She’s Off the Rails

“It’s for an April Fool’s joke,” she finally said after my third trip over to help her with a document. A black woman, in her early 20s, she was having problems formatting a Word document. She wore orange and black leopard print stretch pants and she had a diamond stud in her nose. She was soft-spoken, but she was not shy about asking for help with her document, and yet she was secretive about what she was trying to do. She quickly showed me the paper she was trying to duplicate.

Together, we were able to set up the page so it looked like an official document with results from a medical testing company.

It had all kinds of personal information for a man named (redacted). As I looked closer it had blood and urine tests, but the resultsw were folded over so I couldn’t read them.

We walked over to the printer together.

“How’s it look? I asked her.

 “I’m gonna get him,” she said. After she looked at it, the woman turned the paper in my direction.

She had removed the “not” from three lines, leaving the word “detected” after “Chlamydia,” “Gonorrhea,” and “Syphilis.”

“I hope he can take a joke,” I said, worried that if he responded violently, I could be considered an accessory to the crime.

She was grinning, not as widely as Snidely Whiplash, but in such a way that this went a bit beyond funny and into villainous territory, like Chuck Klosterman’s book, I Wear the Black Hat.

I just read his book, which I’ll call uneven but still informative and entertaining, and not without a Stump the Librarian reference. A man named Gardner had his leg severed after he was tied to train tracks. Snidely is a cartoon, Gardner is a nonfiction person, but I couldn’t decide if this woman was mean, villainous, or just having a little mischievous fun.    

“It’s gonna be good,” she said. She didn’t have a mustache to twirl, but as she turned to me her nose ring twinkled.

Beer, Books, and Bras

I brought home a massive book I had the library order about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Years Later LIFE Remembers the Man and the Moment. I browsed through the book, the photos, and illustrations, but what really piqued my interest was the reproduction of the November 29, 1964 LIFE magazine that was included in the back. Now that we are past all the anniversary remembrances for a president who died three years before I was born, I was intrigued by how our products have changed in 50 years. This is not a trip down nostalgia lane, but an image comparison, a visual catalog if you will, to see how remarkable and unremarkable the changes to products have been over 50 years. 





Teddy Roosevelt brought cases of Schlitz on his big game hunting trip to Africa. Schlitz is still around and owned by Pabst. However, beer markets have changed so much that I have Fairhope Brewing, a local brewery and taproom, in my hometown, and have beers from Alabama, Louisiana, New York, Boston, and Oregon sitting in my fridge. I like to think that I’m part of American beer’s greatest generation, which started in 1984 when I was 17. Thank you Samuel Adams and Jim Koch and others for starting the beer revolution. Craft brewers like Back Forty, Covington, Southern Tier, Harpoon, and Rogue combined don’t come close to the amount Budweiser, no longer a US owned company, brews in one day. In the same Life magazine, Price Furniture Co. of Fairhope, Alabama is listed as a Congoleum-Nairn Floor covering retailer.




I have not gone completely digitally mental, so I still have Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary on my desk. Many people do not, preferring to access a built in dictionary on their eReader, Googling a definition on the web, or downloading the App. Merriam’s Eleventh Edition, published in 2003, may very well be the last, in print.




Maidenform still makes bras. In fact, Maidenform owns most of the bra brands, including Victoria’s Secret and Playtex, according to Wikipedia. This was a successful, bold, and sexy ad campaign in the 1950s and 1960s. So much so that it was mentioned in an episode of Mad Men. In the 410-page Hollywood 2014 edition of Vanity Fair magazine I couldn’t find an ad for a bra, even by an intimates company with the same name, Vanity Fair. However, there are lots of pictures of women with bras showing, as well as arm and hand bras. There are no pictures in the Vanity Fair magazine Oddly there are three images of Marilyn Monroe, and she’s been dead longer than JFK. Since I don’t wear a bra or a bro, I’ll leave it up to the wearers to decide how they have improved.