Got a jones. . .

A jones.  A craving.  A desire.  Do you ever get a jones for anything- say a particular food?  It seems vain and selfish thinking out it, when so many people in the world have so little.  It is so easy to have a craving and be able to satisfy it in this country.   Most of the time I am not sure if I can satisfy a jones.  For coffee?  Sure. There are lots of places to get a really good coffee.  For something sweet?  Not so much.  I am always disappointed, never being able to find anything “good” at a local shop or bakery.  For something salty?  If I get a small bag of chips, after the first three chips I regret it.  They do not taste right, and are very flat in flavor.  No, I get a jones for something from time to time then as I consider what I can get to assuage it, the feeling passes.  It’s usually not worth the substitution to just have something similar to what would really be good.

Ah, but I have found a local joint that has an item that I DO get a direct jones for and can be satisfied (apologies to B.B. King).  Remember wavy French fries?  Crispy on the outside, potato still flavorful on the inside?  The perfect vehicle for an assortment of condiments, the waves/ridges hold on to what ever is being conveyed.  They do them exquisitely at my local joint, and carry a wide variety of things to ingest them with.  It is my secret pleasure to get away in the middle of the afternoon and sit outside, had an order of the fries and a pint of beer.  Usually only for half an hour, and I don’t get to do it very often; but when I do it is a very good break from the ordinary. 

While we are at it, what I miss about being a grown up:

·         Thinking that there is no good BBQ to be had outside of KC or Memphis (depending upon where I was living at the time), needing a big lives blues fix and then tossing some clean clothes in the back of the truck (it had a camper shell) and going.  Eight to twelve hours?  No problem.  Stop and over night at a camp ground if needed.  Usually just do the time and be there.

·         Being naked.  Stepping out of the shower and just being naked.  All day if possible.  Hanging around the house, napping, reading, watching something on the tube.  Alone or with a current companion.

·         Hope.  Listening to loud reactionary music of any genre, thinking about possible recreations, and living in hope.  Casual, unafraid, unconstrained hope.

·          Dreaming.  Not knowing that the future is a closed road.  Dreaming of what one can be, wants to be, hopes to be.

·         Not knowing or caring what my creatine, HDL and LDL are.

·         Dancing as crazily, long and loud as I want.  Some local joint, live music, big skirt and tight white tee-shirt and not feeling silly.

·         Being pretty.  Youth really is wasted on the young.

·         It’s someone else’s job.  Being a leader, the one who knows and understands what is necessary, the one who is expected to pick up the slack- whether a pol, parent-teacher asso. member, neighborhood watch, etc.  Someone else’s job.  Not mine.  Who me?  No one needs me yet.

·         Open road, figuratively and literally.

This afternoon Husband is back into his teaching-administration-work cycle and the kids are both in school full time now.  I had breakfast this week with several other moms who had kids starting school, and facing empty daytime houses.  These moms are also very well educated women; looking forward to the change and a chance to be productive in ways they have not been for a while.  We have discussed redesigning minivans and SUV’s in ways that are supremely more functional (why don’t they do focus groups with moms?), such as a redesign on the rearview mirror, sliding doors on SUV’s, and lots of small things that would make autos so much more efficient and functional.  I said, as I have before, that the Gates foundation needs to fund a think tank of this most under utilized resource- the previously “stay at home mom”- and draw on a diverse set of education, experience, and pragmatic vision to write a variety of opinion papers and designs reflecting life in the U.S.  Instead of thinking of them as out of the loop, people need to think of them AS the loop.

Anyway.  I digress.

Amid the coming stretches of time with no people demanding my attention, I can focus and finish many projects.  I’ll also have time for the small get-away to satisfy the jones for those fries.  A jones for my husband.  Or just a jones for a long, uninterrupted nap.


Those lacy panties look great- displayed on the dresser that is.  The matching bra in the lace that does not scratch looks good too but it makes strange patterns under teeshirts. So the set gets stowed away for a special occasion.

The go-to underwear is the cotton with a little spandex in it.  It fits through multiple washings, and leaves little VPL due to the way they can finish the edges now.  Women harass men about their underwear- yes; it is part of a bigger taboo subject.  Most married women even BUY their husbands underwear, noticing when it looks worn and getting the new stuff for them.  Men usually don’t notice- as long as it fits, and looks like the old underwear they really don’t care.  It’s a purely functional thing.

The secret is that women are very much the same way. I didn’t give a lot of thought to my underwear until a good friend in college pointed out that I had alternatives to what I wore.  Still, over the years function trumped appearance but for the few sets of “special” underwear that only came out on limited occasions.  As I thumb through my current drawer, I wonder about when I make the choice to pitch a handful of raggedy, worn, stained (yes, you know what I mean), and out of shape underwear and replace them.  They don’t really cost that much, so waiting until the drawer throws itself open in protest seems extreme.  They come in packages or if you want to go upscale, on little hangers in department stores.  Or, as I found out recently, in bins when department stores ship them off to second tier resellers.  I picked through for my size and bought several pairs (why do they call them pairs anyway?  You don’t buy matching sets of panties.  They are underpants.  Again with the plural- pants.  They should be called underpant).  Costing under a buck a pair for some nicely made cotton/spandex, I was pleased (while they are all new and never tried on, going through a bin still feels a little ghetto).

It occurs to me this experience has changed how I feel about throwing any out now.  The tangibility of buying single pairs for under a buck apiece makes me realize there is no reason to hang on to the crummy old ones.  All these years and I waited to buy a new package, because- what?  I didn’t think I needed six new pairs at once?  I don’t know.  Because I was waiting for a sale?

This momentary revelation about a product we usually do not discuss, not really, seems a bit odd.  The Vicky’s Secret thing is for college girls and spank bank material for college boys.  The rest of us of either gender just get some at the local Wal-Tar-K and wear them with little thought (but avert our eyes if someone else is replenishing their stock at the same time).  The historical evolution of the habit is an interesting topic, but likely to garner red faces at a dinner party.  Going without them has consequences, no matter how much “going commando” sounds like a brave thing to do.  And honestly, in spite of the viral distribution of the Brit-Linds-Poptart-of-the-moment photos getting out of limos and flashing their naughty bits, who really goes without?

Write an ode to the ignored virtues of the cotton panty?  Perhaps.  Or maybe I’ll just replace them more often, and enjoy the fit and feel of a new pair.  Advertisers would do well to have a commercial that just encourages us to do this, without all the dancing around the topic or trying to make it sexy.   Bras have complexity, the fit is difficult to describe.  Panties?  When did Oprah ever have entire episodes about them with fitters to show us how they ought to cling?  I won’t go into the male jockey-brief-boxer scene.  While also taboo and often ignored, these essential items inspire humor more than anything else.

So thank you to whom ever got with the program and designed my current crop.  I can’t go a day without them and hopefully won’t be met with embarrassed scorn if husband happens to see mine in the wash.  I see London, I see France, but who cares if you see my underpants!  Panties!  Tighty whities!  Unmentionables!  Lingerie!  Jock strap!  G string!  Bloomers!  Boxers!  (I’ll do my best to make sure you don’t, and I really, really don’t want to see yours either).   Comfort to the way of the wearer, my friend.  Comfort and privacy to you.

Sketch and impression from a morning 8/8/11

There was always some bastard who had to send something back.  It didn’t really seem to matter what; the silverware was not clean, a steak under or over cooked, a sauce not just right.  Where did they think they were?  It was all a show for whomever the jerk was with.  Somehow trying to show his (it was usually a he) refined taste, when all it really proved was what an insensitive asshole he was.

She breathed deeply of her cigarette ration for the morning.  It was a beautiful day, just before it got too hot.  Sitting out back not far from the garbage didn’t seem so bad today.  She knew she should quit.  It wasn’t just the uneasy feeling of being a social reject (the exponential decrease in places where smokers could partake of their addiction was part of that feeling), she knew it would kill her and she wanted to stop.  But it was her only vice besides the occasional sweet and swearing.

The sounds of the restaurant china and voices made a pleasant background noise.  She stubbed the cigarette out and tossed it into the garbage bin.  She smoothed her apron and walked back inside.  It was a busy Monday morning, and all the FIBS (Fucking Illinois Bastards) were eating early before they hit the road.  It was like this with the summer crowd; moving to the lakes, the campgrounds, the restaurants in hordes and then disappearing.  In the winter it was a smaller bunch, no less transient, of bobble- (the men) and bubble- (the women) heads.  The locals called them this due to the constant wearing of helmets even when not on snowmobiles.

“I thought the sausage tasted like shit today too”, Erin called across the coffee station to Mary.  Mary nodded, took a long drink of water, then balanced a full tray of plates as she walked away from the pass towards tables.

Surveying the crowd she could see the regulars at the big round table (all men) having their morning coffee klatch.  The rest were the tourists, many with gaudy tee shirts and hats stamped “Eagle River” in various fonts.  As a child, she had seen the same junk shops that sold the shirts come and go.  The main drag was a four-block strip of the usual crap, and always had been.  But two fudge shops, really?  She wondered what made fudge a particularly tourist food.  Fudge and taffy.  Everywhere she had ever gone that was a tourist trap had fudge and taffy.  She shook her head.  The tackiness and gullibility of tourists never ceased to amaze her.  Perhaps there was a comfort in knowing that no matter how different the place, there would always be something the same.  Sort of like the RV’ers who counted on the constant string of Walmarts and McDonalds as they inched their ways across a map.  The morning crew took great pleasure in comparing the ridiculous names on the RV’s that came and went.  Interloper (no kidding did in-laws buy these?), Cougar (what RV looks like a cougar?  Maybe the middle aged women who drove them thought it was funny), and dozens more.

She put on her brightest smile, trying to hide any trace of sarcasm.  She took another order of potato pancakes (the cooks managed to turn them out in the worst possible way, but they were the last restaurant in town that served them) and bratwurst.  She usually made little bets in her head about what customers would order just by looking at the people.  She had been at this so long, she was rarely ever wrong.  She was just glad they had taken the cheese curds off the menu.  Every shop in town (even the tire dealer!) carried them in a cooler.  They did not need them here.

Folks assumed she was a local, and she was.  Sort of.  She had spent the big middle part of her life in Santa Fe, and only just returned.  Divorced, the graphic design business she and her husband had shared gone bust (most companies did their own printing work now with all the computer programs available) and trying to raise a part Indian child had just worn her out so she came home.  The schools here were better, and there seemed to be less trouble George could get into than in Santa Fe.  And there were Indians up here.  Half the cooks were Latin, the other half from some tribe with a casino.  Getting George to feel good about his heritage without becoming militant was the problem.  She sighed.  He was a smart boy, but she was never quite sure what he needed, or that she could help him.  Maybe that was just the way it was with teenagers.  She was sure her own mother had felt that way about her.  Mama had a way with George, she could make him laugh.  That was good.  Sometimes the skip in generation helped.

She put all her orders through the pass and checked the coffee pots.  She grabbed one and gave refills to the loners sitting at the counter.

It worked like a well-oiled machine, this morning crew.  When afternoon came, there was a slow down that left them all at an idle.  The evening could be unpredictable, depending on the weather and whatever week in August it happened to be.  Afternoons were a good time to clean, organize, refill, and breathe.

She would leave at three, go home and kick off her shoes.  She might go to the Remorseless Inn, sit by the lake and have a beer.  Maybe Eileen would be up for an evening at the lake.  If not, she would surely be alone in the middle of the college students, families, and retirees.  Men up here were mostly taken, and comfortably numb in marriages that allowed them to behave exactly as they had when they were eighteen.  The only difference was what time of year they were active.  Play ran the gamut from ice fishing and snowmobiles to lies about the size of the muskie that got away and speed boating; that and a generous amount of alcohol thrown in.

For now there was a steady stream of customers flowing through the door needing breakfast.  Raise an eyebrow at the length of a pair of shorts (or lack there of), share a grin at the comb-over on table nine, bus the china and refill the cups.  Grab the errant plate of wheat toast and drop it off as you glide by to take an order from table ten.  There must be a waitress in every café in every tourist town from Bellingham to Savannah taking orders this morning, she thought.  Good luck to them and every Griswold they serve, and hope the heat breaks soon.