dogs.

“You know what your problem is, human?” asked Mick. “Your problem is that you only think like a human. You could do better if you looked at things from our perspective.”

“Like sniffing urine on fence posts?” I replied. (I long ago gave up trying to get him to address me by my name.)

“Let’s do a little experiment,” Mick suggested. “I’m at the end of the leash in your left hand, Lune’s on the other one. Close your eyes while we walk down this quiet lane and see what you experience. With one of us on either side, what could possibly happen?”

At midnight, after most of a bottle of wine, I decided to take the idiot dog’s advice.

Big mistake.

I enjoyed my stumbling for a minute or so, as Mick tugged me one way and Lune pulled in the opposite direction. The next thing I knew, though, I was on the ground screaming in pain. Mick and Lune had steered me into the only lava rocks in Marin County. When I got back to their house, I discovered a small cut on my throat and two large gashes on my shin.

Mick and Lune grinned. They would, wouldn’t they?

11 November 2001
The End of Further Inquiry
Ken Kesey died yesterday before he was seventy. That’s too young to go these days, recreational drugs notwithstanding.

I was sorry to see another great guy go, but I was nevertheless pleased to read a couple of tidbits in his obituaries. The Smithsonian Institution refused Kesey’s donation of the Merry Pranksters’ bus Further because of a bureaucratic technicality: Kesey sent the government curators a fake.

And who couldn’t love Kesey’s exit line?

“Anybody who says they have no regrets is either a dimwit or a liar—probably both.”

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart