So yeah I had one of those “no clearance in niche” dreams again last night where I fall into the subway tunnel for one reason or another (I dropped my ipod this time), and of course the train starts coming, I’m all frantic, trying to climb back on the platform (which is just too high for me to get back up obviously), and my only recourse then is to test the validity of that famous slogan you see everywhere: no clearance in niche. Um. But each time, just as I squeeze my body into that rectangular hole, as worried subway-goers yellingly remind me, “Wait! There’s no clearance in that niche!” (as if I’d forgotten), just as those headlights draw near and that enormous metallic knife is about to presumably chop me in half, I wake up for crying out loud! I wake up sweaty, half-relieved that my spinal-cord wasn’t severed, but half-frustrated (maybe it’s actually 30/70 in favor of frustration), cause part of me really wants to know, is there actually for real no clearance in that niche? Even for me? Someone who just recently found out after a visit to The American Museum of Natural History (and I don’t mean to toot my own horn or anything) that he’ll only weigh .620lbs on the surface of Haley’s Comet? Even no niche-room for me?
Anyway, I’ve always (since birth practically) been curious why they put that warning there in the first place? Did some over-confident (perhaps over-plump as well?) MTA worker once get caught on the wrong side of an oncoming train falsely-thinking, “Oh I have clearance in this niche, no big deal.” Then, SQUOOSH. “What happened to Fred?” “Well he thought he had clearance in that niche.” “You mean that little rectangular thing?” “It’s deceivingly small, Bill.” “Really?” “Well Fred was over-plump too.” “Maybe we should put a sign there just in case.” “Fred was fat just admit it.” “Yeah you’re right. Talk about a crash diet.” “Wow Bill, you’re on fire tonight.”
Ok so I’m pretty bad at a few things in this ol’ world of ours, um, and one of those things is genuinely saying hello or good-morning (whathaveyou) to the security guards that sit in the lobby of my work-building. I still do say these things usually, (hi, hello, how are you, take care, good night, have a good one, etc) but when I say these things, they, it all just comes out wrong, you know, and I can tell they can tell I’m not really into the whole thing. Bottom line: I get a skeptical face, I think.
But the reason I bring this up: ok, so today I return from lunch, there’s a long line of swipers getting back to the office, and as the guy in front of me swipes his card at the security gate, he has this whole rapport with the security guard.: “1975 Pontiac Thunderbird. Red or Black?” he asks gruffly, and the guard thinks for a second, then blurts out, “Both!” they both laugh heartily, and I’m thinking, “Wow they really have a relationship, I’m so jealous,” blah blah blah. But then after we pass the guard I hear some other guy asking the Thunderbird guy, “What was that about?” and the Thunderbird guy’s like: “Oh it’s just this thing we do together.”
You see what I mean sort of: it’s a “thing” they do, it’s kind of fake, I mean, basically I think I’m just not really into doing “things” with people. I like having genuine conversations when I can (what does that mean?), but routines for the sake of routines I’m not good at: my poker face when it comes to these sorts of quasi-stranger interactions is pretty poor, I won’t lie. But I’m working on it. Who can resist saying ‘mornin to Big Sal anyway? (pictured below)
This week’s Vice-President is: Thomas Marshall!
Born: March 14, 1854
Died: June 1, 1925
Vice-President #: 28
Under: Woodrow Wilson
Dates: March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921
Fun Facts: Thomas Riley Marshall was a progressive Governor from Indiana from 1909-1913 and Indiana delegates nominated him for President in 1912 but eventually William Jennings Bryan endorsed Woodrow Wilson instead. Initially Marshall turned down the Vice-Presidency, thinking it would be boring, but he gave in and served the post for 8 years, the last Governor to do so (Wilson and Marshall were the first President/Vice President team re-elected since Monroe and Tompkins in 1820).
After Wilson suffered a severe stroke a year before his term was up, Marshall could have become the first “Acting President of the United States,” but since the protocol for this was unclear, he did not make this claim.
Marshall is best known perhaps, believe it or not, for a phrase he introduced during a Senate debate in 1917. As the legend goes, a rather long-winded senator began spouting off rhetoric: “What this country needs is so and so…” “What this country needs is blah blah blah,” etc, and Marshall turns to his clerk and quips, “What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar.” Where would we be today, truly, without that phrase?
Quickly: so yeah everyone knows it’s been raining forever (finally the weather pessimists are patting themselves on the back), and I’ve always been cheap with umbrella-purchases cause I constantly leave them places, whathaveyou, so I’m walking two feet to the subway on Sunday afternoon, holding one of those bodega-umbrellas that are three-dollars and made of tissue-paper, needless to say I had bad moment when a gust of wind came, it got ugly, I was super-embarrassed, of course, some old man shouted, “There she goes!” etc, etc.
And I’m sitting on the subway in wet shoes, fallen soldier in hand, looking from passenger to passenger: not at their faces (no I’m too ashamed), or at their probably-similarly-wet shoes, but at their umbrellas. Gosh, they all look so strong, so impressive, whoa a wooden handle, that can only mean one thing: stability, safety, hope, and at that moment, oh boy, I felt the most potent umbrella-envy I’ve ever experienced, perhaps that I’ll ever experience (nope, I didn’t go out and my a super-industrial-model the next day, but I did take one from my boyfriend, and it has a wooden handle,). Booyah! Goodnight.
Ok so mothers are the worst culprits of this, but we’ve all done it probably: attribute unexplainable marks on our bodies to “the night,” you know, “Oh I must have scratched myself in the night,” or saying “I must have slept funny” to make sense of some neck pain you didn’t feel the day before. And I just wanted to call attention to “the night” as one of the last great mysteries in our (forthemostpart) dull, explainable existences. During the day, things just happen blah-ly, cause-and-effect is still in play, “Oh why are you limping?” “Because I stubbed my toe on a mailbox,” andsoforth. But “the night” is wow, anything potentially could happen (and it does!), there’s tossing and turning, scratching, most likely, half-talking in odd sleep-languages (“muh batubuh floop?” etc). Basically for eight hours or so we all go on vacation to dreamworld while our bodies are left on their own without a babysitter, and yeah they misbehave a little, get in weird positions, scratch and claw things for unknown reasons, I think it’s pretty exciting stuff, don’t you? Nighttime! (oooh!!)
This week’s Vice-President is: Henry Wilson!
Born: February 16, 1812
Died: November 22, 1875
Vice-President #: 18
Under: Ulysses S. Grant
Dates: March 4, 1873 – November 22, 1875
Fun Facts: Wilson was born Jeremiah Jones Colbath but had his name legally changed at the age of 21 (he was adopted by the Wilson family at a young age when the Colbath family could no longer support 12 children). Allegedly, remembering his father’s drinking problem, “Jeremiah,” at the age of 19, swore he would never consume alcohol. In 1833, Wilson moved to Natick, Massachusetts and worked as a shoemaker (his Senate nickname was the “Natick cobbler”)
Wilson was implicated in the Credit Mobilier scandal but not as badly as Schuyler Colfax, who Wilson replaced in Grant’s second-term. In 1873, Wilson suffered a stroke and became paralyzed. Bed ridden, he wrote the three-volume, “History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America in 1877.” In 1875, Wilson died in his office in the Capitol Building. The office remained vacant for the last two years of Grant’s term.
So lately I’ve been contemplating “switching to the gun” to say hi to people (yeah I know, it’s a bold move). Oh for those of you who are sort of behind-the times (it’s cool, I used to be just like you), “the gun” is this really exciting new way to say hi to someone passing you at work: instead of awkwardly waving hello or having to verbally say, “How are you doing?” or something, you just simply point your finger at them and pull the fake trigger. Literally it’s like the internal combustion engine for two-second office-environment interactions! It’s hip, it’s different, and above all, people really get a kick out of it. There’s this girl at work, Stephie, who’s been “a gunner” so to speak, for almost a month now, she was the first, and she’s probably the most popular person in the office (not counting free-donuts-on-Wednesdays-guy, of course), and I’m convinced it has a lot to do with this neat way she greets people. There are always hoots and hollers coming from her cube, sometimes she even elaborates on the gesture, shooting the gun at some passerby then pulling it up to her mouth and blowing out the fake smoke (Public television people flip over that move for some reason.).
Yeah so this phenomenon has been growing like hotcakes over here, there are new gunners springing up every hour practically, it’s not uncommon for one person to shoot the gun at someone else only to have this other person return the gun right back at them, I’m completely serious! So yeah now you understand why I have to jump on this bandwagon before I’m the only sissy in the Old West (PBS) that hasn’t switched to the gun. Try introducing the gun in your office environment, but be prepared for the repercussions: instantaneous popularity, faster promotion potential, a one-way ticket to the front of the copy line, just to name a few. Anyway, I got to go practice my draw, take care.
This week’s Vice-President is: Alben Barkley!
Born: November 24, 1877
Died: April 30, 1956
Vice-President #: 35
Under: Harry Truman
Dates: January 20, 1949 – January 20, 1953
Fun Facts: Barkley, a Kentuckian, was 71 when he became Vice-President, the oldest to date. He also is the only Vice-President to ever marry while in office. Yep, at age 71, he married a widow (Jane Hadley) who was 38, which caused quite a stir. He was also the last VP born in a log cabin.
According to the Truman Library website: “Because of his legislative experience, Truman insisted on his inclusion in all cabinet-level meetings and on the National Security Council, which made him the first working Vice-President in United States History.”
His 10-year old grandson once called him “Veep” which is when the term was coined. He died of a heart-attack while giving a speech at a “mock convention” at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. Reportedly, he had just said: “I would rather be a servant in the House of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty” before keeling over.
Yeah so a couple of things I’ve done in my life make me go, “Ahh, I’m pretty proud of that,” you know. Hey, I try to be a humble guy forthemostpart but a few things just involuntarily make me smile, blush, etc. Well, one of those things is when I taught myself to write my fours with a closed-pointy top (see picture). Ok, so it was circa 2nd grade, the sky was black, it was storming (most likely), I was probably doing math problems as I was wont to do back then (well I didn’t want to, but that’s a different story, wow) and I guess I was experimenting with my fours, and POOF I found one I liked (see picture). Ok, so you’re probably thinking mundane-city, right? Well, yeah, but what’s slightly interesting is that I distinctly remember thinking to myself that writing fours this way is going to feel strange at first but like ten years from then, it’s going to feel completely normal. I knew sort of that if I started something like this early enough, it will eventually become second-nature. In other words, I was so insightful for an eight year old it’s just ridiculous. But all joking/kidding aside, this is so how I write my fours now! Of course people mistake them for nines but who cares, they’re mine. I got in there early while my hard-wiring was still going on, and yeah I’m pretty proud of jumping on that opportunity, I can’t lie. Btw, 2004 was sooo my favorite year since 1994, and I’m almost jittery for 2014! Fours!
What’s your “fours” equivalent?? Come on, everyone’s got one!