D: That’s Randolph Scott on the right.
E: That’s Randolph Scott? I never recognize him. It’s a mental block. I always think of him as a villainous type.
D: He is the villain in this.
E: I mean look like a villain. He looks so harmless. He looks like half of Gary Cooper.
E: You know what I mean! He looks like if Gary Cooper and Ralph Bellamy got together to make a, a, a second banana.
E: … that sounded so dirty!
“SIDEWALKS ARE THREE PEOPLE WIDE. DO NOT WALK THREE ABREAST!” – to the obvious tourist group dawdling their way down a busy downtown sidewalk in front of me. I also didn’t bother with a curt “excuse me” and a bustling break through their passage-clogging cluster; just as I was about to, I spotted a young woman sporting a mohawk walking toward us and thought “I bet he’ll step sharply out of her way.” And indeed he did.
“SHE DOES NOT EXIST TO BE ATTRACTIVE TO YOU!” – to the man from that same tourist group, who waited until Mohawk Woman was just past him, still well within earshot, then dropped a dry “Very attractive” to his female companions. For the first sixty seconds after not-screaming, I was proud of my restraint; for the next 24 hours and counting, I wish I had let ‘er rip, and maybe jammed a “FUCKING!” in there somewhere.
“I DO NOT NEED YOUR HELP!” – to the dude who approached the crosswalk where I waited, gestured at the thinning traffic, stepped out into the street against the light, then looked over his shoulder to see if I was following.
“SO MANY ELECTRODES!” – to the nurse smoking outside the hospital, as we both glanced up from a distasteful survey of the littered street.
thing I did yell on the phone today, for no explicable reason:
“DUUUUUUUUDE!” – in greeting to my sister, who started laughing so hard that I started laughing, too, delaying our conversation by a good two minutes.
Establishing my food-critic cred: my slapped-together ten-minute lunch includes a tuna melt (tuna mixed with labneh and scallions, grilled between local-ish American cheese on English muffin bread), red potato salad (also in a dressing of labneh, olive oil, lemon, and scallion), green beans with butter-toasted almonds, and a dish of fresh pineapple spears. These are the joys of preparedness, chickadees.
Establishing my blogger cred: I changed back into pajamas to eat it.
Establishing my willingness to experiment within highly gendered expectations: am wearing new shoes with said pajamas and watching the “Sex and the City” pilot for the first time. For the latter, I credit Emily Nussbaum. For the former, I have no excuse.
… that thing where you’re doing dishes and you smell a faint sour whiff of something somewhere and you sniff the air around you and you sniff over the trashcan and you sniff the actual dishes and let’s admit it you sniff in the vicinity of your armpit and you can’t find it but you finally sniff the sponge in your hands and you accidentally tap the very tip of your nose with the wet edge of the sponge and you recoil less at the unexpected warmth and damp than at the smell because WHOA THAT’S IT so you put all the presumed-clean dishes back in the sink to rewash them and you fill a small dish with bleach solution to soak and de-smellify the sponge and heck the dish brush too while you’re at it and then you wash all possibility of sponge-smell and bleach traces off your hands and then you do it again just to be sure and then you go out for a walk while you wait for the bleachy solution to clean up that sponge and as you’re rounding the corner you realize that you scrubbed and bleached everything in the sink and washed your hands but you never washed the tip of your nose.
Yeah, that thing.
What’s scarier than reading uncanny stories all afternoon? Reading uncanny stories all afternoon, then looking up to realize that the darkness has encroached all around you, leaving you in a pitiful little pool of light spilling from your screen.
Scarier than that: with the goosebumps from those spooky stories still riddling your arms, tiptoeing down to the laundry room, unbalanced by heavy sacks of towels and sheets, flipping on the switch and knowing that some of the lights in that dark, dank basement suddenly fizzled. Scarier: having to tread down those stairs into that half-dark, around the turn at the landing into a room you can’t yet see, knowing that the dark in the spandrel just a few feet to your left is almost total.
Scarier than that: coming back upstairs and seeing your front door open — not just open, but swinging to and fro — and asking yourself “Didn’t I close that? I’m sure I closed that.”
Scarier than that: feeling foolish, knowing that the breeze (breeze? what breeze? the air is stifling still on this sticky, humid, unmoving day) must have nudged it open, entering the apartment door (which you’re sure YOU CLOSED). Then, feeling even more foolish, quickly and casually patrolling the few spots in your tiny home where an interloper might hide: peep into the kitchen, crane to see the bedroom corner closet, glance into the living room. Approaching the shower curtain, stop for one quick second to think of the sheer futility of this inspection. If there were someone something lurking there, they it would surely make quick work of you.
Scarier than that: having cleared the tiny apartment, sit down and prepare to laugh at yourself, closing the door firmly behind you. The laugh dies in your throat as the door pops itself off the latch and slowly creeeeeeeeaks open, inch by inch, letting the darkness ease in. Tell yourself it’s just the humidity swelling the jamb and playing havok with the latches, and I’m sure it is just the humidity. Just the humidity.
This weekend, I started hearing voices.
Tiny, tinny voices in barely audible bursts, piping up periodically over a long evening alone while I searched them out in vain, and then again the next night.
At first, I thought maybe we were picking up some interference on our landline cordless phone, but that wasn’t it. I put my ear to the wall, thinking maybe it was trickling in from the apartment next door. I double-checked the old digital answering machine in case the recorder had corrupted and was playing smothered bits of garbled old messages.
I checked the volume on my laptop, then on The Fella’s laptop; maybe one of us had left a YouTube tab open and it was, I don’t know, buffering and playing a few seconds at a time. I even bent down and listened to the cable box, wifi router, and TV speakers, wondering if somehow they were sending out tiny blasts of static that my brain was translating into words.
Was it coming from outside the apartment? Maybe someone was doing laundry in the basement under our living room and listening to a staticky radio down there. Maybe someone on the neighbors’ porch was wearing a walkie-talkie. Or maybe a cable-company worker was up a pole somewhere I couldn’t see, with his walkie squawking quietly down to me.
But here’s the part that made me so eager to find a rational source for these tiny little voices: I recognized them.
Yeeeeah. I would have shrugged it off, but I knew these tiny voices, and knew them well. I found them weirdly familiar, comfortable, sympathetic.
After two days interrupted by brief searches for the source of these voices, I shrugged and gave up, perplexed and a little unsettled.
And then on Monday morning, I grabbed my iPod and discovered it had been sitting on the living room table playing RadioLab podcasts at a low volume… since Saturday. Instead of turning it off, I’d turned it down. Every so often, Jad Abumrad or Robert Krulwich would get excited about something and RAISE THEIR VOICES — their oh-so-familiar and friendly voices — which I would juuuuuust barely hear through the earbuds.