A Glass Bowl Suspended by Three Chains

May 3, 2021

Category: Noir fiction. I happened to be reading The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon over the holidays, and came across two very similarly described light fixtures in them — a glass bowl suspended by three chains.

–Big Sleep (pp.722), In the offices of Harry Jones: “I found the light switch and light glowed in a dusty glass bowl hanging from the ceiling by three brass chains.”

–Maltese Falcon (pp.398) Sam Spade’s room: “A switch clicked and a white bowl hung on three gilded chains from the ceiling’s center filled the room with light.”

(Page numbers refer to appropriate volume of the Library of America edition.)

Although this is too minor to warrant much consideration, yet just to give some possibilities, outside of mere coincidence, as to why this similarity might occur: (1) There were a lot of lights of this style around in the thirties, or thereabout, when both books were written, which Chandler and Hammett were referencing. (2) In The Big Sleep (1939), Chandler was consciously or unconsciously referencing the light described in The Maltese Falcon (1930). (3) Chandler and Hammett were both referencing a third literary source with which I’m not familiar.

Looking at these sentences, it’s interesting to note some of the differences also. In each, we find the ideas of light switch, bowl, chains, hanging, ceiling, and light. But in one the chains are brass, in the other they are “guilded”; and in one the switch was “clicked”, and in another the narrator “found the switch” (which means here the same as “found and turned on”); in one the bowl is “white”, in the other “glass”; and so forth. In a general way, the light from Maltese Falcon seems to illumine the whole of the room, while that in the Big Sleep seems dimmer and not illuminating much more than itself.


January 8, 2020

Crazy guy in bathroom.

Crazy guy in bathroom. I had given him a very long time, but then, I turned the key, and he was standing in front of the mirror, the floor entirely wet, and I was like, heh. And he was like, heh? I’m going to give you AIDS. This is how we do it in prison. I was like, you’re creating a really big problem for me and I need to leave. And he was like, I will leave, I am leaving (just as soon as you let me finish my business.) I said, please, five more minutes.

At the very moment I expect to breathe in the jogger’s perfume, I instead get a whiff of someone’s laundry being done. Strong scent of Bounce or similar product as I enter the jogger’s wake. Idea is not that “everything I think is wrong” but that “everything I think is wildly wrong” (that the area of what I think does not, perhaps will not, intersect the area of what is the case). Customer had had better than average day — having put contract on the house. (Wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese, plain bagel with butter, and two small orange juices.) Ice cube, just having melted, still seems to be in the glass, but now as a reflection of an overhead light. Customer told child he had to pick up his crumbs otherwise attendant would have to. Attendant, in the absence of an overwhelming personal imperative, felt it reasonable to work hard at tasks that were assigned and which were not self-appointed. Yet he wondered at the absence of an overwhelming personal imperative. Attendant must also make study of slippage of forks upon bagel plates when they’re grabbed from tables. … Would this qualify as “plate tectonics”? Architecture assignment: private residence or perhaps public pavilion based on half-creased napkins over sliding forks on a bagel-sized plate. Customer had done six month stint on Kitty Hawk. Customer retired from the U.S. Airforce accurately reported the year of its inception. Customer, having just come from church, could not recall subject of sermon. Could not recall scripture lesson. Customer asked if he intended to read Mueller report. (Customer had already read the report.) Customer asked, how far into the Mueller report was she (Customer had no intention of reading it.) Customer asked if he was going to read the report. (Had already read it, he said.) Yes, the customer had read the Warren Report and thought it was Oswald. What do you make of Jack Ruby? Somebody who really really felt strongly about Kennedy, who was angry at Oswald, said customer. Customer said the Continental Congress essentially pushed Benedict Arnold, who was a hero, into changing sides. Customer said her eye doctor told her she had blister on her cornea — tree pollen. No: attendant had not heard of Bill Shapiro. Was customer familiar with Francis Fukuyama? No: customer was not familiar with Francis Fukyama. Customer moving from here in a couple days to Charlottesville — good thing, bad thing? Bittersweet thing, replied customer. Customer ordered two bagels with veggie cream cheese and a honey vanilla latte with an extra shot. Customer ordered small latte and small iced mocha, with whole milk, and a bagel with cream cheese. Customer asked if attendant would like a slice of banana bread, which she had baked that morning, and which was still warm? Customer ordered medium medium roast coffee with room. Customer ordered two plain or wheat bagels with cream cheese and two medium iced coffees. Attendant would inwardly boast that on the basis of two data points –the amount of trash in the can beneath the mirror, and the amount of tips– he could guess what the day’s gross sales would be within twenty dollars, and was off today by about sixteen dollars. (Attendant had stopped making this interior boast after he was wildly wrong a couple consecutive times)

Dried gob of cream cheese on the indicator light of the panini grill: attendant’s thumb upon that.

Woman’s black straight hair in two strands — over her left shoulder and down her back– which with her right hand she makes into one strand and pulls over her right shoulder.

Pedestrian whose top and bottom “disconsonantly correlate” according to the attendant’s notes: very black socks and shoes with very pale white ankles and very black hair with a fade and a white pale neck.

Customer teased attendant for oldness. Attendant observed how one day some strangers had arrived and had a pleasant interaction together in the store and then the next day the very same strangers arrived individually at staggered times throughout the day, and didn’t meet. Attendant idly likened, in his imagination, customers to the cells of the body: individual came and went but the same general shape of the body remained.(At times the body grew thin. At times the body grew misshapen.) Customer wore London Calling shirt and was with mom — medium chai. Customer said a difference between working in army and civilian life was that, in the latter, you weren’t stuck with “poor performers”: in the Army you knew it was going to suck for a year because this person had been assigned to your detail, but in private enterprise people who don’t make a contribution were more easily filtered out.

Attendant recommended “Troutmask Replica” to customer who liked Frank Zappa. (Privately wondered if it would be interesting to compare “Replica” to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.)

Customer who ordered an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese ordered a plain when told we were out of everything. Customer who ordered everything bagel with lox and two iced coffees ordered only the iced coffees when told there were no more everythings.

Face on a young person which previously the attendant had only seen on old persons. Attendant’s sense of sexual inconsequence to young persons now that he is old as distinct from feelings of sexual inconsequence to young persons when he was himself young. Q: customer had a lot of ideas that he thought sounded cool but were wrong, which of the attendant’s ideas were like that? Customer asked if this area had ever been really bad crime wise, like with a lot of crack dens or whatever. Customer said that he never pronounces judgment on his new running shoes until he’s used them for at least a week. Customer said he’d moved to the area after they had closed the old shopping center but before they had built the new mixed-use building. Customer, saying she was a vegetarian, was asked what sort of things she found herself eating these days? Quinoa, seeds, she said first. (What sort of seeds?) “Chia, sunflower, which have good fat.” Vegetables of all sorts. “I hate egg plant,” attendant said, which were among those named. “I love it,” she said. “Whoa — you don’t like eggplant?” said eavesdropping customer. “Try moussaka.” Customer ordered chicken salad sandwich on toast and small caramel latte with almond milk. Customer was off to state park for picnic & family reunion. (Young black person with well-defined beard and girlfriend.) Customer reported having lost cell phone. Customer reported having just returned from Tunisia. Customer was waiting for family to arrive then they would go grocery shopping together. Longtime customer, martial arts expert, would be moving out of the area in the next two weeks — had wanted attendant to know. Customer loved key lime pie and sometimes made it but never with the small real key limes.

Customer ordered bagel with lox and small teapot, earl gray; hoped to see some live music that afternoon. What were customer and his daughter up to this after noon? Nothing said the customers — this. Customer said subject of today’s sermon was “when worship becomes risky.” Customer asked attendant if, because he worked sunday mornings, he could still got to church, or at least read from the bible. Pedestrian in dark blue muscle shirt performed minor acts of routine car maintenance on his mini S.U.V in a metered space. Customer declined other customer’s offer of dining room table, saying live-in girlfriend was really picky. Customer said when buying soy products to be sure to stay away from GMO’s. Pedestrian said he didn’t want to buy anything, just came in to leave a tip. Royal blue computer case of customer exactly matched blue leggings. Customer ordered large dark coffee and chocolate chip cookie. Attendant, idle, washed wainscotting and moulding. Construction workers seen getting on bus: their neon jackets and black backpacks. Customer asked what attendant was writing. Customer wondered if attendant had ever considered writing prompts. Customer ordered peach iced tea and glass of ice, a quiche lorrain and the muffin with the icing. Customer said he had the same problem with his own writing as he had with Ezra Pound’s (skeletal/ exo-skeletal). Customer said the price for a round trip ticket had increased 500 percent since her last trip. Customer, having grown up by the sea, loved to swim. Customer said his sister could do anything: so, if there was ever a case of something not getting done, that thing must simply not be the priority. But in his own case, one could be equally sure, added the customer, if there was ever a thing not done, which seemed like it should be, that thing had been simply neglected by him.

Bolus of Everything

Bolus of Everything bagel, it’s fallen seeds (two types, three types) in a cluster on the counter top. Myself with bolus, the oil painting portrait title, is suddenly conceived; looking at an empty room intended for a crowd of people –a small, currently closed, perpetually struggling, perpetually subsisting, mom and pop coffee shop with fourteen chairs, four stools, one couch, all unoccupied– with my elbows on the counter top. A large glass pane that looks out on the night scene of the street, a full mouth. (A person of an age that should know restraint instead gasping out of what is called stress for air from around the stale bagel quadrant he devours.) The dry mop leans on an arm of the couch; the wet mop is not yet wet, and stands upright in the dry yellow bucket at the stair’s landing. The bucket bottom is unclean and does not seem something one would clean with. The broom in my hand, part of a stale bagel in my hand, which, as I try to get the bolus that has come from it down, I unthinkingly toss in the trash.

Customer showed doctored image of rival party’s presidential candidate. Customer expressed enthusiasm for professional wrestlers circa 1980, Hart Foundation especially. Customer ordered everything bagel with lox (a sesame in the absence of an everything) and a medium iced coffee. Customer had been to all the bars around there but never actually to Fenway. Customer saw Stockhausen in 75. Comically, a customer attempting to display his skill as a salesperson drives off customer with his heavy-handed pitch. Customer, hair in bun, hand in brace: medium black iced tea and cinnamon muffin, heated. Attendant said we see it every day when poor people defraud the system, we don’t see it at all when rich people defraud the system, who do it more, and who do it less understandably. Customer expansive on the subjects of Stax records, Muscle Shoals, Otis Redding… “music is everything” customer said. Child smiling like he’d seen something he oughtn’t: briefly exposed breast of breast feeding mother maybe. Customer said how there was a high pitched sound that came from a pinsized breech in the cockpit and that even after applying ear protection (beyond that afforded by his headset) he felt nauseous and became disoriented. Customer’s blink indicated she was aware of being observed; with another, it was that the neck became taught; still others, a distancing of the stare, or turn of the head. Customer said a well known example of the principle of costly signalling was the peacock, whose magnificent tail, signalling prowess, impaired its mobility. Customer, before leaving, tucked book in back of his pants, by the root of the spine, possibly to protect it from the rain, possibly as the most convenient spot. Customer depressed by long line of cars at Chick-filet drive thru the other day: “Cars, man.” Woman (gal from the day of the total solar eclipse) looked back at attendant in surprise from her seat at the bar: that had been a very loud crack of thunder.

Q: why was the customer who wanted to work on public health issues, perhaps particularly in developing nations, studying art appreciation? A: Course requirement. “Mesa Verde, Bay of Fundy. (Default answer to the question: what will the attendant do when this place closes?) No idea — go to school? (Default answer to the question: Once you have returned from the Bay of Fundy, should you return, what will you do?) Attendant rearranged brownies from 4-1 “uneven stack” configuration to a 2-1-2 “post-and-lintel” configuration, also known as “ziggurat style.” “People really wear you down,” had said the English physical therapist taking a break (had said something of the kind) not in a self pitying way but in a way that indicated that folks had really worn him out that day. Attendant horrified to learn of a customer’s physical assault. Customer ordered everything bagel, sundried tomato on one side, plain cream cheese on the other.

It was incredible how people could draw one out of oneself though too: alone and miserable in his retirement, deep in his own head, the grim and glum attendant, so selfish and spoilt and moribund, watch how even he must leap out of himself to meet the cheer and pep of the customer before him.

So that even the selfish attendant must arise out of the grave and mud of his own head and be glad, interested and kind, in the presence of this customer, so kind and gentle himself.

January 8, 2020

“Resident” sky: clear blue but a couple of puffy clouds by the old industrial-looking chimney, the tilted monument lights. From left: blond slim young white woman with army style vest and short shorts, nerd square glasses, quick determined almost graceless gait. From right: shortish Giant worker ambling with work shirt hanging from left hand in direction of her work. From left: two arab-looking guys with well maintained closely cropped facial hair, having probably just exited the remodelling store. From right: short polynesian woman with long hair, brilliantly white shirt with more than usual number of pockets. From right: Asian senior, male, thinning hair, a strawberry t-shirt. From left: wide white box truck seen in windows of opposing storefront first, then the thing itself. Customer: ordered small iced coffee and chocolate chip cookie. From right: a former customer, Salvadorean, supermarket worker, looked a little older, wearing deep purple shirt. From right: non-descript hatchback. From left: cyclist, professionally outfitted, making good time. From right: in blue backwards turned baseball cap and blue t-shirt. From left: a county bus, green and white striped, coming to stop. From the right: the non-descript sedans slowing toward, then accelerating past, a light that has just turned green. From the tables: sound of a sigh. (reminding one there are tables and people at the tables.) From the tables: someone’s keyboard being multiply hit, incessantly hit, then someone’s feet shifting as they think. From the left: chunky latino kid in football style shirt pulling basket with large stuffed laundry bag. (Two lines of traffic, now stopped at the light, start to move.) Customer at table out front takes up his cookie and coffee and leaves. From tables: a very low phone conversation, can’t be made out. From the right: white work van with ladders on top.

Customer said C in CSS stood for “cascading”. Customer said he was to appear on county’s public access channel. Customer gently informed attendant that he had forgotten her order. Customers were children, mothers, members of community groups, members of political associations, amateur and professional photographers, convenience store workers, cab drivers, immigrants, people who had grown up and grown old in the area, music enthusiasts, bureaucrats, retirees, tennis players, religious types, soldiers, people who were sick, people who had spent time in prison, people who read a lot of fantasy fiction or were from Georgia and liked sports. Customer was reading religious material. Customer was watching inspirational youtube. Customer said the maintenance man in his building made 66,000 a year. Customer said to note how Hitler’s signature grew smaller as he got older, a clear indicator of Parkinson’s disease. Customer said that even the trace amounts of caffeine to be found in decaf could cause his heart to palpitate. Epidemiology, said customer, is half of history. An easy or awkward moment as two customers, who had a disagreement, sat at adjacent tables, facing the opposite way, back to back. Customer said peanut butter in The Gambia was fresh like you wouldn’t believe: oil hadn’t had time to separate from the rest. Wearing clothes for one season on one part of the body and clothes for another season on another part of the body, was the attendant. Customer complimented lemonade: right level of tartness. Customer asked if key lime smoothie was ever coming back. Customer said the 400 dollars he paid to fly as a passenger in a B-17g was “worth every penny”. Customer said he was paying 17,000 dollars to replace the roof on his home, 4000 of which was for gutters.

Q: did the attendant *really* not recall whether or not they served yogurt, or did he merely pretend not to recall so that he did not answer in the negative too sharply?

A: The former. The customer’s mention of yogurt had made him think of something, — that the store offered frozen yogurt, was that relevant?– which caused him to hesitate before making his reply.

Attendant started at what he believed to be a nearby bug (rather dangerous by the sound of its buzzing) but it was a customer removing the wrapping from his muffin.

Attendant’s annoyance w/ customer (religious nut) caused him to forget or not to feel his annoyance with his coworker (playing something dumb and loud on her phone over a long period); he noted with interest that, rather than these annoyances being cumulative, as he felt sharply the one, the sharpness of the other decreased.

Customer, having risen from stool, pulled down corners of shirt or blouse to straighten it. Having walked ten paces she repeated this gesture: pulling with both hands once more toward the front and then with both hands smoothing down each side –down — down… Posture erect, advancing toward restroom.

3.81 paid with credit. 2.85 paid with a five. 9.65 paid with a 20. 2 dollars even paid with a 10. 2.32 paid for with 2.35

I *did* look up deliquescence, said customer, but now I’ve forgotten it. Customer ordered medium iced coffee with espresso shot and an everything bagel with lox. Infant customer lifted by elder brother customer piercingly screamed. Customer asked had we always had ice cream here, ordered single americano. Child hauled screaming child, his brother, around like sack of potatoes. Customer has figured out why she had called Henry James Henry Miller, she said: it was because her copy of Turn of The Screw included also Daisy Miller. Customer wore Epiphone hat. Customer proved to attendant beyond all doubt that the “other moon” of Mars was called Deimos not Deinos. Attendant paused to reflect on a personal defect:

Q: How could one go on, how could one go to work, be among people, be nice to people –with its implication that one accepted oneself and one’s defect– when one had this awful defect?

A: One’s defects were probably something to think about. One’s defects were not, however, something to think about at work. (One’s work should be thought about at work.)

Attendant wondered why he felt so good; oh right, he’d been smiled at by that nice asian gal. Customer said his mother still recalled how to assemble and disassemble an uzi. Customer ordered two hot turkey sandwichs, a mocha blended iced cream drink and a large peach smoothie. Customer ordered a hot turkey sandwich, a cold chicken sandwich, a medium americano and a medium mocha. Customer ordered bagel with cream cheese, a small coffee and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. (Said no, he wasn’t too interested in the basketball.) Customer ordered large latte with shot. It’s become a nice day out there, he said. There are a lot of dialysis centers, another customer said. Someone is making a fortune. Customer introduced to attendant as Francine. Customer demonstrated good stretch for the anterior tibialis, which she, however, had used for her fibularis tertius. Customer asked what happened to “the old key.” Customer said bathroom could use some work. Customer showed son how you opened straw wrappers from middle of straw. Customer, who usually came with others and talked a lot, came today by himself and sat alone without speaking. Customer was police officer depressed by the work — seeing that side of people was one element of it. Customer was security guard with daughter and Quentin Tarrentino wallet. Attendant woke up thinking “I got to get to it!” Atttendant woke up thinking, “there is absolutely nothing to get to!” Customer’s appearance seemed unintended parody of attendant’s appearance. Customer walked toward the locked door like it was an open space. In one of the attendant’s hands was the feeling of a wet cloth and in the other of the attendant’s hands was the feeling of dry empty air of no specific temperature, the feeling of nothing. (“Two mittens of sensation: a mitten of something and a mitten of nothing on his hands.”)

I Handed The Bill

The charge was 5.20. The customer (wearing a Giant uniform) gave me a ten and said she had the twenty. While I waited for her to find the twenty cents, I slid the five to her on the table, where it sat while she was digging for change. When she handed me the twenty cents she said “I handed you my bill why didn’t you hand me your bill?” I said, “how do you mean?” “I mean is there a reason why you can’t hand me the bill? I handed you my bill.” “No,” I said, “there isn’t.” (I picked up and handed her the bill)

Things materially between me and the homeless woman across the street — relatively little: A few fronds of the dwarf palm; glass of the front door and, at the second just passed, a courtesy shuttle for the airport. Stepping from shower, raising arms above head and feeling bone upon bone lowly rumble within oneself. Customer praised President of Kenya’s recently announced policy of loosening borders to other Africans. Customer ordered peach smoothie and peanut butter cookie — said Charlie Watts was good drummer. Customers tried to balance their enjoyment of the social atmosphere with the intolerable heat of the physical atmosphere. Customer called to preorder something but was forewarned it was literally a hundred degrees inside. While returning the customer’s change, the attendant’s attention was drawn to the cracked skin of his own dry hands, the fine coffee dust underscoring the cracks. A familiar pattern: customer who talks a lot complains of another customer’s talking a lot. (Never a quiet customer.) Customer who seemed a politically liberal version of a customer he knew as politically conservative customer. (Roast beef sandwich with plain yellow mustard instead of horseradish.) One option is I could just never stop being the attendant, thought the attendant, become an utterly quixotic figure; wear my knit cap and black stained apron always and everywhere, at the supermarket, at my next job interview. “Why are you wearing the apron?” they would say at the job interview. “I am the attendant,” would say the quixotic figure.

Customer advised on amazing and surprisingly simple cure for shingles (olive leaves). Customer had twisted ankle seriously with kids: wouldn’t be able to exercise for a week. Customer explored links between dadaism and cubism in his work, using the brilliant colors of his native Morocco. Attendant, while steaming milk, often had the facial expression of doing something far more complicated or consequential than steaming milk. Customers ordered one large iced coffee and three medium iced coffees. Moving arms and torso to left and right without repositioning feet. Customer said she couldn’t understand sports (since the customer asked) artificially creating winners and losers and divisiveness — why would you do that? why would you like that? Customer loved Jane Powell. Customer expressed that he had recently seen Jane Powell in person at an event. Customer asked that the children’s sandwiches contain no onions. Customer asked for fork. Customer spread napkins over the table like a tablecloth. Was customer good with money? No: had a lot of debt, at 20% interest some of it, but had a plan and was paying it down. “Would always be a renter.” Customer showed pictures on phone: here is the picture of the delicious meal she’d been served, and here (scrolling down) was a picture of her totally empty plate. Something had gone wrong with attendant’s attempt to be humble: people were asking was he sad or depressed? Attendant rubbed eyes, washed hands, strode manfully to bakery case, propped elbows on bakery case, stared at street. Customer stood half in and half out of doorway, taking order from someone outside. Customer spoke of Kurosawa and George Lucas and Hidden Fortress and Star Wars. What was a hero? What was an anti-hero? Hector was an anti-hero. Laertes was an anti-hero. Customer spoke of woodpecker that had taken up residence in their yard. Very pretty young gal customer with leathery tough work hands. Distant figures thought to be vaguely annoying, are recognized, as they approach, as familiar sources of annoyance. Customer talked about how you had to show your parole officer you were making money, no matter what, and told stories of how he generated income once he got out of prison.

“Having espied the hidden strange hardened goop, the dauntless and indefatigable attendant, surveying his selection of sponges, chose “old rusty” not “true silver” for the job.” (Sounded like Far Side cartoon.) Customer browsed through her phone, running through the list of outstanding film titles she was missing at an Italian film festival this summer (a chance also to practice her Italian.) Customer said each state should have its own gun laws. Customer countered that each state should also have it’s own military; so each state can decide for itself if it wants to send it’s service men and women to Iraq, or some such place. Attendant asked customer if he could guess the movie from 1932 he’d just seen: it starred Joan Crawford and involved a lot of moisture and… Speak no further said the customer, laughing. (Another customer had just seen a play of Grand Hotel, the movie of which came out in 1932.) The remote but very real possibility that the attendant and a regular customer played against each other in a youth soccer tournament in NJ almost 30 years ago. Resident bird zoomed out of his hole and with a few bounds of his wings (corresponding about to the edges and center of the road) disappeared into neighboring park. Pedestrian laughed off her near stumble on uneven brickwork by bus stop. Customer, summarizing newspaper article he’d read, wept to think of soldiers abroad, had to excuse himself. Customer’s long hair becoming increasingly dishevelled as she works; with each new phase of her intense computer work some new unlikely disarrangement occurs. Customer said he didn’t take a side in the affordable housing debate. It seemed that people were passionate on both sides, but his view, whatever it was, was not passionate.

Customer ordered large medium roasted coffee, cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese — supermarket worker from Somalia. Moroccan customer said he had forgotten the Africa Cup semi-finals were going on today. Customer ordered raspberry iced tea, gave as an example of the grammatical figure of litotes: “he was no mean fighter.” (Further defined it as understatement and said the -es ending gave it away as of Greek rather than Latin origin.) Customer said he had no personal feeling whether the knee braces were helpful or not but was wearing them on orders from the doctor. Customer ordered decaf iced soy latte, small. Customer’s mother had fallen again — gone to the emergency room again — but fortunately nothing this time was broken. Customer brought for attendant large bright yellow tomato from the market. The large yellow tomato formed an interesting color contrast with the orange the attendant had brought for a snack — at least an element of what made the contrast interesting was that the orange was a bit yellowish and the tomato one will think of as being red.

Customer left better than 100% tip on 2.32 purchase. Easier to get into a locked computer than a locked car, said customer, pretty much. Customer, instead of answering question, why do I see ads on some twitter feeds but not others, answered question, why do I see certain ads instead of others on those feeds on which I do see ads? Customer was police officer. Customer said it was such a comfort to have good tenants he would never raise the rents on them just for market reasons. Customer had spent the whole day –“literally the whole day”– cleaning car, which one of his son’s had thrown up in repeatedly during a road trip. Customer, having recently returned from Venezuela, said that by some measures Maryland had one of the longest coast lines in the U.S. Customer’s initial impression of Americans had been heavily informed by the soap opera Dallas, she said. Found real americans much more conservative in their conduct than those characters. Customer studied to curate art shows. Customer said his daughter’s soccer team, formerly The Falcons, were now The Gems. Customer ordered wheat bagel with lox and cream cheese, a sesame bagel with butter, and a plain or everything bagel with butter. Customer ordered medium skim chai and bagel with lox. German economist returning home was given as gift Songs in the Key of Life. Customer returned from Calabria and Rome and environs: medium iced soy chai and cinnamon raisin bagel with veggie cream cheese.

January 8, 2020

Customer ordered “small boona”. Boona is ‘coffee’ in Amheric. Tinish is ‘small’ in Amheric. Tillich is ‘large’ in Amheric. Mahachaligna is ‘medium’ in Amheric (Attendant’s transliterations of Amheric are only crudely approximate.) Customer ordered small light roast coffee, a brownie, and medium hazelnut cappuccino. Customer asked if it was okay to smoke outside. Insistent chirp of the resident’s birds’ young in lacuna or pauses of the public station’s pledge drive (a fledge drive?) occurred. Quite loud chirps through plate glass on bright Sunday morning. A bird is considered to have fledged when the wing’s feathers and muscles are sufficiently developed for flight, said wikipedia’s entry for fledge. (“Attendant” comes from attendere, which means, to stretch toward, was read.) Customer said philosophy put him to sleep. Pedestrian on other side of street observed — beige slacks, blue oxford, one hand in pocket, salt pepper hair. Everted crumpled single-use plastic glove on floor by sandwich station castor. Customer was complimented on her appearance, congratulated for her highschool graduation, encouraged in his new exercise regimen. Customer challenged the total on the register and, indeed, it was discovered an item had been wrung up twice. Pedestrian’s red shirt was near match for that of the painted flank of the bus he passed in front of. Attendant thinking how, when he was thirsty, washing his hands in cool water seemed almost to slake his thirst. (Thinking if the experience of the beautiful was like this: *seeing* something one wanted to touch, touching something one wanted to taste, etc.) Hence maybe Rimbaud and synesthesia and such. Interesting neologism from customer — “brain set.” (Drunk customer trying to say “mind set” but couldn’t find the words.) Customer ordered small blended coffee drink without whip. T-shirt had stylized periodic table on it. Attendant asked: what word had the customer last looked up? “Prevaricate. Because I thought I had seen it misused.” Mom in the playground who, in kicking a ball to her child, revealed a better than average touch with it, particularly given the unwieldiness of the very light children’s ball.

Customer dressed to play softball game that morning. Customer said she didn’t know why she continued to subscribe to People Magazine. Customer said she didn’t know that nuclear power was carbon free. Customer ordered and received medium light roast. Customer asked was it the case that dark roast was stronger than light roast. Customer said about the military that it was ironic that you had all these people working for the government who believed all these conspiracy ideas about it. Customer ordered medium regular iced cream blended coffee drink and small mocha raspberry blended coffee drink. Customer ordered small regular iced cream blended coffee drink. Customer ordered two peach smoothies: one for now, one for tomorrow. Customers shared 9/11 recollections, her survival kit, how she had gone so far as to purchase two body suits. Customers had laugh about duct tape — wow that actually happened, said customers. Customer was portly and tall, spoke very softly and gently. Customer’s credit card, declined on the first attempt, was accepted on second attempt. Customer was very deeply involved in business discussion with her partner. Customer leaned back on stool. Attendant imagined a situation in which he was indifferent to all he now appeared to care about and cared about all he now appeared to be indifferent to. (Thought about a remark from the movie Celebrity: “I’m everything I ever hated and I feel so much better.”) “The gentle manner of the customer was belied by a hostile intent.” “The open hostility and violence of the customer was without a reciprocal of calm; was not belied.” Customer had looked it up on laptop: there were 14 apocryphal gospels. Customer said he would have his usual tea, as well as a chicken salad sandwich, if the sandwich wasn’t too large.

“Thermogenesis” of attendant’s body having met or collided with that of the room, he became doubly hot. Customer Mamadou: was fasting now. (“That sandwich is taking forever!” had said customer.) Attendant, instead of gripping bagel, gripped toaster’s heating coiling. Attendant had labored under the stupid delusion that somehow the bagel knives couldn’t cut through skin. Customer said Dutch and Deutsch are etymologically related. Customer said she fought a lot of battles at work, trying to uphold standards. Customer said he was anxious about application for new affordable housing development. Customer said he had worked for cartoonist. Customer said she had just returned from a highschool trip to Peru. Attendant amused to discover source of recurrent smudges on front window: they were the prints of small waving baby hands. Attendant looked in bafflement at the swells of filth before him on the floor: “now how in the hell did that…?” [Attendant, abaft, basked in baffled befuddlement to see fine floor so filth festooned.] Fliptop can sound. Nature with its own rhythm: while we were doing our thing, so, in a different time, were the resident birds, in and our of their hole above the outside table. (What would we do without these friends? was thought) Customer remarks to attendant: you walked in shorts here today? attendant repsonds to customer: downstairs I’ve got a locker. [Attendant goes on to list items in locker, which perhaps deserves an appendix.]

Customer to buddies: “wanna shake a leg?” Customer from TX: “was fixin to leave.” Customer had had three interactions with the police in the area, all negative, and, yes, she did attribute that to her race. Customer said no one makes good ice anymore: turns to water almost instantly. Customer was born in Terana but had come here as a teenager; was travelling to Lyons this summer. Customer asked about a customer he hadn’t seen in a while — where was she? Customer said the rain was not like it was last week and would be over soon. Customer said that, after the radiation, it takes about three weeks to get back, according to doctors — cancer was gone. Attendant admired how the couple spoke to each other: so seriously and with so much focus on each other and with so much to say. Customer ordered small coffee: construction worker vest, liquor and smoke smell, gentle voice. Customer ordered triple decaf espresso with equal parts water. Would be returning soon to his small hometown of Alfred, New York. Had customer been hanging out at the local festival that afternoon? No but customer’s nail tech had told her that something had been going on.

Customer had moved to the area last weekend and was using this weekend to get settled (bagel with cream cheese and medium medium coffee.) Customer was with somebody very special today, he announced — his daughter (turkey sandwich and quiche.) Attendant felt an itch at the base of the interior of his nose, which he thought was the result of having inhaled too sharply. At bar, corner seat, customer pauses in typing to lift up shoulder straps of halter top, possibly to alleviate sensations of heat or stickiness. Continues typing. Customer indicated that the place that had just (6 months ago) opened had just (this past week) closed. Kant was gobbledygook, said a customer — why would anyone read him? why would he think that he would be read? Attendant said: but a lot of philosophy is written in pretty technical language. Attendant said the schematics of a nuclear reactor were hard to understand and technical but it didn’t make it “gobbledygook”. Adam Smith, it was added, a lay person can read, but for Keynes you need some background in economics. Attendant misidentified gender of customer (long haired guy). Customer used “up” to refer to travel south and “down” to refer to travel north. Customer said he appreciated being allowed to take a few minutes more. Claw of digger pushing metal plate in road: “Herculean he hefts and with ferric finger frustrates the inertia of the wide metal plate pests,” wrote attendant.

Q. Could Plato be rewritten without a belief in the after life, but such that the ethical claims would remain the same and intact? (Sort of a companion to Jefferson’s Bible.)

Q. If there is no ‘eternal’ is there still, meaningfully, an ‘invisible’?

January 8, 2020

The Everyday

The Everyday, which consists of events that are “smaller than a day.” Days are merely “brief history” while the everyday is “history too brief to have a first or last moment” or consecutiveness; the everyday has always been; the everyday cannot ever have happened before because it is always present; it is the “unseen mundane” (John Latta). (Granted the everyday is inherently unremarkable, how much of it may be remarked upon?). This seems the realm of stoners and still: when my hand slips off the handle of the refrigerator as I try to open it, and I marvel at the fact that there are hands, handles and refrigerators, with no thought for what needed items the refrigerator might contain, what I’m admiring is the everyday.

Customer said he was building shed, had tendency to overbuild, Country didn’t require permit for structure of less than 120 sq ft he said. The shadow cast by the overhanging semi-circle of the dinner plate on a part of the clean milk pool in the milk canister. The dish sink being a rock garden or still frame from 2001 –a bowl, plate and clinging bit of red onion.

Customer said that on account of the corruptness of the system, she wouldn’t vote. Customer said on account of the unfitness of the candidates, he wouldn’t vote. Customer said on account of his own immaturity, he wouldn’t vote. Customer asked for ice in her coffee so she could drink it right away. Customer had been holed up in West Virginian woods watching Buster Keaton movies. Customer had never tried naan bread, was it good? Customers surprisingly well informed about the materials that had been proposed for the tethering of space elevators, able to discuss their relative merits. Customer ordered hot chicken sandwich. Customer having difficulty finding movers before closing date: was it possible to move out exactly on the closing date? Relative of attendant entered to use bathroom and left. Customer ordered 12 oz generic black tea and oatmeal raisin cookie. Customer ordered medium dark coffee with spinach quiche and, on interrogation, had expressed something of the horror of growing up in Ohio during the tornado season: holding on to her crying mom in the basement. Crying herself. (Customer had gone to school where recent ‘mile wide’ tornado had been.) Customer said his son had gotten it in his head he’d be getting a dog for his birthday but he, the father, had not made a firm spoken agreement. What was crucial was that the boys be of an age where they could manage a fair portion of the duties involved in caring for and maintaining a pet, said the father.

Customer described extreme culture shock of relative coming to the U.S. for the first time: couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, saw several doctors, had to go home. Customer knew precise source of the phrase “For the lips of the strange woman drop honey”. Customers ordered two medium decafs. Customer ordered large coffee, plain bagel with tomato. Customer almost always was reading non-fiction but for some reason had been reading Watt, he said. Customer “not getting dad of the year” he lamented, having forgotten to pick kid up, he discovered. Bus driver probably not getting bus driver of the year: bus had rolled off, with passengers inside, while she was outside checking something. Which was the story of that summer. Customer lost two fifty dollar bills, was when he took out his car keys probably. Customer said that shingles today hold copper pebbles which keep off algae. Have you seen how terrible some roofs look? Algae. Customer asked how in the world could the diplomats of such a poor country be paid such astronomical salaries? 20 thousand *a month*? Where does that money come from man?

Attendant’s right index finger drifts from area of zygomatic bone to area of maxilla. Thinks the flesh of his face is *the felt* (passive) while the finger is *the feeler* (active). But touching is like gravity somehow — acting on each equally. (Attendant feels he has struck upon an impartiality essential to his nature in trying to decide whether his finger feels his cheek or his cheek his finger.) Through the glass of the ice cream case: political slogan of woman’s t-shirt. Restroom door seems to make one sound as it closes but actually it is two quickly one after the other, front edge back edge maybe, and contained in that, wrote the attendant (taking Marcel Duchamp’s idea of inframince as a precursor) “is the essence of modern art.” (could it be said that modern art, or at least that much of it embodied by the term ‘inframence’ dealt with showing that the continuous was actually continual? even the most fluid of things composed of moments) Pedestrian was not run into by car because she was not in front of it: she only appeared, from this angle and distance, to have been directly in front of where it went. Customer explained that he didn’t want to put his half-full coffee in trash, was the reason he was leaving it here (he was doing this out of consideration, in other words, not its lack) –very milky with two wooden stirrers projecting. By the way the customer articulated the first item in his order, the attendant guessed there would be three items in his order. The space between the heel of the foot and that of flip flop closing –and then closed– and its sound. What did you do on your day off, asked the customer. I discovered Brahms, replied attendant. Customer ordered large ice vanilla latte and pound bag of medium roasted coffee. Was with daughter. Customer knew answer to the question: what two bodies of water are connected by the Straight of Kerch?

January 8, 2020

Customer said Beckett started writing in French to break himself out of familiar thought patterns, which writing in English inclined him toward, yet couldn’t source the claim. Customer ordered medium green tea latte and slice of banana bread. Customer ordered large iced raspberry tea and toasted plain bagel with cream cheese for here. Customer ordered medium iced cap. Customer ordered med peppermint tea with some ice cubes so she could drink it right now. Customer said Europe was dead, an amusement park, castles and such. Sound of corgi barks plus onion chops — Andrea. Customer recommended music of Leon Redbone. Customer found nice edition of Grapes of Wrath in the apartment complex’s shared laundry room. Customer remarked on the luxury of washer-drier ownership: all the time he found himself spending (wasting) at the laundromat. (Attendant made reflective by that. Something that maybe could help people.) Customer, dressed in bow-tie, was to attend his preschool graduation at church. Attendant asked self if there was a positive sense to being a populist; and he answered yes, “by being a person.” (Negative sense involved being part of a mob.) Customer had planted hundreds of trees on his property, he said, which he worried over on account of the rain. Forest was soggy beneath your steps. Customer said looking for black ticks on his black dogs was like “reading braille.” Yes I have seen “The President’s Analyst” said customer. Lavender button up shirt, black slacks, grey streaks in hair, glasses, Latina.

Enormous wasp nests discussed, hurricane season said to be uneventful. No, said customer, that claim that 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions is a false or unsupported claim. (True, it turned out: that 97 number one hears tossed about does seem to mean something a bit different.) Attendant cooling off with iced water. Bus pulling up, filling window with its color. Customer ordered mediterranean salad with chicken and medium 2% cap. Woman’s face above nose obscured by reflection in windshield of flowering branch — lips closed and serious below, pink reflection where her brain would be. Purchaser of customer’s home had previously been homeless. Customer’s cats got frightened by ice in blender so she never put it in her smoothies. His country’s president locked their constitution in the drawer -that’s what happened to the constitution of his country, said customer. Customer said at least one kind of finch was frequently mistaken for a sparrow — recommended invertebrate house at Zoo.

Attendant spontaneously thanked poll worker (who he’d seen there for years, maybe even years and years) for her service, which felt good to do. Poll tax didn’t refer directly to a voting tax but to a head tax, had said Post article, poll being an old German word for head. Attendant, having woken an hour early without realizing it, arrived at work an hour early, which he did not realize until being asked about it…. Why are you here? Attendant thought he was “born without nature.” Attendant thought he must ‘believe in himself and the spirit that’s in me,’ as is said by the peasant in Tolstoy’s Resurrection. Customer lowered Perrier from lips to right side. Hard sound of glass Perrier bottle on wood bar from his right. Chatter of Amheric, two friends. Chatter of piano from speaker above the two Ethiopian immigrants. Concerto or something with violin, which seemed to be following the piano’s left hand just now. The man with the Perrier out of work at this time. At least one of the Amheric speakers a naturalized citizen — was in the military. The empty store, when it’s just been vacated, feels different from the empty store which has not been entered. Has it been busy today, says customer –Yes, says attendant– “A small tea.” Customer said that was the modern view of the American Revolution: that the colonists basically over-reacted to attempts by the English to assert some control. Preferred French Revolution. Bavardage, I believe, is “chatter” in French, a 2000s word. Customer told attendant the sandwich was good in rather the way he might have said it to himself. Customer ordered plain bagel with butter, an everything bagel with a very little butter, a small latte, and a roast beef sandwich with no cheese and onions and the horse radish on the side. Just to be clear, said attendant, no cheese no onions and the horseradish on the side? Correct said customer, (placing emphasis solidly on ultima or final syllable of the word ‘correct.’). Hello, said customer, picking up bathroom key. (Interval between pitch of first and second syllables of the hello a perfect fifth. Idea that we should have no instruments aside from voices and no concerts aside from listening.) Going to a concern meaning in the future “I will listen.” Welcome to the art exhibition formerly known as Perception. Hello said attendant. Leggy Mongolian gal in short shorts: medium iced latte. Deep red F-150 passing to left as customer ordered large raspberry iced tea. Customer who hadn’t been seen in a bit was suddenly remembered then suddenly appeared. Customer who hadn’t been seen in a long time was thought of and then it was recalled what she would order: raspberry iced tea, but she wasn’t seen then and hasn’t been seen since. Outside, across street, there was someone with the build of a regular customer who wasn’t that customer. When I learn things like the word “latinx” I rather feel the urge to strive to document the feeling of being left behind than the urge to strive to keep up with changes or to make negative judgments about changes I don’t keep up with. Customer on leave. You didn’t necessarily have to be able to swim to be in the Army, said customer, but it depended on your unit. He recalled having been required to swim 25 yrds fully outfitted: no backpack but you did have to carry a replica of a gun. Guns were not waterproof but you could dry them out. Attendant said he’d been hearing some complaints from customers about the heat and had tried to remind them, to little avail, that we were a nation of pioneers. “Come on folks! You call this heat!” etc.,… Customer upset by recent Supreme Court decision; another exalted by local election result. Pre-adolescent customer used counterfeit checking pen by register to determine if dollars in the tip jar were valid bills. Woman with baseball cap lowered over eyes, head down, large white plastic bags –why was she hurrying? Large black man in grey exercise gear passing toward left. Lanky latino man in “wifebeater” and blue cap passing toward left. Asian pacific man sky blue shirt med build middle age blue tinted sunglasses head down. Sun behind cloud or behind dense humid patch then out again. RAM 1500 driving up on curb across street and off it again in feeble parking effort. Much suspension inspired shaking.

Customer ordered medium raspberry iced tea. Customer says goodbye to attendant as they exit, just as a police cruiser turns on its blue lights in the street. Man at the moment his shoulder reached the back of the park bench, bench minutely stretching taught the striped shirt across what I believe to be his trapezius.

Attendant writes that the shirt is like the inverted exposed muscle of the man, exo-tendons. Back of the bench like a bone to the muscle of the shirt, making it taught — Shirt and bench holding like bone and flesh onto man, a hand.

[Having accomplished some minor task at the computer, I lean back and make less than a quarter of a swivel in the chair. Suddenly, my attention becomes focused because I think I hear someone calling me, but it is only someone shifting their weight in a distant apartment. I relax again.]

Customer, having grown up here, thought the store older than it was — thirty when it was more like twenty years old. Customer glad the Navy finally waking up to the threats –and potential rewards– posed by UFOs. Idea expressed that the more time passes the more current the past will seem: WWII seems more modern than it once did. Customer said he didn’t like Twin Peaks much — but his wife did. Customer said, no, she didn’t like Twin Peaks, but she did have a good friend who did. Customer said his enthusiasm for Twin Peaks would not ever eclipse his love of Dune. Homeowner, woman, Indian garb, using common handsaw to cut down small tree in yard. Two workers prepping newly laid asphalt for yellow double painted lines, applied yellow tape. Person crossing street illegally: has seen the car to the left and is hurrying from it, but not yet seen the car to his right, which will require that he hurry much more. You’re a CHARACTER, said the customer pointing at the attendant. And so is the guy at the gas station, and the cabbie, and the girl from the Giant, same as me. WE’RE ALL CHARACTERS MAN. (Attendant reminded to look etymology of ‘character’.) “irrigation of the spout, soil of the cup, plant of the drink”. Green mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Avon 28th anniversary plate — two dollops of mayo by the stale bagel. Sliced pale tomatoes scraped from the plate. Dry muffin crumbs in cellophane wrap creasing and cupcake paper, corrugated but flat. Very milky remainder of coffee in the cup, almost a full cup, a pale muddy color, poured in sink. Out the window, fire truck “bolas” of sirens and lights. Preceded by: white work van with red ladders piled on a roof side. Followed by: dark helmeted youth in flimsy looking scooter. That the street sign is somewhat larger than average does not begin to explain to the attendant the hugeness of the square shadow it casts, which he now steps through. Dream. A customer falls on the sidewalk just as we’re about to greet each other. I rub his back and ask if he’s okay. Next I’m filling water in a tiny plastic medicine cup to give him, but when I offer it to him, he’s already on his feet, and moving off. Dream. It’s begun to rain outside the shop. The customers who were outside have left but before going made an extremely sculpture out of the chairs, tables and umbrellas — a very orderly interesting pile. Dream. The shop is like it always is but with kindergarten sized tables and chairs. Dream. The shop is like a church from a spaghetti western and barber/ security guard Anthony is hamming it up singing an aria. Dream. customers and I training to be fireman. Dream. boss is telling me all I forgot to do closing the previous night, but it seems only to scratch the surface of what I have done to the place — looks like a church now with high powered show lights and crazy stains.

January 7, 2020

Light gleams on the car door slide off as it opens; slide on again as it closes; slide down the whole of car’s length and disappear as the car pulls out of its space. Reflections of the pedestrians in distant windows, like smoke. Attendant reminds self to work hard and not speak. Attendant twisting faucet handle very tightly, as if beyond where it will budge to: slows but does not discontinue utterly its intermittent drip. Customer ordered plain bagel lightly toasted with butter, everything bagel with veggie cream cheese, an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox, two medium coffees. Customer ordered an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese, a slice of ham and cheese quiche, a large iced coffee, and a medium raspberry lemon smoothie. Attendant said poor grammar and spelling and erratic use of fonts will put off some readers but slow down others maybe. Customer ordered everything bagel with cream cheese, lox, tomato, onion and lettuce and an arnold palmer honest tea. Customer, companion to preceding, ordered everything bagel with lox, tomato, and onion, but no cream cheese, and a ham and cheese quiche. (Attendant, having lost his mind somewhere during the rush, expressed that ham would be better spelled with an ‘l’ than without. “Halm — Like half, like psalm,” thought the attendant under pressure.)

Bags of soil upon the cart then pushing the cart over green garden hoses. Had someone been walking behind me? (No, it was the sound of the end of my shoe lace knocking on the seam of my shoe.) Does dream do to Space what memory does to Time? (Don’t know…. Yes.) Idea (just an idea) that the cost of what we call social justice might be what we call infantilization or “arrested development”. (something deeper at root of both.) Customer ordered Mediterranean salad with chicken, medium coffee.

Sometimes like Skin, Sometimes like Blood

a bandaged foot beneath the table. I’d “never seen such nails”, I later reported, as those I saw on the feet of the seated old man who’d stubbed the same toe for the second time that day, he’d said. Excuse me, do you have a bandage, a first aid kit? I was surprised by the brightness of the blood as well as with how formally he’d addressed me. (The reflection that blood, skin and intelligence all age differently.) (Intelligence was sometimes like skin, and sometimes like blood, in the way that it aged, I reflected.) At the time it seemed quite normal, as though I were a health professional, that I would be beneath the table examining his toe.

handling a rush… At some point you go from handling a rush well to being aware how well you’re handling the rush, which is an excellent indicator that you are about to stop handling it well and be crushed by it. This will soon happen if you don’t stop thinking, so stop thinking… Customer, who didn’t seem a bad guy, telling his lady companion what she would and wouldn’t want while she’s looking at the menu trying to decide what she’d like. (IT couple.) Customer with T-shirt with word across it: feminism. Ordered everything bagel with cream cheese. “As her t-shirt had one word her order had just one item,” was stupidly thought. “The sun is one’s life around one and the moon is one’s days around one,and the present is an eclipse of them around one” was thought. Grinder started making a noise like the thing was going to fly apart and start grinding up the room’s occupants. Customer ordered the two remaining scones, the two remaining butter croissants, and an almond croissant.

Water from decanter splashed on bottom of styrofoam cup, from which then issued the ascending or descending pitch of its being filled. (The sound of water as it first hits the styrofoam cup, the attendant thought. The plash, to what could that be compared?) As milk was heated the pitch of it grew lower until finally growing quiet altogether when it boiled thought the attendant. The moment when the descending pitch of being heated was replaced by the toneless bubbling of it having been heated as much as it could be. — Now how did that relate to the styrofoam cup/ water sound, the pitch going lower as it was filled? (Or was it higher?) Reflected postal office logo (from truck) collides with Starbuck’s real logo in their window (poster behind the glass.) (“We’ll always be in a natural world so long as their obtain natural laws,” was thought. It’s our sense of nature that’s been lost.) Customer stood at bar because prolonged sitting hurt his back. I’m “Visiting one of the world’s great waterfalls,” attendant, even more delirious than previously, told himself as water from the dish sink faucet fell over his palm. To have a statue of this hewn from some cheap rock: dinner plate with crumpled paper napkin toward an edge, a case for eyeglasses and a straw wrapper to the side. (Might take a mosaic.) This should be the water fall in the square: the spout on the dirty napkins and utensiles and stack of plates. Citizens should gaze on the fountain and reflect on what a mess the world is in, helpless before the stack that doesn’t even fit in the sink. Helpless Before The Stack is title, some pan of it to contain attendant’s hard to scrape out “Mix” remnants.

Bus driver asked to use bathroom. Three customers asked: was this a Hitler type situation or something stupider? (a) “Hitler type” (b) “in between” (c) laughed. Customer said Iranian seizure of tankers was retaliatory, Brits a softer target. Customer cleaned window where his baby girl had left hand prints. A child curious but frightened about water spouts. What happened when you ran through a water spout? Customer outraged to hear of two more development projects being discussed for along this corridor. They are killing this place. They are destroying every last remotely interesting thing about it to build luxury condos. I love that cool old sign out front of that spot. (Antiphony of other customer: it pretty much all can go.] Bluejays eat peanuts, customer said. Customer said hard tennis courts (see for example the U.S. Open) can get exceptionally hot and can present a serious challenge to even a seasoned professional.

Q: what do you recommend for a place for a day trip from here?
A: Falling Water?

January 6, 2020

With respect to the chipper “howdy” with which the attendant greeted customers: it was almost never the case that the first syllable was higher-pitched than the second and was almost always the case that the interval in pitch between the two syllables was greater than one would encounter in normal conversational speech.

Sometimes the tonal distance between the syllables seemed to span several octaves (howwwwww- DY!), sometimes the “dy” seemed not more than a fourth above the tonic of the ‘how’.

(Idea for band name: Tonic Of The ‘How’)

Attendant’s eyes wandered from corner to corner of the ceiling as he tried to apply musical values to his spoken discourse.

Attendant, in spirit of extreme silliness and idleness would contemplate that “do-re-mi-fa-so…” should be replaced by “how-dy-how-dy-how….”

Attendant noticed that customer’s “thaaaaaank YOU” covered about the same tonal interval as his “howwwww DY”, almost a copyright infringement type scenario, he warned.

Clasp that holds the bread bag closed near a milk spill. (No substance looks so chaotic and awful when spilled as milk, attendant feels. Attendant has never liked milk.) “Moby Milk” is discarded as stupid; still the milk’s whiteness is part of its problem.

Watching someone draw — the awe-inspiring moment at which an artist turns a group of shapes into a recognizable figure.

Man with Indian accent (by credit card: name of famous Indian film-maker), ACDC shirt, meeting with pastor.

Walking through the thicket of campaign signs on the area we call the median strip but which the British apparently call the central reservation.

Four couples in the place: two talking about movies and cultural issues; two talking about the climate and the “markets” and spiritual issues; two speaking in a language I don’t know; two not speaking, a mother and daughter focused on their phones.

Attendant thought yes the date must be what the customer had said: for that was his birthday and this was his birthday.

Coming to the page bottom and being stopped by the page number — 444. The three fours have called attention to something beyond themselves, but for a while I’m unable to place exactly what they invoke –then I do recall: it is the after tax price of a customer’s drink.

Possible End

Customer ordered medium iced coffee with a shot of espresso, two bottles of water, and a wheat bagel with sun dried tomato cream cheese. (Disclosed tragic circumstances by which his brother had become guardian of grandchildren.) On closing: finding a very long blond hair of a customer stuck in a frame of the bar stool. That person coming wholly to mind in the imagination of the attendant as a result, as if having been rehydrated, so to speak, from the hair. “In the crockpot of the imagination the customer had become reconstituted.” Attendant thought a protruding thread from his shirt, seen peripherally, was a curling white filament from his mustache — but it didn’t move when his head did. (Attendant further considered: nor did his thought, his thinking, move when his head did. In fact, more usually it did when he didn’t.) Customer off to play Frisbee golf. Customer writing remembrance for Uncle whose funeral she can’t attend. Customer said that corruption in his country was attributable to low civil servant pay. Customer asked for internet pass key and carried sharp Palm Sunday palm.

Attendant was writing and speaking at the same time: wasn’t sure how long he could keep it up. Customer reported having experienced serious fainting spell, had broken crown of nose when she fell. Customer said the weather had been great and the game had had a few surprises including a couple of late inning home runs. (“Also: we won.”) Attendant called 911 for second weekend in a row (person didn’t have medicine, was having suicidal thoughts, asked that the call be placed). Customer believed that the recipe for Thai iced coffee involved sweetened condensed milk. Attendant observed, but could not bring to the point of articulation, a certain manner, shared by all customers, of reaching for a lid after having been served their coffee. Customer wasn’t flautist –rather, second violin– but nevertheless had played this piece for flute, now playing. Customer ordered poppy seed muffin and large iced coffee – had not seen Narrow Margin but was a fan of noire. Customer shocked at growth of development even within the last six months in the area — was going to return fertilizer at the home depot. Pedestrian with neon yellow leash for his animal and hot pink cap for himself. Both feet on the pavement the pedestrian propelled himself from the car seat pressing with his left hand upon it. Customer asked local official about something not in his jurisdiction. In process of throwing away paper towel attendant swept onion slice stuck on trash rim into abyss of trash. Pedestrian’s excellent posture and athletic build descend “like a whirlwind” into his small bright shining shorts, attendant writes. Three consecutive customers ordered lattes, each in a different size, each with a different milk.

January 6, 2020

What kind of pizza was in that customer’s box? (White pizza.) Where was the customer off to now? (Garden Center.) Why had the customer taken today off? (No reason.) Customer observed they’d “finally fixed the floor. They did a nice job too,” he said. (Customer remarked a couple weeks later they’d never noticed how screwed up the floor was. Would they fix it?) Boss said he’d had a negative reaction to his cough medicine, so now there were these spots on his arms, was leaving. CuSTomer ordered iced skim vanilla latte with extra shot. Customer ordered hot chicken sandwich and pineapple smoothie. Customer said if her blind old cat bounded into the street of course she would charge out after it. No question. Brian, Joel, Gwen, Sara, Steve, Brett…. Customer silently “snatched” the bagel that the attendant handed him. (Attendant had done something wrong, he understood by the ‘snatch’.) Thai woman standing and holding swollen abdomen with both hands, head bent over the night’s receipts. Attendant, having looked from a new perspective upon a neglected area. Attendant, with a “new eye cast upon old grime” leapt into action and cleaned.

— First: procured what cleaning agents he could find –powder, liquid, jell–
— next: procured what cleaning implements were available — sponge-bristle brush, paper towel–
— finally: a bucket into which he drew much warm water.

Pattern of coffee drops sprayed on my paper (had sneezed with coffee drops yet on my moustache)

yet on my moustache: “name of my next broadway play.”

The blueness of the blue tarp and the orange of the orange cones and the protuberance of the mulch pile beneath the blue tarp. The cones hold down the tarp corners and the tarp covers the dark mulch mass surface, which fills the single parking slot.

Customers walked out without paying (attendant’s responsibility, for which he lashed himself in the way he knew how) (lying on a bed of searing hot bagels all night, waking with seared flesh honeycombed and seed-covered) himself paid. County official came in, took measurements, asked questions, made remarks, was listened to. Customer said she had a peanut and egg allergy. A wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese would probably be alright. (En route to Maine from FLA, missed Olympia Snow.) Customer ordered large iced latte and hot chicken sandwich.. Irish accent. (Was Chris from bar across.) Customer asked if sandwiches were available all day: had nose ring and two thick paper bound text books. Customer had seen something unusual on roadside: they called it an emissions monitor. Attendant said that the main reason he used canned beans was that he had not had much luck with reconstituting dried ones. Customers eyes widened but he did not speak when he heard attendant ate canned goods — he viewed them as health hazard. Minute change in the facial expression of a customer at the moment she realizes the face of the person she’s speaking to has been badly bruised since she last saw her.

The appearance is of trees bending in the wind beyond the plate glass and street; the sound is of the bar stool creaking, customer shifting his weight.

Customer’s dress shoes with a unique ‘tap’ signature on these floors; one knows these floors, those shoes, that person; one knows he’s in his sunday clothes and the pride he takes in it, the slide of the toe and the clomp of the heel. One knows the pride and step of that man.

Statue conceived of, larger than life size, of just the rear quadrant and a half, say, of the customer’s waist: bottom of a plaid or checkered shirt; segment of the belt that that part of the shirt is furled over; top portion of the slacks that are girded by the belt. Material is granite.

Customer was asked, what was the secret of life? Customer didn’t need to think to answer: “being active, being engaged with what was around you.”

Customer was asked, what was goodness, what did it mean to be a good person? Customer didn’t need to think to answer: “I try to help others and try to help myself.”

Attendant realizes suddenly that a person, whom he had seen on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for years, he has not seen in months. Accountant from Maine. Iced skim latte.

Attendant at home: had sworn the household’s cat was getting comfortable on outstretched leg; but on looking, discovered it was only a muscle spasm.

Maxims of deceased customers #1. “Your time is worth something too.” (Generally said when you have paid too much for a service in order to avoid having to think much about it.)

Customer twisted soiled napkin around fork stem. Customer set down salad plate, bare aside from glistening creases of excess dressing residue, saying (sotto voce) it was good. Customer dropped large iced tea to floor as she left, cracking cup. Customer said he had come grudgingly to like Sandra Bullock and George Clooney more and more through the years, so that he had become really fond of them now, which echoed the attendant’s own unexpressed views. Customer said he would be taking cab to the emergency room. Customer wondered if some college students knew how easy they had it and how pampered they were — quite a few of her own students these days, she reflected aloud, had two jobs and considered their studies a sort of time off, which was “just wrong and absurd.” Customer indicated he would like half a bagel with peanut butter. Young customer wasn’t sure what a Jehova’s Witness was. Customer challenged attendant on amount he had charged and was right. Customer was to retire in five days. Customer had returned from trip to find both his cars covered in thick ice. Reintroduction of wolves to ecosystem had resulted also in return of riparian songbirds, said customer. Customer had never heard of endorheic lakes but could guess: no outflow. Customer was embarrassed that she had not american currency to tip with, but stuck six euros in the jar and said she would come back with real money. (Stationed in Germany, back for the first time in six years.)

The freezer open, jumble of frozen items on the shelves, of plastic bags, of cardboard boxes, of cut up frozen chicken breasts, of frozen breads, of a few odd frozen items, for example, slices of the parts of salmon, of cold air billowing out;

Little and big leashed dogs encountering. “As the large dog is to the small dog, so (with respect to speed) is the small wag to the large wag.”

Another occasion of having been “hit” by the scent of a turning truck : the cab makes the turn, the trailer makes the turn, but the trailer’s scent does not make the turn: the entirety of the scent runs into him.

January 6, 2020

…teachers, accountants, retirees, cab drivers, construction workers (various types), bureaucrats (various types), IT workers (strange concentration of IT workers), military (many of military), classical musicians… Customer indicated he was going to see a guru who could bend a spoon with his mind. (He could do it too but it took a lot of his shakti.) We were better off under Henry 8th than we were under Obama, said customer. Said goodbye to Al this week. (The financing fell through for the prospective buyer of his condo but he had already moved out and is saying to hell with it — he’ll conduct the sale through the mail.) “I’m moving back to New York so come around here and give me a hug.” One of the lawn chairs outside had lost a leg and a customer said that in his country you would never see something like this. Something is broken and people just walk away. Customer ordered small iced decaf latte. Customer ordered med chai for his daughter, a medium mocha for himself and two cookies. Parent customer supervised while children customers made order: plain bagel with cream cheese, plain bagel with cream cheese and lox.

attendant deliberated about serious seeming toilet issue: the problem appeared to be that it was refilling too slowly.

“concerned coffee carrier reflected on toilet terror:


Attendant proposed Star Trek episode: a whole civilization has gone insane (yet all its individuals are sane.) There is a total disconnect between the people and the politics of this insane planet.

Customer encouraged other customer about finding a job: “hang in there.” Customer, as customer was leaving, further encouraged him: “I’ve been there and it sucks.” Attendant found new interest and meaning in a New Testament passage: early Luke: Simon Peter had been fishing” all night” and not caught anything; but Jesus, directing them to the deeper part, enjoined them to try again, whereupon they made a great catch. Attendant’s newfound appreciation involved that he sort of knew now what it meant, he felt, to fruitlessly fish all night. Customer was surprised he was the first of his party to arrive. Pedestrian hailed ineffectually a bus not scheduled for this stop, yet showed no surprise it hadn’t stopped. Top of the roof of the Prius didn’t reach the bottom of the driver’s side window of the pickup. Customer said the wedding been a great time: it had been by a big lake. Customer said Eritrean Independence Day would be celebrated May 24th — Please pray for us. Customer ordered six plain bagels with veggie cream cheese and red onion. Customer ordered two bagels with lox and tomato and two large iced coffees. Customer ordered one plain bagel with plain cream cheese and a large iced coffee. Customer ordered two pounds of coffee, which she needed to have ground for a French press, two medium coffees, a butter croissant and cinnamon muffin. They fed customer at the hotel, where she had just gotten off work. Customer before her, woman with child, paid with a hundred; was teaching the child to count and also teaching her to tip wait staff; ordered lemon cheesecake, chocolate mousse, small chai. Customer confirmed Berlin had been part of what was once Prussia. During rush, attendant had somewhat unusual sense that he was both doing his job exceptionally well, not just expediently but kind of gracefully, while yet incurring displeasure: his expedience and skill may have been a mitigating factor, but there was something else he was doing that he was not seeing and that was not liked by the people in the long line.

Customer ordered iced coffee with soy and everything bagel with cream cheese. Customer ordered large medium roast coffee. Mother and daughter paying and ordering separately but both ordering small au laits, though the daughter ordered a chocolate chip cookie too. Attendant remembered that last week he had forgot this customer’s strawberry ice cream and so this week made sure to recall, produced that first. Customer ordered large smoothie and chief sandwich and said that, though he didn’t agree with the result of Citizens United, thought the majority argument was very strong. (Customer was enjoined by attendant to read Stevens’ much stronger dissent.) Customer told attendant it seemed like he was the only person who worked here. Customer ordered medium caramel latte with soy and an extra shot and a bagel untoasted with nothing — in a bag.

Customer ordered two medium dark roasted coffees and three bagels: a sesame with cream cheese and lox, a wheat with cream cheese lox capers and red onions; and a wheat with cream cheese lox capers and red onions, and for their friend a hot chocolate and sesame bagel with lox. Customer ordered double espresso, said he had squandered yesterday’s beautiful day. Guessed we had only about ten such days in a year. Later his friend arrived by bike, who also had an espresso, then the two of them ordered sandwiches in the thick of the rush. (People were saying the weather had turned cold. A “fierce wind from the North” one had even said.)

Three portabello sandwiches and a hot chicken sandwich, no comment when they left, (equaling in this case displeasure, failure.) Customer straightened and smoothed bill with both hands as he waited to pay. Attendant revealed to customer the “surprising etymology of word ‘squirrel'”. (Surprise is: though it sounds vaguely English, it comes actually directly from Ancient Greek: skia + ouros… “shadow tail.”) Customer ordered hot chicken sandwich with everything bagel with capers and red onions and medium decaf drip coffee, and an almond croissant.

January 6, 2020

Customer said she liked mousse they had at Whole Foods. To the question, why had he joined the Army, customer replied — to get out of Buffalo. Customer said he was in midst of litigation, ordered large coffee. Customer crushed white cigarette box in single hand before dropping it in trash. Husband and wife communicated, a non-simple conversation, through thick pane of glass, mouthing. Young woman with nose ring; old man with baseball cap; scholar in neon reflective vest; bright faced gal receiving sandwich; family to travel to Amsterdam. Had the toilet paper run out (it hadn’t) were there paper towels still? (yes there were still paper towels; yet, like with the toilet tissue, they would soon need replacing) had someone opened the bathroom window? (no — no one had) where had the flies come from then, the drain? (no, the onions) what was the name of the Turkish currency? (no one could recall but someone had once known) would the woman in medical garb like her order to go? (yes, to go — was she going to the hospital or going home from the hospital?) Downstairs now pushing themselves up into the light screen, flies. Flies seemed little black points of my own seeing bouncing from off the visible, the seen. What my eyes and their fire cannot penetrate cause these black sparks, the flies.

Q: why was the customer taking time off?
A: had to. built up a lot he would lose

Q: why hadn’t customer voted in primary?
A: as long as it’s a [named political party]

Man closes sliding door of work van without straightening elbow: moves it part of the by turning his waist, the rest of the way by flicking his wrist. Child customer trying repeatedly to throw wad of paper at trash can: picks it up, throws it, wad rebounds off the side of the bin, “Come on Come on” (many many times.) Customer ordered plain bagel with plain cream cheese. Customer ordered oatmeal raisin cookie and Perrier. Customer ordered large skim cappuccino. The one Customer ordered a medium caramel latte and the other ordered a medium vanilla latte with honey (two friends, asian extraction, both “whole”). Young man with crutch had three drinks in a tray: small strawberry smoothie, small dark roasted coffee, small raspberry iced tea. Customer ordered medium skim latte, Customer ordered a medium skim mocha with no whip, the couple behind them (who had come with them) ordered nothing.

Customer said he found pasta “monotonous”– Pastamonous?

Attendant running into customer at bus station: “gotta get better sometime but right now it’s a cloudy day”. Customer having been raised in S.C., he said Dylan Roof was matter of time. Customer played polo south of town and was known for aggressive style of play: green iced tea and poppy seed muffin. Blond eastern European young woman: sesame seed bagel with butter. Two young white women after yoga: americano and soup, small hot lemon ginger tea. Young black man with Abe Lincoln beard and consort: medium coffee, medium tea. Customer said that, after being in a plane for four days, it was great to get in your car and see just two gauges. Attendant, outside with dustpan and broom, finds it “actually kind of clean out here already.” Customer said there were no ethical options for working in this economic system: you had to “do what you had to” to survive — then donate. (Person was strict materialist but this sounded similar to church.) Customer leaves “to go buy pears.” Customer wants nothing on bagel, just toasted. Customer wanted the sandwich the customer before her had ordered, but no red onions. Customer says coffee and carrot cake were delicious and fresh in manner suggesting that this had not been the case during previous visit. Customer says to his partner before ordering, “It’s a quiche day.” Customer says towels have run out in the bathroom as attendant removes napkin from under a table leg. Expecting to gaze into empty space attendant instead sees customer’s head — his vacuous gaze returned by a why-you-looking-at-me gaze. (I had thought I’d be looking into empty space, pupils I guess wide, but instead find myself looking deeply almost intimately into a stranger’s eyes, gaze suddenly narrowing.)

[[Then I start sweeping again.

You still don’t have a cell phone? says customer, who’d be disappointed if he did. That’s good, more of us should be like you, said phone repairman on hearing he did not have phone.

January 3, 2020

Abortion protester, from the Days Inn. Had come in for The March for Life. Fighting for the unborn, he said, all the stages of life. Had flown out of LAX. Flying tomorrow out of National. Brought out a sign shaped like a stop sign, “STOP ABORTION.” Said he loved animals.

Customer ordered everything bagel with cream cheese and small dark roast drip coffee — off to buy soccer supplies for his son since there was a sale today. Customer purchased 2 butter croissants, a pound cake, an oatmeal raisin cookie, a medium dark roast coffee with room and a wheat bagel with extra veggie cream cheese. Customer ordered large vanilla latte with honey. (Had hooked up with attendant’s relative on Linked In.) Customer ordered medium decaf drip coffee with a refill, an almond croissant, a wheat bagel with sun dried tomato cream cheese, and a strawberry smoothie. (His infant daughter having learned to blow kisses.) Customer order medium skim latte with sugar free vanilla. Customer ordered medium dry cappuccino, a small iced decaf latte, and two brownies. Pedestrian wandered in looking for a green stiletto knife he’d lost on St. Patrick’s Day, of sentimental value, he said. Customer said he hadn’t heard about the bond yield inversion but was impressed now to have learned of how reliably it forecast recessions. Customer indicated he liked this place and would return. Customer said the walls were dirty and the brownie was stale. Customer liked the classical music but didn’t like NPR. Customer ordered a large cafe au lait and her friend a small latte. Customer ordered large latte putting accent on the ultima, lat-AY. Customer complimented the attendant on his memory. “You remember everything!” laughed the customer (He’d recalled how the couple would play UNO together.) Customer ordered three large light roast coffees with room for cream. Same customer then appeared eight hours later with friend and ordered a large mocha, a medium iced caramel latte, and two medium size blended ice cream coffee drinks. Customer said it was hard to know if the baby was sick or just being fussy (she could be very fussy) but didn’t have a fever. Customer said he’d only applied to one law school and been wait listed. Attendant guessed that the local professional ballgame franchise would probably win only 80 games this season. Customer said it would be more like 92; another, 93; still another said 98. No one imagined they’d become the world champions, which was unquestionably the best thing that happened that year. Amazing how they’d turned their whole season around. Customer said she had taught for some time at a couple of elite jewish schools then at a public school in Queens. Customer had left Ethiopia in 1980, he said.

Attendant saw woman screaming at the top of her lungs in fear and running down the street (her dog’s broken loose from its leash and is charging toward the highway) and wished he could feel that sort of urgency about his own life; instead he was very passive, low key. [“She’d have been a good woman,” had said the misfit, in Flannery O’Connor’s famous story, “if there were someone to shoot her every day of her life.”] Tow-truck carrying car behind it with its lights flashing and parking alarm mechanically and rhythmically going off: rather than the woman running after her dog with urgency, trying to save her dog, this was better image of the attendant’s conduct in life: fruitlessly bleating as he was hauled off. Woman running and madly screaming not because her dog is in danger but because we live as we do. Because, for example, of our relationship to nature.

Bird propelling itself with wings just enough to get over the fence; then having accomplished this vault, lets self flop…. Ethiopian gal asking directions to DMV (Day — oom — vay) with umbrella for strong sun. Idea not that “everything I think is wrong” but that “everything I think is wildly wrong” (area=0 where circle of my thinking and circle of what’s right intersect.) Passed by woman jogger with expectation he’ll be hit with a cloud of perfume– but at that moment… a thick block of aroma from a different source: someone doing laundry.

The bird, freed, was able to right itself and fly off before it even hit the ground. Customers expressed satisfaction and relief.

Customers expressed shock and speechless horror to watch a man and dog get struck down in the street.

Attendant said that the reason bird’s knees appear to bend in the wrong direction is that those are not their knees but their ankles.

Orange that had fallen from the backpack of person jaywalking was flattened seconds later by utility truck: a direct hit.

Customer felt that Non-Force could triumph over Force and so lamented that which was forceful in himself;

However, customer felt also there was a kind of force that was Good, and a kind that was Bad, and so lamented, too, that he was not forceful enough in a good way, or for good things against bad things;…

Did “The Good” need to be made stronger and more forceful? or did “The Good” require no strength and the abdication of force, pondered aloud the earnest customer?

It was proposed that “The Good” required Courage, which was a kind of force, but of a very different sort than, say, physical Strength. (Did we call this “Moral force?”)

Courage, much more forceful than physical strength, was also much harder to attain than physical strength, it was added. (We needed courage, –But for what? it was asked further…. implying that courage and moral force required knowledge — knowledge about which were the right things to fear, about which were the right things to be brave about, about whether physical force was appropriate or not, which was when things started sounding platonic to the attendant.)

January 3, 2020

Did customer want the half sandwich half soup combo or a whole sandwich and a whole soup? (Customer had had to raise earflap of hunting cap to hear question.)

Customer had ordered before the woman with the quiche and before the Irish woman with her well-dressed companion, yet I hadn’t even gotten started with the soup of the engineer.

“Acorns of an indeterminate make
By strands of yellow and black police tape
And recently repaved bright white curbing
that I pass undisturbed, and undisturbing.”

Couple from Bangladesh had made a tour of the American West: Mt. Rushmore, Yellow Stone, San Francisco, Grand Canyon. Ten days. Had I heard of something Called Antelope Canyon? Reflected image of customer’s hand, grasping chin, beside real hand, grasping mouse.

Q: why were we hearing Tchaikovsky so much?
A: It was pledge week and the 1812 overture was featured on a cd that was complimentary to donors who had pledged a certain amount.

Customer told attendant that no one from India does yoga while the latter wiped coffee grounds from out of the refrigerator door’s fluted rubber insulation.

The Customer that reminds of an old girlfriend — the customer that is Construction worker asking if he can charge his phone. The Construction worker having left backpack and white hard hat in lawnchair, running for the bus he nearly missed. The construction worker handed special glasses to see the complete solar eclipse, but his friend saying, no, he didn’t want to look through the glasses, didn’t want to see.

Quantum Entanglement of hairbuns: yesterday’s hairbun seen in the mirror, today’s hairbun projecting from a window of the bus. (These hairbuns have a link in space-time, which only the Chinese and myself know about.) “The hairbun of yesterday in the mirror of today.” (book title). (We should have National Hairbun Center to sort all this out. When you see a person with a hairbun, watch out, as they may be transferring the contents of their minds to a satellite. When you see someone with a ponytail really watch out, for those are the “enforcers”.).. Couldn’t see any other part of that bus passenger aside from that “uploading” bun.

Attendant remarks that, when the smell of urine becomes overpowering for miles around, you’ll know he’s been held up at gunpoint (a number of hold ups having been committed recently in the area). Attendant reviews plans in event of mass-shooter attack: first, barrage of stale cookies; second, serve him the “brioche”; finally, ask him if he’d like a “refill with that” and splash his face with hot coffee — the decaf.


Customer expressed that “white people are so gullible” (with reference to panhandlers.) Customer expressed that all white people had to do was “wave their magic wand” and they got out of whatever it was — oh yes you do.” Customer made remarks which he didn’t at all intend to be anti-semitic. Customer asked customer if he was Jewish (you’re jewish, right?) in a conversation not at all pertaining to that. Customer said he sincerely did not think “Sir Nose” was anti-semitic but had to do with cocaine. Customer criticized implementation of restroom key as “amateur.”

January 3, 2020

Customer ordered bottled juice drink. Customer said with spicy food heat got between you and the flavor of the food. Customer ordered medium skim hot chocolate for his friend but would need another minute for himself to decide. Customer returned to store moments after having left it to make sure he hadn’t left anything. Customer said he had been a boy scout. Customer reflected aloud upon best travel destinations in Nova Scotia. Customer continually pulled out napkins to use as kleenexes. Customer remarked he would be going to church at different time today. Customer said he had been to church with a friend today. Customer said he wasn’t a believer but felt it was good for him to go to church and also liked the history in parts.

White single use plastic knife on the ground, which the attendant saw when he came in in the morning, and picked up 12 hours later as he was bringing in the chairs and tables. Had seemed to him the “symbol or flag” of that workday. An Iwo jima like memorial of him plopping it in the trash.

Attendant, having initially judged the sandwiches’ tincture to be too dark, now judged it to be within accepted parameters. (He likes them to be “well within” the parameters, while these were just “within”.)

Attendant’s new art project: to be called “Tincture of Sandwich.” In which pieces of toast, at various stages of toasting, from not toasted at all to charred black, are set along the wall like small canvases.

Further, using a specially altered toaster, in the way of a prepared piano, he would create interesting Mark Rothko like effects.

Future exhibitions could include bagels held up by rusty nails or railroad ties through their holes, while toppings and spreads of various kinds drop and seep from them down the walls.

Prospective title of exhibition: “Bagel Wounds.” Potentially, whole room could be made to resemble a counter top, as if what is called Space-time were this, as if we ourselves were slid endlessly back and forth across the coffee shop counter.

(Special: something interesting is that these toppings and spreads are not the sort you associate with toast and bagels or even with breakfast but are condiments like barbecue sauce and salad dressing.)

January 3, 2020

One of those days which is not exactly slow, is indeed what you would call “steady”, but everyone comes in one at a time, and doesn’t stay long or sit down, and when one leaves, another comes. One of those days in which everyone comes at once. (They “come not single spies…”) One of those days in which no one comes (often with accompanying heat or rain.) One of those days in which shop is full yet no one seems ever to have entered it, then everyone leaves at once. One of those days in which, everything seems to proceed normally and manageably until a large family or tour group comes in so that the ratio of voraciously appetitive customers to modestly capable attendants suddenly swells to 5 or 10 to 1.


NEXT, the attendant sprang, with a springing leap, toward the dish rag.

Next, the attendant, with an unparalleled ardor of amnesty, with unprecedented parameters of princiliness, and all the customary contours of courtesy, removed from a customer’s table her plate.

[NEXT, the attendant sprang, with a springing leap, toward the dish soap.]

NEXT the attendant, alive with litheness, lovingly and unlethargically lunged at dish soap.

Next, with sumptuous daintiness, in a delirium of non-despicable dutifulness, in a fever of fulsome yet non-fustian fussing over, a deliverer of undeterrable determination, he completed, at lightning speed, the task that followed the foregoing.

Then did he sit pensive with arms akimbo.

Then mightily did he change his shoes with great might. (Much of mannerliness did he then show as he became self-shod. Here one found unmatchable manliness of manner matched with the utmost mannerliness in manhood)


Question. Did customer continually or continuously dip her tea bag in her tea as she spoke? Answer: she did continually, or repeatedly, do this.

Customer who immediately looks to his right when he enters the store (who’s at the bar? what’s in the mirror?) contrasted with the one whose chest and head seem of one pole, turning his whole body to look– and the one who loudly sighs, so that no one can deny having seen him come in.

Customers recommended: trio for horn, violin and piano (Brahms); The Best Days of Our Lives (Billy Wilder?). Customer said that if Support Your Local Sheriff came on Turner Classic Movies, he would probably not turn it off.

The difficulty, in bussing a plate, of making sure the crumpled napkin on it doesn’t fall off. (Attendant should make formal study of aerodynamic properties of crumpled napkins.) The architecture of the crumple being such as to grab hard at the air, slide easily off the plate.

Attendant thinks to call his autobiography that: Architecture of The Crumpled.

(Note. With plates that are empty the crumpled-napkin-rolloff can be avoided by tipping the plate slightly floorward in the direction the plate is traveling.)

Customer said it would seem he could understand 19th century English syntax and vocabulary better than he could understand 20th century English syntax and vocabulary. Customer jokingly reproved customer for having failed to vote in local election, but argued in earnest and without being gainsaid they were as important as Presidential elections. Customer said that while he preferred for his movies to be fiction (spy movies for instance) he preferred for his reading to be non-fiction (history and science.) Eavesdropping attendant was made to ponder by the preceding that a lot of so-called fiction (say James Joyce’s Ulysses) was much more realistic than a lot of so-called non-fiction (say, a popular history or political book. Most things that were popular indeed had a fictional or cartoonal quality, thought attendant.) Customer said he wasn’t doing so good, attacks becoming more frequent and intense. Customer said he believed there would be a five month wait period between his last day of work and his first disability check, which he believed he could do, though it would be tight. Customer sorry for having left mess. Customer, looking like the brother of another customer. Customer, looking like he could be the son of another customer. Customers looking like they could be siblings and in fact proving to be siblings.

January 2, 2020

Woman dressed entirely in dark blue pulled slowly and distractedly at same hair clump as she read: about the size of a single pasta serving and the fingers wrapped as she would take it from the box.

Woman dressed in stripes: a light fabric and short cut. Seem to trace the outlines of her skull’s temporal lobe with her finger as she spoke.

Customer asked if he would be charged the fifty cent surcharge for almond milk if he wanted only a little bit of it.

Attendant asked writing instructor how much of bad writing was owing to simple underconfidence — to discomfort with presenting oneself as an authority?

(Instructor replied: had never considered that)

June 22nd.

Volunteer firefighter said yes he did know Turlock CA very well and repeated an amusing anecdote. Rain in the evening, something wrong with the traffic light: brightly vested officers in the heat wave whistled at cars with closed windows (repetitions of police whistles, waving motions)… Nozzles and bottoms and corners and Time and spouts and tiles and wetness and angles, as well as stainless steel and soap…(And these things existing among the thoughts of them: nozzles among thoughts of nozzles, angles coexisting with one’s knowing of them, with one’s not knowing of them).

Smudged egglike stain of dried coffee beneath urn spigots: wet central part and wider dried rim; (inner brown eggwhite with peripheral black yoke). Spills on the top of the cabinet doors that open to the garbage; Stains on the upper back rim or lip of the toilet (which get there how? and get the gag reflex going) Irregular dried water circles on stainless steel by the sink.(A taxonomy of stains and spills is conceived — though probably Stains are to be considered a mere phylum of the Kingdom of Spills, as they are nothing but Dried Spills.)

(Name for a band or for this work: Kingdom of Spills)

A veritable Linnaeus of splashes and squirts, a Novum Organon of overflows, overruns, of unwelcome discharges of all sorts…Of splotches, of blotches, of smudges, of smears…

Outline of the motions of the wet towel, dried now, on the fridge door, on the countertop , on the door of the milk fridge; phantom towels; the fossil footprints of former wipes and wiping motions

Customer put styrofoam cup to ear, tapped end with the convexity of a plastic spoon, listening. Customer expressed view that not caring how you looked was less superficial, therefore good. Attendant countered with a maxim of his grandmother’s: that looking good and taking care of oneself was a courtesy to others, actually the opposite of vanity. (Further pondered: that emotional honesty can keep us from looking well, smelling well.) Creases in customer’s shirt-back rippled, a sort of exo-musculature, as he worked, typed. Customer used edge of hand to backhandedly scrape residue of sesame and poppy seeds from his table. Attendant did same from cutting board with back edge of knife. Customer identified tree outside shop window as honey locust, said it looked sickly. (This was our “resident tree”, usually barren and suggestive of a Beckett play. Sidewalk’s pale brickwork twisted up around it.) Customer had elbow by his stack of papers. Yesterday’s Hairbun in the Hairbun of today and the Quantum Entanglement of Hair buns: coming.

January 2, 2020

Ringtone of customer’s phone antiphonal to other customer’s Windows starting up. Operating system sound itself a response to the door chime (departure). Recurring counterpoint of our involuntary sounds above a bass line of classical music (WETA). Customer mentioned Frank Howard. Another customer told of a play he had seen him make. Who was Frank Howard? asked another customer. (A senator) Customer did not understand why they served chicken curry on French fries (chicken curry should be on rice.) They said, well, we serve it on French fries. Well, alright. Customer had volunteered with his church in Somalia the same year another customer had fled Somalia, it was discovered. Server-attendant asked colleague F. how many t.v channels there were in her country. She replied, “One.” She laughed — how many were there? She would tell her friends she had been asked this question: “how many” channels were there in her country. She said: only one. (Must be a big deal to be on T.V there said stupid attendant-server.)

Yellow smudged wainscotting, hardened drops of coffee on them, where they dried months or years ago — the rag upon this.

The tan scuffed finished floor, marked with the movement of the chairs and the tables, but not the feet — broom upon this.

Fossils, crumbs, memories, actions.

Light from stars… the light got into the atmosphere but why couldn’t the heat get out?
Greenhouse effect… you said you didn’t believe in climate change but did you believe in the greenhouse effect?

Crumbs leaping up “like sparks” behind the broom edge as it crosses the carpet, Perth or the Village Blacksmith (“I’m a blacksmith who forges clean-ness,” confides the attendant to his diary, “with the cleanliness of admantine steel, only dwarves make cleanliness so strong… with the limp hammer of the rag, with the taught hammer and tongs of the broom, with the iron forge of the floor”) and with, of course, These Great Bare Arms, wrote the attendant.

Question: how did the attendant get such outstanding pectoral muscles? “By picking up thousands upon thousands of muffins individually over time. A feat like the creation of the grand canyon.”

Question: and his forearms, powerful as lions’ calves? How did they come to be? “His substantial forearms owe themselves to two factors: his unique and fierce style of spreading cream cheese over bagels; and his constant raising and lowering (as well as opening and closing) of Plato’s Complete Works.”

Question posed to customer: who was the Greek blacksmith of the gods and who was his Roman proxy?

Customer said he had rosacea and couldn’t eat tomatoes. (Attendant said Melville had had that too.) Customer said he was from Western Massachusettes. (Hadn’t Melville live out there for a period, replied Attendant. Why yes replies the customer, “in fact not far at all from…”) How was business after Starbucks had come in across the street, asked the customer? A challenge, replied the attendant, but say, did he know from what classic of American literature the name Starbuck was derived?…

Outside for quick break. Three trees at different distances along the same line of sight: leaves of the farthest, tallest tree move most quickly in the wind; leaves on the bottom part of the second tallest tree move at a speed between that of the first tallest and that of the leaves and branches on the top part of the second tallest tree; leaves of the nearest tree are still.These difference he to some degree apprehends having distilled or separated them from all the other differences there were (of car and pedestrian traffic, most notably) near the new Starbucks then opened the door for the person who’s just come, having heard her approaching from the wood steps behind.

January 2, 2020

Posed to retired aviator: what was standard operating procedure if the plane landed in the water the wrong side up? A: hit the eject. Attendant pulled forward silverware tub, heard rumbling of its cutlery within. Attendant bemoaned oversight which would likely result in effective pay reduction. Customer indicated that everyone could learn math, which was a mere generalization of a mental operation we perform every day. Attendant supposed that just because everyone could understand what’s ordinary didn’t mean they could understand its “generalization”. Customer, a soccer coach, spoke of calling the girl soccer players to tell them they’d not made the cut.

……….Front stool window, left

……….Back table, a lamp

……….Back revolving chair (the first)

……….Tiled wall (over sandwich station)

……….Tall trash can (on carpet)

……….Second, third table (empty)

……….Top of stairs (the railing)

young nursing student from pacific NW (these days an er nurse) quietly rapt in the laptop studying, “such extraordinary concentration displayed by so many of the customers” it is thought. the idea that the ‘distracted’ person is Aristotle’s “slave by nature” — that it kind of makes sense that it would be me who is serving her, who can remain so still before her study materials. Me like a blurry object before my study materials. (Could he stop now?) When had the attendant last been so still? so free and still as this person appeared to be when concentrating? Could he yet make himself concentrate? Was it too late? Did it explain his continued presence in this place that he hadn’t been paying attention? hadn’t been focusing? Were he suddenly to completely concentrate on his work, would the work disappear, would he attain the next level?

Idea that DFW seems to have something like this ethical system in mind with his two novels: Pale King in which concentration is the great virtue, IJ in which distraction is the main fault? (Customer not so sure about that.)

“Unsheathed” trash can looking especially tall as it stands on the carpet. (And yet it is the trash can with the trash bag that should be understood as “unsheathed”.) the second and third table are empty between the first and fourth table, which are occupied. I have just checked these tables’ bases for the appearance of trash and the presence of crumbs. I gave the tiled wall above the sandwich station a good cleaning the other day an am pleased to see that still shows.

Customer spoke of a prominent political blogger who had recently retired. Attendant recalled former customer who liked that blogger, became unhappy with the place. Attendant moved back and forth behind the bar, cleaning; customer moved back and forth, on bar’s other side, speaking to attendant. Customer said she would be leaving in a moment. Customer said he doubted Shakespeare ever mentioned ‘America’ but probably made some reference to ‘the Americas.’ Customer ordered medium coffee. Child of customer revolved on first of two swivel chairs. Child of customer emptied coffee beans from Malaysia on the ground. When child of customer emptied Malaysian coffee beans on the ground, customer said angrily “alright!” then left with child. When child of customer emptied coffee beans on the ground, customer apologized to attendant for child, asked what they should pay. Electronic chime above door sounded: had a customer entered or had a customer departed (a customer had left.) Electronic chime above door sounded: but attendant would not turn his head like some Pavlovian beast! he defensively, defiantly retorted, loud in his interior. He refused, absolutely refused! (He accepted, absolutely accepted. Needed to know. Needed to know what.) What could it matter? What difference could it make? Am going to train my gaze, rather, on this dish I’m cleaning, said the attendant to his soul, jaws defiantly clear of all moisture. Jaws locked and gazed locked and hand upon sponge, he insisted, not like some Pavlovian beast. (Who? Who?)

January 2, 2020

Rose-colored plate empty aside from grease of the hot chicken sandwich and two to three fragments of potato chip. Serrated lip of rose-colored plate has a fleck of something (a coffee grind? a burnt chip?) I brush off. White plate comes back with all the salad greens untouched: only the toppings eaten. Plate is returned with a neat pile to one side of the tomatoes I have recently cut. Customer hands over the plate. Customer asks where the plates are to be put. Customer scrapes off chips into trash before handing over cleaned off plate. Customer looks into mirror above trash and lays plate in area beside it. A small stack of plates has developed beside the front trash. Customer had just come from pick-up soccer game, “which makes food taste better, makes everything better,” he says. Customer wondered aloud if the most recent allegation that Assad had used chemical weapons had been corroborated. Customer described new pain in his head: rather than the steady one that “crushed him” this one was sharp and sporadic, “very dangerous.” Customer, having outperformed at morning’s work out, treated himself to hot chicken sandwich.

Customer ordered cappuccino and grilled cheese sandwich, his friend a macchiato and bottled apple juice. Customer said proper hydration was essential to good health and that most people needed more vitamin D. Women, especially after having children, needed to watch their calcium, a customer said. Customer took vitamins but wasn’t sure they worked. Two customers sat in the rear in a line perpendicular to the rear wall and two customers sat in the front in a line parallel to the front wall. Attendant dreamed that his boss was throwing bread crumbs in him in anger and that he said calmly to his boss “I’ve had enough, I quit.” Customer confessed to not knowing her African countries so well when presented with a blank map of same: was that Uganda? (it was South Sudan) was that Cameroon? (it was Gabon). Customer asked if the chicken sandwich had much sodium — she was trying to avoid sodium.

A Sort of Hebraic Law

A sort of Hebraic law for living in a modern democratic capitalist society is suggested. Thou shalt take care of thyself. Thou shalt visit medical professionals. Thou shalt wash thine hands often and cough in thine elbow. Floss thee thy teeth, prepare thee thine resume, NETwork to GET work, and be conscious of smell. No person over 18 shall inhabit the residence of their parents’ house. And all shall keep their car well-maintained and any other piece of equipment thou purchasest, thou shalt keepest it clean and read the manual, storing well the manual where thou may find it. These things thou must do and thou shalt do these things: networking and selling thyself, become thou thine brand. Maintenance, saieth the Lord, continuous maintenance! Fully do thou fund one’s 401k! And accept the advice of proven experts over thine intuition!

January 1, 2020

Customer, facing mirror, pulls long hair into pony tail. Customer, facing menus, strokes dark pony tail slung over shoulder.

Customer’s left shoe sole inhabits same plane as right rear leg flank.

Customer looked a lot like recently ousted deputy FBI director Andrew Mccabe, and was him. (Large iced coffee, light ice.)

Customer looked a lot like Tim Caine and was Tim Caine (small regular coffee.) “I got my picture with Tim Caine, y’all” said customer.

Pedestrian’s head fell loosely to the side, as if it were an irregularly shaped stone that had been rolled over; then, as an afterthought, spitting.

A driver having failed to yield to me the right of way, I tried to begin to scowl only to realize I was already scowling. There was nothing left to do therefore.

Customer, pushing floor with feet, lifted front legs of chair. Attendant, facing him, did the same and they all lost balance at once: all four hands thrust forward to the table for balance.

A man between two dogs, two long leashes (“catenaries”) — a bollard or spire. Idea that Time needs to be “rinsed” by Eternity in order to keep from becoming Space; every once in a while Time needs to get recommissioned, as it were, needs to go gets its license renewed, needs to sit in the Dry Dock; or else it becomes an “area of things” rather than of “events”. Science fiction novel: an explosion occurs ripping asunder the space-time continuum; as a result of which time turns into space at this point –unless it is subjected to a special machine developed by scientists– hitherto, if Time is not “renewed” in this machine, it will turn to Space — All Of Time will turn into Space. Question: as the amount of space increases and the amount of time decreases, would the remaining time become slower, faster, or the same? Question: is it possible that the scientists’ device in someway replicates eternity and this sets up a conflict with an entity that is itself eternal?

Attendant scraped at coins in the till: 72 cents. Two quarters, two dimes, two pennies. Attendant scraped at coins in the till: 83 cents change. Would he give three quarters and a dime, or would he give three quarters, a nickel, and three pennies? Customer described self as being far right with a libertarian (peace loving) streak. Customer ordered “small pot” of raspberry hibiscus tea. Customer ordered half-caf soy iced latte, bagel with veggie cream cheese and a peanut butter cookie. Customer, understanding that this building was to be redeveloped, asked if they had tried to make any sort of provision for keeping the business in the area? Customer said the drink he’d been given was without flavor. Idea that the rancor and divisiveness the country was experiencing was comparable to foot pain. (The reason why foot pain was so insidious was that you don’t even realize it’s your feet that hurt. You just feel irritable all over and start to hate people — you think it’s them.)

Always good to see you, said customer. Likewise, said attendant. Attendant alone with bartender in bar, talking off the cuff, said it wasn’t right to think of Trump supporters as “stupid” but like smart people in a bad relationship. Had she ever had a friend who was in a bad relationship? Management said when he went to take the last rent check he asked when the demolition would start and they said they didn’t know. The local state government official and county government official also said they didn’t know. The shop next door, when their two year lease had expired, went month to month, it was said.

January 1, 2020

Customer’s slid-off button-up sweater came to rest between herself and the stool back. Customer ordered medium mint tea and spinach quiche. Customer ordered large iced coffee. Customer said he was going to go out and enjoy this beautiful day. Customer had been told by his/her/their doctor/partner/spouse to cut down of their caffeine/bagel/cookie consumption. Customer said to customer “I know someone who looks just like you.” Customer replied to customer, “I hope he’s a nice person.” Customer replied to customer’s reply, “Yeah — he’s a good guy.” Patter of feet of running children, invisible behind the bar, back and forth they go. No shouting today just running. Customer ordered small coffee with room for cream — would she be going to the county fair? (Not a big fan of crowds) Customer ordered large soy latte with extra ice — was she going to the county fair? On her way there now in fact. (Expressed concern about being at public events with “recent goings on”.) Customer ordered medium iced soy latte — the county fair? No to the army base to hear the 1812 overture, for which they will use an actual cannon. (Was there a fair? should one go to it?) Customer introduced self as John. Customer said glass the tiramisu came in would make a good ashtray. Customer said the glass the tiramisu came in would be good for her packed lunches. Customer ordered small coffee and oatmeal raisin cookie. Showed picture of herself and relative in beautiful tribal dresses from Gambia — a christening. Having forgotten customer’s onions on his everything bagel with lox, attendant ran to back window looking for him in the lot, — could the situation be salvaged? (Word savage comes from sylvan, I believe — woods. Salvage is related to save.) Gal’s face angled up in the morning light, nice young tired circles under her eyes.

Horns majestically blared (customer crumpled up paper) the symphony triumphantly ended (customer scraped chair) announcers began to speak (customer approached, would like a refill). Pedestrian had to stutter step before reaching puddle: needed to position right foot near the pool edge so he could lunge over it with his left. Customer to celebrate friend’s birthday by attending museum exhibit on the queens of Egypt. Customer ordered medium light roast coffee with a bit of room for cream. Customer, returning from funeral, had needed a coffee. Customer ordered large latte with vanilla and honey iced and everything bagel with butter. Customer had no idea how many thousands of lights years the nearest black hole was to Earth. (23) Customer thought it a fascinating period of history: when renaissance Humanists were just rediscovering classical texts. Customer said that, while she loved music, she didn’t often have it on in the house, unless she was cleaning. Customer asked, where was everyone today? Customer asked, why was the attendant the only one who seemed to work here. “Every time I come here you’re here!” Customer, who previously said he had sworn off sports, but who was now dressed cap-a-pied in local team’s fan gear, said he’d “regressed”.

“Your small cup can make
A big difference” says the
tag of the tea bag.

Wiry black guy in stonewashed jean jacket and black pants, occasional dance moves at bus stop.
While customer orders, attendant is fascinated by the melting snow of her cap.

December 31, 2019

Customer would say ‘who else’ where you’d expect him to say ‘what else’, as in: “In my tomato sauce last night I put three cloves of garlic, oregano, dried parsley, and… who else?” (Oh, half a red onion, was who.) Fishing in deep pockets for change, customer’s left shoulder dipped way down, then right shoulder did. Customer tried to separate two stuck coffee cup lids without getting hands all over them. Customer’s thirst was such that, in the short interval between paying for her drink and receiving her change she had opened her beverage and taken a drink. Customer issued stern warning to any who would listen: don’t drive a cab. Customer’s professor had been bad alcoholic but knew paleologic record backwards and forwards. Was known for it. Attendant wrote note to boss: “problem with upstairs toilet. Isn’t filling.” Attendant wrote note to boss: “problem with toilet downstairs. When you lift the handle it knocks out a hose.” Customer asked was there a key to the bathroom. Customer said she was off for the day, would be spending it with her kids by pool. Attendant claimed that was not technically a couch in the back but a sofa. Customer asked, was air-conditioner struggling again. Customer asked for knife for brownie. Customer said stale brownies were cookies. Idea of congressional or senatorial candidate, from opposite parties, but with an aligned agenda, running as a pair, expressed. Customer was Korean, married Japanese woman. Customer was member of The Vineyard; soon to be married and move. “Attendant, with a waxing effluent unguent of exertion, retired to betowel himself, and so to grow dry and not grungy.” Attendant said word ‘muffin’ had entered English language as ‘moofin’ and ‘hurricane’ as ‘furricane.’ Also, that the plural of shoe had been shoon. The greatest evil that came from extreme pleasures and pains, said Socrates in The Phaedo, was that they persuade you that the body and the bodily was more real than the soul and the soul’s concerns. Customer was happy: her first choice school, which had put her on a waiting list, had now accepted her. (She’d already paid a non-refundable 100 dollars to another institution, but that was now completely okay.)

Question was: if humanity could satisfy all its energy needs from wind power alone, would that change in a problematic way the energy content of the atmosphere? Would that have an pronounced effect on global air currents? Customer: didn’t think so. (Just fossil fuels were the problem.) Label of customer’s jeans seen in angle between seat back and seat cushion. Question was: “What do you say to those who criticize abstract expressionism, and the like, or modern art in general, as something any child could do?” “I would say they look on art as children, don’t they,” replied the customer. “They’re the children, I would say, if they can’t see what’s gone into it.” Vasculature: attendant read the word vasculature and knew at once, without looking it up, that it was an extremely important word to have available when he found himself looking at his hands. Attendant walking to work, beautiful morning, aspired to be a “poet of the morning.” Attendant, half-dead with boredom, tried, failed, tried, succeeded, to compel himself, to urge himself, to clean something, to do anything. Customer asked if attendant had seen the three secret service and police cars across the street at Starbucks –who was it? Attendant, “half-asleep with boredom”, lethargically pushed around broom. “The horns and the flute, my spray bottle and rag, their descending harmony upon a stain, a dissonance resolved,” he wrote. With a broad swipe intended to brush many crumbs off the counter, a single crumb fell into the attendant’s opened palm. Customer said a Ukrainian could look you in the eye and tell instantly whether or not you’re Ukrainian. Ukraine was larger than France, he added. Attendant said he had been looking up those old Greek terms for rhetorical figures that morning: anadiplosis, which was when the first word of a phrase or sentence repeated the last word of the preceding phrase or sentence. Awesome that these things had been so well studied and categorized (and like a couple thousand years ago.)

December 31, 2019

(Trying to “keep it positive” because “being negative”, while very much needed, is an advanced skill, thought attendant. Should recognize that being negative and critical is a needed attribute yet outside my ken.)

24 hrs. The previous day the attendant had told himself it was not his affair to pick up that paper napkin. Now the napkin was rained on and dried out, and he stooped to pick it up. Customer in AA said she had friend, not in AA, who was uncomfortable with meeting people from the program. Customer couldn’t recall how she’d started roller blading, probably a boyfriend. (She still had them.) Customer had had to travel in May, when her garden needed the most attention, and it “had been catch-up ever since.” Customer said every time I come in here I expect to see the old guy with the computer — This was his chair, right? Picking up coins of different sizes with just one hand: as one picks the one coin up, two fall from the palm where you held them; then one picks up those three and another falls, then two more fall. It’s easy to pick them up but hard to hold on when you pick coins up with one hand.

A nice thing

A customer had ordered a medium tea, and was looking to buy something else so she could pay by credit card (there is a three dollar minimum and a tea costs under two dollars), but I told her to nevermind it and just to pay for it the next time she came in, for which she thanked me. Keeping strict accounts, of course, I wrote this down on one of the paper scraps kept next to the register —

asian gal
MED tea

and put it in my wallet…. Flashforward, twenty minutes before closing, this must have been in the summer or spring, I’m picking up the scattered sheets of a newspaper in front of the store, which have apparently been blown over from the bus stop. (Step a few feet, then stoop and pick up a sheet; step a few feet in the same direction, then stoop again to pick up the next sheet; about four or five times, which is not painful, though somewhat unpleasant at this point in the day.) And when I stand up from stooping the last time, I see now directly in front of me that same young Asian face from before, very big smile, and in the one hand she holds the cup of tea I’d served her three hours previous, maybe half drunk; and in the other she holds the last of the remaining newspaper sheets that I’d been picking up, which she had picked up herself and now hands to me.

less nice “Song of Experience”

About a year later, I stopped seeing her for good. Screwed up her order was I think what it was. (She was pregnant and scrupulous about ordering a decaf small latte. However, when one time she didn’t say decaf, I didn’t presume I knew that’s what she wanted, as perhaps I should have, and gave her regular. That was anyway something that happened the last time that I saw her in the store.) The last time I saw her in the street, she wouldn’t look at me.

December 30, 2019

Here on May 22, 2014
* * *

The afternoon of thursday, may 22, 2014: Tim was Here. Dave was Here. Tracey was here. The man who sits at the very back was here. Liz was here. Stefan was here. Griffin was here. Aimee — well perhaps it was the previous day– was here. Jose was here. The man raised in Miami was here. A young couple was here (The young couple they had come in with ate instead across the street.) Tommy was here. A woman who asked if she could use the bathroom was here. A man who ordered a large coffee and said thank you when he left was here. The Turkish lady was here. (And the other woman who I think is Turkish who broke her foot years ago? was here). Scott (who bought Dave breakfast) was here. Agu was here. A man I hadn't seen in a while (small coffee) was here. John was here. The woman who wears a Nirvana t-shirt was here. Steve and Sara were here —here on may the 22, 2014.


Customer asked attendant where he lived (three miles that way) customer asked attendant where he was from originally (this general area) customer asked attendant how old he was (’73) you look much older said the customer (no response) well what the hell happened to you, man, said the customer, on hearing attendant’s age (no response). Attendant, encountering customer on way home, wouldn’t stop (was “too tired”); attendant, encountering customers on way in, wouldn’t stop (“was late”). Customer ordered grilled cheese sandwich, an everything bagel with cream cheese and tomato, a plain bagel with cream cheese and tomato, a large coffee, a small mocha caramel latte with whipped cream, and a peanut butter cookie. Customer had no problem with the fact that the two Dakotas, with a combined population of some three million, commanded four senate votes, while the state of California, with some 50 million citizens, commanded just two — it was in the Constitution. Customer said no he had not found another yoga place after the local one closed down: needed to look into that actually. Customer said he had just apologized for having said six months ago he was doing fine when he really wasn’t “now that’s some country shit.”

Erica & Colin

Jaywalking, realize a car is coming, stepping foot performs quick pivot, digs in asphalt. Customer said they were exceedingly happy with the early education center at the nearby episcopal church. Attendant had read previous night on a twitter feed that the reason the moon’s craters were all circles and not more like skid marks was that an explosion created by the asteroid created the crater, not the asteroid itself, he said. Customer said she’d come in because she needed to see a friendly face. Customer said the human foot was truly a marvel for the kinds of impacts it bears. Attendant saw “divine hand” in failing repeatedly to slip his foot into his pants — having actually intended to put on a different pair today. Customer said Gym Muscles were Fake Muscles: “you see marines in muscles, man? They don’t got no muscles. What they got is tone.” Customer had not heard yet of Alaska’s massive puffin die-off. Customer did not know largest island East of New Zealand was Vancouver Island. What would customer be doing for her birthday? “Chillin.” Customer clasped hands together, demonstrating how “the calf and hamstring met in the knee.”

December 30, 2019

Customer expressed concern to attendant — perhaps the young woman, collapsed over her study materials, had suffered a diabetic shock. No, the attendant said, she’s asleep. Customers were from Albania, Serbia, Slovenia & Bulgaria. Customers were from Morocco, Tunisia, Eritrea, Ethiopia. Customers were part of political campaign: having meeting. Total was 8.80, which they paid for with a five and four singles. Total was 4.97, paid for with a single 5. Customer ordered medium decaf americano and wheat bagel with plain cream cheese, paid cash. Total 2.64 for a single large coffee was paid for with three dollars cash, a dollar tip left. (Attendant’s tips at the not too busy place amounted usually to an extra dollar or dollar and a half an hour.) Among reasons the customer adduced for why moving 63 miles from his workplace made economic sense for him was that, on a motorcycle, he got 43 miles to the gallon. Customer who felt certain he knew the answer to why Trump had beaten Clinton in the general election had no answer to the question of why Trump had won the Republican primary. Customer, on day, Bush won re-election, wore Nixon mask into shop. Customer was civil-war re-enactor, whose father had been a truck driver. Attendant reflected he saw few customers trying to be Fitzgeralds or Hemingways in this coffee shop: saw cabbies and waitresses trying, some of them, to be programmers and engineers and others of them trying to be physical therapists and nurses. And a lot of them wonderfully succeeding –were focused and worked hard and had worked hard while studying hard and had gotten their good computer job, making 80k a year to start. If the “medical industrial complex” were “all about money” retorted the attendant, then were would be cures for cancer for the wealthiest patients. (Attendant had settled in to being the defender and advocate of the status quo here, against birthers and anti-vaccers and 9-11 truthers and both-siders and such. Attendant didn’t believe in “energy.” Attendant didn’t believe “both sides were to blame.” Attendant thought that when the Labor department said unemployment was 4.8 or 3.8 percent then it was probably something very close to that, no matter whether President Bush or President Obama was in office) –Whereas the reason poor people have worse outcomes than rich people is not that a lack of access to “alternative” cures, but to conventional medicines and treatment. “If I were ever President, several incarnations or lifetimes from now,” customer said, “I would make medicine not-for-profit.” Another customer said, “Hitler was actually more left wing than right wing.” Then what was Stalin, said the attendant, “also left wing?”

(No: Stalin was left wing and Hitler was right wing, we all know that, though their ideolgoical difference are obscured by the totalitarianism they shared. Hitler opposed unions and wealth redistribution, which makes him not exactly left wing.) Customer said “Time to relax.” Customer said “the best part of my day.” Customer advised to be sure to check out Dividend Aristocrats. Customer, a volunteer firefighter, told amusing story of discovering a fire in his own apartment complex. Customer was absolutely certain that the 8 letter answer for clue “arctic attribute” was “Ice Shelf” but it turned out to be “ice sheet”, as one knew because it made the answer “sect” fit for clue “quakers etc.”, the ‘c’ of ‘sect’ beneath the ‘ice sheet’s’ second ‘e’ fitting perfectly too with answer ‘potlatch.’ Customer wondered aloud if Saturn’s Rings could be turned into a vinyl LP record. Customer didn’t know much more about HVAC, he said, than that you put in the window and turned it on. (There had been a time, though, when he’d known a little more about condensers.) Idea expressed by customer that the longer the credit card remains in the credit card machine the more it is drained of its credit. (Idea that the larger the credit card is, the more credit it contains.) Customer said that he was looking at a course which would allow you to end your life at the moment of your choosing, or even live forever you if you wanted. (Problem was, if took 21 months.) Customer was journalist working on article about local free clinic. Dried bug carcasses in the ridge of a crumb pile– three. Clap of the plastic toilet seat heard througout the whole quiet full store. Customer ordered two plain bagels toasted with plain cream cheese, one plain bagel untoasted with plain cream cheese and a medium lemonade. Customer ordered small coffee and two everything bagels with plain cream cheese. Knob of customer’s very white pale flesh protruded between his deep blue jeans and dark blue jacket. Customer talking to himself: “I think it was, I hoped it was, and if we could just…” Customer seen smiling to herself, a fantasy, a dream.

December 27, 2019

Customer said Quantitative Easing was a give away to big banks, free money, but attendant defended the policy: it also brought down mortgage and lending rates which was good for regular people looking to buy a car or home, good in turn for the economy. Attendant compared two crumpled napkins he picked up from out front to “the crumpled animals in myself.” “God has made birds, Mankind has made paper napkins,” was another of the attendant’s sudden formulations. Question about nature of opposites arose: was hypertrophy the opposite of atrophy, or was normalcy, as it were, the opposite of both. Was that the smoke of someone’s cigarette out the window? (No: it was the steam from someone’s coffee cup.) Was that someone smoking outside the window, or was it the steam from someone’s coffee cup? (No, it was the reflection in a window across the street of a white delivery truck passing.) Customer watched a wide string of dust, suspended from the curving ceiling panel, twist in the draft from the vent. Customer, who hadn’t been seen in the store in some time, ordered the roast beef sandwich, and was third consecutive customer to order that sandwich, the only three sandwiches ordered that hour.

Customer had just returned from Namibia but couldn’t recall the name of its capital. Customer had lived in Rwanda’s capital for three months, yet couldn’t recall its name at the moment. Attendant’s colleague didn’t know in which decade the massacres in Rwanda had occurred. Attendant’s colleague expressed view: it was wrong for private individuals in one country to own property in another country (a customer having said he had an interest in Tanzania.) Attendant challenged his colleague with the question: was it acceptable, then, for a country to accept foreign workers, in her view? Attendant felt oppressed by the momentary fancy that all the physical universe seemed a grim vector pointing back at himself — that he was a/the drain. The mother’s day sermon had actually been rather tough, the customer reported, which was why he liked this minister: mothers weren’t pure, mothers weren’t virginal, mothers had pasts, mothers were still mothers, mothers were still women. Customer ordered double americano with room to go. Customer ordered small blended coffee drink with whipped cream, less ice. Customer said that her name was the same as one of the sandwiches and ordered that sandwich. (Name spelled differently, credit card showed.) Customer said everyone’s name in his family started with letter ‘j’. There certainly seemed to be a lot of trash today without there having been a corresponding increase in customers –was it just how the evening light was striking it?

Customer, with mustache, ordered small coffee. (Mustache of ancient Greek origin, related to mastax, “mouth, jaws”). Attendant gazed at author’s photo on back of overturned book while customer dug for coins: handsome man there on the back. Customer, “as if disciplining a child”, glared at empty napkin dispenser. Attendant said you could remember the meaning of the word “glabrous” by thinking of it as the opposite of word “hirsute”. Customer was told internet password; customer was told bathroom had key; customer told napkins could be found to the right of the register; customer was told that the trash can was behind them, under the mirror, and that the dishes could be left anywhere. Customer told the plates could be set here, in his outreaching hands. Customer, who said the United States was easily the most corrupt nation on Earth, was asked how he defined corruption. Customer said he’d been learning interesting things about the effect of the shape of the drum rim upon the sound of the drum. Customer, Thai food deliverer, enjoyed Heavy Metal music most. Customer twisted bottle’s top, making popping noise as it detached. Attendant said: “You said, and I agree with you, that every person is valuable. My question to you is, on what logical foundation does that belief rest.” Customer replied: “God.”

December 27, 2019

Customer has feet planted squarely before milk bar, just better than shoulder width, elbows out, at almost right angles and occupying about the same plane as the feet; customer rips with one gesture tops of two packets of sweetener, shakes contents into cup; customer looks self in mirror reaching rightward for a stirrer.

Attendant filled briefly with admiration for the person of the scientist: she looked basically the same as him yet the “stuff” in her (though being more or less the same “stuff” as was in him) was somehow calibrated or aligned such that she was capable of activities that were extremely exact, of understanding concepts extraordinarily abstruse, of explaining simply complicated things (rather than making simple things complicated, which was more in the attendant’s line) of achieving true engineering marvels. But she and him looked pretty similar, and could civilly talk, he could even amuse or interest her a little, and you wouldn’t know who was the scientist maybe until you stuck them in a classroom or a lab together. Customer introduced infant daughter, R—. Customer introduced infant daughter, E—. Customer introduced infant daughter, S—. Middle-aged Customer made remarks to another customer’s fifteen year old daughter, that didn’t sound like he’d intended them to sound, or come off as he intended for them to come off; apologized. Customer carried infant son on chest, the son about a tenth of his mass. (Inviting the question of how many infant sons the father’s volume would contain.) Customer ordered small medium roast. Customer ordered the new ‘brioche.’ (Attendant laughed in his heart to think of this item.). Customer introduced self as Alby, customer introduced self as Andy, customer saw “days bleeding into days”, ordered medium iced cappuccino. My band’s most popular number, customer said, pondering… is Wooly Booly. Confessed his surprise that there wasn’t more copyright infringement in popular music: “there (were) only so many notes.”

Customer ordered medium skim latte. Customer ordered hot chicken sandwich and medium iced vanilla latte with honey for here. Customer ordered medium blended mocha ice cream drink with no whipped cream. Linda Barducci spoke through the speakers, Nicole la Croix, Gwen Eifel, Lisa Dejardins. Thick straps of customer’s backpack evoked the vertical columns of the doorframe she just this moment strode through. Customer marveled that attendant could remember how to make all the stuff on the menu. Customer wished Alain Bourdaine were here: said Alain Bourdain would like a place like this. Customer, smelling strongly of cigarettes, seemed inordinately pleased to be asked how he was. Overweight bearded pedestrians in Redskin jackets ambled illegally across the street. Flaxen hair of Albanian customer seen in reflection of bus window (standing outside of shop, to the side, when the bus came to a stop.) Customer expressed frustration that a younger less experienced person was promoted over her. Customer was upset, mad, that a worker he’d trained was going to be his boss. Customer had (gained/lost) (joy/health/wealth/weight) since I’d last seen (him/her/them). Customer said there was a squirrel in his apartment. Customer had not heard of the hundreds reported dead in Africa. Customer refused to admit that aging was a necessary part of life. Why would it be so sad? Customer observed that “people have an extremely long memory once something gets stuck in their craw.” Attendant, who at that time had something in his own craw he couldn’t get unstuck, appreciated that remark. Attendant wondered if that word craw had any other contemporary application, aside from denoting sore feelings, and thought the expression provided a fine figure of lasting sore feelings, as something one couldn’t get down, as something one couldn’t quite swallow. Customer said he had never before seen the connection between “the fed” (meaning, those who had eaten) and “The Fed” (meaning the Federal Reserve) — not that there was any connection, the customer hastened to add.

December 26, 2019

Jose. Ashley.

Customer said that, as had been written recently in the Washington Post, the proper or technical name for a squirrel’s nest was a ‘drey.’ Customer didn’t mean to be particular but Iran was pronounced more like eye-ron than like eye-ran. Customer wore bow tie, unadorned gold wedding band, had nice signature on credit card slip. (Customer drew line, circle, or just scribbled in the place for their signature.) Young customer looked watchfully at attendant through plastic and glass of the ice cream case. Customer, kind of aggressive, asked how much for a cup, just a cup? Customer said that, where he was from, you didn’t need to wear a suit at a funeral — only so it was black. Attendant told colleague that the customer wasn’t stupid but overthinking. Coworker said that she would be going to see Barbershop 3. Customer asked if the Danes still use the Kroner? Customer asked attendant what did it mean to be ‘fussy about things’? (It later appeared she had meant to ask, what does it mean to be ‘fuzzy about things’?) Customer was found to be able spell both embarrassment and privilege correctly, which are hard words to spell correctly. It was said that Obama’s worst mistake was saying no one would lose their health insurance under the AHCA; that H. Clinton’s was in disavowing the TPP; that Bush’s was the War in Iraq, etc. Customer going to ballpark, where there was a beer festival. (Tendency in contemporary commercial architecture to make things look like amusement parks. remarked upon: new ballpark was like that and new street lamps were like that and casinos were like that.)

Customer made small table cloth out of a paper napkin, spreading it smoothly and evenly over table, said she’d be going to Norway with husband. (Attendant made to recall that the original meaning of the word napkin was “small tablecloth” and that it was cognate, he believed, with the words “apron” and “map.”) (He “believed”: because attendant would get mixed up as to exact meaning of “cognate.”) Two customers working intensely around one computer: sitting, rising, standing, pacing, picking up phone, setting down phone, putting hand through hair while holding phone, putting hand through hair and holding phone then pointing at a location on the screen. Customer leaving Friday for Paris and Rouen. Customer entered shop with nothing on his face (no intention, no recognition, no inanition, no muscular expression of anything) then sat and started talking sports, an endless stream. (“You see Alabama?” then the endless stream.)

* * *
Abdoul & Ali

Abdoul came in looking for Ali, but the previous day it was Ali who came in looking for Abdoul. Abdoul: I need someplace to eat. (I rattle off a couple nearby places) I was there last night. Why not the Ethiopian place? — No, I already have the best Ethiopian in town —in my home. Alright, how bout the Turkish place, what is it, [redacted]. –Do they have vegetarian? I need vegetarian tonight. — A delicious vegetable platter, yes. — Thank you. I will try that.(Exit Abdoul)


December 26, 2019

Customer on stool spread paper napkin across lap. Motorist, having left driver’s side door open, checked distance between car and curb — was satisfied. Old women in hoods and long coats dragged behind them hand carts with garbage bags, family laundry. Pregnant woman to her workplace: “quick walk, a quick shower, then I’ll be coming in.” Mongolian youth, wearing puffy jacket, suddenly appearing out of the park bushes. Three white striped orange construction barrels in front of three larger construction-type objects, all girdled in tracked dirt: a light blue colored portable toilet; a huge concrete section of pipe; the unoccupied cab of a digger. He learnt from Eduardo the pronunciation of escoba (esCOba) and from him also that he had “crumbs” wrong — (crumbs was migajas). Yo estoy barriendo las migajas con la escoba. Was asked if there was a key to the bathroom. Was asked if the key to the bathroom “might be had.” Was asked if the bathroom might be “used.” Was asked if there was a key to the bathroom and, if there was, might it be used. (Unas Llaves Spanish / ant kolf, Amheric). Pedestrian who did not make a purchase got a greeting but not a goodbye. Question: could the Klamm of The Castle have come from the Paty du Clam of the Dreyfus Affair?

Q: in what sense is this an autobiography? A: in that these are the things of which one’s days are filled. Customer thanked attendant for indicating location of key. Customer thanked attendant for reminding her key was needed. Customer thanked attendant for pointing out existence, and location in existence, of the key to the bathroom. Customer ordered small latte with soy and a cookie. Customer joked he would still come to the store after they had torn down the building, light a candle. Attendant had notion that this very thing, this list, here could serve as a store’s memorial, a vietnam-style memorial: wall of text you stood in front of. Customer, noticing his utterance of controversial political comments coincided with another customer’s abrupt packing up of her personal items to leave, fell silent. Customer, noticing his utterance of controversial political comments coincided with another customer’s abrupt packing up of her personal items to leave, started making controversial political comments of the exactly opposite kind, in support of opposite party. Attendant told story for the hundredth time: the street car was coming and they were going to redevelop this side of this street like they had the one opposite; then a Republican running as an independent won an election for the first time in over decade running on an anti-streetcar platform, which put an end to the street car and apparently put plans to redevelop this spot also on hold. That was a couple years ago. He guessed, at least, that was the story. Now there was Amazon, other challenges, etc. No, that would just be the end.

December 26, 2019

Customer, in having indicated the presence of a bug, had not meant to suggest that the bug be killed: had hoped the bug would be simply removed. (The bug was removed with a sheet of paper and paper cup.) Customer stroked his wide beard as he thought (same customer). Customer appeared young and refreshed having returned from a trip to Las Vegas. Attendant expressed idea that “you were where you came from.” Customer asked for double order of lox having seen amount for a single order; had bright orange low-heeled shoes. Customer sat with infant grandchild and dog. Customer ordered large decaf americano and large decaf mocha with whipped cream and whole milk. Customer said she had been here for six months but would soon be returning to Vegas. Customer said chemicals are leached from plastic containers into what we drink. Customer said if you listened closely you could hear your brain hum (neurons.) Customer fanned nape of neck with her long brown hair, drying the sweat. Customer, who looked about to sneeze, was in fact about to laugh. Customer tapped counter with his swollen wallet’s edge, holds breath. Attendant ran into customer at polling station: he’d have to open at the theater and close at the Mexican place but then hopefully would have two consecutive days off, he said.

Customer swung feet beneath stool, then stopped and crossed them as she thought what next to write. (As she started writing again, I expected her feet to uncross and start swinging, but they remained fixed in the newly crossed position.) Customer was asked if he knew the French word for crumb. Customer (Senior) regarding his new “medical shoe”: do you have any idea of what this shoe cost he said… of course I have medical insurance… but could you just imagine?… Customer eager to be engaged socially; customer eager to be disengaged socially; the customer who would prefer not to be engaged. The customer who’s created such a wall around himself by nature, by design, that engagement is not possible. Customer who “likes fucking with people,” he says. Customer reported having purchased new shoes at Marshall’s. Customer asserts, as a joke, that Zachary Taylor died on July 9th having been killed by a tipped over umbrella.(It had been asked: what U.S. President had died in office on July 9th?) Customer asked for additional bread. Customer laid croutons from her salad in an elegant pile on the napkin beside it. Customer, holding plastic cup, rolled the ice around the inside then shook it. Got remaining fluid to where straw could reach. Attendant felt what an attendant will feel when a mass of people come in just before closing yet “let it pass over me” said he unto his soul, [and yet this “able and admirable aide-de-camp of customers, this courageous custodian of consumers’ cares” strongly subordinated all such unseemly sensations of self, — “let it pass over me” said he to his soul.
(….this admirable aide-de-camp de customers, did indeed ably and/or awesomely adjust his interior attitude’s agonized aspect)]

December 25, 2019

Customer told stories of his experience as cab driver (inappropriate requests from the ladies of local wealthy neighborhood were laughed about). Customer spoke of partner’s interest in grasses. Customer spoke of discount wines and the lengths he would go to procure discount wines. Customer spoke of absence of rain, of presence of drought. Customer laughed raucously with girlfriends, who laughed raucously in reply.(Attendant made to recall his rejected college essay involving The Bacchae of Euripedes, “such was the raucous laughter of these female customers.”) Couple that had been talking very quietly began talking very loudly as the store’s ambient noise increased. Customer said that, when his tomato sauce grew too acidic, he would sometimes add cream or yogurt to it; he would first mix the yogurt in a bowl with a small amount of sauce, introduce it gradually to the heat, to prevent curdling; what was curdling? when it curdled there were these small little balls of it […]. Customer not yet finished with Blood Meridian (“this is a hard read for me”). Holding door open with his back, the attendant hefts the stack of chairs in, and the folded metal tables..

Customer gathered his wide beard in a hand as he considered an issue. Customer took off his shoes and in his bare feet and shorts sat “Indian Style” on the couch, computer in lap. Customer opened Word document. Customer had location in Axum as his “wallpaper” and the “astronomy picture of the day” as his home page. Passerby inquired as to location of nearest mailbox. Customer asked if he might bring his guitar on a Friday evening to play a set (no.) Neckline of customer’s attire; Shapely calf of customer by chair leg with wheel. Paunch of customer tucked under front bar. Beautiful ring of customer. (Having seen many ringed and ringless hands, attendant has come to feel that, as symbols, they have retained their clear meaning.)

Customer stepped up to register, but, becoming distracted by a text, stepped away. Customer, in dress with floral print, requested cafe au lait. Customer pronounced au lait oh lot and, another, breve as brev, yet were perfectly well understood. Customer got up from chair, walked to the counter with heels ringing out, plucked with two fingers a paper napkin from the dispenser. [The pluck of the napkin, the two fingers that plucked, seemed somehow related to the resonance of the heels, like running to a running leap.] Customer requested tray for drinks then decided he didn’t need one. Customer asked if she might like a tray for her drinks said that would be wonderful thank you… A WHAT? said a third customer, asked if he’d like a tray, a WHAT?, his tone offended or perhaps just surprised.

December 25, 2019

Outside: two tall women with excellent posture holding warm beverages and about to part company: talking, nodding, expressively widening eyes.

What happened to the bus stop, one asked — do you happen to know anything about the bus stop shell, which is gone, another said. Do you know if buses still come here, another said. Space between each rose-colored dinner plate in the dish rack where another might go. A large white salad plate fit between two erect rose ones in the dish rack. Sound of the pop of a plastic lid as it’s secured on a small, large, or medium paper cup. Customer from Jennings, LA. Customer returning from friends’ bachelor party in Baltimore (Navy guy). Customer going to wine tasting tomorrow. Customer to meet sister for “random barbecue.” Customer said she didn’t know why the hull classification of an aircraft carrier involved the letters CV, but that she should know, having served on one. Two customers, unbeknownst to each other, were to attend the same conference in San Antonio this weekend. Customer’s dog was “good with people but not so good with other dogs yet.” Customer liked dogs, loved dogs, but dogs didn’t belong in restaurants — “these rich people!” Outside, having turned on overhead light of cab, cabdriver took down clipboard from dash. Fashionable young Saudi customer having grilled mozzarella sandwich with tomato. Egyptian customer asserting he wanted cheese on his sandwich — not mozzarella, cheese. Young man, seeing there were no bagels, ordering the grilled cheese and a bottled green iced tea. [Young man, observing bereftness of bagels, baled on balking, and ordered grilled cheese]…

There ended a year in which bad things seemed relentlessly happening to customers (indeed a plague of such years); there began a year in which people started becoming angry (rationally, irrationally) with the attendant, whereas usually years were characterized by him getting too much credit.My coat of arms: oven mitts hanging from kitchen cabinet door handles, one is a square or diamond shape, with a silly pattern on it, a cabin with smoke from the chimney, the other is an over-sized hand shape, made of a synthetic material, colored a brilliant red.

December 25, 2019

Customer looking down at laptop, chin making contact with breast bone. Customer holding up black coat, said he thought someone had left it. Customer discreetly extracting and ingesting his blood pressure pill. Customer asking if key to the restroom had been locked in the restroom, then being told that, no, it was occupied. Customer moving from her position near the couch to the table nearest the door within moments of the latter becoming unoccupied. Customer asking if anyone was seated at the table, where there was a cup and dish. Customer asking that her medium hot chocolate be made with skim milk and without whipped cream. Customer saying he’d have decaf this time; another that the U.S. Constitution had been ratified by the States in 1787; another confirming that Patrick Henry had indeed been born in Virginia. Customer saying what was once the middle class is now the lower class. 30, 50 thousand dollars, that aint no middle class, said the customer. Customer examined his discharge papers from hospital. Customer asked for just a little whipped cream on her hot chocolate. “Just a dollop: now where do we get that word ‘dollop’?” (Shampoo comes apparently from a Hindi word meaning massage. Dollop is of less certain origin, originally indicating a clump of grass.) Customer said we were out of towels in the bathroom. High heels of customer as, in the almost total quiet of the store, occupied to capacity, she traversed the store’s whole length.

December 25, 2019

Customer ordered medium iced latte. Customer, with friend, ordered two iced coffees and a small iced americano. Customer was in France and so was not seen, was not here. Customer said the day had reminded him of the weather in Monterrey: with its misty cool mornings and temperate sunny afternoons. Attendant at home had strong auditory memory of bagel popping out of toaster. Customer ordered ginger tea and cinnamon raisin bagel, toasted, with nothing on it.Customer ordered sesame bagel with butter and a refill. Customer ordered double espresso, triple americano. Customer ordered one medium latte with whole milk and one large vanilla latte with whole milk and honey. Customer returned needing more honey. Customer knew precise number of gargoyles and grotesques at local religious institution and wished to be buried there.

Customer’s shoe made “stepping sound” as she unwittingly entered a sun’s ray. (As she exited the ray, it fell on an elderly customer’s back.) Customer removed top of half-n-half container, peering in. Customer asserted, as he’d previously asserted, that both nazis and communists were leftists. Customer knew how many centimeters there were in an inch to the second decimal place: 2.54. Twice a day, the customer said, he stopped by his newly purchased home to paint. Suddenly realizing he was being spoken to, the customer quickly pumped at a button on his computer so as to bring down the volume on his headphones. Customer said that she guessed an inch was around two and a half centimeters: “even these days” she said, she was “forever having to convert in the lab.” Customer asked attendant if he wrote poetry. Customer ordered triple small americano. Customer ordered large iced mocha with skim. Customer ordered one small and one medium iced chai and one small whole hot cappuccino. Attendant said: it would be nice to know the names of trees. Customer commiserated: yeah, man, it would be nice.

Customer said she had just returned from visiting her daughter in college. Customer encountered attendant in store of which he himself was a customer — “heh you! you with the beer!” Attendant, staring out the large plate glass window, would think of it as a fish bowl in reverse, then think of it as one not in reverse. (Outside: Large swathes of street and concrete, festooned with street lamps, parking signs, trees with caged root systems…) Customer heard speaking French with Irish accent. Customers speaking with real estate agent and mortgage broker (lgbtq couple). Customer saying to customer: “did you say something to me?” Customer replying to customer: “if I said something to you you would know it.” Customer saying to customer: “uh, okay.” Customer saying (beneath his breath) to customer: “stupid.”

Kennedy’s “four principles” in Obergefell

March 13, 2019

–A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy…. [12,13]

—A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals…. [13, 14]

—A third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education…. [14, 15, 16]

Fourth and finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order. [16,17]


February 15, 2018

Paper Pills, pp. 11. “After the tall dark girl came to know Doctor Reefy it seemed to her that she never wanted to leave him again. She went into his office one morning and without her saying anything he seemed to know what had happened to her.

In the office of the doctor there was a woman, the wife of the man who kept the bookstore in Winesburg. Like all old-fashioned country practitioners, Doctor Reefy pulled teeth, and the woman who waited held a handkerchief to her teeth and groaned. Her husband was with her and when the tooth was taken out they both screamed and blood ran down on the woman’s white dress. The tall dark girl did not pay any attention. When the woman and the man had gone the doctor smiled. ‘I will take you driving into the country with me,’ he said.”

DEPARTURE / George Willard

February 14, 2018

PP. 152 : “On the station platform everyone shook the young man’s hand“; “Gertrude Wilmot, a tall thin woman of fifty who worked in the Winesburg post office, came along the station platform. She had never before paid any attention to George. Now she stopped and put out her hand“;

PP. 153 :”Butch Wheeler the lamp lighter of Winesburg hurrying through the streets on a summer evening and holding a torch in his hand.”

Put out his/ her hand… “Put out her hand” occurs three times: Elizabeth Willard (140), Alice Lindman (66), and Gertrude Wilmot. “Put out his hand” occurs six times: Seth Richmond put out his hand to Helen White (81), Elizabeth Willard’s father put out his hand to Elizabeth Willard on his death bed (139), Elizabeth Willard thought, on her death bed, that Death would put his hand out to her (140), Dr. Reefy put out his hand to George Willard (then withdrew it) (141), George Willard put out his hand “again and again” to lift the sheet over his mother’s dead body (142).

In her/ his hand… These phrases occur 6 and 19 times respectively. Some of the items held in hands: whip, scissors, milk bottle, knife, sword, torch. The most concentrated used of this formula is in “Queer” (115) where we’re told four times Elmer Cowley has a shoe in his hand/s.

A torch in his hand

February 14, 2018

Departure, pp.153 “After George counted his money he looked out of the window and was surprised to see that the train was still in Winesburg.

The young man, going out of his town to meet the adventure of life, began to think but he did not think of anything very big or dramatic. Things like his mother’s death, his departure from Winesburg, the uncertainty of his future life in the city, the serious and larger aspects of his life did not come into his mind.

He thought of little things—Turk Smollet wheeling boards through the main street of his town in the morning, a tall woman, beautifully gowned, who had once stayed overnight at his father’s hotel, Butch Wheeler the lamp lighter of Winesburg hurrying through the streets on a summer evening and holding a torch in his hand, Helen White standing by a window in the Winesburg post office and putting a stamp on an envelope.

The young man’s mind was carried away by his growing passion for dreams. One looking at him would not have thought him particularly sharp. With the recollection of little things occupying his mind he closed his eyes and leaned back in the car seat. He stayed that way for a long time and when he aroused himself and again looked out of the car window the town of Winesburg had disappeared and his life there had become but a background on which to paint the dreams of his manhood.”


Enoch Robinson as Failed Artist… These “little things” Willard thinks of recalls the glimpses we’re given of the imagined people of Enoch Robinson (104); as well as the “gotesques” (2):

You see the interest in all this lies in the figures that went before the eyes of the writer. They were all grotesques. All of the men and women the writer had ever known had become grotesques.

The grotesques were not all horrible. Some were amusing, some almost beautiful, and one, a woman all drawn out of shape, hurt the old man by her grotesqueness. When she passed he made a noise like a small dog whimpering. Had you come into the room you might have supposed the old man had unpleasant dreams or perhaps indigestion.

Everyone shook the young man’s hand

February 14, 2018

Departure, pp.152 “On the station platform everyone shook the young man’s hand. More than a dozen people waited about. Then they talked of their own affairs. Even Will Henderson, who was lazy and often slept until nine, had got out of bed. George was embarrassed. Gertrude Wilmot, a tall thin woman of fifty who worked in the Winesburg post office, came along the station platform. She had never before paid any attention to George. Now she stopped and put out her hand. In two words she voiced what everyone felt. ‘Good luck,’ she said sharply and then turning went on her way.”


A dozen people waited about… it’s a dozen men who come to string up Wing Biddlebaum and Enoch Robinson’s “characters” number two dozen (about the number of main characters in Winesburg). Elizabeth Willard had about a half-dozen lovers before Tom Willard and Ray Pearson had half a dozen thin-legged children. “Dozen” occurs thirteen times.


February 14, 2018

PP. 145: “With all his heart he wants to come close to some other human, touch someone with his hands, be touched by the hand of another”;

PP. 146: “The confused boy put his hand on the girl’s arm. His voice trembled”;

PP. 147: “He held a whip in his hand and kept tapping the ground”;

PP. 148:”Come on, he said and took hold of her hand. With hanging heads they walked away along the street under the trees”;

PP. 149:”The presence of Helen renewed and refreshed him. It was as though her woman’s hand was assisting him to make some minute readjustment of the machinery of his life”; “In the darkness he took hold of her hand and when she crept close put a hand on her shoulder”.

PP. 150: “When they had come to the crest of Waterworks Hill they stopped by a tree and George again put his hands on the girl’s shoulders”.

Just on the evidence of mentions of hands, it’s plain that the difference between the Willard/ White relationship and the Richmond/ White relationship is that the male is the initiator of contact in the former: Helen does not reach out for George as she had reached out for Seth (80). In the Swift/ Willard relationship (again just on the evidence of mentions of hands) Swift seems the main initiator, yet there is more parity.

Hands on shoulders

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.150 “George and Helen arose and walked away into the darkness. They went along a path past a field of corn that had not yet been cut. The wind whispered among the dry corn blades. For a moment during the walk back into town the spell that held them was broken. When they had come to the crest of Waterworks Hill they stopped by a tree and George again put his hands on the girl’s shoulders. She embraced him eagerly and then again they drew quickly back from that impulse. They stopped kissing and stood a little apart. Mutual respect grew big in them. They were both embarrassed and to relieve their embarrassment dropped into the animalism of youth. They laughed and began to pull and haul at each other. In some way chastened and purified by the mood they had been in, they became, not man and woman, not boy and girl, but excited little animals.”


“Little animals“… “In youth there are always two forces fighting in people. The warm unthinking little animal struggles against the thing that reflects and remembers, and the older, the more sophisticated thing had possession of George Willard.” (pp.148) The phrase also occurs in God (ii) and (iv), most especially with reference to the sacrificial lamb:

There was something in the helplessness of the little animal held so tightly in his arms that gave him courage. He could feel the rapid beating of the beast’s heart and that made his own heart beat less rapidly.

woman’s hand, took hold of her hand, hand on her shoulder

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.149 “In the darkness under the roof of the grand-stand, George Willard sat beside Helen White and felt very keenly his own insignificance in the scheme of existence. Now that he had come out of town where the presence of the people stirring about, busy with a multitude of affairs, had been so irritating, the irritation was all gone. The presence of Helen renewed and refreshed him. It was as though her woman’s hand was assisting him to make some minute readjustment of the machinery of his life. He began to think of the people in the town where he had always lived with something like reverence. He had reverence for Helen. He wanted to love and to be loved by her, but he did not want at the moment to be confused by her womanhood. In the darkness he took hold of her hand and when she crept close put a hand on her shoulder. A wind began to blow and he shivered. With all his strength he tried to hold and to understand the mood that had come upon him. In that high place in the darkness the two oddly sensitive human atoms held each other tightly and waited. In the mind of each was the same thought. ‘I have come to this lonely place and here is this other,’ was the substance of the thing felt.”

He took hold of her hand

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.148 “Helen arose and went into the house. At the door leading to a garden at the back she stopped and stood listening. Her mother began to talk. ‘There is no one here fit to associate with a girl of Helen’s breeding,’ she said.

Helen ran down a flight of stairs at the back of the house and into the garden. In the darkness she stopped and stood trembling. It seemed to her that the world was full of meaningless people saying words. Afire with eagerness she ran through a garden gate and, turning a corner by the banker’s barn, went into a little side street. ‘George! Where are you, George?’ she cried, filled with nervous excitement. She stopped running, and leaned against a tree to laugh hysterically. Along the dark little street came George Willard, still saying words. ‘I’m going to walk right into her house. I’ll go right in and sit down,’ he declared as he came up to her. He stopped and stared stupidly. ‘Come on,’ he said and took hold of her hand. With hanging heads they walked away along the street under the trees. Dry leaves rustled under foot. Now that he had found her George wondered what he had better do and say.”


“Saying words”… besides occuring twice here, the phrase occurs in Loneliness: “His room began to be inhabited by the spirits of men and women among whom he went, in his turn saying words.”

Wesley Moyer’s with a whip in his hand

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.147 “George felt so utterly lonely and dejected that he wanted to weep but pride made him walk rapidly along, swinging his arms. He came to Wesley Moyer’s livery barn and stopped in the shadows to listen to a group of men who talked of a race Wesley’s stallion, Tony Tip, had won at the Fair during the afternoon. A crowd had gathered in front of the barn and before the crowd walked Wesley, prancing up and down boasting. He held a whip in his hand and kept tapping the ground. Little puffs of dust arose in the lamplight. ‘Hell, quit your talking,’ Wesley exclaimed. ‘I wasn’t afraid, I knew I had ’em beat all the time. I wasn’t afraid.’

Ordinarily George Willard would have been intensely interested in the boasting of Moyer, the horseman. Now it made him angry. He turned and hurried away along the street. ‘Old windbag,’ he sputtered. ‘Why does he want to be bragging? Why don’t he shut up?’


Boasting comes up several times in this chapter and reminds of an interesting technique of Anderson’s in which a character and the omnicient narrator will use the same word in description of the same thing.

This isn’t exactly done here (where the narrator says “boasting” and the character says “bragging”) but check out “puttering” in The Untold Lie, where the narrator first says Ray Pearson is “puttering” then his wife scolds Ray for always “puttering”. The effect is a smoothing of the difference between reality (as it occurs in the fiction) and fictional characters’ perception of that reality; it tells us that the characters are seeing reality.

Hand put on her arm

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.146 “The summer evening together that had left its mark on the memory of both the young man and woman had, when looked at quite sensibly, been rather stupidly spent. They had walked out of town along a country road. Then they had stopped by a fence near a field of young corn and George had taken off his coat and let it hang on his arm. ‘Well, I’ve stayed here in Winesburg—yes—I’ve not yet gone away but I’m growing up,’ he had said. ‘I’ve been reading books and I’ve been thinking. I’m going to try to amount to something in life.

‘Well,’ he explained, ‘that isn’t the point. Perhaps I’d better quit talking.’ The confused boy put his hand on the girl’s arm. His voice trembled. The two started to walk back along the road toward town. In his desperation George boasted, ‘I’m going to be a big man, the biggest that ever lived here in Winesburg,’ he declared. ‘I want you to do something, I don’t know what. Perhaps it is none of my business. I want you to try to be different from other women. You see the point. It’s none of my business I tell you. I want you to be a beautiful woman. You see what I want.’

The boy’s voice failed and in silence the two came back into town and went along the street to Helen White’s house. At the gate he tried to say something impressive. Speeches he had thought out came into his head, but they seemed utterly pointless. ‘I thought—I used to think—I had it in my mind you would marry Seth Richmond. Now I know you won’t,’ was all he could find to say as she went through the gate and toward the door of her house.”

To touch and be touched with a hand

February 14, 2018

“Sophistication”, pp.145 “The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun. He shivers and looks eagerly about. The eighteen years he has lived seem but a moment, a breathing space in the long march of humanity. Already he hears death calling. With all his heart he wants to come close to some other human, touch someone with his hands, be touched by the hand of another. If he prefers that the other be a woman, that is because he believes that a woman will be gentle, that she will understand. He wants, most of all, understanding.


“The age-old woman’s desire to be possessed had taken possession of her, but so vague was her notion of life that it seemed to her just the touch of John Hardy’s hand upon her own hand would satisfy.” (50)

DRINK / Tom Foster

February 14, 2018

PP. 128: “Her hands were all twisted out of shape. When she took hold of a mop or a broom handle the hands looked like the dried stems of an old creeping vine clinging to a tree”; “It was past seven o’clock at night when the grandmother came home with the pocket-book held tightly in her old hands and she was so excited she could scarcely speak”;

PP. 134:”. When George Willard was insistent he put out his hand, laying it on the older boy’s arm, and tried to explain.”

Hand on the older boy’s arm

February 14, 2018

“Drink”, pp.134 “The reporter could not get the purpose of Tom Foster’s action straightened out in his mind. When Tom spoke again of Helen White he again grew angry and began to scold. ‘You quit that,’ he said sharply. ‘You haven’t been with her. What makes you say you have? What makes you keep saying such things? Now you quit it, do you hear?’

Tom was hurt. He couldn’t quarrel with George Willard because he was incapable of quarreling, so he got up to go away. When George Willard was insistent he put out his hand, laying it on the older boy’s arm, and tried to explain.

‘Well,’ he said softly, ‘I don’t know how it was. I was happy. You see how that was. Helen White made me happy and the night did too. I wanted to suffer, to be hurt somehow. I thought that was what I should do. I wanted to suffer, you see, because everyone suffers and does wrong. I thought of a lot of things to do, but they wouldn’t work. They all hurt someone else.'”


I wanted to suffer, you see, because everyone suffers and does wrong…. Somewhat brings to mind Dr. Parcival’s idea that everyone in the world is crucified and is Christ (?)

Twisted hands, hands holding pocket book

February 14, 2018

“Drink”, pp.128 “Then began the hard years for Tom Foster’s grandmother. First her son-in-law was killed by a policeman during a strike and then Tom’s mother became an invalid and died also. The grandmother had saved a little money, but it was swept away by the illness of the daughter and by the cost of the two funerals. She became a half worn-out old woman worker and lived with the grandson above a junk shop on a side street in Cincinnati. For five years she scrubbed the floors in an office building and then got a place as dish washer in a restaurant. Her hands were all twisted out of shape. When she took hold of a mop or a broom handle the hands looked like the dried stems of an old creeping vine clinging to a tree.

The old woman came back to Winesburg as soon as she got the chance. One evening as she was coming home from work she found a pocket-book containing thirty-seven dollars, and that opened the way. The trip was a great adventure for the boy. It was past seven o’clock at night when the grandmother came home with the pocket-book held tightly in her old hands and she was so excited she could scarcely speak. She insisted on leaving Cincinnati that night, saying that if they stayed until morning the owner of the money would be sure to find them out and make trouble.

An old creeping vine clinging to a tree, some suggestion of Dr. Reefy’s hands here.

The pocket-book held tightly in her old hands, again hands with “pocket” though a different association.

THE UNTOLD LIE / Ray Pearson

February 13, 2018

PP. 123: “Ray Pearson and Hal Winters were farm hands “;

PP. 124: (fists) “Ray, who was the more sensitive and always minded things more, had chapped hands and they hurt”;

PP. 125:
“He was almost a foot shorter than Hal, and when the younger man came and put his two hands on the older man’s shoulders they made a picture”; ” He shook Hal’s hands loose and turning walked straight away toward the barn”;

PP. 126: (fists) ; “His wife went into the bedroom and presently came out with a soiled cloth in one hand and three silver dollars in the other”; “Of a sudden he forgot all about being a quiet old farm hand and throwing off the torn overcoat began to run across the field”; “he hadn’t wanted to be a farm hand, but had thought when he got out West he would go to sea and be a sailor or get a job on a ranch and ride a horse into Western towns, shouting and laughing and waking the people in the houses with his wild cries”.

PP. 127: “Then as he ran he remembered his children and in fancy felt their hands clutching at him”; “It was almost dark when he got to the fence and he put his hands on the top bar”; “Hal Winters jumped a ditch and coming up close to Ray put his hands into his pockets and laughed”; “He seemed to have lost his own sense of what had happened in the corn field and when he put up a strong hand and took hold of the lapel of Ray’s coat he shook the old man as he might have shaken a dog that had misbehaved”;