MY OFFICE IS CROWDED TODAY. Of course, “my office,” also doubles as a corner table in the Starbucks a few blocks from home. I can usually shut out the hubbub and foot traffic around me, but today, for some reason, it is all getting on my nerves.
Every year for the past decade or so Terre Haute (That’s French for, “I need to wash the car again”) has been the winter camping ground for upwards of 10,000 Crows. When the weather begins to get a bit nippy and the leaves start turning lovely shades of red and gold this city is invaded by a sky-blackening horde of these bad-attitude flying versions of Chase Utley (for non-baseball fans: look him up, then give in to the urge to wash your hands).
The town was filled to overflowing with grads coming in from all over the country to revisit a burgeoning campus and attend the Big Game. There is always a Big Game for Homecoming. It must be a law or something.
Do the math. I can’t.
I didn’t crawl under the comforter until close to 2 AM and my eyes popped open just before 7 AM. I got up – stumbled to the bathroom – relied on a lifetime of aiming in the dark, and stumbled back to bed.
At about 8:15 my eyes popped open again, only this time they functioned as advertised. I got dressed in whatever was closest.
It was then that my wife, the lovely and already up for some reason, Dawn, said, “You aren’t going to wear those pants, are you? There is some kind of stain on the back.”
I checked. She was right, but whatever it was, it was up near the belt – and my butt doesn’t go up that high. I must have either leaned up against something or there are loose stains floating in the air and one landed on my tookus.
The morning, which came much too soon anyway, was getting off to a very iffy start. I hadn’t even gotten out of the bedroom and I was having to make major life decisions like: What pants should I wear that don’t have a stain on them? Critical Thinking and Haute Couture, both before coffee.
Socrates would have blanched at that situation. “How did I get a stain on my toga? It’s too early and I haven’t had my… (Whatever Greeks drank in the morning. I know that hemlock was an afternoon aperitif.)
After dressing for the second time I took a look at myself in the mirror. Even with heavily impaired vision due to lack of sleep, I could see that things were going to be difficult unless I took positive action. If asked to give a capsule description of how I looked I would have to say that I had that “Disgruntled Former Employee” look going on. I needed a shave, my hair combed; my shirt buttoned correctly, my moustache trimmed, and my glasses cleaned.
If I had come to my own front door, I wouldn’t have let me in. Dawn would have dialed 911.
I started a major reclamation project by combing my hair, trimming the ‘stache, and fixing my shirt, even tucking it in. Shaving was going to have to wait until later because I am the only person I know who has cut themselves to the point of drawing blood while using an electric shaver.
When a day starts off like this one I am eternally grateful that I have no major plans or important tasks. It is a good thing that I’m not on the police bomb squad, or doing that new heart, lung and liposuction surgical operation.
None of it would come to a happy ending.
I think that the best thing for me to do today is to try to avoid heavy machinery, and attempt nothing more complicated than filling plastic bags with school supplies for the church’s “Blessing of the Backpacks” children’s service which is coming up soon.
No sharp objects. No volatile liquids. No human interactions beyond asking for coffee to be poured down my gullet. I’ve already asked if they have IV bottles at St. Arbucks – they said “No,” but I think they are holding out.
Today’s game starts at 4:05 PM. I can deal with that and I feel confident that tomorrow morning will find me alert, snappily dressed, and functioning at a level closer to the expectations of my species and chronological age.
Well, here’s hoping.
At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.