Tuesday, April 20, 2021

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 


There are few things to compare with that feeling when you find something of great value that you believed was lost. In this novel, it was a rare and wonderful diamond, and for me, it was a purple woolen sock. You see, when I was doing the laundry yesterday, there appeared a sock I had not seen in months, one whose partner has lived in my single sock box since the beginning of the Covid Era. The near tragedy of the story (similarly poignant to the tragedy in the novel) was that last week my son Lawrence - I shit you not - tried to make me throw the whole box out! This from someone who is lucky when he puts on matching shoes, let alone socks. His girlfriend (god bless her) recently told me that he got lost on the way to deliver a lecture, which might be understandable except that he was teaching by Zoom from his own living room! 

When I was a kid, our Uncle Morrie would always bring us socks as gifts. Boy, did we hate that fucker! He'd come in with his too long and overly bristly mustache, kiss us hard enough to leave chafe marks for a week, and give us "presents" for which we were forced to express our gratitude. Science has proven, of course, that there is an inverse relationship between age and appreciation of socks, so in part, he just didn't understand his audience. But now that I have reached the top end of that scale, does anyone give me socks? No, they do not. And just so you don't think he was some kind of saintly altruist, Uncle Morrie worked in a sock factory, so he probably stole them all anyway.

The real question, of course, is where the hell this sock has been for the last year. For it to show up my laundry suggests that it was either in the washer or dryer all this time (implausible), somewhere in my folding area where I didn't see it (unlikely), or stuck to some other article of clothing that I wore without realizing it (embarrassing). I don't buy fabric softener, of course, because I am not an idiot, so there is a real possibility that due to static cling, I wore that sock on the back of a shirt some time recently. At least I don't go anywhere or see anyone, so no one would have noticed.

Margaret has a more sinister explanation, which is that someone is fucking with me. This is the most obvious explanation, and usually the simplest solution is the right one. I have 37 other socks in my box waiting for their partners right now, and it is beyond logic to think that many socks could disappear by accident. My grandson suggested that they could have been stolen by rodents living in my walls, the sheer stupidity of which makes him my prime suspect. I could try to fenagle an invitation to dinner so I could snoop around his room, but that would mean having to share a meal with those people. So I'm a bit stuck for now, but at least my feet are warm!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Backstories by Simon Van der Velde

 


This clever little book just came out, so why don't you get off your ass and go buy a copy? Seriously, would it kill you to buy an actual book for once? It's got a unique premise - you are dropped into the lives of famous people, but you don't know who they are. Things are slowly revealed as the character is developed, and then you get the payoff moment, when all becomes clear. It could be someone you really admire, or perhaps just a pompous asshole.

Speaking of pompous assholes, I was at my daughter's house trying to enjoy some overcooked brisket when my son-in-law Gerry says out of nowhere, "Hey everyone, I worked out every day for a year!" I mean, give me a goddamn break. I'm not sure if it was the comment or the beef that was drier than sand, but I gagged before I could respond, "Then why do you still look like that?" And before I could clear my throat, everyone else was gushing over him like he was a two-year-old who drew his first stick figure.

I took a nip from my flask to steady myself, and then tried to feign interest by asking what kind of workouts he had been doing. "All kinds," he said enthusiastically. "It was my COVID resolution! Sometimes I run or bike, sometimes I do some yoga or pilates, and sometimes I take a nice long walk around the neighborhood." It was honestly all could I do to not stick a fork in my eye right then and there.

Now before I get angry letters, let me say that I have nothing against yoga or pilates. In fact, I recognize the value of flexibility, and it is part of my long-term plan to stay alive to torment Gerry as long as possible. But even if your life is so meaningless that you have to count how many days in a row you are "working out," stretching does not fucking count! Neither does walking. Or gardening, bringing in the newspaper, refilling your coffee mug with gin, waving your clenched fist at people who skateboard on the sidewalk, leaving angry voicemails for Vlasic customer service, giving people the finger if they look at you funny, or any of the other things we all do every single day. That is called living, Gerry, and even if living is very hard for you, you don't get to call it a workout.

Furthermore, what is this bullshit about a COVID resolution? Is this some kind of party to you, like New Year's? While the rest of us have been masking up, foregoing our hobbies, and trying to protect our communities, you are doing Downward Dog and giving yourself a cookie? My new COVID resolution for you, Gerry, is called social distancing. It works like this - you see if you can stay away from all of us (I believe the new CDC recommendation is 6 miles), and if you can do it for a whole year, you get a ribbon, and we'll put it up on the fridge for everyone to see! Good luck!