Sunday, March 11, 2012

And rotate it ...

When Chuck comes to bed in the morning he is radiating spring fever. There is Vitamin D leaking from his pores and energy. He tells me of a world where outside of our home where the air smells fresh and grow-y. He's gone apeshit on tiny oranges, trying to make his insides feel like outside. I wonder if he is a simulacrum. This is someone who sometimes sits at the kitchen table wearing sunglasses.

This is pressure. The only thing worse than Saturday is a Saturday when it is nice outside. When my Facebook friends run on the Lakewalk or go for scenic drives or otherwise "Take advantage of this weather." My inclination is to skulk around the house, avoiding the geometric sun patterns that sneak through our piano windows like that couch-cushion game of "Sharks in the Water." Or, sigh, to just go do something.


First stop: The Public Library, where I pick up all my holds and more. Two movies, a book and some whim picks. For free.

Then: Chester Creek Cafe to finish my book while eating fluffy Scrambled Eggs on an English Muffin. It's called Mary Anne's Egg Thing and it's one of my favorite breakfasts in town. This goes down without incident.

My favorite public bathroom in all of Duluth is the one at Target, which smells like Baby Aspirin. I could hang out in there all day just inhaling deeply. Here we have a sticky situation: A line of bulging bladders, four stalls full, the accessible stall wide open. The line growing. The woman at the front won't just use the suite. And I can't dodge past her and use it myself (what an asshole!) and the person behind me especially can't (double assholes!). So there it sits, open, while we wait and wait.

What's the rule on this? Of course it's rude to use this stall if all the rest, or even one other, is empty. But what about the situation of a full bathroom? I know I wouldn't park in a parking spot with the blue marker and the outline of a wheel chair. But can I park my keister in that stall? What if the sixth person in line came in pushing a walker? Would we all move aside like hosts dressed in tuxedos, gesturing toward the stall, singing "Be Our Guest"? What if I used it, flushed, pulled up my pants and opened the door to find someone on a Rascal giving me a dirty look?

A woman and her small daughter come out of a stall and as the little girl washes her hands, they sing the Alphabet Song. The girl tries to conclude washing around J, but her mom reminds her they have to bring the suds past Z.

I buy two Hanes men's white T-shirts, multivitamins and cat litter.


A stop at the local comic book shop, perhaps one of the coolest, punk rock locations for a store. I love any place where you have to walk down steps to get inside. A small room with a picked-over collection and a back room where 20-somethings sit around and deconstruct role playing games and the Sy/Fy network.

I find something I forgot I wanted and jet.


At the Y they tell me that my membership was cancelled in September, though they offer no explanation as to how that happened. I'm torn between a) confusion and b) embarrassment that I haven't been to the Y in so long that I didn't even realize I wasn't being charged for a membership anymore.

This sucks. I've been a member of the Y since I moved here in 2000 -- and before that in Rochester since High School -- and I don't want this lapse on my record. I've never really gotten into a tizzy about paying for a membership even though I don't always go there. It's the Y, right? It's just a donation to a community whatever. It's not like I'm padding the pocket of some 'Roid Rager in Aviator sunglasses driving a yellow hot rod and dating only women with Farrah Fawcett hair who always wear pink leotards and leg warmers and speak in a soprano whisper.

Quitting the Y requires filling out paperwork, which I didn't do. Or did I? Now I'm creeped out that there might be a version of myself running around town canceling my Y membership and using the handicap accessible stalls.

The girl working the front desk lets me in anyway. I watch an episode of "Vampire Diaries" on the elliptical, take a sauna, then a shower. One row of lockers away a woman keeps letting out huge gusts of air and grunts. She seems to be saying "I'm still recovering from my workout. It was a doozy, this workout. Just let me catch my breath."

I was trying to build a Y habit this weekend, but now I have to wait until Monday to solve this mystery.

"Run outside," CHRISSIE! texts me. "The treadmill is the dreadmill."
"No," I respond.


"My Week with Marilyn" has an oddly-timed screening at 5 p.m. and I arrive 15 minutes early. Around me, the theater becomes filled with people twice my age. A group of women negotiated the senior citizen discount while I studied the candy display. Everything takes more time when you're 62 and in a group of other 62 year olds. Where do we all like to sit in a theater? ("Center, but row doesn't matter"). Don't forget to turn off your cell phones! ("I always forget that!") The trailers get a running commentary. No one will shut up about how they want to see "M./E." and how "We Need to Talk About Kevin" looks good, but this "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie?" they probably don't need to see that. Whisper chatter whisper.

"I have some gossip for you," one of the women stage-whispers and begins a story about a relative's wretched shop-o-holic girlfriend. She even says the girl's last name.

Then the movie starts and it's wonderful. Gah, Michelle Williams. You are so lovely and so talented.


Chuck's awake when I get home. He's wearing a shirt and he's a few gurgles into the coffee-making process.

We eat at Gronk's in Superior. Big fat burger baskets, mine smeared with a beer-cheese mixture and his topped with an egg.


We go to JJ Astor for dessert. It's a rotating restaurant at the top of the Raddison. If you stare out the window, right before you get dizzy and disoriented, you can convince yourself you are spinning both clockwise and counter clockwise, depending on how you look at things. There is a jazz trio jamming, we'd shared the elevator with the bass player who was an hour late.

"Meh, I'm sure they were fine without you," I told him. "Who needs a bass?"

We order coffee and a dessert served in a flute: Chocolate mousse topped with ladyfingers and whipped  cream. Holy eff it's good.

Lounging next to us: A foursome of barely legal boys bragging about sexual conquests. Trying to figure out how to optimize their night: Drink much, be naked. The one directly behind me is the worst. His character is a jackass who says things like "She was the most awkward lay I've ever had. ... Dead fish ..."

"When I go out at night, I'm looking for an 8 or better," he says. "After about six drinks, my standards drop. I'll take home a five if I'm drunk."

Two of the dudes decide to stay at the hotel. Take a hot tub, chill in the room, have some drinks. The others are told to go, find women, bring them back to the room.

"You guys like blonds?" one asks, passes around his phone to show off the Facebook photo of a girl. "This chick has two blonde friends. Whenever I'm out, she always approaches me."

"Sometimes I forget a girl's name," their leader says. "When she goes to the bathroom, I have to dig through her purse to find an ID."

(This is a lie. This is something he saw in a movie and it fits the sketch he's drawn of himself. He wants to be the version of Seth Rogen who appears early in the movie, before the pivotal change that turns him into a human being. Still, his friends laugh and tell him he's hilarious). Personally, I have a hard time taking a kid with a lazy stoner drawl and a flat-billed trucker hat cockeyed over Justin Bieber hair very seriously as a sexual conquistador. You take your fashion cues from a Disney-level teen heartthrob who fills mall atriums with screaming 12-year-old girls? There must be something cooler than that, more punk rock, to aspire to.

I begin picturing alternate scenarios. This guy bent over on his couch weeping at heartbreak. Begging a girl to love him back. Or maybe all the women they've discussed tonight are sitting around a table at another bar and one of the women admits "He was the most awkward lay I've ever had. ... Dead Fish ..." While another one concedes, "I only talk to him because he's a sure-thing. He's a five, but after a few drinks I don't care."

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