Punch list: the sequel

Here is an update on my punch list.

Wednesday: I have cleared the weeds, (item #4, complete) including in the side yard where trampoline assembly has begun (item #1, up to the mitosis step where you must become two people to flip the base frame). I have been clocking my miles on the highways and byways, delivering and collecting children (item #5). Item #6 was postponed due to flash flood warning. Item #3 is just such a big hassle, more mitosis and no wall space.

I had a 7:30 a.m. appointment at the auto glass repair place Wednesday morning (item #2, complete). It was the third place I called; they mentioned rock pits as a specialty in their ad. They quoted a reasonable fee for the repair person to come to us, but $20 less if I went there.

The shop is in a liminal part of town, on a segment of land bordered by a major highway exchange, a place you pass through between the major th0roughfares; central and close to the desirable neighborhood I wrote about earlier; close to the center of town, but with light industry, public housing and modest free-market houses on small plots of land, We had been there to visit a friend of my older daughter once during the house hunting days and both the girls, who had been signing the virtues of granite kitchen islands and teen suites, loved it. The houses are small with the highly desirable Flat Yard and have porches people actually sit on with friends and dogs. There have been some city school consolidations, resulting from a combination of a desegregation order still in effect, the economy and probably local politics. One school, now closed, has last year’s graduation dates in its marquee and a for sale sign on the chain-link fence.

14th Street, NYC, c. 1985

Here you find good Mexican food, dodgy-looking evening establishments, like the Twilite Lounge, and a baby furniture store which looks like a yard sale, reminding me of one of those places that used to line 14th Street in NYC that sold housewares and Elvis/last supper/reclining panther wall hangings and gradually disappeared when they built Zeckendorf Towers in 1987.

The mechanic arrives after I do. He is late because his son, whom he refers to as The Mop, was blow-drying his hair. The mechanic, who has long braids and tattoos, does not mind the length but finds the style, angled down across his face, impractical in the heat. He is also annoyed by the amount of time the boy spends on it as well as his habit of leaving the plugged in dryer in a wet sink. The Mop’s football coach is starting to get on him about it, but dad is nonplussed. The mechanic does not really understand football. A wrong redressed by loving NASCAR so much, he explains, that he even has a tattoo with the nickname of a NASCAR driver on the inside of his forearm.

His assessment of the pit in the windscreen is that the damage is both superfluous and chronic. It’s like a metaphor for so many things. He puts some resin on it and says there is no charge. Come back when you need new glass.

Later that morning I take my daughter to the free family movie at the local movie theater, with its retro Art Deco signage, set in the cow pastures which are getting munched away by parking lots and superstores. It is an Alvin the chipmunk movie. I was prepared not to like it for the squeaky voices alone but I was amazed by how many things there were to not like about it overall. Here are two:

1) the way the American high school experience is portrayed in movies — violent jocks; vapid, hot girls; losers and deranged school administrators. A big happy prom/pep rally/party/take-to-the-streets scene at the end ensures that while our protagonist has survived this experience the context is retained and validated, ready for next year’s misfits to go through the mill. The jocks dance with the nerds in the closing credits, but come September we will have to rewind and do it all over again. This movie was aimed at little kids so they had to paint with broad strokes, this is not the time for introspective My So-Called Life characters, but I found the whole thing depressing. Why tell little kids that high school is like this? Why script it for them?

2) Sexy chipmunks are just wrong. I know, Minnie Mouse, Bugs in drag, Jessica Rabbit, it’s a long tradition, but these girl chipmunks, dressed like Britney Spears in the “Hit Me Baby” video were a bit too much. Our idea of what’s appropriate for kids may differ from the norm, but we are still shocked by the sight of girls in bikinis or skimpy shorts bopping around with car wash signs, raising money for teams or Young Life, or whatever, an activity that takes place as a routine part of local high school fundraisers.

A book I have been reading, Girls Will Be Girls, talks about the importance of helping girls “negotiate the gray,” so when my daughter bugs me for the umpteenth time about the need for lowish high heels, I explain what high heels are about and why women wear and/or endure them. Her reaction is somewhere on the spectrum between Ew and Weird.

Friday: The Waffle house workers/diners sit together at one end of the counter and wave to me, in what I take less as a come on in way, more of a hey you insurance claims adjuster creep, get out of our parking lot. And, sadly, you don’t get a sense of the scope of its isolation from the parking lot, so not very successful as the desired picture, but completed.

The trampoline has lost 11 of its springs in the move, which I find out when I am ready to attach the last 11 springs. In its seeming to be assembled state, but not, it has advanced from eyesore to hazard. The bookcase is still standing where it was.

And I did other stuff: I went to a Korean marketĀ  (there are two near us and others further afield) and got spring roll wrappers to make my daughter’s favorite dish. I discovered a freezer full of dumplings, seeds for Oriental veg and other reasons to go back and explore. I went to an early bird tennis clinic with a friend. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and decided that, page-turner as it is, I am not going to read the rest of the series. Sometimes we are better without a sequel, or even a Squeakquel.


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