Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to Use a Trumpet to Make People Disappear

There’s nothing new in the Fume Wars except that I’m making a concerted effort not to think about it, meaning that when I start to hear myself mentally delivering a lecture to the building manager or an explanation to the offended neighbor, I just drop it, and wish my neighbors well.

But when I see a note on Craigslist from someone saying their neighbor’s cigarette smoke is making them miserable and wondering if there is anything to be done, before replying to say there is, I allow myself a little “Ha!”

A couple of weeks ago I went to a special volunteer night at the Bike Coalition to help mail out the latest Tube Times, in which I have an article about the process of requesting bike parking at a large corporation.

A day or two later, the building manager was going to visit each apartment to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors. Hammett moves faster than Thelonious did, and he is eager to get out and see what's happening in the hall, so while I know the building manager (probably) wouldn’t let my cat out accidentally—it did cross my mind that she might do it deliberately—I decided to put my mind at ease by leaving a brief note asking her to be careful not to let Ham out.

When I returned home from work, there was a note from the building manager saying how offended she was that I had dared to leave her that note. I didn’t respond, because the only thing I could have said was, “From the tenor of your remarks over the years, it is obvious that few things give you more pleasure than being offended, so I’m certainly glad I was able to give you an opportunity for ire.”

On Friday of that week, I went to Love on Wheels, the cyclists’ version of the old TV show The Dating Game. I was remembering that when I moved to San Francisco, I went to AA meetings where I made a wonderful bunch of friends. I almost never see any of those people anymore: I hardly ever go to an AA meeting, lots of people moved away, and, most damaging of all, I spent ten years in my apartment practicing the trumpet three hours a day.

I ended up being a dern good trumpet player, if I must say it myself, but my social life had nearly vanished by the end of that period.

When I was on my way to Love on Wheels, I ran into a woman I met in that era, not a close friend but a very familiar friendly face, and I ran into another at the event, which seemed like a good omen. I didn’t stay that long. I’d forgotten I don’t really like things that take place in bars where it’s hard to hear what anyone is saying. I don’t drink and I was there by myself, which always feels a tad awkward, so I watched a couple rounds of the dating game and came home.

Maybe that same evening I went up to Tom’s, where we watched videos on YouTube. I recommend Amy Winehouse’s video for “In My Bed”—you’ll see what all the fuss is about—and the video for Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.” What a handsome fellow Eddie Vedder is. When I got home, I went to YouTube and watched more videos on my own and was lamenting that Tom had finally succeeded in giving me a nasty YouTube habit, which he’s been trying to do for some time, but after a bit of the hair of the dog the next morning, I was over it.

Saturday was a splendid day and I was planning to do this and that, but it turned out to be a perfect day for a Big Nap, until five p.m.

In the evening, I took Tom out for sushi to celebrate a long-overdue milestone, that of setting a boundary with someone who had known no shame in asking him for rather large and inconvenient favors for several years, and no, I’m not talking about myself.

After dinner we watched The Boxer, with Daniel Day-Lewis. My favorite line, spoken of a boxer who at the moment was not prevailing in the ring: “He should get the Nobel Peace Prize for Boxing.”

On Sunday I cooked and, in the evening, watched The Unbearable Lightness of Being, with Daniel Day-Lewis, barely credible as a ladies’ man. So far, I think he’s most attractive in The Ballad of Jack and Rose and The Crucible. When I mentioned to my mother that I thought DDL was handsome in this or that movie, she said, “Oh, did he have his face shortened?” Remarkably, she doesn’t think he’s particularly pulchritudinous.

In the reading department, there’s not much to report. I don’t read anymore. I have Netflix. Well, I guess that’s not quite true. I’m still working on The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I’m rereading When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, and getting a lot out of it.

Fantastic news: Twisty Faster is back, at I Blame the Patriarchy.

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