In order for me to write this weekly fairy tale, I have to collect bits of information and gossip that might be useful to mention in print. In order to collect these bits and pieces with any hope of being reliable about them, I have to write them down in a notebook as I go along during the week. It has been difficult all summer to remember where I have put my notebook, as one rarely wears coats or other clothes with many pockets in them during good weather. In winter I try to wear a coat most days, assuming no wretched seagull has appropriated it for feathery purposes, and the notebook fits best in an inside coat pocket. Recently I had a good idea about this.
Over the months and years, friends have become used to me slapping my pockets and slapping my forehead as yet again I realize I have not got my notebook with me to record some particularly brilliant observation, or write down some peculiar story they have just old me that they insist is almost true. And so over the weeks and months they have given me many notebooks to use, and then of course I take them with me back to the concrete towers where I am obliged to live at the foot of Mechanic Street. So now I have many notebooks strewn about the place, and they are still never with me when I need them. Then the other day I figured out a more sensible system, and put one notebook in the inside pocket of each coat or jacket that I wear, and as we are fast approaching the season when I must wear coats again (yes, now you can say that summer is over) I find I am now almost never without a notebook. The only real problem now is that, in order to write this weekly fairy tale, I now have to thumb through a number of different notebooks at once.
These notebooks are now spread out around me on top of the east tower as I compose this week’s nonsense, written in ink made out of condensed fog and desiccated blackberry juice, and printed on old fast-food cartons which I place under rocks to make them flat. Flicking through the little books, I find many notes that have not been used. Possibly this is because a note jotted down in the brightest part of an evening while surrounded by reasonably good company does not seem half so clever in the cold light of day. I cannot afford very brilliant friends, you see, but I try to squeeze the most out of what inexpensive friends I have. Sometimes I just cannot read my own scribble.
Anyway, here are some of the notes I have made over recent months and have not used, either because I could not find the notebook they are in or because they are just ridiculous ideas to begin with. For example, somebody called Patrick told us (I know not how) that it was only 22 degrees in Atlanta on Feb. 3. Why did I write that down? Apparently I was tracking the weather, because I wrote down on May 7 that it was 71 degrees at lunchtime. But why did I bother to record the fact that it was Augustus Caesar who created the Roman postal service? Really I haven’t a clue. Perhaps it was because the postal service was called the cursus publicus, and most likely I was planning to make some silly remark about what they might mean. In the end I did not do it because as a former postman I am somewhat loyal to the modern postal service.
Does it really matter to anybody that at least one lady who lives on Orange Street once saw the embalmed remains of Chairman Mao in Peking? On March 9 I certainly thought it was important enough to write down, but I am not sure what I intended to do with the information. Blackmail her, possibly. I would sure love to know who told me on May 16 that his or her ideal target market was stupid people who are also rich. Oh brave new world that hath such creatures in it, etc., but what was it my informant wanted to sell to these people? No idea. And who was I talking to 10 days later when I had the idea that some people are religiously insane? I think I need to take better notes.
Wandering around the feet of my concrete grain towers on June 3, I wrote down that four Budweiser cans had been spiked to the top of the fence that rather uselessly surrounds the property. I think I kept that out of the paper at the time for fear that the implication would be too obvious, namely that the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse had been drinking again. Not sure why I felt the need to protect them. I must have been temporarily unbalanced.
Speaking of the religiously insane, last week I mentioned the Moonies and wondered what had become of them. A lady wrote back and said she knows a couple who got wed in one of those mass marriage ceremonies the Rev. Moonbeam used to conduct for public relations purposes. Apparently they remain married to this very day. In her opinion, this cult started to fade out when the devoted multitudes began (ever so slowly) to figure out that the Rev. Moonbeam was not associated with the Second Coming at all, but was more interested in the Magnificent Bank Account instead. (These days this pursuit is usually abbreviated to MBA.) Anyway, as we newspaper people used to say, follow the money and pretty soon you will have your answer.
As you can see, this week’s fairy tale has been about very little at all, and possibly nothing, so I ought to thank you for having bothered to read any of it. But poor as it is, at least it is not about sports. When I write a column about sports, or like my friend Insufferable O’Meara, when I write a column about viewing sports on television while sprawled on a couch, then you will know I have drunk the very dregs of life and can see no future at all.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.