Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kook Garage

Now instead of plowing against traffic, and against the grain, and against logic up to the Gooselands, I have entered the “real” direction and natural flow of the world. Which is better? Oh so hard to say! Not really. I find the ceaseless bleed of red taillights somehow gratifying in that I am also headed in a direction other people are. Because they are GOING somewhere and not just blazing up the highway to nowhere (Pennsylvania?) to inhabit an oddly placed building with temperature control issues and canned art on the walls. Give me grubby!

And seriously, I am going to do a documentary about Bethesda. Because, let’s get this straight, it is NOT without its kooks. And yesterday apparently someone unloaded a Central Kook Garage and they ALL came out to play and talk loudly. I walked (walked!!!!) to the bank—this enormous national bank behemoth—and there was only one (1) teller on duty.

I noticed right away that things were weird because these two people were having one of those patented super-nerd borderline retarded conversations about airfares. And they were strangers. Then there was a foreign sort of man who had a serious nasal problem, just sitting on a chair in the middle of the bank, kind of switching his snot load from one nostril to the other. Then there was the horrendous “bank executive loan finance woman” in a comer office who was having an EXTREMELY loud PERSONAL conversation on the phone.

It was the definition of a perfunctory, suit wearing, tight ass, bank executrix kind of conversation. “So, how are you/how are the girls/I could give a shit/let me fire off some more meaningless pleasantries and then get to the important part: myself.”

Then there was the teller at the window who kept putting her fingers in HER MOUTH. And that was a double gross—as in, do you KNOW where that money has been and ew gross, your spit stained hands are touching all the money.

I stood there and HONESTLY, I felt like I was in a Kafka play. I know everyone says that, but this was existential theatre of the absurd drama at its worst. Then it was on to CVS where the Kook Garage had also unloaded a bushel of its contents. There was another ENORMOUS line—I have measured out my life in CVS lines—and when it was RIGHT ABOUT TO BE MY TURN this batty Italian dame in a beige felt fedora comes rushing in and slams into the counter and babbles gibberish about how she was sold a bottle of BROKEN Italian seasoning. She keeps jamming the broken bottle with its fragrant spilled contents into the cashier’s nose. The cashier waves her off, finishes with the customer and then tends to the wiry panicked nut. She wields the broken bottle and the cashier actually tells her to go get another one, even though she mumbles something about how the woman must have dropped it AFTER she bought it. Duh!

So that woman, with her new bottle of Italian seasoning, scurries out onto the sidewalk. So I walk past her, huffy and imperious, I want to say, “Don’t drop that one too, ya kook!”

So, Bethesda, tony suburb, land of sushi, is also a closet kook haven. Which is why I fit in so well. I like walking the streets, pounding the pavement, looking at all the people and checking out restaurant after restaurant. And it’s not a piggy type thing; it’s like a life fascination type thing. Like I have NO DESIRE to bring my lunch. It would feel culturally insensitive, like looking for a McDonald’s in Tokyo or something. I just feel like I should partake of the culture, the variety, the feel of it. The neighborhood, the town. It’s a place. With a feel. You’d understand my rabidity if you’d ever spent any time in Rockville and Gaithersburg, where I was for the past two years. Horrendous. Panera Bread anyone?

OK. That’s all I can sneak in sur le moment. This place is hopping. In a different way from the olde haunt. Much more “next steps,” “calendar items,” “action items,” “to dos,” and stuff. And I work for someone who SHOWS UP and takes her work seriously. I know, be careful what you wish for. But at the end of the day, you just can’t respect yourself if you don’t respect the person you are working for. Or I can’t respect myself. Must go now and check “task” list with cleverly lined out items and feverish, insistent little red deadlines…

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Cynicism is another word for reality

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