Saturday, 17 February 2018

Barbara Dane

            I’d put it off long enough. Friday had to be laundry day if I didn’t want to start wearing my ragged clean underwear. When I do that my genitalia slips through the holes and starts talking funny.
            When I was walking into the Laundromat the Korean guy that seems like he might run the place was walking out and a young woman I hadn’t seen before, wearing a blue smock that seemed to serve as a casual uniform gave me a surprisingly bright greeting of, “Hello, how are you?” I don’t think that I’ve ever been greeted in that way by a Laundromat employee.
            The Laundromat was unusually crowded for a Friday. I wanted to wash my sweat pants by themselves in one of the cheaper top load washers, but half of them were out of order and the other half were being used. I put everything else in one of the big front load washers and once I had done that one of the little washers had been freed up. As I was on my way to the change machine a woman with a familiar face walked in with her two young racially mixed daughters of maybe about 8 and 4 years of age. At first I thought I recognized her from the food bank but later I realized that she’s a cashier at Freshco.  I’d remembered her once smiling sweetly at a customer with a child that had been crying because she wouldn’t buy her a Kinder Egg. She’d told the mother then that she understood because she had two of her own. Now as she started getting ready to do her laundry she almost immediately began to yell at her oldest daughter. She’d asked her to move a chair and to sit down at the table, but when the girl tried to do what she was told I guess she did it wrong or took the chair to the wrong table because the mother shouted, “Oh my fucking lord! What the fuck is wrong with you?”
            Once my stuff was in the wash I rode down to No Frills to correct my mistake of not having bought soap the day before. It turned out they were having a $1 sale. The avocadoes were a dollar each and there was a little elderly lady already picking through them. As I came up to do the same, she commented pleasantly in a Caribbean accent, “These avocadoes looked bigger from afar!” I responded that they were at least a little bigger than the ones that come together in the mesh bags. In the apple section there were three varieties for a dollar a pound. The old lady was beside me when I picked a few from a breed called Pink Lady. She was trying to decide which ones to buy and wondered if those were good. I told her I’d picked them mainly because they were cheap, but would have preferred a more tart apple like Macintosh. I reached over in front of her to see how the macs were and every one I handled was slightly bruised. She wondered about the red delicious apples, which were also on sale, but I told her that I find them too dry. She joked, “I’m following you!” I quipped, “Don’t follow me, you might get lost!” I took a few of the ambrosia apples, a few bosc pears, four red mangoes, a bag of empire apples and a package of strawberries.
I grabbed a bag of garlic naan from the bakery section then went looking for and found a couple of cans of coconut milk. The Maxwell House coffee was on sale for $7.00 and so even though I still had half a can, I took another because one never knows when it’ll go back up to $10.00. I didn’t forget that I needed soap and selected the usual pack of Irish Spring.
When I got back to the Laundromat my wash had been done for four minutes. While I was putting my clothes in the dryer, the cashier’s little girls were sitting and playing at the table nearby. The youngest was playing house with her dolls and giving them voices as they talked to one another. For one of them she said, “Okay, I’ll be right back!”
As I was leaving to go home for twenty minutes the attendant called out, “Have a good day!” I told her that I’d be back but I probably should have just said, “Thanks! You too!” When I returned, the cashier and her daughters were leaving. It’s gonna be awkward using her checkout counter at Freshco now that I’ve heard her yelling and swearing at her kids.
I ate refried beans with jalapeno peppers and chips for lunch.
That night I watched an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour starring James Mason (who kind of looked like my dad, even though I look like my dad but don’t look like James Mason) and Angie Dickinson. Mason plays a successful detective novelist who sends a tape to his publisher revealing a previous identity and life. He’d been married but his wife had died in a car accident in which he’d experienced a major head trauma. Years later, with his new identity he walked into a folk club where he sees Angie Dickinson’s character, whom he’d met before in his previous life. She’s still married to a rich man but she begins an affair with Mason’s character. After a while she begins to ask him how he would write a story about killing her husband. He thinks it’s just a game and so he formulates a plan like he would for a book. Once the plot is put together though she asks him to do it. After some resistance he agrees but when the time comes he can’t go through with it. Thinking that he did, she tried to double cross him by calling the police and saying she heard shots at his apartment. Seeing there’s nothing wrong the cops go away but when James goes to see Angie he finds her cheating on him and so he kills her.
The story had its moments but the highlight was the performer on stage in the folk club. I’d never heard of Barbara Dane and yet it turns out she’s an icon. What an incredible voice! One doesn’t usually hear blonde white women belt it out like that. Even fresh out of high school she had opportunities to tour with top bands of the day but preferred singing at protest rallies. Bob Dylan called her a hero and Bonnie Raitt said there is no one she admires more.

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