Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sounds like Something the UN Secretary General Should Answer

We went on an excursion of sorts, for us, yesterday. Our daughter, home from college for the summer, didn't have to work which made it an unusual Saturday, and my wife and I decided to go in search of a Pasta Pot ('as seen on TV'). We've had one we bought in a brick and mortar store, as I like to call them, and it came with a second and much smaller pot that, as it turns out, is perfect for Michelle, while living in the dorm, to use to cook macaroni and cheese (her very nearly most favorite thing in the world to eat). We've basically used them both up.

I like buying things on line because I don't have to go to the store and get jostled and interact with other people since I'm not a big fan of people I don't know, and vice versa (especially vice versa) but all the places I was looking at on line yesterday had these combo offers that made my head spin--recipe books, a light bulb needing no batteries, forty acres and a mule and each one comes with a life size Billy Mays poster--probably all great stuff (or not) but way beyond what I wanted or needed. I suggested to my wife we hit the Tanger Outlets on I-95 in Westbrook and off we sped.

Okay, sped is a slight overstatement. On our side of Connecticut, we only have the 1965 version of I-95, two lanes in either direction, with the occasional VW bug putt-putting along and a lot of those big, old Buicks, Roadmasters (usually) rolling along bumper to bumper as a lot of folks are heading to "the Cape" for their two weeks of summer, and for anyone south of Massachusetts, you pass through The Nutmeg State to get there.

Everyone laughed at New Jersey thirty-five years ago when the Turnpike Authority built out all those miles to six lanes in each direction ('now we can get through Joisey faster!' you said) but it will never happen on this end of Connecticut where tradition and habit get in the way of innovation because there's no land to build out the interstate and no place to put all the cars. Wait until they start rebuilding the Q Bridge in New Haven. Half a billion bucks and chaos for half a decade. It only felt like an eternity to get there and we found a Pasta Pot offer at Kitchen Collection for nine dollars and something.

Sigrid had a coupon that got us the thing for less than on line minus shipping and handling and we then walked around and saved a lot more money buying stuff that, had we NOT been there in the first place, we'd have never purchased and thus could have saved even more (My idea of an economic stimulus package.)

The outlet malls are all set up like little villages with the shops in fake store fronts with sidewalks in front of them. You park out in the North Forty and walk forever or get a little shuttle tram to take you to the 'retail village' where you wander up and down past the shops as if you were in a small city.

Strangely, most of us do live in or near cities and towns with downtown shopping districts that are disasters, with Main Street's white-washed windows and vacant stores (oh, that's why the Springsteen reference was there), but we'll let some developer build a Potemkin Village in a cow pasture it takes three hours to get to, and as long as it has cash register, we'll throw money at the businesses in it. Pick it up and move it to where we live, where there ALREADY are REAL buildings, sidewalks and streets and we'll stay away in droves.

On the way home from Westbrook we always stop at Denny's because you can eat these sinfully delicious breakfasts at any time of the day or night--just looking at the website is 1100 calories I think.It is every bit as good as I remembered it from the last time except for the part where it is better and I'm ready to head home. And then I get caught up short as we're waiting to pay at the cashier station and head home as the young person asks as they always do, "and how was everything?"

Everything, I wonder...on earth? Just in this hemisphere? Philosophically, metaphysically, intellectually, politically? Where to start and where to end? My knees buckle as my mind races to sum up the implications with which I'm confronted.

Just fine, I assured her, casting a glance at my wife who has caught my Prince of Denmark act more than once. Sometimes thirty two years of marriage must feel like twenty years of schooling. Besides, Ban Ki-Moon can answer this stuff standing on his head.
-bill kenny

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