Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You don’t know what he’s thinking cuz he always looks surprised


As I sat in the corner office of Steve the Investment Pro, scanning his office for exotic derivatives or at least physical proof of some underlying psychological damage, I considered what to do about the Grocery Problem. Through the window of Steve’s office, I could see women pushing their kids toward the entrance of some hellhole labeled Harris Teeter. I asked Steve if H. Teeter was a grocery store, and he responded without turning his head from the computer screen, “Yes, a very nice one.” I asked him if he meant nice as in expensive, and he assured me that nice just meant high quality. I decided right then that I would go to Walmart instead, because not only did I mistrust Steve and his assessment of high quality, with a copy of The Goonies crouched behind some books on his desk, I remembered that Hannah Teeter, the Olympic class women’s snowboarder, doesn’t support high-quality grocery stores. I once saw a commercial of her advocating nothing but a diet heavy on sleet and chapstick, and light on nutrients. And I trust Hannah more than I do Harris.


At Walmart, a clean-shaven Asian, hands clasped behind his back and weight shifting from foot to foot like a sparrow in heat, asked an employee to direct him to the most powerful paintball gun in the store. At the self-checkout, with me bagging my skim milk and contact eye drops, an older couple came and stood right behind me, watching me swipe my debit card. I could see them in the reflection of the screen… and one of them was Paintball Boy. I accepted nervousness into my heart and power-walked to the exit.


After going for a 5.38 mile run (Why? Richard Bernstein has motivated me) I was invited to

“play” by my housemate Lauren. We started with Uno, moving later to Speed, Crazy 8’s, Rummy, Go Fish, and King’s Corners. During King’s Corners, I voiced my concern about having to play the game from the corners of the room, citing vision concerns, and pointing out that she had an unfair advantage by not having the last name King. Lauren, queen of everything giggle related, enjoyed the joke. She is a recreational therapist and works mostly with burn victims. 40 hours a week, no pay, all summer. She said she was a Tarheels fan (born and raised,) and I said I hated Hansborough. This got no giggles.

I finished book #2, and now have no plans for the rest of the week aside from securing at least one acquaintance other that Ray-G. After unloading my things on the first night, I drove down the UNC campus and walked the main drag for a few hours. Ray-G walked by me, spotted my weakness for remixes, and jogged up beside me. “You ever heard of Rage Against the Machine?” he asked excitedly. Doing some quick calculations, I guessed that he owned between 7 and 10 teeth. I told him I had heard of them, but that I had never heard them. He popped the walkman style headphones off his ear and put them over my head, saying that if I liked what I heard, I could have his CD for $9. I listened, and liked. My first thought was to ask if I could be his manager, but then I realized that Ray-G wouldn’t be manageable. I told him I didn’t have any cash on me (I didn’t) but that if I saw him around again I would definitely make a purchase. He then proceed to ask me if I smoked weed (an obvious follow-up question.) I told him that I grew up in the mountains and that I only smoked pinecones. He laughed, looked at my eyes, commented on their whiteness, and then told me that I “ain’t ever smoked no pinecones.” He said he liked me, and that he’d see me around. Acquaintance count: 1.

Saying goodbye to my hometown homies wasn’t all the fun I heard it would be. Now I know how all the dinosaurs felt when they boarded the spaceships and went in search of a Timid New World. It’s a cruel world, and I can’t imagine space travel with hollow bones and pea-sized brains. Saying goodbye to friends was relatively easy, knowing that young’uns like us are relatively flexible and tenacious enough to live for a few more years. Older family isn’t that bad either, everyone older than you has been in existence your entire life, your world has never existed without them, so it is easy to falsely convince yourself that things will never change and they will always be there. For some reason, and this was completely unexpected, it was the hardest to say goodbye to my siblings. Might be because I am the oldest and feel a bit like I am leaving them at a crucial point in their lives, especially Landon. Vanessa is all set (all spike,) with her reptilian quickness and structured schedule. But tiny Landino, last out of the womb but first to laugh at any joke and first to go to MSU without a volleyball scholarship… what a fox. A clever, well-maintained, and joyful fox.

I stalled while leaving, hoping to see the sleek outline of a Saab roll down Thornapple Lane; but Thornapple was no Sesame Street, and there were more Big Burdens than Berts and Ernies.

I caught up with Greg, my roommate at Chrysler last summer, near Columbus, Ohio on the way down. I got to know his dog Sharky/Squeaker. The bed was comfortable, the company was amicable, and the cops weren’t all that cranky. (I got pulled over for going too slow while looking for Greg's domicile.)

Thank you to every kind entity, earthbound or otherwise, that ushered me to this point in my life. Now, I must go check out some more books and see if I can’t find Ray-G.

12 comments:

  1. My three favorite things about this post:

    1. Picturing you power-walking to the wal-mart exit.

    2. The fact that I too hate Hansborough (And am not even going to give him the respect of spell check).

    3. "Vanessa is all set (and spike)"

    ...Also, tell Ray-G I said hello.

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  2. I had to read it twice, once just wasn't enough! I hope aquaintance #2 will have more teeth and maybe some ear buds....please don't let strangers or aquaintances put their headphones on your head ever again! This is a priviledge of friendship and relation only! Also. I am jealous of Lauren, please don't tell her how much fun RACK-O is because if I hear of the two of you playing I may have to kick some ass. Love, Liz's Mom

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  3. Testing: One, Two, C. Very entertaining late-night reading!

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  4. Gotta like "Tsunami for My Mommy"...how did the bus exploration go tonight? Reminds me of visiting Denali Park (see any of dem dar Tar Heels? Blue Deeveels? Wolfpack members?). Enyoy your last few days of vacation. Love Dad.

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  5. Wesler

    Sorry I missed your departure! Sounds like you have met a virtual plethera of friends. Like Judy, I recommend you accept no ear buds from stangers.

    I enjoyed your revelation of the impact of departing with SIBS. I think that is the most straight forward comment I have ever heard or read from you.

    Set the world on its ear and re write the status quo at Cisco and around the Raleigh Durham area. Hansbrogh (sp) is ok, its that shit-shis-kee coach that looks like a a rabbit with alergies that I cant personally stand.

    I guess I gotta let it go though!

    Nice idea to blog I guess. Nice way to stay in touch.

    Hope to hear and read more.

    The best of everything to you Wes!

    Love, UNC

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  6. Aunt Gaye at workJune 19, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    Hilarious. I want some of those pine cones! For some reason (probably user ineptness) I can't see the pictures. Or, it could be that I'm at work and it's being blocked. Will check again at home. Glad to hear you arrived safely, although a little warped! Aunt Gaye

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  7. OK, this is for sure the best blog I have ever read! (I'll keep you guessing how big the set of blogs I've read is..) You are one seriously talented, and FUNNY writer! I chuckled much and even welled up when you waxed sentimental over little Landonian. Sorry we missed your going away, having gotten the email (due to cottage technological black hole) after the fact. Know that we are rooting for you, proud of you, and as Kings, are securely anchored in your corner...which may be more scary than comforting. But tell Lauren, TAKE HEED!, distance doesn't make this family any less dominant! The Queen of Kings at Carol St.

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  8. Alright! Good to have family, friends, and family friends keeping updated one what is sure to be one of the most abnormal attempts at "life in the fast lane" the world has ever seen.

    I love some of you but I like all of you,
    Wes

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  9. Hey "UNC" (Dennis)...how about some "Love" for Duke, and/or NC State??!

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  10. Still can't see the pictures, but that's ok. Have fun and keep writing. We love you most of the time, but all the time too!

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  11. Freaking hilarious! You do amaze me with the in depth descriptions of your encounters and thoughts, never knew you could write like that! Maybe you're in the wrong career field? Maybe you have workings of a memoir? haha... Keep it coming, I always look forward to new entertainment. :) Hope you're doing okay, we miss you!

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