My Dinner with Susie; The Easiest $20 I Ever Earned

Unlikely I’ll limit myself to those two subjects once the fingers really get going across this keyboard.  Imagine how much longer and rambling these blog entries would be if I used all my fingers to type, instead of just the two index fingers (and those at 80+ words per minute!)

Susie and I made our first trip in ages to our beloved Blue Danube Restaurant on North High Street Wednesday night.  I’ve loved the place since 1986, when the late Adam Bradley took me there–the food is quite affordable, it has a very eclectic jukebox, the service is good, and the clientele is like having a front row seat at the circus.  I never took Susie there until they banned smoking.  (In the days when they still allowed smoking, Steph told me to toss my clothes into the laundry basket and head immediately for the shower whenever I returned from there.)

The Blue Danube, 2439 N. High St.

Susie and I both ate quite well, one of those meals where we roll and stagger out of the restaurant.  The total bill came to $26, including tip.  We had just missed a southbound High St. bus when we left, so we walked back to Weinland Park, all two miles of it.  Both of us still felt stuffed when we came home, despite our having burned off at least half the calories we consumed.

Gay Pride Weekend just ended in Columbus.  Susie and I went to a potluck at church Friday night, and she helped make signs for the march, while other people helped bake.  Susie worked with an entire cookie tin full of crayons and colored markers, and produced her own sign.  Someone else stapled it to a stick for her, which was a good thing.  The staple gun at church is capable of inflicting Passion of the Christ-type wounds in the hands of inexperienced people (double meaning there, both of them would work).  After we came home from the potluck, I went out to Goodale Park, where the LGBT community had set up booths, food stands, and music equipment.  It had rained earlier in the evening, and I think that kept some people away, but the sky was clear by the time I reached the park.  The ground was muddier than I would have liked, but the sidewalks were dry.

I walked home in an alley parallel to High Street, and out of the blue a guy offered me $20 if I would stay with his very drunk boyfriend.  How drunk was the boyfriend?  He was so drunk, he was unconscious on the concrete under a fire escape.  I would earn the $20 to stay with the drunk while the sober half of the couple went to get their car.  I agreed, and the sober boyfriend left.  A lesbian couple came up the alley, took one look at the guy prostrate on the ground, and one of them said, “Party on!”  I refrained from making any snide comments about him.  Although I haven’t touched anything stronger than Diet Pepsi since 1998, I have been too drunk to make it home under my own steam more times than I care to admit.

The sober guy came back, and the two of us loaded the inebriated one into the car.  As I tried to get him to his feet, I marveled at how somebody has finally invented a boneless person.  The guy was almost completely dead weight, but the boyfriend and I finally managed to get him in a sitting position in the passenger seat of the car and put on his seat belt.  (I even found myself saying, “Hold on, Baba Looey!” while I was trying to get the guy into position.  No idea where that came from–I haven’t seen Quick Draw McGraw, even on Boomerang, since I was about six.)  The sober guy, true to his word, handed me a $20 bill before he got behind the wheel and they drove off into the night.  I was pleasantly surprised to get the money, although I would have chalked it up as a mitzvah performed had he not paid me.

It’s almost 11 p.m. right now, and the neighbors right now are going full blast–so I’m playing Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells to drown them out.  If their decibel level is still off the charts later on, I will really crank the volume on this laptop (I have my Tweakers plugged in as well) when Oldfield plays “Sailor’s Hornpipe” in increasingly high volumes and manic tempos at the end of the second movement.

Bookstore work yesterday made me feel like I was being kept after school.  Susie went to the Pride march, and she proudly displayed her self-made sign for all to see, and participated in the post-march festivities in Goodale Park until mid-afternoon.  Fortunately, people were there to take pictures and post them on Facebook.  It wasn’t as good as being there, but I re-posted pictures of Susie on my Wall.

A very color-coordinated Susie during the Pride March yesterday.  (The Ohio Supreme Court is in the background.)  She chose the colors of her clothes and her leis quite deliberately.  Many thanks to Linda McNabb for the photo.

I arrived in Goodale Park after the work day ended at 2 p.m.  I made my leisurely way up toward Goodale Park, stopping for lunch at the Golden Arches and then waiting for the bus.  The wait at the bus stop took longer than usual, because of all the Pride events downtown and the Short North.  One of the first things I remember when I arrived at the park was hearing the Capital University Pride Band playing mainstays from the early 1980s.  (This is the 30th anniversary of Pride in Columbus, so I’m guessing that’s why all the ’80s music kept coming up.)  It was the first time I’ve ever heard “867-5309/Jenny” played by a brass band.  I have always pitied anyone who had that number, or Pennsylvania 6-5000.

There were many slogans supporting gay marriage, and I support it from a small-L libertarian standpoint.  Lately, though, I have been seeing it through the very jaundiced eye of my recent experience on the marital front.  I recently told a gay friend of mine that whenever I hear about gays and lesbians wanting to marry, I think of an incident during John Kennedy’s Presidency.  During either the Bay of Pigs debacle or the Cuban Missile Crisis, Barry Goldwater was in the Oval Office with an increasingly sleep-deprived and edgy JFK.  After receiving some worrisome news on the phone, JFK turned to Goldwater and said, in complete exasperation, “And you actually want this fucking job?!”  That’s pretty much my take, from where I sit at the moment.

Susie and I celebrated Fathers’ Day in culinary delight this morning, making our first visit in eons to Hometown Buffet in Consumer Square.  I can’t remember the last time we ventured toward the west side of Columbus, out toward my erstwhile employer Medco Health, and the 40 Motel.  (The latter has been much less interesting since the owner stopped posting witty comments on the marquee outside.  One of my favorites was NEVER PLAY LEAPFROG WITH A UNICORN.)  Susie and I both ate well–I highly recommend Hometown’s meatloaf, by the way.  I went up to the buffet three or four times, but in an effort to be abstemious, refrained from having dessert.  It’s like people I see who order mountains of food and then wash it down with Tab because they’re watching their weight.)  But we atoned for it by shopping at Kroger afterwards.  Getting all the groceries home in two backpacks on the bus was a Sisyphean project.

I’m going in to work late tomorrow.  I have a few errands to run in the morning, so I have the luxury of not setting the alarm when I finally do hit the sack.  My work week consists of the Industrial Commission and the Discovery Exchange this week, although Saturday will be jam-packed from the moment my feet hit the floor that morning.  The bookstore will be in the morning, Comfest will take up much of the day, and then around 11 p.m. Susie and I will be headed to Grandview to the latest Return of Nite Owl Theater.  (Fritz the Nite Owl will be showing The Terror (1963) with Jack Nicholson and Boris Karloff.  When I heard those names, I was hoping the movie would be The Raven.)

This has been the weekend, but I sure don’t feel all that rested!

Moonlighting at the End of the Tunnel

One of the syrupy mantras I’ve heard repeatedly over the past few years is, “No one ever said, on his deathbed, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.'”  I know that I am not saying it now, even though the many extra hours I’ve worked these past few weeks have been necessary and–dare I say it?–fun.

Usually, I’ll just work the beginning-of-quarter rushes at the Columbus State bookstore.  That was why it was such a surprise (a very pleasant one!) when my supervisor emailed me out of the blue and asked if I’d be interested in working nights this spring.  (A manager is leaving Columbus, and I’m pretty much doing his job until they hire a full-time replacement.)

The drawback has been the timing.  I’m still green at the single-parent thing, and now that school is out, Susie has been depressed and bored for much of the day.  She has found some work, a few hours here and there working as a mother’s helper for a year-old little girl (the daughter of her first babysitter), and yesterday she and the Youth Group from church went down to the Feed My Sheep food pantry in Athens County which I’ve described in previous entries.  That’s why it was such good news to see that Susie will be working as a Volunteen at the library this summer.  The deadline for applying had come and gone, but some kids had dropped out of the program, so she applied.  I was all too happy to sign the permission form after she and I came home from dinner at Wendy’s tonight.

But there is an end in sight for the moonlighting.  The Discovery Exchange will be closing at 6 p.m. for the rest of the summer as of the first week in July, once the summer quarter is in full swing.  Since my work day at the Industrial Commission ends at 5, and it takes me 15-20 minutes to walk over to the corner of Cleveland and Mount Vernon Avenues, there is really no point in my working there for half an hour.  So, July 3 will be my last hurrah until the fall book rush.  I will miss the extra cash, but will be glad to be home in the evenings for Susie.

Susie and I have made two or three appearances at the Olympic Swim and Racquet Club since it opened.  This week, neither of us have gone–mainly because of my work schedule, but also because the temperature has only reached the mid-70s for most of the week.  It’s no fun to go swimming and then have to stand around digging slush out of your ears.

Fathers’ Day is next weekend.  Susie and I are going to celebrate by going to see The Wizard of Oz at the Ohio Theater.  Susie has seen it numerous times, and can recite most of the dialogue and songs from memory.  Until she was born, I was rather lukewarm about it.  I never even saw it on a big screen until Susie was a toddler, when I took her to a showing of it at Crosswoods Cinema in Worthington.  And I am sure it’s pure coincidence that The Wizard of Oz is showing during Pride Weekend.

I’ve learned this month how much disruption in familiar physical objects or surroundings can totally disorient me.  The weekend before last, while Susie was at the pool, I walked a block or two north to a little hole-in-the-wall dollar store and replaced my wallet, which was falling apart and barely holding together.  I paid about $2 for a blue tri-fold, and sat at poolside transferring the thick plethora of cards–insurance, business, shopping, etc.–and bus pass from one to the other, along with the few dollars I happened to have in there.  Even though many gift cards and debit cards were expired, I was loath to toss them in the trash barrel by the kids’ pool.  I haven’t carried pictures in my wallet since high school, so I didn’t have to sort through them to see who to keep and who to discard.  (I’d look like Steven Hill–or Peter Graves–going through the dossiers on Mission: Impossible, even though they would always pick the same agents.)

When my dad died, my stepmother sent a huge box to me UPS, which contained his clothes, the flag from his coffin, and his wallet, among other things.  When I went through the wallet, I was surprised to find a small color drawing of Andrew Jackson in with the high school graduation picture of me.  Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts printed trading cards of U.S. Presidents when I was about 11 or 12, which I collected avidly.  Dad always liked Andrew Jackson–safe bet I’m not part Cherokee–because he was the first truly proletarian President, so I let him have the Jackson picture.  (He said his interest in Jackson began when he read Arthur Schlesinger’s The Age of Jackson in college.)

On a larger scale, there’s been disruption in my physical setting at work.  I work on the 10th floor of the William Green Building, and in May I moved to a temporary pod in another section, while workers tore down the old pod walls and set up new ones.  This involved the usual logistical nightmares with cabling phone and data lines, etc.  I didn’t even unpack once I arrived at the temporary pod, since I knew I’d move back as soon as the new area was ready.

We moved to the new area.  It occupies the same section of the 10th floor, but the layout is different.  I have four section-mates, all very good people.  However, my pod is a bit removed from theirs.  Since I do virtually all of the Industrial Commission’s medical transcribing, I have higher walls and am separated from all the noise.  (I love my co-workers dearly, but they can get boisterous.)  I spent Friday and part of Monday moving and finally trying to settle in, and I’m still getting my bearings, and getting disconcerted when things aren’t where they were previously.

I am bringing this entry to a close, because morning comes way too early.  Tomorrow will be a jam-packed day.  I have an appointment with a podiatrist in the morning, going to Columbus State to get my paycheck immediately after that, then I’m working at the I.C.–transcribing the doctor who dictates at an auctioneer’s pace.  The bookstore beckons afterwards, and to end the evening on a festive note, I’m taking Susie to dinner at my (our) beloved Blue Danube Restaurant on High Street.

Couldn’t stand the show, but it’s an appropriate graphic for my work life this spring.