borrower privileges

Partway through this morning I delivered a glass of water upstairs to Oliver Fern during the second hour of another one of those marathon FaceTimes for which he and my mom have become quite famous, he paused his reading to her of James and the Giant Peach, noisily gulping from the recycled jam jar like an impatient point guard during a timeout, while I pulled open the blinds and curtains of his dark, faintly odorific bedroom (he’d gleefully, quite diabolically farted under the covers in order to strategically repel me) for scant light, the view of Madison Valley below was a misty one. He declined my request for him to get dressed but it was impudent of me to press the matter owing to the grand tradition that it’s important to get away with certain hell when your grandma’s involved. Besides, I noticed my mom was sewing in her pajamas. Those two are birds of a feather so I quietly saw myself out.

At the time, I was on the verge of finishing Upton Sinclair’s landmark novel The Jungle by lunchtime, having gotten temporarily delayed last night when I had to borrow Adam’s e-reader upon discovering pages two hundred and fifty-three (and two hundred and fifty-four) missing from my musty 1963 edition. It was deliriously fortunate the Seattle Public Library had an electronic copy available otherwise I was poised for a conniption fit the likes of Rumpelstiltskin. Reading this masterpiece of that muckraker extraordinaire still raises hackles particularly since those eminently disposable Lithuanians, Bohemians and Poles in Chicago were my relatives. That lot fared at least marginally better than Blacks brought up from the South by the trainloads to serve as scabs in the stockyards, only to be cut loose and beat over the heads by ruddy-faced Irish policemen (we’ve come so far yet so……….very little). The triumphant screed of socialism at the end is laughably tidy that it’s no wonder Sinclair was utterly bewildered most of America missed his main point but if it’s any consolation for the long-dead author, I’ve taken to newly appreciating the labors of our very own delightfully pontificatious, hardworking city councilmember socialist-in-residence who has always gotten exceedingly high marks from me for pissing off the Chamber of Commerce, in spite of the infuriating minor habit of completely ignoring those constituents from Council District 3 who voted her onto the City Council, to begin with. Upsetting the apple cart takes up a lot of energy. At any rate, Adam’s halfway through Stephen King’s The Stand, the disturbing premise (a pandemic) of which I was completely unawares until this morning. Ugh.

Speaking of lunch, I made the boys sandwiches with applewood smoked turkey and slices of Colby jack cheese but unfortunately the watermelon (first of the season, last one left in the crate) I picked up yesterday is in quarantine for a day or two so I cut up a Honeycrisp apple for the four of us. Their mom was late for lunch, she was tied up on an hourslong call with a mansplaining jerk blaming her for half the world’s known ills but we gave her a hug when she came out (granted it was that instant before compartmentalization) which is one of the perks of working from home provided you’re capable of mentally blocking out the sometimes-constant melodious beeping of buttons on a microwave oven by a pack of hungry, culinary-challenged baboons, as it were.

2 thoughts on “borrower privileges

  1. That’s a coincidence. I was thinking about The Jungle the other day. I’m due for another reading. I think there’s a good chance I missed the point, or would at least find new things in it. At least I hope an extra 30+ years would lead to new insights. It’s tough to beat a honeycrisp apple and cheese. Embarrassed that I know so little about Sawant and the council as a whole. I have heard her speak loads of times, and I like that she’s out there stirring things up.

    • It’s the weirdest thing, I’m not really sure why I chose to read The Jungle exactly when I did but it turned out to be perfect timing for me to receive it. It’s always been on my list because Chicago is such a genealogically/historically important place for my family. I’m going through an alternately glorious and depressing renaissance of reading. Depressing because I haven’t been able to figure out what I was doing twenty-five, thirty years ago that was so important when I should have been reading certain books. But so it goes. I’m making up for lost time and just maybe I can figure out how to stand off to the side but still raise some hell.

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