If these walls could talk.

Talked to a couple of old friends in the past few days. One recently had a hysterectomy, and it went well. She described the moment when the doctor came in to her hospital room and announced she could be released, just as soon as the surgical packing was removed from her vagina — gauze, mostly.

“You know that trick where the magician pulls out a long string of scarves, and it just goes on and on and on?” she said. “It was like that, only grosser.”

The other one told a few stories about her work life, which are the best stories ever. I’d pay money to see her one-woman show someday, and maybe I will. If you want to collect good stories about people, don’t bother becoming a bartender. Become a house cleaner instead. Better stories. One of my editors used to say a mailman knew more about your life than any other stranger who touched it. I say it’s your house cleaner, who knows the state of your marriage from the remains of your romantic dinners for two, and certainly by the number of votive candles arrayed around your bathtub. This friend used to clean empty houses for Realtors, and could tell the ethnicity of the former owners with astonishing accuracy:

“Asians lived there,” she said. “Long black hairs in the bathroom, lots of spilled rice in the pantry.” Indians left behind cooking smells, and favored certain paint colors. (White folks like neutrals.)

The best story she told me was about a lovely house in an upscale suburban area that one of her clients picked up very very cheap. It had been trashed, she said, by the previous owner’s children. It seemed that one day mom ran off with her boyfriend and moved to a faraway state. Then, a few months later, dad accepted a job in another distant city. When the teenage children, who were entering their junior and senior year of high school, objected to the relocation, he said, “OK, you kids can live here until you finish school. You’re old enough to take care of yourselves. I’ll send you some money. Bye.” You can imagine what happened: It became party central, a cushy crash pad for every local kid who needed a place to drink, get high or get laid. And over time, no doubt egged on by the effectively orphaned tenants, the place was very nearly destroyed — they threw cans of house paint out the window onto the driveway to see what it would look like, let the pool go back to nature, wrecked the furniture and carpets, punched holes in the walls and so on. Rehabbing it was a six-figure job, and it was practically a new house to begin with.

That should be a movie, don’t you think? The most interesting stories are be-careful-what-you-wish-for stories.

I have the bestest friends.


My new rock-star husband, Don Was — yes, Rodney Crowell, while I will always love you, it’s all over between us — was in the Metro Times last week. I missed the show he was promoting, The Don Was Detroit Super Session, and yes I am kicking myself. But he’s so generous in his interviews, which is one reason I love him. They just go on and on and on, and he says so many interesting things. I bring this up because we were talking about the Jill Sobule album-financing deal a while back, and lo, guess what happened:

MT: Other than the Todd Snider project, do you have anything else major coming up?

WAS: Well, just before that, I finished an album with Jill Sobule. She did the original “I Kissed A Girl,” but she shouldn’t be judged on that. She’s a really deep songwriter — both funny and profound. She has a devoted fan base, and she had a “telethon” on her website where fans could contribute as little as $18, for which they got a T-shirt and an early download of the album. For $10,000 — which some people actually bought — you got the hyper-platinum package which allowed you to come and sing background vocals on the album. And she raised $85,000 in about three weeks. Then we made that album — recorded and mixed it — in less than two weeks. Same basic principle. And, you know, there’s just, something about it – that immediacy.

And also in the Metro Times, one of the Starbucks that’s closing is the one on Jefferson in Detroit. Alas, it was beloved by someone other than the usual nobodies:

Long before Renee Zellweger’s brief marriage to country “singer” Kenny Chesney, long before Jack White married model Karen Elson while floating down a Brazilian river, the movie star and the rock star were, as your grandparents might have called ’em, an item. Zellweger spent much time in Detroit, in fact, which was a shocker to us regular folk who spotted her wandering about in supermarkets and dining in restaurants like someone who is, as she calls herself, “just kind of normal”… “Oh, yeah,” she says, drawing the “yeah” out with a few extra vowels. “I’d like to say hi to my friends at the Starbucks on Jefferson. Nice guys.”

A little housekeeping: I’m now on Twitter, as NNall. Like Facebook, I don’t quite get it, but maybe I can figure it out.

Posted at 10:32 am in Current events, Housekeeping, Same ol' same ol' |

21 responses to “If these walls could talk.”

  1. Dorothy said on July 23, 2008 at 10:36 am

    When Mike had surgery to fix a deviated septum, the doc did that same trick with the packing gauze. Thankfully I wasn’t there to witness it – I just heard about it second hand.

    177 chars

  2. virgotex said on July 23, 2008 at 10:47 am


    I searched but couldn’t find you over at Twitter.

    55 chars

  3. nancy said on July 23, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Hmm, neither can I. All I can tell you is, my user name is NNall and my profile calls me Nancy Nall Derringer.

    Anyway, now I’m following you, so maybe we can connect that way?

    178 chars

  4. Sue said on July 23, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Wow, not much activity here today. Everyone’s still discussing booze on yesterday’s post.

    90 chars

  5. brian stouder said on July 23, 2008 at 11:57 am

    …and Wiccan ceremonies

    24 chars

  6. kayak woman said on July 23, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I found you via doc Burns’s twitter. I don’t really get Twitter either although I’ve been on it for a while (kayakwoman, which is a bit of a misnomer this summer as I’ve been 200 miles away from my kayak all summer). I was having fun collecting “boys” (i.e., middle-aged male kayakers). Then my husband showed up. And my kids. And my s-i-l.

    I won’t *ever* do Facebook. I don’t particularly want to know what my kids are up to these days. At least not the stuff I don’t know about. (Not sure if that made sense.)

    515 chars

  7. LAMary said on July 23, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    >>>I don’t particularly want to know what my kids are up to these days. At least not the stuff I don’t know about. (Not sure if that made sense.)<<<

    Makes perfect sense to me.

    200 chars

  8. virgotex said on July 23, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I think the only redeeming thing about twitter IS the sheer triviality and/or mundanity of being in the hive mind.

    take a look at the FAVRD site to see some examples of the “tweet as performance art” –

    It’s interesting to see “events” ripple through the chatter, though.

    the experience is greatly enhanced by using a desktop client (there are dozens), rather than having to go to the website and log in.

    415 chars

  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 23, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    ahhh, nasal septoplasty, and packing materials.

    Good times. Good times.

    75 chars

  10. coozledad said on July 23, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I carried mail for awhile, but I only learned a few general things about my customers. I knew which ones were in the Klan, which ones were broke, and sometimes, frequently at the intersection of the former two cases, which houses had the lonely or just plain angry wife who would greet you at the door in her underwear when you delivered a dun. And let me make it clear, the postal life is not at all like a porn movie. At least not one with a budget.
    I’ll bet the cleaners would have a field day with our shack. I can hear them now. “Old-ass hippies! Would it cripple them to clean that damned stove every now and then?”
    Speaking of which.

    645 chars

  11. Danny said on July 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I don’t particularly want to know what my kids are up to these days. At least not the stuff I don’t know about. (Not sure if that made sense.)

    And Bob Seger says: “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

    228 chars

  12. john c said on July 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Wow, Danny, that Seger line came to my mind as well. Then I thought of Harry Caray, and what he used to say late in those Friday afternoon games when Arnie Harris would inevitably pan the WGN cameras on the bleachers and find some young lass bursting out of her top. “Ohhh-ta-be 21 and know what I know now.” That, of course, calls to mind my all-time favorite mutiple-Budweiser-inspired Harryism: “How the hell does a kid from Mexico lose a ball in the sun!”

    459 chars

  13. Kirk said on July 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I liked when Harry, during a Cubs telecast, was talking about one of his buddies who had recently expired: “One night you’re out there drinkin’ and laughin’, and the next morning: stone-cold dead!”

    197 chars

  14. jcburns said on July 23, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    ..easy, right?

    40 chars

  15. Danny said on July 23, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Man, Nance, there goes that “nice liberal” young man helping you out again!

    75 chars

  16. nancy said on July 23, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    He’s older than me! By eight months!

    But yeah, I changed the link myself an hour ago. Their search function is fubar, however.

    129 chars

  17. derwood said on July 23, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I’m twittered…not sure what I’ll do with it. Probably be like my Facebook account, it will sit there.

    “ahhh, nasal septoplasty, and packing materials.

    Good times. Good times.”

    I did that 2 years ago….no packing. My ENT said he did not understand why his colleagues continued to use gauze packing for this surgery. Sure there is lots of nastyiness that comes out of your nose but there was never the yanking of the gauze.


    445 chars

  18. brian stouder said on July 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Like Facebook, I don’t quite get it, but maybe I can figure it out.

    Up ’til the last issue of Time magazine, I’d never heard of 4chan, which is said to be the La Brea tar pit of the internet; or a kind of internet portal wherein cultural matter and anti-matter swirl about, interacting in a technically unexplainable and yet intrinsically and definitively “it” sort of way.

    The place was founded by a 15 year old(!!) who is now 20 (or maybe 21), and goes by the name “moot”.

    I read the article in much the same way an orangutan might examine a lap-top computer

    578 chars

  19. Gasman said on July 23, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I did the nasal septoplasty last year, with all of the yucky gauze. They also included nasal splints that felt like they were the size of loaves of bread when they were removed. Nearly as nasty as the gauze. I don’t know if it made a difference as to why they used gauze and splints with me or not, but I also had several sinus passages roto-rooted as well as some enlarging of sinus openings. Mighty gross at the time, but it ended the sinus infection that I had for 2+ years. I sing much better now, too.

    511 chars

  20. Linda said on July 23, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    I’m quite sure that nobody knows you like a housekeeper, which is why I clean my own house to the dirt tolerance that I can reach and deal with (as opposed to the optimal level of cleanliness that could be achieved by a competent professional cleaner). The only way I want anybody to know me that well is if I marry him.

    321 chars

  21. Carolyn said on July 23, 2008 at 10:59 pm


    I saw you over on Romenesko and I just have to say:

    Beer Butt Chicken!!

    84 chars