Wednesday, November 09, 2011

picture perfect

I wake up when it is still dark, but I know we’re getting a whipping out there. It’s not the sound of raindrops, it’s the sound of a thousand lashes. Sheets of rain, sheets of something.

I get back to my paper grading. The light comes in, slowly, tentatively. I look out the window on Ed’s side. I know that stuff! Cold, wet snow.


It’s always thrilling to get that first thin layer...


...To imagine digging out some time soon. To think of the ski trail just down the road. To forsee a landscape of thick powdery white stuff.

For now, it’s just an introduction.


And downtown, it’s only a wet, unlikable mess. I look out onto Bascom Mall and watch the usual march of students braced for the worst.


Students. Which reminds me. My students. It’s their turn now. I’m done grading and commenting (for a bit). They’re working on what I gave them, I exhale.

...And eventually I'll catch up on groceries, on house cleaning, on planting the last of the bulbs – all that was on hold for several weeks and weekends now.

But first, we, Ed and I, have our wonderful moment of respite at the café. It’s a brief spell of quiet, because within minutes we're at it -- gnashing over the central issue of our lives:

I would really like to pick it up today. To celebrate my finished paperwork!
Must we?
Yes, it's there, at Walmart’s. Ship to store. Arrived and ready. We paid for it.
I don’t really want a bigger set.
It’ll be beautiful. Consumer Reports said so.
Bigger, everything has to be bigger. Why do you want bigger...
Let’s try it.
How much do you really want it?
On a scale of 1 to 10?
Funny, for me it’s 3.
So we’re a complete 10!

Ed threatens to tell Bill that I am lusting for a bigger TV. Bill is Paul's, the café owner’s, dad. He’s here every day, helping out. He and Ed share a dislike for any number of things, including consumer spending.

Don’t tell Bill! 
You're embarrassed, aren't you?
I am... Of course I am. Besides, you know he’ll side with you.
Side with what? – this from Paul as he comes from the kitchen.
Oh, Ed and I are continuing our four year disagreement.
I explain the issue.
...I’m with you, Paul says to me. Movies these days are about the visuals.
Bill comes in and, to my shock, he backs me up as well. Get it, enjoy it, it’s not a big deal.
Ed looks crestfallen.
I’m an 8 now, Ed! I say, glowing.
That’s interesting because I’ve just slumped to a 2.

We drive to Walmart’s. We pick up the set. 37 inches! Twice that of the current one! I think of the nature shows we so often watch. Finally vivid. Vibrant. Luminous.
Ed’s scowling.
We wheel the set out, pausing at the cash register to pay for cartons of mineral water (which are almost as cheap here as it is at Woodman’s).
The salesclerk is pleasant, friendly.
An early Christmas present? She asks.
No, no, not that.
Ed grunts.
Don’t mind him. He’s grumpy. He doesn’t want the set.
It’s big. Too big. Do you have a TV set this big? Ed asks.

Actually yes...I have eight sets. Two of them are bigger. Fifty-five's.
Ed throws up his hands.

At home, the snow is nearly melted. Ed climbs on the roof to take down cans of paint. It’ll be cold tonight. Indoors, he works to connect the set. I eat soup from a box. We watch a library movie -- An Education, then Nova.