Friday, February 27, 2009

Today I Heard a New Sound of Ice Cracking

Friday at last. The weight of the week slips from my back like a curse. Free to be me. How's the song go. Don't have to be me 'til Monday. Who is me? Is this me, the tired old soul ruminating for the sake of proving to himself that he exists? When am I most myself? - in my dreams of course. I misspelled it curse, and our course does seem a curse some days, particularly Monday. But on Friday there is an illusion that we can still choose a direction, a style, a persona, and at least until midnight we can dance at the ball and pretend.

Midnight seems long past for many. On my drive home I see men in pickups whose faces seem battered, lined past the point of exhaustion, looking into the sun coming down and into oncoming traffic for a recognition of shared pain and anxiety. But then there's the builder down the road taking vacation week with the wife and kids and heading for Jamaica. I guess he figures he'll go now and worry later about when the economy will come around.

At the Bradford mini mart, the convenience store, (boy does that seem an old-fashioned turn of phrase) - the Indian guy in the back row of strange brandy bottles is tacking up pieces of tape. I ask him if he's got some take-out. A friend of ours told us years ago about the place and just today I get an email from the wife suggesting I stop on the way home. I forgot. When I got home I remembered and offered to run back out down the road the 15 miles to the junction after swinging Eve and Grace around the dining room. Michael's been spending the entire week at Pat's Peak snowboarding with the season pass he got for Christmas.

Anyway, the place fills up while he's serving me chicken curry and vegetable curry into the two tin foil takeout dishes from the plexiglass cart beside the counter. A huge man in Carhart pants and flannel coat is looking over the magazine rack while his son asks about some sugary goo in a toothpaste tube by the cash register.
What's this Daddy
The man laughs a friendly giant baritone and says you don't need it anyhow.
Then a young guy with a sharp face, smiling walks in and loudly greets the Indian owner, now ringing up the giant and his son's potato chips, two bags, one for each. Is that dinner, I wonder. The young guy could be a skin head, he has that look of borderline malevolence that would fit in well on the Edgeware Road. The Indian guy smiles back at him, friendly enough, but I sense just an edge of aggression.
People still gotta eat and drive cars
The Indian guy laughs.
That's what supposed, he answers.
This could go in a lot of different ways, I'm thinking as I pay my eighteen bucks for the curry and pack of frozen Tandoori bread. The young guy next sees someone he knows back in the rows of canned and bagged shit and starts talking about some other mutual aquaintance recently sighted out ice fishing, and again I think this is new, this recession talk tinged with just surviving, a new era in our lives. What will these young guys do if it gets worse. What would anybody do?