It is the 1950’s, a Friday night, and we need to go grocery shopping. We have one car, a 1953 Nash Ambassador Super, black body with a red top, Continental wheel, straight 6 engine, three on the tree, and overdrive. A righteous car. We all pile in the car, Dad, me, my elder brother in the front, Mama, my sister, my younger brother in the back. That’s the we way we did riding in the car. Mother did not drive. We had just one car anyway.
We went to the A&P. Some people went to the Safeway; some people shopped at the Colonial Store; some went to Siegel’s (run by brothers Hip and Charlie). There were other local independent supermarkets and superettes (so asserted Richfood, the local buyers’ co-op). But we went to the A&P. To a child’s mind, this was almost like our religious affiliation. We were Presbyterians on Sunday who shopped at the A&P on Friday and we all rode in the same car to go to both church and store. “God’s in His Heaven, all’s right with the world.”
We would shop. Dad preferred Bokar Coffee, available only at A&P. That’s probably why we went. Dad was as serious about his coffee as he was about this country, the Marine Corps, the Presbyterian Church and the Republican Party. Coffee was serious business in his family. His father (Pop) called it “Arbuckles”. The first coffee I ever tasted was what Pop gave to me from a spoon, with cream. Still the best coffee I ever tasted.
The A&P was on Meadowbridge Road in Highland Park, near a fire station. The neighborhood was transitioning from all-white to all-black. Next to the A&P was a High’s Ice Cream Store. It was a local chain, that had chrome steel swivel stools at the counters. They sold ice cream at five cents a scoop. The single scoop cone had a pointy end. Sometimes we would be mean to my sister and bite the tip off her cone. (I think she forgave us for this. At least I hope so.) The High’s Stores were staffed by these little old ladies who wore pale pastel-green dresses (like the old fashioned nurses’ uniforms) and hairnets, white hairnets. As drug addiction grew in the Richmond area, the junkies would rob the High’s Stores to get the money for a fix.. Eventually the High’s Stores went out of business and the junkies moved on to the 7-Elevens.
Ice cream was a big deal. On a hot summer night, we would get in the car, ride to High’s, Dairy Queen, Tastee Freez, or the Curles’ Neck Dairy Bar. When we went to Curles’ Neck, we could get an awesome maple nut ice cream. Then we would ride down to Byrd Park and watch the illuminated fountain in the Fountain Lake. It was fun. It was free. My Dad, who worked between his civilian job and his Marine Reserve duty almost constantly, loved this time with his children. We loved this time with him.
In retrospect, all of these simple pleasures were living on borrowed time. What destroyed them was affluence and the advertisers who promoted bigger and better versions of fun. So now we go to Disney World or Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion, for better or worse.
Two years ago, my elder son decided to take on clearing out my late brother’s house. My brother was a hoarder. We found many artifacts from the not too distant American past.
Does anyone remember seeing this on a can at the grocery store? It brings back the whole shopping experience before the advent of the barcode reader. The clerk would key-in the prices manually into
the cash register. It would makes this noise from all the little gears and wheels turning. It was a different time.
We all need reminders that life on this Earth is worth living. For example, at Mass, I’ll frequently get a better idea of what Love is by watching the children with their parents than by listening to the homily. Any priest worth his salt would probably agree.
The best reminders are usually commonplace, A beautiful sunset, singing birds, a well-played baseball game, dessert. In the Reminders Class is sex. It is how I connect and relate. If or when that physical relationship with our Lovers diminishes or disappears, the loss is agonizing. I caressed Mrs CorC?’s thigh the other night as we lay together in bed. She rebuffed the gesture, but emphatically stated “I love you!” I have been living with the sting since that moment. Truth be told, she doesn’t “do” love “that way”, through expressions of physical affection. In the wake of each rejection, a quest for validation, joy, and fun begins. I’m a master at sublimation; a long swim, a good meal, a beautiful novel. A Rosary, quietly prayed, opens another channel for Love to come in. So deep night finds me alone with the beads.
I read of husbands and wives who keep the flame of sexual love alive. You give hope to me.
Nothing messes my head up like an afternoon of TV. The commercials for everything from SUV’s to jewelry to beer get me wondering how I can be so happy when I have no desire to purchase any of this schlock.
What prompted the increased vigor toward getting rid of stuff is the spectre of my YMCA dues being drafted from my checking account sometime around Monday. If I can sell enough books to cover the dues, that would be great. I’m about 20% there already. It’s a fun game.
Sleep? I’m pro-sleep. And yet….
It comes hard. Sleep. I wake up at night from the discomfort of being in one position, am awake for an hour or so. Last night, at 3:00 AM, I watched a re-broadcast of a Big 10 Women’s Softball Tournament Game.(Note: There are more than ten universities in the Big Ten, but the Big However Many Colleges Are In The Conference This Year is a bit unwieldy.) In my senescence, I’m watching more baseball and softball, with a greater appreciation for the games than I’ve ever had before in my life. I finally got sleepy again, around 4:00 AM and slept til 7:00 AM. This is all an aftermath of the back surgery.
In this room straightening and book culling, I’ve found several tubes of lubricant, intended for use in sexual activities, all unopened. Add the Magic Wand Vibrator to the lube tubes and you get the idea how bleak my life my love life is.
So it’s been a while since I put my actual thoughts, feelings and activities into the blog. I’ve thought about a lot of things I would like to say, from a bucket list of my deeper desires, to thoughts about our narcissistic culture, to my latest endeavors around getting our house free of junk. Through it all I’ve read y’all’s blogs and am grateful I don’t have to face the problems some of you are experiencing, and am jealous of the FUN some of you all are having.
Let’s start with the conundrum that is sex. Some people look at sex as a struggle between procreation and pleasure, that the experience of any kind sexual pleasure is ipso facto a perversion. The sole legitimate purpose of sex from that perspective is procreation, bringing another human being into the world. Well, we all know that that is quite the yoke to place around a person’s neck. On the other hand to devalue procreative sex is to deny our humanity. We need to nurture, both men and women. There is, I think a middle ground, a via media. Sex is about intimacy. From that intimacy springs both ecstatic pleasure and new life. There is dissent from my position. I get that, but I’m not here to argue. I respect all perspectives on sex.
Next: THE HOUSE. This place is chock full of crap, Mrs CorC’s old client files, books I probably won’t read, clothes I won’t wear, tchotchkes collecting dust. I’ve written about it before and letting go of it is hard. It is the wasted energy of my life made both tangible and burdensome. The latest strategy involves my working on one room at a time. My bedroom/ man cave is getting attention. I just discovered that an affiliate of Books A Million, 2nd & Charles, buys used books and am selling some of my stuff to them. Thank God. They evaluate up to three boxes of books a day and make an offer on the books they think they can sell. The real value lies in getting the books out of the house; the books they don’t take can go directly to the Goodwill Donation Center situated across the street.
Speaking of which, time to load my three daily boxes and get going.
We saw a mama duck and her ducklings cross the perimeter road at the Mall. Had to shoot a video,