It happens. You’re cleaning out that spare closet you tend to forget about and you run across an old photo album or something, and, the next thing you know, you’re sitting on the floor totally engrossed in yesterday.
Computers are like that, as we all know, but generally more so. I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t actually have a “spare” closet, and the one in the room we call the “office” sure as hell is not analogous to a terabyte. A lot of stuff gets lost in there, never to be remembered let alone seen again.
So, I was rummaging around the old hard drive looking for quadruplicates and other disposables when I ran across what was actually my first blog, started a good ten years before I ever heard the word “blog”. Between 1998 and 2000, during a two year “sabbatical” from work, I wrote prolifically and began to share a few of my short stories and essays on one of the old “chat room” venues that tended to be more civilized than most. As the web matured and it became possible to publish one’s own web log, initially on venues like My Space, I gave it a try.
What follows is a resurrection of those efforts, sort of reorganized, sort of dusted off.
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(twenty-ought years ago…………)
I had to go into the city the other day for a string of those appointments that seem to mount up when you’ve got a few miles to your credit, not unlike my old pickup truck. Things were starting to rust, work properly when they damned well felt like it, or fall off altogether, but not without trying out a few disturbing noises when least expected.
The frame finally rusted through on the old truck a while back, and that was that, but I’ve still got stuff to do so I make the rounds on a regular basis just to make sure everything is still firing on at least five cylinders.
After my most recent Medicare Marathon, I decided to take the long way home and swing through the village of Fannyflame, just to see what it was like after all these years. As luck would have it, the local diner was still in operation, so I pulled in and parked the car. I had no idea that I was about to wander into a time warp of sorts
I thought of one of the last times I’d been there while I walked toward the door. Probably some twenty years, anyway. I’d stopped in as I usually did several times a week back then to start my day. Selma, the owner of the place, had bought the old Dingleberry Bog Diner a few years earlier when she decided move up from the coast where she’d run Selma’s Bait Shed down to Mud Clam Cove for as long as I could remember. Funny. It seems like a half dozen or so of us had all moved upcountry to Fannyflame from the Cove within a couple of years then. I’d stayed for fifteen or twenty years before moving on. I wondered if any of the rest were still around. Anyway, I recalled how I had ambled in, taken “my” place on the third stool from the low tide end of the counter. as usual, and ordered up the Wednesday morning sausage, eggs, and coffee special. Selma yawned and strutted back to the kitchen to tell Mert to throw on a couple.
I don’t know why, but for some reason, while I was trying to figure out how to fold my newspaper, it had occurred to me that the table over by the plastic lemon tree in the corner might be a cozy place to enjoy my breakfast, so I hopped off my stool and hiked over there right about the same time Selma came around the corner with a steaming cup of coffee. She looked at my then-vacant spot at the counter, surveyed the room, and huffed over to my table.
“Why’nch ya just sit here in the first place…..?” she snorted.
As Selma disappeared back into the kitchen, I looked down at the table where she had rather roughly set my mug of coffee. There was a splash of coffee on the plastic table cloth. Well, that’s a fine thing, I figured, thinkin’ if I set my elbow in the wrong spot, I’d get my shirt wet. So, I’d tucked my paper under my arm, picked up my mug of coffee, and looked around for a better spot to sit. I opted for the nice big table for six by the window.
Selma came out of the kitchen and marched over to where I was sitting, stopping at the wet table along the way to give it a quick swipe with a damp rag.
“Look,” she enunciated, fist propped on a cocked hip, looking over her bifocals at me, “find a place to sit and stay put. What’s your problem, ennaway?”
“Hmmph……,” I’d shot back with exaggerated indignity. She just kinda squinted.
“Well, geeez…..you been sittin’ on the third stool at the counter since Methuselah was a half pint………whatever. Sit wherever you want, I guess, but make up your mind. I can’t be running all over the place trying to find you!”
She whipped out her order pad and stomped over to where Harley Fenstermacher and Fern had just sat down. What a pair they had been, I recalled.
I remembered how the odor of fresh cow manure wafted over from their table. Now, I liked Harley and Fern……known Harley since I was just a bait boy back at the Cove…. but had often thought it might be a good idea if they’d wash up after chores and not just come into the Diner stinkin’ like the south end of a north bound heifer. I moved back to my original spot at the counter, dropping my fork on the floor as I put my stuff down and settled onto my stool.
“Selma,” I called across the room, trying to catch her attention before she got all the way to my former table only to discover that I wasn’t there anymore. “Can I have a clean fork, please?”
She’d spun around, eyes wide, steam coming out of her ears, two fried eggs yielding to the laws of physics, arcing smoothly off the plate to land right on Harley Fenstermacher’s left shoulder.
Apologizing profusely to Harley, who was loudly reciting some of his favorite rural invectives, Selma glared at me. “You move a muscle, buster, and the next plate o’ eggs I bring out the door for you will go right on top of your head!”
I shook my head. “Selma, Selma, Selma,” I chuckled in the most friendly tone I could muster. “You really are having a tough mornin’, ain’t cha?”A few minutes later she came out of the kitchen with a plate of sausage and sunny side ups, which she placed none too gently on the counter in front of me.
“Selma,” I said pleasantly…….”I wanted them scrambled….”
Well, so much for my morning coffee and breakfast at the Dingleberry Diner. Selma was known to peel paint with her language once she got all wound up, no doubt honed to a fare-thee-well at the Bait Shed down to the Cove, and it certainly came to life that morning! It was a good month or so before she’d let me into the Dingleberry Bog Diner again….”
(t’ other day…………)
“You start that musical chairs crap again and you can hit the road for another twenty years,” Selma greeted me the second I stepped through the door. “Mornin’, Selma…what’re you still doing on this side of the lawn?” I retorted as the white haired woman in the apron came out from behind the counter and crossed the room, arms outstretched. She grabbed ahold of me and gave me one of her bear hugs.
We exchanged the requisite banter as I walked to the lunch counter and climbed aboard the third stool from the low tide end. I ordered a coffee and looked around the room. There were a few familiar faces, and a couple of them nodded acknowledgment like I’d been there just the day before. It was nice to see the old place and to swap a few lies with Selma just like had years ago. I’d known Selma since back at the Cove before either of us ever ended up in Fannyflame, and for fifteen or twenty years after that before I got me a real job and moved down the road. My mind wandered as we talked to the flood of memories being brought back to life.
I thought about all of the things that had happened around the village of Fannyflame when I had lived there, and about the years before that when I came back from away and settled in Puckahbrush Gore on the east side of the Ridge to try my hand at the “back to the land” shtick when that was all the rage….
Thought I’d just dust off a few of those yarns while I was at it anyway.
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