Yes, I know the site was down. My e-mail was down, too. I don’t know what happened, but my guess would be: Ivan threw a branch over a wire somewhere in the American south, where my site lives, and so we were all made to suffer. (Yes, I’m being smartass here. I saw those houses.) But things are back now, and I received three days worth of e-mail. 110 pieces were backed up in the pipeline, I saw. A moment later, the computer chirped that the sorting was over, and the important stuff was ready to read. In the in-box: 10 pieces. Ten! And one was spam that slipped the filter! Ratio of spam:important stuff, more than 10:1.
Then I did the daily spam-comment/blacklist chore. Nine more pieces there. It reminded me of a conversation this weekend, in Columbus, where Kate and I went to celebrate my brother’s birthday. I was helping him do internet research on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which meant I was doing all the research, because my brother doesn’t own a computer and is where everyone else in the world was approximately 15 years ago, saying, “A what? A browser? What’s that?”
“Hey, I’m getting pretty good at this,” he said, when I left him on his own and he figured out the “back” button, after accidentally quitting the program three times in a row.
“Well, when you finally decide to go online,” my sister said. “Promise me you’ll get a Mac.”
He said no no noooo, he’d be getting a PC, “because then you can get Windows.” My sister and I exchanged a glance, and I wondered how long it would be before he sends all his credit-card numbers to a Nigerian oil minister, as security on that Swiss bank account number he’d be getting under separate cover.
(He’s not that stupid, but he’s also got some catching up to do. I actually used to hit “unsubscribe” on spam e-mail, thinking it would stem the tide. Silly me.)
So that’s what I did this weekend: Go to Columbus. Which meant? Yes, shopping! Nothing for me, but baby got two cute new pairs of shoes, from Nordstrom’s. Yes, I paid too much, but I didn’t pay as much as I could have — no $65 kiddie Birkenstocks for us, no $110 European brands with delicate leaf patterns — and what the hell, the kid’s been wearing Target shoes all her life. One pair of genuine Merrell jungle mocs in fuschia is not the crime of the century.
There’s nothing like the Nordstrom’s children’s shoe department to make the class fractures of American life stand out to the casual observer. A man in his 50s, but still obviously the father of this 4-year-old, picks out five pairs of shoes bing bam boom and pays by credit card: That’ll be $265, sir. He may die before he gets to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, but he’ll leave a nice estate. A couple who look as though they can obviously afford it pick up the delicate leaf-pattered Euro pair, turn them over, make exasperated lip noises at the $110 price tag, put them back on the shelf. A hassled Somali clerk in a hijab waits on all with seemingly endless patience and good humor, more than any of her customers. But then, she works for Nordstrom’s. Patience and good humor is their stock in trade. Along with shoes.
Kate loves her shoes, and still loved them after she was denied a trip to Build-a-Bear. The Carrie Bradshaw of 2027. Although Carrie would never wear Merrells.
Today we went down both water slides at the Westerville Community Center, then took the shoes home to show daddy. Life as a kid is pretty good, if you’ve got the right address. Ask the Somali.