I’m camped this morning in a funky coffee shop across from Macalester College in St. Paul, Mn. If you wonder how far my stake is in the ground in Charlotte, look no further than the thermometer this morning. The low was a frosty 14F. On top of that I walked a frigid mile to find coffee (a six on the one-to-10 scale). The walk and the low temp both hammered the stake a bit further into the ground. I am surrounded by winter-hardy Minnesotans who think nothing of venturing out in such weather.
Since I’m near to a strong outpost of academia, here is a bit of revisionist history: an older letter to Ellen and Reid (FYI…both are still snoozing this morning, but good for them). Henry insisted on a walk at 6:00 a.m. Who was I not to oblige?
Nov. 20, 2006
EB/Reid: You know, lots of odd things have happened to me in life; breaking a collarbone, eating dog food (just once), having two children, etc. But yesterday was about the weirdest thing that has happened to me in a long time, and certainly the weirdest since I became a Southerner. Someone took off with my loaded, filled-to-the-rim shopping cart. The local grocery store here is Harris Teeter, very nice, chic, see-and-be-seen type of Yuppie/Gen Xer place. So yesterday morning, I take my list to H-T and, starting in the produce section, go aisle by aisle, always looking for the deal. You know, 2-for-1 cans of soup, that sort of thing.
So now, I am virtually all the way through the store, roughly the same size as Hy-Vee but much higher class. Sort of a cross between Dahl’s and Hy-Vee, with a little Palmer’s Deli feel. One of the final items on the list is bagels, so I momentarily park my cart and begin comparison shopping among shelves of wheat, plain and foo-foo options. When I find the half dozen on sale, I turn to my cart – it can’t be 10 feet away – and voom, it’s gone. The store is packed, and I know I let out some sort of expletive – “screw this” – or something equally foul because a little old lady squints at me and kind of turns her nose up although I don’t consciously remember saying “screw this” out loud. Who knows, maybe it came out worse. But my cart is gone and 45 minutes worth of analyzing a 12 oz. package of pasta on sale vs. the 16 oz package that is roughly the same price but not on sale has gone to waste. I’m not angry, just miffed, so off I go in search of the stolen cart. I go next door to the deli section, then wines, then foo-foo organic stuff. No cart. I mean, here it is loaded to the gills with stuff no one else could possibly want but me; cereal, apples, chicken, fresh basil, a fresh copy of Martha Stewart (no, wait, a copy of Martha Stewart Living will never touch any of my possessions), etc. So I head to the check out lines, hoping to bust the culprit when there it is, sitting there alone. Some poor schmuck had inadvertently taken it, tossed in a head of lettuce and some Miller Lite (I did replace those back on the shelves) and thought “What the hell did I just do.” So they abandoned it. I know I was muttering to myself the entire time, and that’s why people gave me a wide berth. Maybe some people find salty language offensive but not me. So the check out guy says ‘did you find everything all right?’ Oh yeah, pal, I sure found everything all right.
Baked some of those round Italian loaves yesterday and went for a short ride in the 50F temps to deliver the goods to my boss (he just adopted twin girls from Guatemala) and my best friends Betsy and Bob. Of course, neither were home at the time so that ruined the effect of hauling in on the Harley. There aren’t a lot of bikers down here, just a few people who ride Harleys if you catch my drift. It’s odd not seeing more bikers tooling around. You can spot the faux Harley guys from a mile away – they all wear lace up boots. There’s no lace up boots in motorcycling. Sissies.
Looking forward to T-Day. The paper said this morning 38 million people will travel this weekend, and 36 million of them will all try to board my particular plane at the same time. But I am looking forward to the Big Red routing the hapless Buffs. Big Corn beats Big Buffalo. Be good.