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By Kellnerin (Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 08:04:48 PM EST) (all tags)
So, some time ago on a site a hyperlink away, I mentioned a speed-talking panhandler in a diary intro.

This evening, I think I encountered his opposite number. Once again, this diary is not really about that; instead it's about three C's: chocolate, cookies, commuting. In more or less reverse order.

I WAS WALKING toward the same train station, and there was a man up ahead, unshaven, in a wool cap and down jacket. He was sort of turning in place, with one arm stretched out perpendicular to his body. This is the same corner with the scalper who always startles me with his outbursts, as if he's afflicted by some sort of ticket-hawking Tourette's. The man tonight could have been the scalper on a really bad day, but he wasn't.

I had already passed him and was just starting to cross the street when he finished his wind-up and finally spoke, slowly, with a sort of measured rhythm, his voice a mixture of sand and phlegm: "Guuuuuuys can y' help me out, pleaaaase." Then, I guess, he went back into his rotation. I was across the street when I faintly heard him repeat his mantra.

ON THE TRAIN, I was settling into a seat when I heard a female voice say, "Hey, I read your book." It sounded like the kind of casual comment that one friend would make to another over lunch. Across the aisle from me, a guy looked around, identified the speaker behind him and, to his surprise, realized he was the one being addressed. In his lap he had a copy of Who Moved My Cheese? I thought that book was over years ago, and now I'm not sure if I'm glad of its longevity or not. They chatted for a while, then each went back into their own train-riding world.

Later, when the train had cleared out a bit, I looked around at the people still near me. The girl, wearing a pink Sox cap, was leaning against the window, playing with her phone. The guy was still reading. I was sort of cheering for him to finish the book before the end of the train ride, but as we were pulling into my station, he put a bookmark in, about three pages from the end.

There was no particular point to this story, except that intercommuter interaction of this sort is rare, and therefore strikes me as faintly remarkable.

AS I WAS LEAVING the train, I spotted what toxicfur has already noted, that the Herald headline of the day was COPS GRILL BAR TOUGH. There's something perfectly Heraldian about this phrase, in that every word is subject to multiple interpretations. It can be rearranged or repunctuated to serve for several alternate stories:

  • TOUGH BAR COPS GRILL (inter-bar rivalry in bad neighborhood leads to theft of cooking equipment)
  • COPS GRILL, BAR TOUGH (exclusive police barbecue event prohibits bully from attending)
  • TOUGH COP'S BAR & GRILL (retired law enforcement official opens dining establishment).


On Friday, I ran into a troop of Girl Scouts selling cookies in the T station. I bought a box of Thin Mints and a box of what I'll continue to call Samoas even though the box says Caramel deLites. The GSC FAQ confirms that when it comes to Girl Scout Cookies, my choices are indeed, all facts and analysis.

I put them in the fridge when I got home, because experience has shown that melted Thin Mints are a Bad Thing. And anyway, it's my feeling that there are few things that are better than cold chocolate (one of those things may be hot chocolate). Finished off a pint of ice cream with D the other night with some Thin Mints on the side.

This morning, outside the train station, there was someone handing out Quaker Oats Breakfast Cookies. J had been talking as we walked out of the station about how her week was off to a bad start, when we were handed cookies and her day immediately improved. I think it was more the idea of a cookie gift than anything else, really. It was oatmeal raisin, and a sort of bland specimen of its type, I thought.

WENT TO D'S PARENTS' for a joint birthday dinner, D's and mine: lasagna followed by huge slices of chocolate cake. Half the cake was left as we were finishing up our coffee, and D's stepmom got up to wrap some of it up for us. D and I exchanged glances, and D's dad caught our look. "Do you not want the cake?" he asked.

D explained that a few weeks ago, when my family was doing a joint birthday dinner (mine and my sister's), they were wrapping up my portion of the cake to take home when D, for some reason, kind of flipped out. "No! We don't want any cake. We don't like cake!" I protested that he hadn't even tried any (we had done cake way before dinner and he'd missed out on that part of the festivities) and that it had been good, but he had staked out his position, and didn't budge. We left all the cake with my sister.

Later that week at work, we had chocolate cake for my birthday. I took home the small leftover wedge, and D conceded that it wasn't bad. "The one at my sister's was better," I told him.

Anyway, we recounted this story, and D apologized for the incident (again), then D's parents laughed, and mock-insisted that we had to take the cake, whether we wanted it or not. We got home and I said to D, "You know, I didn't really want the cake."

"Oh, I thought it was good."

"OK," I said, "then you can have it." I think I have chocolate cake fatigue. Which strikes me as a petty thing to complain about -- would that all problems were this serious.

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Fatigue Pages Turning Better Day | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Cake and commuting. by toxicfur (4.00 / 3) #1 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 02:25:52 AM EST
I don't like cake. Well, I rarely like cake. I always dreaded birthday parties when I was a kid, because of the cakes bought at the store or made from boxes and frosted with that goo that comes in a can. Ick. I especially dislike chocolate cakes. I never quite know what to do when I'm offered cake by a host, so I do what I'd do if they offered me green peas or collard greens--take as small amount as I can while still being polite. It's a hard life, being a minority. ;->

I agree with you that intercommuter conversation is rare, and, therefore, remarkable. I haven't ridden the Commuter Rail, though, and I wonder if it's different from the T in that regard. On the T, people always seem to be talking to each other, running into people they know, or ranting at no one in particular.

On rare occasions, though, someone will start talking to me when I'm feeling unusually gregarious. The other day, a roundish 8-year-old boy tried to surreptitiously watch the screen of my iPod as I was watching some tv show, and we chatted about the wonders of technology. A few weeks ago, I met Tyler, a teenaged black boy with a firm handshake and a sweet smile who agreed with me that waiting for a less crowded train was smart and who told me of his plans to go to college. Those kinds of interactions always leave me feeling warm and with a bit of hope for humanity. Except when they piss me off.
damn it, lif eis actually really *far4 too good at tghe momnent, shboyukbnt;t whilen. --Dr Thrustgood

chocolate and people by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 06:09:39 AM EST
The last time I had cake at my sister's it had been at a party for one of her sons, with tons of neighbors, family, friends, etc. They had a huge chocolate sheet cake slathered in multicolored sugary goo. It was not at all good, but I took some home anyway to help relieve my sister of all the leftovers that she didn't want her kids to binge on -- so I understand why D had low expectations for the birthday cake.

In fact I thought my sister and I had agreed not to do cake for our birthdays, but her husband got one anyway. It was a small chocolate bundt cake from a bakery down the street, just a hint of frosting that didn't cover the whole thing -- it was actually quite good. The one at work was from Whole Foods and wasn't bad at all. Last night's was homemade, probably from a mix, with some kind of white gunk I couldn't identify and didn't really care for (marshmallow fluff? I hate fluff) and before I knew it I had a huge slice, maybe 1/8 of a 10" double-layer cake, on my plate. I'm not sure if the quality of the cakes is really going down but I do know I'm caked-out, especially on chocolate.

It's kind of frustrating that it's the default -- "who doesn't like chocolate cake?" -- and I was rather surprised that my brother-in-law got one because we'd had a discussion about how annoying it is that almost all flavors of ice cream in the supermarket are some kind of chocolate, and it's nearly impossible to find just strawberry. It'd be great to have a nice apple pie or fruit tart once in a while, but I guess it's not traditional enough.

People on the Commuter Rail tend to be even more antisocial than on the T, each in their own individual world (maybe wishing they were packed in their own shiny metal boxes, while at the same time being glad someone else is doing the driving): on the phone, listening to iPods, laptops out, reading newspapers or books, all putting out "do not disturb" signals.

There are exceptions, like my co-worker B who does his running-conversation thing even on the train -- I avoid sitting in the same car as he does. In a way I guess it's nice to see people connecting with each other because of a small shared thing like riding a train together, stepping out of their roles as anonymous and interchangeable cogs in the modern commercial machine, but sometimes I just want to be left alone, and these people damage my calm.

"Slick Loons Cow Stumbling Readers."toxicfur

[ Parent ]
My mother by ana (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 06:19:39 AM EST
for years had a severe allergy to chocolate: it would trigger migraines she never had otherwise. Getting non-chocolate food is challenging, but it can be done.

I think my take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward most chocolate I don't actually hate comes from growing up in a rigorous chocolate-free zone.

Can you introspect out loud? --CRwM

[ Parent ]
Samoas! by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #2 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 05:46:24 AM EST
Samoas are scrupulously factual and keenly analytic. Though I find the re-branding given to flights of fancy and prone to prejudice.

I feel strongly that you shouldn't use a misspelling of the word delight in a name unless you're in a band containing a dude named Jungle DJ Towa Towa. The so-called "Lady Miss Kier Exception." Otherwise, I feel pretty strongly about it.

That said, so long as they taste the same, they can call them whatever they please.

I know I say this every Tuesday, but I need to go hunt up some Girl Scouts.

I must concur by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 07:39:06 AM EST
with you on all points. Good hunting.

"Slick Loons Cow Stumbling Readers."toxicfur
[ Parent ]
Thin Mints are awesome when frozen... by superdiva (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 07:21:51 AM EST
It's like biting into chocolate-mint blocks of ice.

I would have bought thin mints too, but I already consumed a half dozen at my mom's house, so samoas and tagalongs were next on the menu.


For we are many....

good to know ... by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 07:41:31 AM EST
I must admit your account of your purchases did shake my faith in the supremacy of Thin Mints for a moment. Just a moment, though.

"Slick Loons Cow Stumbling Readers."toxicfur
[ Parent ]
BAR COPS' TOUGH GRILL by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Mar 07, 2006 at 01:05:03 PM EST
(bouncers replaces the regular restaurant chef, but overcooks the meat)

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

Not fair. by calla (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 04:37:14 AM EST
Your diary should be tagged "will induce eating frenzy".

Actually, I really enjoyed all the food talk. And yes, it has made me hungry.

sorry, by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 06:46:45 AM EST
I thought I gave adequate warning with the mention of chocolate and cookies in the intro. Oooh, I'm starting to feel a little snacky myself. I'm not cool enough to tag, but I write about food so seldom I don't think it will be a problem.

"Slick Loons Cow Stumbling Readers."toxicfur
[ Parent ]
tagging isn't cool. by calla (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 09:59:53 AM EST
It's really for geeks.

[ Parent ]
Fatigue Pages Turning Better Day | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback