Towaway zone.

The oars are here! The oars are here! They arrived today, beautiful wood-and-fiberglass, counterweighted oars.

Only the boat’s not done yet. Still needs its coat(s) of non-slip paint on the bottom. Then it’ll be done. We’re launching in maybe a week. Alan informs me we must fly an oak twig or branch from the bow — it’s a wooden-boat tradition that honors the trees from which the craft came. Whatever. I’m wondering if breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow will scratch the paint or, far more important, be a waste of good champagne.

Alan just snapped at the dog. This usually means something else is a problem. I went out to the living room, where he was trying, unsuccessfully, to fit a bronze oarlock over one of his new oars.

"Do you need different oars, or different oarlocks?" I asked, wondering if this boat will see water before next spring.

"I need two pipes, and then I need to pull them apart," he said.

Lately, I’ve noticed I’m saying "I give up" a lot. But: I give up.

Today was the first day of student move-in. There have been warnings on the radio all week — avoid these streets! Take alternate routes! But I’m just starting to know the town, so of course what did I do today? I took the streets I was supposed to avoid and did not alternate my route, and ended up in a seething mass of minivans, shell-shocked parents and girls of 19 who apparently were issued BMW sport-utility vehicles for high-school graduation presents. When I got to Wallace House, you couldn’t find a parking place for love, money or drugs, so I did what everyone does — parked illegally. I used to be a ninja parker, could parallel park in a spot one millimeter longer than my car, but my skills are rusty. Neither Columbus nor Fort Wayne are places known for a dearth of parking; in Fort Wayne, they just bush-hog another row of grass to enlarge whatever lot you’re trying to get into. The competition there is to get the closest space, the one nearest the door, so you don’t wear too many pills off the inner thighs of your polyester stretch pants getting to your destination.

I thought of that during dinner. I had a light breakfast, a long bike ride and no lunch, so I was looking forward to a hearty, guilt-free evening meal, with someone else doing the preparation, thanks so much. I wanted Indian food — papadams and vindaloo and rump-a-pum-pum, all sopped up with big sheets of nan. But there was Kate, Miss Picky Pants, and she was in a mood. The dining-out alternatives with her are Mexican, Italian or anyplace with a bland kids’ menu. Mexican it was, and because of the clog downtown, we went for a chain that was, at the very least, close by.

Gah. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing "On the next ‘Talk of the Nation’: America’s obesity epidemic. Who’s to blame?" Who’s to blame? How about the people who came up with the idea of the chain Mexican restaurant. A "mini" burrito and a cheese enchilada were served on a platter the size I put a whole roast chicken on, with a cup each of rice and beans. My "small" margarita came in a glass I could barely lift, the salt on the rim so thick and encrusted it missed the whole point of salting the rim. Kate’s quesadilla arrived with french fries, that well-known Mexican side dish.

Never. Going. Back.

"Why is there a dirty bike on the wall?" Kate asked in the lobby. (It was one of those places where they nail a dirty bike to the wall, yes.) "To make you think this is a real fun place to eat," I told her. "Because they’re crazy! They’ve nailed a bike to the wall!" Later, all the servers gathered around for the obligatory birthday-song torture of some unfortunate kid nearby. They made her wear a sombrero. By my calculation, this formula — junk nailed to walls; massive quantities of bland, uninteresting food; birthday-song torture by flair-wearing servers — is roughly 30 years old. It’s time for the next thing, restaurant entrepreneurs.

We should have driven another mile or three down the road, where we could have had the chain-restaurant experience of Panera, at the very least. But I was afraid I’d pass another dorm en route and have to weep silently.

Deb wrote today: I don’t know where we left off, because my brain is still kind of a blur from several days of ingesting vicodin. I sprained a toe last week. you’d think this wouldn’t hurt much. you’d be wrong. at least I got to ask the doctor, "but will I play the piano again?"
just now starting to feel alert and normal — vicodin really puts you on another plane, mentally and otherwise.

Yes! Yes, it does. That’s why Hollywood types frequently end up in rehab, having to have that shit pried out of their sweaty little palms. My doctor favors Tylenol 3, so named because if you take it with three glasses of wine, you might get to sleep through the night. I got T3 for an episiotomy that tore at both ends, again for a bicycle accident that left me unable to turn over in bed without weeping from the pain, and you get Vicodin for a sprained toe? Where do I find these generous doctors when I need them? At Deb’s HMO, evidently. One of my editors said to me a few months ago, "I was cleaning out the medicine chest last weekend. You know when I had that shoulder separation? Guess what the doctor gave me for the pain — Oxycontin! Of course I flushed it down the toilet. Wouldn’t want that falling into the wrong hands."

The oars don’t fit. Traffic is clogged. Dinner was terrible. And if I was in pain, I wouldn’t get the proper narcotics. Can I come up with things to whine about, or what?

Tomorrow. Orientation!

Posted at 1:29 pm in Uncategorized |

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