Pomegranate Seeds

A flight of beer and a bowl of potato salad, beans and pulled pork. It was yum. Also, thanks Prisma!

My dad liked his potato salad with gravy. The potato salad came out of the fridge, especially since it had lots of creamy mayo. It was cold. And he liked it poured over with hot gravy. Like if the potatoes were hot and mixed with butter and milk. But they weren’t. They were cold. With mayo and raw onions and cooked eggs.

Everyone, other than him, thought it was pretty gross.

But it was Dad’s thing. Potato salad with gravy. It got to be so much a thing that when Mom made potato salad to accompany, say, burgers on the grill–served with condiments right from the fridge, like ketchup and yellow mustard and pickle relish and sliced onions and tomatoes–she would sometimes magic up some gravy for Dad. If you cooked, you know that there was some serious magic going on to make gravy when the meat was on the grill. And, by the way, Mom NEVER opened a can or jar of “gravy.” That gummy shit is a poor excuse for gravy. Even for potato salad.

Anyway, today, The Spouse asked me if I wanted to go to the auto store to get the battery for the Mini replaced. It was on warranty, and the Mini was frequently on no-go. I said yes.

The Spouse poked his head in the bathroom–I NEVER get any privacy around here–a few minutes later to admit that the errand was extremely dull and wondered why I would go. I said I’d go because I wanted to hang out. I gave The Beast a treat, and, along with the promise of new wiper blades for my car, we went to the auto store.

Me, being the clever Doc that I am, figured out the correct wiper blades and waited for The Spouse. And, while waiting, discovered that there was a yet to be tried brewery a mere four minutes drive away. Clearly, this was not going to be an extremely dull errand.

While at the beer makery, I spied the BBQ truck. The Spouse left the flights behind to have a tour of yet another set of stainless steel vats. I went to get the grub on the street from the truck.

As I studied the offerings chalked on the side of the truck, the very pleasant attendant asked if I had their BBQ Pearl.

“No,” I said.

“People really like it. It sounds weird but it’s the most popular. We layer mac and cheese with baked beans and pulled pork.”

“I know it’s weird, me not you, but I don’t really like mac and cheese.”

To her enormous credit, she did not make a disparaging face.

“Now, if it was like potato salad and beans and pork, I’d like that alot better.”

“I can make that!”

I realized I was channeling my Dad. The idea of hearty, hot food on top of potato salad was like gravy. And I said, “Yes.” I ate it as my Dad. And it was good.

I miss my Dad every day. Today I felt like I connected across the the lands of the living and the lands of those who have left. Over potato salad. And baked beans. And pulled pork.

Amen.

Blighted Bud

earbuds

Open office spaces are very au courant. They are all about collaboration and breaking down hierarchies, but they end up being insulating. Because headphones.

You walk up and start “collaborating” to a colleague with their face in a computer screen. No response. You say their name. No response. You say their name louder. No response. You tentatively tap their shoulder, like some creeper. The colleague jumps out of their chair while pulling at the string around their neck to pull the bud out of their ear. Then they profusely apologize as you interrupt with your own set of “sorries.”

Meanwhile the person in close quarters NOT wearing headphones is totally disturbed and now reaches in their desk for something to plug into their speakerboxx thereby closing themselves off from the collaboration.

It’s worse than that.

I’m walking The Dog. It’s stunningly beautiful–sunny and warm. We stop frequently and at length so he can smell the hell out of every last blade of grass and dandelion to be. I spy a guy with a dog a block down. Those of you who are not dogwalkers may not realize that you must be ever vigilant for other creatures–squirrels, cats, birds, skateboards, baby carriages and dogs–just in case someone decides to bolt. You work to get the attention of The Dog as you choke up on the leash preparing for a burst of muscle that taxes your own.

As the guy approaches, The Dog notices the other. I’m prepped. The guy gets closer and asks me, “Is this your dog?”

Odd, but I’m like, “Well, yeah, I’m walking him.” I’m thinking he’s wondering if The Dog is friendly. We are close to the physical rendezvous, and he leans away a little as his dog with his waggy tail tries to make contact.

Guy is looking straight at me, and I start to tell him that The Dog is friendly. He abruptly waves me aside while telling me, “I’m on the phone.” I hear him say something about being “right in front of your house. I thought he got away. Where should I go?” He hadn’t been talking to me at all. He was asking somebody else about a dog. I didn’t see the telltale cord, but, as I dragged The Dog past, I saw his earbuds. I hope he reunited the other dog with his family.

He was disconnected from our false encounter while making a connection somewhere else.

There’s a great outside service window at the local watering hole, restaurant and grill. I perched on a stool at the smoothed concrete bar because the billowing smoker beckoned me to beer and BBQ.

A woman asked me if the seat next to me was available and settled in. She left the menu alone and began flipping through on her phone. I turned to the friendly people on my right who were downright hysterical pontificating on the different styles of sauce, bracket deadlines and other trivial matters.

The bartender approached the phone clutching patron for her order. The woman was unresponsive. Bartender looks at me to make sure that she was in fact making sounds when she was speaking. I indicated that she indeed was. We shared the moment of realization that you couldn’t hear if you were wearing headphones. Again, the headphones. Self-isolation from the surrounding conviviality.

The woman looked at the bartender and pulled out the bud. She ordered a house white. Then she put the earpiece back in and went back into herself. A few minutes later I heard her emotionally asking her phone, “Is that how you are treating me?” She was talking to someone who wasn’t there.

I didn’t want to eavesdrop on her pain. The conversation must have ended because she stopped talking. She kept flipping. I wish she took out the noise-cancelling and secluding earphones. I wish that she could have joined in the moment that was around her. Mostly, I wish she’s going to be okay since I somehow connected with her even though she doesn’t know.