At the shop

Man: My wife wants Intimacy.
Clerk: Intimacy or intimacy?
Man: You mean, did she capitalize it? She was speaking. I assumed she meant a brand.
Man: You know that ad with the model reclining in a black dress with a freaky long leg.
Clerk (holds up 2 spray bottles): This is the scent Intimacy. This other one is intimacy.
Man: I think she meant the scent.
Clerk: You sure?
Man (shakes head)
Man: What else do you have?
Clerk: We have a bunch. This is enlightenment, for example.
Man: Small-e or capital-e?
Clerk: Lower case. Here. (sprays man on wrist)
Man (smells)
Man: Whoa, I’m an asshole.
Man: Dude, I mean, a real dick. Ffff. Sshhh… I…
Man: Geeze.
Man: Oh my god. My poor family.
Man: I had no idea I was such a prick. I’m a total prick.
Clerk (looks at spray bottle): Hang on. Sorrysorrysorry. Wait.
Man: What.
Clerk: Sorry. My bad. That was self-knowledge.
Clerk (sprays man with a second bottle): This is enlightenment.
Man: Whoa.
Man: You’re also kind of a jerk.
Man: We’re all jerks.
Man: We’re all like, jerk cells in god’s digestive tract.
Clerk (puts bottle away): That one’s new.
Clerk: It just came out.
Man: It might need a little work.
Clerk: Intimacy, you said?

Pow! Kabang! Watch out!

Watch goes down the street. The street is lined with the heads of guys in suits hollering POW and KABANG and WATCH OUT!

Watch tunes them out. A crow follows him, he notices, flying from tree to tree.

Mechanical spiders are running all over. I SEE YOU ARE GOING TO THE STORE MAY I RECOMMEND A SALAD? says one.

A second one says, PEOPLE WHO BUY SALAD OFTEN BUY SOME FRUIT AS WELL.

Watch tunes them out too. He notices how wide the streets are without traffic.

It is a sunny day. Warm, early fall, is there any better season?

Gravity is light today if you can ignore the distractions.

And the air is full of flowers.

Watch gets a sandwich. He gets a long one because he wants to see how many crows he can feed on his way back to the office.

The line at the cash register is slow because the guy in front of him is having problems with his cash card.

REJECTED, says the cashier. The young guy tries again, a little more flustered.

REJECTED, says the woman again.

I’ll have to come back, the young guy says.

He has a German accent, notices Watch.

I’ll get it, Watch says, but no one hears him.

He takes out his wallet and gives the cashier a ten. I’ll get it, he says.

OH, she says.

The young guy doesn’t notice and starts leaving without his stuff – a box of sugar and some snack for lunch.

IT’S OKAY, says the cashier. THIS GUY PAID.

Outside the young guy says thanks.

My pleasure, says Watch.

He feeds two crows on the way back – the one who had been following him, and a big black one watching him from a tree.

POW KABANG! holler the heads.

Take the afternoon off, says Watch.

Composition

A friend in Australia has requested permission to use the recordings some of you sent me in 2009 reading your shopping lists for a piece accompanying a university dance performance and I mailed them to her (all but one recording, from one of you who recently denied me permission to use something else, so don’t worry) with the caveat that I would post this to the blog today informing you and if any of you contact me letting me know that you prefer your recording not to be used that I would tell her and it would not be used. Otherwise, fire away. So let me know if you have any objections, thx.

On writing

3.30 AM is a good time to write. The house is quiet, except for the kittens rolling around the kitchen floor in a Tupperware mixing bowl, their current favorite toy after the concert harp, which is off-limits. Gamma is sleeping upstairs, Alpha is in Japan and Beta went back to her dorm last night.

If you close the kitchen door, Gamma can’t hear you when you slam your forehead on the kitchen table to wake yourself up every ten minutes.

In this fashion, 2000 words get written in, roughly, 2 hours.

Random words, mostly:

the,orange,the,shopping,list,a,water bottle,tile,ceiling,pyjamas.

Sserd liatkcoc

The wind is loud in the chestnut tree outside the window.

Disaster has not struck. The sidewalk is covered in leaves. They are wet, so they do not kick up so well when you walk through them, and many are still mostly green, because it was so rainy and windy last night, so they are not as blindingly gold as they often are, but they are still really super pretty, green with gold edges, and it is still nice to walk through them.

Rounding the bend in the freeway, a wall of low cloud rolls over Vienna like a white catastrophe, pushed by another wall of grey cloud shaped like a snowplow blade, or the walls of dirty snow beside the road at the end of winter in cold places.

Traffic is pretty light.

The kittens are cuddly, and the woman is in a good mood.

He doesn’t realize until he’s already feeding the cats that it’s only 4.30 in the morning. He thought it was later.

He’s pretty hungry when he gets home from the city. He eats and reads and talks and goes to bed.

The rain gradually stops.

He makes a little effort and shakes off the tunnel vision. No cars in front of him and none behind him. Things are mostly black, with a little brown, and the road is silver, slick with rain and stretches out in front of him until it disappears. He wonders how low the coefficient of friction is. Pretty low. No way could he stop quickly, at this speed. No choice but to keep going. He checks the rear-view mirror. Some cars way back there, headlights in the dark. He takes his foot off the gas and the car gradually slows. This would work, as a way to stop, taking his foot off the gas.

His daughter’s dorm is across the street from Vienna’s best single-malt shop! Why didn’t anyone tell him? And over there? she says, over there is another dorm where they have better parties. She gets out of the car and runs into her dorm. He lifts his hand to give a little wave but she doesn’t look back.

Driving in Vienna in the pouring rain at night is quite disorienting, but he pretends to know what he is doing and see where he is going, and nothing bad happens.

The rain is pouring down when they leave Starbucks, so they stand under an awning and finish their chai and share the sandwich. Despite the awning it rains into his shoes, the backs of his legs get wet somehow, it’s raining so hard. She talks to a friend on her phone, the same friend. The rain doesn’t slow down, so she packs his camera and he puts her new dress under his coat and they run for the parking garage. The parking ticket thing is soaking wet by the time they get to the machine, but it still works.

She decides to get the white dress with black dots. He pays for it and they leave the store. She says she’ll get him something at Starbucks. It’s starting to sprinkle.

She tries on several more dresses. At one point she starts talking, and he assumes she’s talking to him, and answers, but it turns out she’s talking to someone else on her phone, a friend she is meeting later. He’s glad she sees her friends, and makes new ones. Another guy waiting for another woman trying on dresses too gives him a funny look because he was talking to someone who was talking on a phone, not to him. He looks back at the guy like, did someone say they were interested in what you think?

She comes out of the dressing room and shows him the first dress she’d tried on, cocktail dress, white with black polka dots. She looks beautiful, and happy. She has a big grin and her pale skin and dark hair, all that, look beautiful. Young and happy. He’s glad they finally got to do this. She goes back into the dressing room to try on a few more dresses. He looks at himself in the giant mirror at the end of the corridor. He is a sad-looking cunt, he tells himself. Jesus. That hair. Suit’s okay, but work on the posture. Get some sleep. And some exercise. He hates surprising himself in mirrors like that.

After work, he drives to the parking garage by Schwedenplatz. It is drizzly so traffic is slower than usual and it takes him nearly half an hour to get there and he starts getting antsy and thinks, no wonder I’m always rushing my kids, I’ve done it to myself all my life. He resolves to stop. Walking to the store, he calls her and she is already trying stuff on, she says.

So when are we going to buy that dress, she says. And he says, after my next paycheck. Two weeks from now, how about that? He’s been waiting to do this forever. What evening is best for you? Email me, or I’ll call you.

There’s this hotel on the Ring in Vienna somewhere, paneled and stuff, not far with the opera, and this guy was in it, years ago, with some guy from work, at happy hour, for a drink and at the time he thought he’d like to take his kid there for a cocktail when she started going to college, and he could even get her a cocktail dress or something. She’d probably like that, he thinks.