july
the month of julius

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the " f " word
associates, not help

970713






    in this particular f store on this particular day my friend and i stop at a demo computer. a sales "associate" teleports to my side. before i realize something unique has happened, he says "this computer's supposed to be broken."
    "look," i demonstrate, moving the mouse. i select an item from the menu. "it's not broken any more."
    "it's supposed to be broken," the fellow repeats, earnestly. "it's not supposed to be working."
    i stop regarding the screen to decipher this idiot savant with full frontal attention. he stands like cows do in the rain, lids half-closed over eyes pointed towards the ground about twenty feet away.
    i enunciate carefully: "by that do you mean i should not play with it?"
    the poor cripple mulls this over for a moment and manages to nod.
    i suggest, "perhaps then you should say 'please do not use this computer.'"
    we leave him staring at the floor. maybe he had spied a medusa on the tile.
    


    moving on to the stereo department, i point out to my friend the minidisc CD recorder like mine. instantly i recall that i've recorded rebecca's mask on my last blank disc.
    there is no blank media in sight, so i smile at a nearby sales associate with a polite "hello." in only twelve or fifteen seconds of waving my arms and asserting direct eye contact he discovers that he cannot find anyone aside from himself that i could be talking to. he steps around his protective stock cart and advances the three feet to my side and nods warily.
    "do you have blank disks for this?" i ask, pointing to the walkman minidisc recorder. his fearful stare continues. o boy! i've found another macarthur grant recipient!
    "do you have blank disks for this?" i repeat slowly, still pointing to the walkman minidisc recorder.
    "brank disk compu'er deparmen." he says, beaming. at least 90th percentile, no doubt.
    "i do not want computer disks," i say. "i want blank recordable minidiscs for this CD recorder." helpfully, i hold up the walkman minidisc recorder.
    "CD?" he says, pointing to the portable CD player next to the minidisc recorder in my hand.
    "i do not want CD disks," i say. "i want minidiscs for this minidisc recorder." helpfully, i hold up the walkman minidisc recorder, and open it up. no CD in its right mind could fit in there. it's obvious. i make a small circle out of my fingers. "mini disc," i say. "small CD."
    "get hayrp," he says, and runs off, returning in moments with the thin man.
    "may i help you?" asks the thin fellow. ah, i rejoice, sharing a look at my friend. someone who speaks engrish!
    "i do not want computer disks," i say. "i want blank recordable minidiscs for this CD recorder." helpfully, i hold up the walkman minidisc recorder.
    "let me get my supervisor," he says, and they both are gone.
    


    i must admit the supervisor knew exactly where blank recordable minidiscs were located. however, i plan to buy mine from a store with sales "help," and never from a fry's sales "associate."
    fry's electronics is "the ' f ' word." if you see what you want, you can get it off the shelf, but otherwise you're f'd.









something useful
learning to treat myself

970711






    while i rarely have problems when people give me money, i'd sometimes have problems spending it. especially in college, my aunts would occasionally give me monetary gifts with directions to get my hair cut, or to buy new shoes to replace my old faithful scraggly ones. if there was a note saying "buy something useful," i'd feel obligated to save that twenty dollar bill for something useful. so even though i'd be late for a movie with enough cash in my wallet, i'd have to stop at a bank machine to get funds, because the bill in my pocket was reserved for "something useful," which didn't seem to include the latest john carpenter or jackie chan film.
    so anyway, when i was in grad school, my father started occasionally ending his visits by folding a twenty dollar bill in my hand during our final embrace and telling me to "treat myself." no statement about 'not spending it all in one place,' nothing about buying something useful, or healthy, or good for me. the man says "treat yourself."
    his generosity continues to this day, even thought i strongly suspect my income is more stable than his. when i see my father. after he has left for the airport, or after i've driven off, i'll open my hand to see sometimes a folded twenty, a couple times more than one, and once i think there was a fifty! the best part is that he always says to "treat myself." i never have to wonder if he's saying my shoes are scraggly or my hair needs cutting. i'll treat myself to new shoes or a haircut or a john carpenter film on my own recognisance, whatever i do he'd think that's just dandy, as long as i treat myself.
    so at lunch today i pick up the check for my wife and our out-of-town still-in-school college buddy. i hand my student friend some of that extra cash from my steady well-paying job, so she can relax a bit more on her vacation.
    i saw a look on her face like i get in my throat when i feel my dad's hand in mine. i forgot to tell her to treat herself.
    guess i have to work on my technique.









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