daily preciousness

Saturday, March 01, 2003

3 pairs of socks, 16 dances

Three pairs of socks should keep my feet warm. But they won't. It's in the mid-twenties today with a steady sprinkling of snow. It's the small, fluffy kind that keeps the roads a little slick but not too bad. You can see puffs of pedestrian breath as they pound through the inch or two of snow. I'm at St. Elmo's, with a small crowd of "old timers" behind me. They're sitting at the big group table, discussing international politics with the down-home assuredness of men who've seen many, many days. And they're extremely anti-war right now. They're humbled and anxious about all that's going on. I look their way and smile, as if to say, "I understand; I'm worried, too." They smile back and sip their steaming coffee.

It's been a busy week for me. Spanish class has kept me busy at work. I don't have much free time to think. Most of my time is taken just catching up. But it's fun. My classmates are cheerful and gung-ho. Even the older women have put forth a lot of effort. I'm just glad to have a venue to practice and perfect my phraseology. Sarah has been great for that. She's at a similar level, although she has an odd habit of breaking into Hindi when she forgets a word. I can relate, though… every once in a while I break out into Japanese, if only in my head.

Last night I had dinner at the Eveningstar Café with Mike Nichols. It was great to visit with him. He's got a lot going on in his life right now professionally, so we had a lot to discuss. I showed him the pictures I took of our flight together. They turned out pretty well, although I told him how I'd found a book on aerial photography the very next day. He told me that he can actually fly his plane with the cockpit window open, so we could do that next time. That sounded great to me, since I'd really like to try my hand at taking pictures of the waterways around the area.

The service before the meal was abysmal. They wouldn't let me sit down, but instead directed me to the bar. That would've been fine, if I'd been able to sit down back there. All of the seats were taken, so I had to stand with my backpack weighing me down. No fun. At least they had Harp on tap. I love that stuff. Later on, at Bar No. 9 upstairs, I tried a Pilsner. It was nastified like dung beetle piss. It was as if Snoop Doggy Dogg had drained his bong and poured it into a pint glass. It was a less than pleasurable drinking experience. After that debacle, I tried an Indian pale ale, which was much better. In fact, it was such good drinking that it makes me think about American history.

It reminded me of a story I once read about George Washington, that pale ale did. On his farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington kept a special room full of paintings of children. It was a special "screaming room." All he ever did in this room was stare at the pictures of the children and yell at them. Must've been very healthy for him. Of course, his wife always approved of this habit -- it always seemed to have a beneficial effect on his humors. One day, after spending two hours in this room, he went out into the field and danced farm animals. (No, not like that, you nasty, sick-o pervert!) He danced for the first time one of the sixteen dances. It is a little known fact that Washington invented the funky chicken dance with his roosters and his mare.

I wonder if Washington had to wear three pairs of socks during the particularly cold winters at Mt. Vernon? Speaking of that famous property, I signed up for a 10-mile run that will start at Mt. Vernon and end up… well, 10 miles down the parkway. It should be fun. It will be my first race after the marathon. I'll have to start training, of course, so that I'll be ready for it. I think Washington, if he were alive today (and not preoccupied with spinning in his grave), he would support my efforts and run with me. Or maybe he'd ride on horseback and keep me entertained with his wild stories of screaming at children's portraits. It could happen.

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