At the Doo Dah Parade, I Expanded My Horizons and Learned a New Word

Am I the only person out here who was ignorant of planking before today?  The Doo Dah Parade began 45 minutes late this afternoon, which meant many bored and restless parade-goers lining both sides of N. High St. in the Short North.  (Correction–Susie and I stationed ourselves at the tail end of the parade, and we were out on High St. awaiting it at the time it was stepping off from another point in the Short North.  07/05/2011)  There was a sign on the façade of the Short North Tavern proclaiming a 1 p.m. stepping-off time, but they were nowhere near ready to go.  Children kicked and chased beach balls back and forth across High St., and then Susie saw some of the alleged adults trying out planking.  This means lying down in the street face down, arms at your sides, long enough for one of your cohorts to snap a picture.  Said picture will most likely be on the Internet within hours.  Susie heard about it when one of her Facebook friends posted about it, and then ran pictures of her and her sister doing it.

So she tried it today, lying parallel to the center line on North High Street.

Susie demonstrates her new interest, planking.

Since the Doo Dah Parade “organizers” posted a schedule on their Website’s home page, I thought that the 1 p.m. starting time was pretty firm.  Susie and I hurried through lunch at Mac’s Café, since we arrived there at about 12:15.  We both ate well, and decided to skip dessert because we were worried about missing the start of the parade.

July 4 tardiness seems to be a time-honored tradition.  When I was 11, Dad and I went up to Lookout Point on Harmar Hill in Marietta to see the fireworks (which were shot from the Washington County Fairgrounds).  They were supposed to start at 10 p.m. sharp, but it was about 11:20 before the first rocket screamed into the air.  In the meantime, there were many restless, tired, bored, and hot kids being eaten alive by mosquitoes, and their parents’ patience was fraying by the second.  I remember hearing three girls entertaining themselves by pinching one another, chanting, “Pinch!  Pinch!  Pinchy-pinch!”  (That night, I wrote in my diary about “three giddy girls” who “were age nine, looked seven, and acted four.”  This from my mountain of years!)  Dad and I didn’t get home until past midnight, and my mother–in a rare moment of genuine righteous anger–was angry about the late start, and talked about writing a letter to the editor complaining about the progressive lateness of the fireworks display. 

In an earlier entry this week, I wrote about the 50th anniversary of the death of Ernest Hemingway (which was July 2).  While looking for something else, I found my tattered Lancer Paperback of Ernest Hemingway: The Life and Death of a Man, by Alfred Aronowitz and Pete Hamill.  It appeared in 1961, very shortly after Hemingway’s suicide, and I bought it because of the description on the back cover, which describes Papa’s life as one anyone would envy:

He lived his life as he chose.
He went wherever he wanted to go, he fished whenever he wanted to fish, he hunted whenever he wanted to hunt, he loved whenever he wanted to love.
He lived a life of truth: the only worthwhile endeavor for a man.
His life and writings touched and changed millions of others; the legacy of genius he left will never be forgotten.
He died as he chose…

 The Doo Dah Parade featured the usual suspects, especially the Marching Fidels–a retinue of Fidel Castro lookalikes, complete with beard, olive-drab army jackets, and cigars.  The Fishnet Mafia, sponsors of the monthly Rocky Horror Picture Show at Studio 35, were out in force, doing the Time Warp again (and again!) all the way down High St.  Some of the marching acts were beyond description or theme, such as this one:

The work day beckons at 8 a.m., but luckily I only have a half day.  I just “happened” to schedule an appointment for the afternoon after the return from a long weekend, and when 5 p.m. comes, I’ll have to overcome the hard-wired urge to head toward Cleveland Ave. and the Columbus State bookstore.  I won’t be working there until next Saturday morning, so Susie and I will be at poolside tomorrow evening.  (Christ, I sound like a character from The Stories of John Cheever!)  The weather looks like it will cooperate; the high is supposed to be 89 degrees and cloudless.  I may even go in the water myself!  (During the ’70s, I used to shudder when I watched the “Take the Nestea plunge!” commercials on TV.  They would still have to pay me a five-digit sum to act in one of those!)

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Trying to Rise Above the Torpor of Summer

My neglect of this blog (and any other type of writing, other than emails) is Exhibit A of my current lack of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy of late.  I’m beginning to think I may have the polar opposite of seasonal affective disorder–I become more sluggish and unproductive in the summer months, whereas most people with SAD completely shut down in the wintertime.  Columbus has been tropical this summer, and the relative humidity saps my energy.  I am sure that the months of 13-hour workdays has not helped, either.

We shall soon see.  At 4 p.m. yesterday, the summer quarter rush at Columbus State Community College ended, and with it my evening hours at the bookstore.  From now until fall, I will only be working 9 a.m. until 12 noon on Saturday mornings.  Susie is especially happy at this news, because it means I will be home with her more evenings, and we’ll be able to go to the pool, and we can eat dinner earlier.  (It’s been so damn hot that neither of us wants to cook, so we’ve eaten out most evenings.)

Susie worked as a Comfest volunteer for the first time this year.  She enjoyed the work, especially getting a free T-shirt and a pink Comfest mug, but she hated having to pick up so many cigarette butts.  She made quite liberal use of the hand sanitizers strategically located by the Porta-Potties.

I went to Comfest both Friday night and Saturday afternoon-evening.  I worked at the bookstore, during its extended rush hours, on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  I know I’ll be grateful for it once they hand me the paycheck in Human Resources, but I still had a being-kept-after-school feeling during the entire work day.

Comfest negatively affected me in only one way.  Susie and I waited on W. 5th Ave. and High St. for the 5 bus to Grandview for the monthly Return of Nite Owl Theater at the Grandview.  (The movie was The Terror, with Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson.)  The exodus from Goodale Park snarled up traffic so much that the 5 never arrived.  It’s been my practice to walk to the theater on Fritz nights, but between the proliferation of drunks and the humidity, I told Susie this month we’d take the bus.  (The movie at the end of July will be Teenagers from Outer Space, which will go along wonderfully with Pulpfest ’11 at the Ramada Plaza.)

I did quite well at the Really, Really Free Market on the last Sunday in June.  Earlier tonight, I sent an email to the Webmaster of Notebook Stories bragging of my achievement.  Susie came away with some clothes, and I came away with five spiral-bound planners.  (Their dates range from 2006 to 2008, but if I ignore the pre-printed dates, they will be quite useful.)  Two were from Greek-letter organizations (Phi Delta Theta fraternity and Chi Omega sorority), and the other three were from St. Bonaventure University (where Thomas Merton taught English from 1940 until he resigned to join the Trappist monastery in Kentucky), Southern Methodist University (which houses George W. Bush’s Presidential library–I wonder if all the pictures have been colored in the books), and Seattle Pacific University.  (I found something amusing in the St. Bonaventure planner–under Saturday, February 2, 2008, one of the events in the schedule is 4:00 p.m. Pre-Super Bowl Mass and Reception.)

My cache of new notebooks, courtesy of the Really, Really Free Market on  June 26.

There was absolutely no way Susie or I were going anywhere near downtown on Friday night, when Red White and Boom was happening.  I am lukewarm at best about patriotic celebrations.  I think they–and the people who participate in them–are the (very!) secular equivalents of the ostentatiously pious folks that Jesus lambasted in the Sermon on the Mount.  (When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; they love to say their prayers standing up in synagogue and at the street-corners, for everyone to see them.  I tell you this: they have their reward already.  Matthew 6:5, New English Bible.)

Susie and I went to First Friday, a potluck held at church on–when else?–the first Friday of every month.  The attendance was pretty sparse, between Red White and Boom and the congregation being scattered to the four winds for vacation.  We found some friends of ours.  Susie spent most of the time conspiring with talking to a kid who will be her lab partner for science classes at The Graham School come September.

I took her to Kafé Kerouac after we left First Friday, and this turned out to be quite the stroke of good timing.  She learned about their Wednesday night poetry slams, and she plans to go and read some of her poetry.  (I’ve always avoided poetry and writing groups, because listening to them discussing their poetry and their projects reminds me of teenage boys bragging about sex: The ones who are talking about it the most, are doing it the least.  I have never publicly read or participated in a slam because my voice is almost totally without affect–an Asperger’s symptom characteristic–and performance counts as much, if not more, than content.

While I was typing, my idiot neighbor has set off a string of fireworks and firecrackers.  There is a momentary lull at present, but I’m waiting for the noise to start up again, so I can call the police, and the dispatcher can hear the noise in the background.  (I have had minimal personal experience with shooting off fireworks and recreational explosives.  Since most of the jobs I’ve held in my 29 years in the workforce have involved typing, I realized that having hands is a good idea.  The only body parts I no longer have are my tonsils and gallbladder.  That’s enough.)

I never really how truly exhausted and sleep-deprived I was until yesterday.  After I left the bookstore, Susie and I took the bus to Graceland Shopping Center to pay the electric bill at Kroger, pick up dinner, and go to the hardware store.  She and I went to China Garden, a smorgasbord she and I both enjoy.  She and I both ate until we could barely move, and we were walking in major slow motion across the parking lot to Sears Hardware.

Once we got home, I told Susie I was going to take a brief nap before I did anything else.  I remember my bedside digital clock saying 8:20 when I lay down.  I didn’t even get undressed, not even my shoes.  When I felt rested enough to get out of bed and get on with the day, it was 8:30, as in a.m.  It was Sunday morning coming down.

Update: I called the police about the pyrotechnics next door.  I learned to use 911 for any time I call the Columbus Police Department, unless I’m in the mood to wade through their voice mail prompts and spend four minutes on hold.  The entire block smells like sulfur, and I hear the whistle of bottle rockets every few minutes, and no sign of the police.  If I had it to do over again, I would have called and reported gunshots.  (Hey, I’m no expert in ballistics–gunshots and firecrackers do sound alike to the untrained ear, don’t they?)

After breakfast this morning, Susie and I went to a yard sale on Medary Ave.  She bought a file folder, and I bought a pristine copy of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition, a 1987 Book-of-the-Month Club edition.  It’ll reside on my shelf between my 1938 Modern Library edition of The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Baker’s exhaustive biography.

It was “altogether fitting and proper,” as Lincoln would say, that I should buy this book.  (Susie brought it to my attention, and I happily ponied up the $.50 for it.)  Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Hemingway’s death, by his own hand, in Ketchum, Idaho.  I haven’t read the obituaries that appeared, and I am sure it was front-page news all over the world.  However, through the many connections I’ve made in the old-time radio world, I found Harry Reasoner’s radio obituary, broadcast on CBS radio, where he tried–with iffy success–to emulate Hemingway’s prose style.

The Doo Dah Parade beckons tomorrow afternoon.  Neither Susie nor I are setting alarms, although after my megasleep yesterday into this morning, I am now quite wide awake.  Nonetheless, we’ll be awake in plenty of time to make it to the Short North for the parade.