Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It’s like rubbing the belly of a lobster before plunging it into a pot of boiling water

What a day! All sun and warm temps, what a day!

I had been up since 4, agonizing over how many plusses to give to the paper grades I distributed to my first year law students and so you would think that by late afternoon I would be spent. Wrongo bongo!

I took Mr. B for a little 'pleasure trip' after class. I let him pick out guards for the winter (this post led me to believe I should in some way winterize my guy). He opted for yellow against his blue body. I thought it was a little garish (even though I am SUCH a fan of blue and yellow). I would have chosen the steely metal, but you know, you gotta let the guy preen and show off every now and then.

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We did far far west side errands and then I took him to Borders on this warmest of October days. Bliss. A Maisie Dobbs mystery, a low hot sun, a latte and Mr. B and me.

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Then came the hatchet. Mr. B, I expect service. I want respect for things that are important to me. I need you to carry your weight. To contribute.

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The bags are there for a purpose. You are strong. At Willie Street Bikes they said you were built so well! Do your stuff. Carry my groceries for me, please.

I’m in for a period of moping. Indeed, Mr. B was in a reclining position when I retrieved him at my last rest stop. It was all pretense and high drama, I am sure. No matter. I’m firm. I need him to use his muscle. He and I are in this together, while the guilt-car gently weeps.

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…like a cigarette should

So, I was a social smoker once. Times were different. Only goody two-shoes prissy girls did not smoke. Smoking was cool. I hated the way it made my lungs hurt (being one with weaker lungs) but I hated being lumped in with the goody two-shoes prissy girls even more.

So, depending on which set of friends I was with – the goody two-shoes super achievers or the rowdy set – I stayed clear of the stuff or I puffed away with the whole motley lot of them, starting (on rare occasions) when I was 15 and finally saying good riddance to the pretence of enjoying it at around 22.

So, of course, then I proceeded to hate smokers. Take your putrid second-hand smoke elsewhere!

So, now I am past that. In France, Poland, Italy (places where smokers are not yet the devils incarnate that they are here), if they’re puffin’ away next to me, I hardly notice.

Still, it was weird for me to be moving into an apartment that had tobacco written all over its walls. Indeed, my place is in a building that once housed the warehouse where Wisconsin leaves rested, awaiting the train journey to North Carolina where they would be used as cigar wrappers – being too low-grade to serve as the stuff of Lorillard brand cigarettes.

I am looking at the brick walls of my loft, not too long ago covered with dirt and soot and I am impressed with their history, for it was a dirty one and dirty pasts bespeak of complicated lives.

I’ve been reading a lot about Lorillard since I moved here – about the company’s curious advertising strategies (even as it commanded a tiny share of the overall market with – remember these names? Kent, True, Old Gold…), about its origins (it is, in fact, the oldest tobacco company in the country, dating back to 1760) and I am, for once, satisfied with my city, for it recognized shades of gray in naming a street just this year after Lorillard – my street, tainted and tarnished. Just like so many of us living there now.

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sign of the times: only native prairie flowers are used to surround the tempered brick walls; and there are to be no AC condensers, nor gas-based heating units; instead, an elaborate system of geothermal wells built under the parking lot provides steady climate control to the buildings.