Like new.

A sphincter-tightening moment on I-94 today: Driving in the middle lane I had to swerve, at freeway speeds, to avoid being sideswiped by another driver, who was herself swerving to avoid someone entering the freeway under the apparent delusion she was the only car on the road.

I glanced in the rear-view mirror. Both drivers were chatting on cell phones.

Happily chatting! Heedless of the near miss we’d all just escaped.

Why, I oughta…well, I oughta not let every little thing get my panties in a bunch, that’s what. Because if you do, you end up very much like, oh, me. On some days, anyway.

I chose not to let this one bother me. Spriggy was in the car with me and the air was redolent of dog biscuits. I bought him a big-boy box at Costco, which turned out to be even more densely packed than I’d anticipated. It could easily last a year, and since the dog is 14, it’s possible it could outlast him.

If that happened, and we still lived in Indiana, I would sell the unused portion via the Peddler’s Post, in honor of my all-time favorite classified ad. It was simple, and yet, ohhhh:

Three pair men’s white briefs. Size 38. Like new.

It’s the “like new” that really sells it, doesn’t it? I have no quarrel with aftermarket undies — have bought ’em myself, on eBay — but only if they’re obviously NWT, “new with tags.” (Besides, I only wanted the bra. The matching thong sits at the bottom of my u’trou drawer, still NWT. As if.) But “like” new?

I wanted to write a column about the Peddler’s Post — a poem in every column (wedding dress, size 16, never worn), a novel on every page (pit bull bitch, two years old, $200, not for home with children). My editor discouraged me, suggesting the brass wouldn’t think well of a column that cast the major competitor to our ever-dwindling classified business in a good light. He suggested drawing material from our own classifieds, but they didn’t have the same soul.

No one ever advertised like-new undies, for one thing.

The local radio talk show out of Ann Arbor today signed off with a Woody Guthrie song. The topic was whither-labor and the tune was “Union Maid,” sung by Pete Seeger. What a toe-tapper:

There once was a union maid
She never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks
And the deputy sheriffs who made the raid
She went to the union hall
When a meeting it was called
And when the company boys came round
She always stood her ground

Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union
I’m sticking to the union,I’m sticking to the union
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union
I’m sticking to the union till the day I die

“Goons and ginks and company finks” — I’m going to file that one away. Does management have its own songs? Would anyone want to sing them? It’s like that scene before the big battle in “Glory,” where the black soldiers are singing their rowdy hymns, talking to God and preparing for a happy death around the fire, while the white officers are inside listening to somebody play the piano and looking so, so sad.

“Solidarity Forever,” there’s another good one. Order another pitcher and sing that one around the bar, boys. For the union makes us strong…

Even the Internationale, the notorious anthem of communism, makes you want to stand up and join in. I’d like to see Whitney Houston try to make that one her own, you know?

Bloggage? Maybe later.

Posted at 9:23 pm in Uncategorized |

7 responses to “Like new.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 12, 2005 at 11:22 pm

    We have noted that drivers distracted by their cell phones tend to have a pronounced drift to the right (make of that what you will)

    just read this bit –

    (sorry – the whole reuters address trips the filter; but if you paste in the above, and then click on “Oddly Enough” – you’ll get there)

    and laughed out loud.

    Marlene Dietrich hated sex? Who’d a thunk it? And anyway, how would her daughter know?

    (maybe this is like people who “hate” that they cannot resist chocolate or gambling or alcohol or Sponge Bob)

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  2. Dick Walker said on October 13, 2005 at 8:52 am

    Craigs List these days is the place for weird and wooley offers. Like this one from the Austin list:

    will trade Ball python eggs for……..

    Reply to: xxxxxxx

    Date: 2005-10-08, 8:29AM CDT

    want a male BP willing to trade my female’s first few eggs…..

    And management songs? Sure. First line of the chorus goes

    “Bossman, bossman, uber alles…”

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  3. Roar on Lawn Guyland said on October 13, 2005 at 11:48 am

    Nance: That Woody Guthrie song immediately brought to mind a “British Invasion” tune from the 60s, which was no doubt adapted from his.

    The chorus went:

    You don’t get me, I’m part of the union,

    You don’t get me, I’m part of the union,

    You don’t get me, I’m part of the unionnnnnnnnnn…

    Til the day I die; Til the day I die!”

    ‘Twas a GREAT radio tune, with lots of bangin’ piano and guitars. Any of your readers recognize it? Who performed it? This is gonna haunt me for a while.


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  4. Nance said on October 13, 2005 at 12:32 pm

    When in doubt, ask Professor Google.

    The song is Part of the Union, by the Strawbs.

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  5. deb said on October 13, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    i’m still partial to neil young’s “union man”: “i’m proud to be a union man, i make those meetings when i can. yeah. i pay my dues ahead of time, when the benefits come, i’m last in line. yeah.”

    years ago, i used a snippet of this tune as our answering machine message. unfortunately, that’s what was on the machine when somebody called about interviewing someone in our household for a job in management. it didn’t work out.

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  6. mary said on October 13, 2005 at 9:55 pm

    My poor younger son gets his brother’s used boxer shorts if they’re still in good shape. I feel slightly guilty about it, but not guilty enough to toss them. That’s why I only mark the last name in the waist band of the ones they take to camp.

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  7. deb said on October 14, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    probably no one’s reading this particular thread anymore — it’s old news, what with the n-s dustup above — but for the record: a woman died on the interstate in the milwaukee area this week after crashing her car while — anyone? — talking on her cell phone. after interviewing witnesses, cops cited her inattentive driving as the cause. victim’s age: thirtysomething.

    think about this next time your cell rings while you’re behind the wheel, will you? please?

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