Reading for the Day: A Surprise Discovery

It is 9:06 PM. Tomorrow, hubby and self are driving to San Luis Obispo (Since we already have rental car, might as well head south, right? At least, that was the decision we made, just last night). Today, though hubby dangled possibility of watching Eastern Promises in front of self all morning, thereby keeping self in a state of acute nervous anticipation, he eventually changed his mind (as he does 50% — no, 75% of the time) and decided he’d much rather watch the college football games.

The man was up uncharacteristically early — 8 AM. Which meant self had to stop writing when she was just getting started. The rest of the day was full of inane conversations on the order of: “Who’s playing now?” “What’s the score?” “What a stupid fumble!”

Self called son twice. The second time, he picked up and self told son that his parents would be arriving shortly. That we in fact would probably be in San Luis Obispo at 11 AM on the morrow. And son asked if self and hubby could meet him at the Mission, for he planned to attend the 10:30 mass (!!@@)

Following which, self and hubby engaged in yet another of their habitual conversations:

Self: What is happening to him? I’ve never known him to be so religious! Is he becoming some sort of Christian?

Hubby: Leave him alone.

Last night, while watching “Weeds”, and observing Mary Kate Olsen’s character telling Mary Louise Parker that she was saving her virginity for marriage, self opined that son would end up with one of those Christian types. Hubby’s response, which self is begining to find quite tiresome: Leave him alone.

No, self will not leave him alone, for college, self feels, is the time for son to go hog-wild and experiment with all sorts of alternative lifestyles. Never in a million years would self have suspected that the alternative lifestyle son would be getting into would involve Christian rock, mass on Sundays, and line dancing.

Self (to hubby): I know what will happen when he’s 40! He’ll have a raging mid-life crisis! He’ll start wanting to do all the things he missed out on when he was in college!

Hubby: (Grunt)

Self: I’ll have to warn his wife.

Hubby: Leave him alone.

Self: What’s with that place? Why are there so many Christians? Why aren’t there more Asians?

Son’s friends come from places like Fresno. Visalia. Vallejo. When son brings friends home with him, self has the feeling his friends regard hubby and herself with perturbation, as she is sure she is nothing like their mothers, she is so lackadaisical about keeping house. And hubby is definitely not like any of their fathers: During football season, he forgets about everything and sits with eyeballs glued to the TV screen and yells if anyone in the vicinity talks too loud.

One friend of son’s always comes in and hugs self, hugs her as if she’s a long-lost buddy, and self has to extricate herself with an “Excuse me,” and then she stays a good arms-length away for she really doesn’t like all that touchy-feely stuff, for instance she only likes hugging son, not anyone else. Sometimes, she’ll hug hubby. But that definitely is the extent of her hugging.

Anyhoo, this evening self decides she’s in the mood for some light reading. So she picks up In Our Own Words, and opens the book at random, and the first thing her eyes land on is a story called “Sum Total”, which begins this way:

You realize, standing in front of a clam-shell urinal at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, that hitching a ride north in the back of a pickup when it’s raining as hard as you’ve ever seen it, and you only have one change of clothes, is maybe not as great an idea as it seemed the night before. Then it was brilliant, full of possibility. The kind of trip that would immediately turn into a memory; the kind of story you could already remember yourself telling. And now it’s only a very wet, very cold ride for five hours in the rain with a guy who, for some reason, calls you Nelson and tells you that if you need to get high you should follow him to the bathroom at this hotel you’ve just stopped at.

“How do you mean ‘high’, exactly?” you ask.

He looks at you funny, so you decline the offer, head to the bathroom across the lobby from the one he went into. Once there you congratulate yourself for making the day’s responsible decision, then chide yourself because, really how hard is it not to follow some strange man into a roadside hotel bathroom when ‘high’ might or might not mean what you think it does?

Back in the truck, you are convinced that the world is flooding, that the water is rising in great biblical waves all around you. You imagine everything being washed away, which is strangely comforting, because in a way all you want is is for this whole day to be cleaned off, forgotten about.

Anyway, our hero, after a series of unfortunate encounters, winds up in downtown San Luis Obispo, which he sums up as “pretty dead.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

And the author of this riveting tale? Jensen Whelan, who resides in Vallingby, Sweden. Will self’s confusion never end?

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

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