Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Wall-Eyed

On the plus side, I did some damn fine cooking over the weekend.  Notable discoveries: fresh fish from one of the three fish markets on Clement is in fact superior to flash-frozen stuff from TJ’s.  Also, if a guest is gluten-intollerant and you’d like to serve her some cheese, you can slice jicama thinly and use cookie cutters to make shapely little wafers that go very well with, say, Humboldt Fog or Morbier.  If you’re into that sort of thing.  Which these days I seem to be.  So there’s that.

On the down side, I woke up today with a cramp under my right shoulderblade that has apparently taken up permanent residence, had its mail forwarded, and is shlepping in furniture it’s finding on the street.  My enthusiasm for restricted mobility and tear-inducing deep-muscle aches is, shall we say, measurable.  With a micrometer.  Also, that last post about good things, a real feel-good kind of dealie for this glum black-backed blog, phailed utterly to generate the positivity in hopes of which it was launched.  Zero comments?  Maybe you’re all feeling so freaking good about your damn selves that you don’t need my sketchy shreds of regurgitated joy.  Maybe I don’t need yours, either. Unlikely, but possible.

Very well, Blogopolis.  I see your cynicism, and I raise you fantasy.  These are the stock in trace of der ubernet, and I have enough of both of them to stock a fortress of solitude for long enough to survive the second coming.  I am therefore pleased to unload upon you all:

Wall-Eyed

- No, officer, I’ve got no objection, you can come on in.  Look anywhere, heh, I’ve got nothing to hide.  My conscience is clear.  I just wish that wall outside was clear too, huh?  Um, yeah.  Because I do understand why you’d be interested in visiting me. New guy in town, and all that. Plus that, um, message thing.  Yeah, I have no idea what that’s about.  But I can tell you where it came from, if you’re curious.  It’s actually kind of a funny story. I was just pouring some tea, would you like some?  Okay, let me just get my cuppa and I’ll be good to go.

No, I’m not going anywhere.  It’s a figure of speech.  I’m staying right here.  mmmHeh. 

So, umm… this is good tea, you’re sure - okay, ok, never mind.  So yeah, I moved here a month ago from south county.  I’d been living out on my dad’s old farm; he’d been working the land all by himself till he got in his 70s and then I came back home to lend a hand.  I’d been teaching up at State, you know.  Adjunct math faculty.  Great gig, really, and those undergrads are a lot of fun, but just when I was up for review dad broke his hip.  He told me not to come but I thought I had to.  Tough old bird, he never believed he needed any help but once I got back for a visit I could see the place was falling apart and so was he, so I stayed out there with him on 250 acres for close to fifteen years.  I kept taking on more work and more work till I was running the place myself, though he’d never have admitted it.  He’d swear to you that he was milking cows and getting in the hay all on his own, even when he was using a walker and couldn’t get down off the front porch anymore.  He was a proud man, my dad, and a tough one too.  To tell the truth, I worked my ass off for him and nothing I did was ever good enough.  He’d take credit for what I did well and he was downright cruel when it came to the stuff that didn’t meet his standards, and those standards became less and less realistic as he got older and weaker and less in touch with reality.  It was a hard, lonely life, I tell you what. 

Yes, officer, I’m getting to that.  See, dad finally did pass on - natural causes, you know, heh - and I got my life back.  So I sold the farm and moved here last month and I’ve just slowly been fixing the place up. It’s my first “all my own” place, you know?  I got a little nest egg from the inheritance and from selling the farm, so I figured I’d gussy up the ol’ nest a little.  I don’t know if you remember what this place used to look like but - oh okay, well, yo’ve got it then. A dump.  But I’ve been working on it, little by little, all on my own.  I’m doing the pipes and the sheet rock and - yes, this is the point, officer - I decided to tear down the old raggedy fence outside and put up a nice privacy wall.  You know, something substantial to keep down the street noise and the light from the traffic.  This is a pretty busy intersection sometimes, you know?

Okay, so I got some design magazines and I saw this one wall that I really liked, and it was easy to build, too.  Square blocks, offset to make a little pattern in relief - each block is half an inch forward or back from the ones to either side, alternating on the successive courses.  Right? Couldn’t be easier, and it looks all artistic when you’re done.  I mean, really, it came out great, didn’t it?  Well never mind that, it’s all a question of taste.  But it was fun to build and I like how it looks. 

But once I finished it and painted it all white, the pattern sort of faded away.  It looked all 2-D, you know what I mean?  And I’d really worked hard to make it more, um, 3-D, right?  So I got some paint, the blue and the pink and the green and gold like you see out there, nice soft pastels, easy on the eye.  Thought it’d look good from the street or whatever.  And I thought I should mix the colors up in a nice random pattern, square by square.  But I didn’t want to free hand it, you know?  I’m no artist.  I’m a math guy, right?  Very logical.  I thought I’d just wind up painting a regular pattern by mistake, instead of something really random.  I’m not so good at “random.”

So I tought it through for a while and came up with an algorythm.  An equation, if you will.  To randomize the colors for my wall.  Once I did that it was easy - I just plugged in the total number of squares I had to paint and the number of colors I was using, and blammo, it spat out exactly what color to paint each square.  And then I just took my results and my paints and my roller, and got painting - across one row and then down to the next row and back again, zig-zagging back and forth till the job was finished. I never looked at it from a distance - I just did spot checks every so often to make sure it was coming out okay.  And then once I was all done it was late so I just came inside and went to bed. That was yesterday.  And then today I wake up, step out front to admire the finished product, and whoa - I see what I’ve painted.  So I come in to have a cup of tea and think it through a little, and before the water’s boiled you’re here.

- So, you’re telling me that message just randomly came up, all on its own?

- Come on officer, I’m a logical guy.  Why would I go intentionally painting something like that on my own house, facing a busy street?

- You can understand why I’d be asking, though.

- Sure, sure; you see gold letters painted four feet tall that say “Arrest me, I killed him” and you need to follw up.

- Right.

- But really it was just a coincidence.  The gold squares just lined up that way. That’s all.

- I see.  I see.  Well, you’d better paint over it.  Tha’s not a good message to be sending, especially if you don’t mean it.  Now, could I get that cup of tea?  You know, our high school could use another math teacher....

that's just the way it seemed to me at 11:58 AM


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