Cantankerous this Wednesday back in Flint, 14 degrees with two inches of fresh snow on the ground, and I don't find it amusant. The second day of jet lag almost always the worst. So I draw a big deep bubble bath and sink in decadently. Remembering Jim Harrison's recent eminently sensible prescription for what ails ya: a huge porterhouse, a quart of the best bourbon you can afford and a long hot bath, then sleep for a day. But I gotta be at work in an hour. So, wrapped in Ted's big heavy white robe, the most I can get of Ted who's still back in San Pedro, I crank up Sam Cooke belting Change is Gonna Come, and after that, the Overture from the Marriage of Figaro, and after that, Harry Nillson wailing "Down." Aggressive and loud. I'm feeling slightly better, but don't catch me admitting it. Anyway, it's not even 9 a.m. yet.
By the way, Harrison's Returning to Earth is my favorite recent novel. I dig the way his main character dies midway, walking into his own freshly dug grave in Canada, dreaming of ravens and bears. And when I tried to post the cover for a little variety in the paragraph, Safari crashed and I had to start this all over. Must be crow magic in the air.
Anyway, two memories of Pedro warm me this day. There's a Vietnamese manicure place in a little mall off 25th where I always go when I'm there -- they're fast and friendly. I love the sound of the Vietnamese language bubbling around me in that room; to my ear, it's like frogs on a summer night, or water tumbling over rocks, or hens murmuring -- whatever, it's a lovely cacaphony. Wendy, a delicate woman with delicate hands, took on my Ohio paws, which looked huge resting on her table. I asked for the oil manicure and added the paraffin wax, and then she wondered if I'd like a flower on one of the nails. It's not my usual, but I said yes only so that I could watch her create the tiny white flower with four petals and a perfect stem on my left ring finger. Then she glued a tiny jewel in the center, and then she created a corresponding one on the other hand. This doesn't "look like me," but I loved them, and I loved watching her ply her remarkable craft, and they lasted for a week.
The second warming memory had to do with buying shoes. Ted wanted to buy a new pair of New Balance sneakers, and we went to Al Murray Shoes off Western Ave. in Pedro. The service was so great I decided to buy a pair myself. We spent 45 minutes there, the clerk lovingly measuring our feet, leisurely talking to us about our feet (I'm serious -- I've never had any shoe clerk do this) and making suggestions for the best shoes for us. He said my poor aging arches are falling and that can lead to back aches and headaches and all kinds of other malaise -- "The feet," he said passionately, "the feet affect everything." When we put on the shoes he selected, complete with arch-supporting inserts, we walked around the place feeling 20 years younger, floating like angels, while he beamed at us. Then he gave us a good talking to: "you must walk," he said. "Forty-five minutes a day. You must sweat." We nodded compliantly. "You'll feel so much better, and now you have the right shoes for it." I felt so...loved. What a pleasure!
So I'll put on my blissfully good fitting sneakers and stride out into this frigid day.
Not a hero
5 years ago