I guess everyone should have at least one good flying experience this summer. Mine qualified. Both flights took off and landed on schedule to the minute, and — far more important — didn’t crash. I never fly without considering the possibility of a crash, whereas I only occasionally think of this while driving. Statistics say if one of the two will get me, it’s the car crash, but I stand by my anxieties.
The picture is of an amusing rarity: A used bookstore in an airport. Because I breezed through check-in in about 15 seconds, I had some time to browse. It was wonderful, my platonic ideal of airport book shopping — no stacks of get-rich-now or kill-your-business-rival tomes, no celebrity biographies, no (or at least fewer) Grisham/DaVinci Code schlock bestsellers. Instead, stacks of well-thumbed mass-market paperbacks, all selling for three-four bucks, plus hundreds of other choices in dozens of categories. In other words, something you might actually want to read, and cheap enough that you might be tempted to “set it free” when you’re finished.
(Ms. Lippman has written about setting books free, i.e., leaving them behind in public places, so that someone else might find and enjoy them, perhaps with a note absolving others of guilt for taking them. I’ve never been that evolved; I either clutch the great ones to my bosom or keep the bad ones on the shelf forever to sneer at every time I pass by. Then I complain bitterly that I own too many books and have nowhere to keep them. No one ever accused me of consistency.)
I bought two — “Riding the Rap,” because I’m going through a reread of Elmore Leonard’s mid-’90s Florida period, and “Lonesome Dove,” in mass-market size. The latter was perhaps a mistake; in order to keep this bricklike tome somewhat less bricklike, the type is small and the leading tiny, but I don’t care. I plucked a copy off Deb’s shelf this weekend for my bedtime reading, and became as mired as a Hat Creek heifer in riverbank mud. Of course I’d read it before, probably twice, but I never owned it, perhaps because I feared the riverbank-mud thing. Deb said when she read it the first time she came to the end and paged through the endpapers to the back cover, hoping to find anything that might take the story an inch further. It’s that kind of book. (Although, in the writers-are-human-too tradition, I’m half pleased to report the sequels are said to be simply awful. At least I don’t have to read those.)
After that I wandered the shops, looking for a little something to take home to Kate. I considered a T-shirt, and noted the choices — “Hillary for President 2008,” “Bill Clinton for First Lady,” at two separate stores. Chocolate candies in novelty packaging were widespread, too, labeled “Wisconsin bullshit,” “Minnesota bullshit,” “Badger bullshit” and “Presidential bullshit,” with a little cartoon of Dubya. As a former newspaper columnist who’s pulled many of them straight out her ass, I’m wary of making sweeping pronouncements based on airport shopping, but I’m going to go way out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps the sitting president is a tetch unpopular.
Kate got three windup toys, btw. I love windup toys, especially when they’re monkeys who march around smashing little cymbals together.
The rest of the trip? Sublime. I slept on a futon in Deb’s basement rec room, where I was watched over by my life’s guiding spirit:
This was a wedding present. I recall at one point, at Deb’s reception, looking up to see this surging mass of humanity on the dance floor. Someone was holding Elvis up over his head, like mourners at the Ayatollah Khomeini’s funeral with a picture of the deceased, and he was bobbing along, too. Wish I’d had a camera. This’ll have to do.
I’m also sorry I forgot my camera Saturday night, when we drove to Madison to meet Frank and Cindy for dinner. What a beautiful city. Liberal paradise. (Question for the room: If liberals are so bad at governing, why do we have all the cool cities? Santa Monica, Ann Arbor, Madison, etc. And if conservatives and/or “the market” is so great, why do all the right-wing cities suck so bad? Salt Lake City, Houston, Jacksonville, etc.) A full moon rose over Lake Monona while we watched from the terrace of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed community center there. Turn your back on the moon, and there is the state capitol dome in the middle of the isthmus. Frank and I left Fort Wayne about the same time, for the same reason (job elimination). I’d say he landed better, but we’re both doing OK. Life goes on, and if you’re lucky, the planes leave on time.
I was going to link to Miss Teen South Carolina via YouTube, but I see the clip is now over 2 million views and isn’t loading well, so here’s a cobbled-together Flash workaround that gives you the gist. Poor girl. Someone buy her a map.
LOLBikinis: Everything I know about surfing I learned from Kem Nunn, but one thing I know is that female surfers rarely wear jangling chains, upper-arm bracelets and bikinis that could be stripped off by a medium-size wave when they’re out shooting curls. But then, they’re not Elle Macpherson, either. Do you think she might have been expecting photographers?
Soccer mom tidbit: Emily Yoffe speaks for us all.
And that’s it. Glad to be back from the good land.