Monday, September 26, 2005

Girl with a Cupholder Armrest

Jeff and Candace had the ideal wedding reception for their lifestyle: a pleasant gathering in their own rural backyard, with everybody wearing Wranglers and Ropers and Carhart coats, drinking Bud Light from blue Solo cups. (They may live in a doublewide trailer, but Candace is a very talented homemaker and the house is lovely and inviting. Most cowgirls are no slouches in the domestic department. More proof that yours truly is a city slicker at heart, but then, people do tell me my basement is cozy.) It wasn’t by any means a warm evening; even their three-legged dog had a jacket on, and you could tell she thought she was special. There was plenty of alcohol, a campfire, cowboys, homemade vittles (cold-cuts, smoked salmon, potato salad, olives, meatballs and rolls), kids, and horses. They had a horseshoe cake with yellow daisies and Jeff gave the kids rides on his scruffy little donkey. That is, he attempted to. Four-year-old Nicky and the shaggy little burro felt the same way about each other: suspicious.

After Jeff and Candace’s shindig, Morgan and I (slightly wound up on wine coolers) slipped back into town and went to Kate’s, where the one-year anniversary party of Rachel and Victor’s purchase of the bar was in full swing. There were limbo and hula contests (I won a Jack Daniel’s t-shirt for failing drunkenly at the hula, which I used to be good at, in a rare moment of bravely sacrificed dignity), ponytails and poodle skirts, a conga line, free chili and Jell-o shots, and Grease on the big-screen all night long. Life is easy for the DJ when the party theme is 50’s. Hanging above the bar at Kate’s is a vintage vinyl LP titled How to Strip for your Husband, which features (I assume) slinky orchestrations and the tagline, “Make Your Marriage Merrier!” We were already in Hilarious Mode, but that and the brazened biker next to me at the bar just made it worse. It was quite the night, even though I only had two rum-and-cokes and a few shots. Stoic Bud got lit and even did a little impromptu, unamplified karaoke to Bobby Darin’s Splish-Splash, and hid in the bathroom from a scary old bat who was trying to get him to jitterbug with her.

I had to work alone Sunday and today, since Jeff and Candace were preparing for their honeymoon hunting trip up on the Hoback. I don’t mind; I get a lot done when I’m up here by myself. But to top off several recent accidents involving liquid (I’ve spilled coffee, chlorine reagent, and Clorox in the past two weeks), I had a little crisis yesterday morning. We feed our secondary coagulant, the polymer 8105, in a 10% solution, which we batch out in a big tank. We’re not adding it right now; the river water is so clean we hardly need to use our primary coagulant, so we’re just pumping plain water to keep the 8105 pump primed. In the morning I checked the level in the tank and estimated I’d be out of water by noon, so I set the water pump at 100 gallons and went downstairs to time the 8105 feed by measuring how many milliliters it drops in the calcon (a clear plastic cylinder with measuring marks, placed vertically in the line) per minute. (I can't fathom why we’re still measuring it if we’re not actually adding any. I guess it’s just routine.) While I was waiting for the valve to seat so I could time it (the valve is old and doesn’t like to seal), I noticed water coming from the hatch in the concrete ceiling. I knew in an instant what was wrong, and sure enough, when I got upstairs the 8105 tank was spewing water all over the place and the pump was still pumping. I’ve never had it malfunction and didn’t know how to stop it, so I ran back and forth helplessly for a thirty seconds before spotting a red button on the pump console behind the tank. Praying it was a kill switch, I dove through the waterfall from the tank, splashed through the four inches of water behind the containment curb, and slammed the button in. The pump stopped, and the flood slowly subsided. I mopped up the water and later when Bud stopped by, looking bleary from two nights of too much fun at Kate’s, I told him what had happened. He laughed and said it wasn’t the first time; in fact it’s happened to him. I have to admit my first impulse, while the water was still flowing, was, “how am I going to hide this?” which is only natural and certainly wrong, and I was glad I told him. He’s made light of every, um, situation I’ve had so far, which makes admitting future wrongs less intimidating. Good boss. Actually they all have, the boys. Travis’s most common saying (behind, “in my personal opinion…”) is, “no biggie.” And Jeff’s is, “oh, that’s alright.”

My cellular phone has developed a penchant for brutal sudden-death rounds of hide-and-go-seek. I keep it straight jacketed in a padded cell in the bottom of my bag now, which means that by the time I excavate it, the caller has given up anyway.

I am in no way a person who is known for her modern ideas. And I look good in pink, even though I’d rather wear black or navy blue. My favorite line from a Cake song this week is, “a voice that is dark like tinted glass,” from Short Skirt, Long Jacket, and if you really listen, the whole song is poetic. Heck, they all are. And I love the liberal use of brass.

Congratulations to Kelly, who bagged himself a nice antelope early this season. I demand jerky. But I’m so glad I wasn’t around for the butchering. Yuck.

I need to learn to budget my time. I’m not getting enough sleep, and I don’t like living this way, vague and disconnected, like the retelling of a dream.


Blogger Shepcat said...

That is a great Cake line, but you almost miss it while trying to decipher the line that immediately precedes it: "With fingernails that shine like Justice."

(The line you chose as your title, by the way, sounds like it would be the most effed-up Vermeer painting ever.)

September 27, 2005 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger A said...

That's crazy. I really didn't expect someone to harrow up the same bizarre mental image that I did. You're scaring me.

It comes from driving my '87 Dodge Raider, Monte, who I am utterly devoted to, but which has NO modern amenities whatsoever. The Cadillac has leather seats, automatic climate control, and ample cupholders, and it makes me feel like a princess.

I have some silver foil laquer that makes my fingernails shine like justice. It's the only polish I'll wear to the plant, because it's not at all girly and fits right in with all the stainless steel.

September 27, 2005 at 11:49 AM  

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