Friday, January 18, 2008

Pepsodent and Octagon

-- Dr. Bronners
-- Bread
-- Peanut Butter

So reads the list that Barry and I have pinned to our board. Handily itemized in Barry's economical handwriting, the blue 3x5 card scribes the nature of our periodic trips to the Village Market.The VM dominates the microcosm of adventist infrastructure which characterizes Collegdale so well: where young and old alike can purchase big franks at 20% off and indulge their passion for deborah miniature.

Barry and I take mutual delight in shopping exclusively by price tag. Once returned, we usually hold a council on the respective merits of bar soap and liquid body soap, and then laud the remarkable acuity of the purchaser who found the next record-low price of bread. Of course, this must be validated by the corroborated evidence of differential unit price, net weight, and or fluid ounces.

One day, on arriving back at the room with my various trophies, I held aloft (to my brothers admiring gaze) a large tube of off-brand toothpaste which I had discovered in a rather inconspicuous spot. Emblazoned with "PEPSODENT" in red, it was an attractive buy, especially in light of it's 2-dollar oustment of Colgate AND crest.

The next morning Barry was the first to savor it's contents, which were greeted with ill-disguised dismay. I was also in for a shocker:pepsodent leaves much to be desired.

Some days later, Barry returned with some of his own smashing bargains. He had obtained two largish bars of all-purpose soap which had fetched a extremely low price. Unfortunately, he had failed to take a precautionary sniff at the store, and the ensuing inspection wrung high-pitched groans from all quarters. On closer inspection, the packaging indicated that it was especially useful for laundry.

I was so intrigued by the vile-smelling greenish bar, that I did a little research online. The official site for the octagon says that the bar is infused with lemongrass. It goes on to say the following:

"In hoodoo magical practices Lemongrass is an herb that is believed to clear away all evil messes and to provide personal protection from magical attacks. Therefore you can wash yourself -- or your clothes --with Octagon Laundry Soap as a form of spiritual work."

Obviously, the hoodoos were bright enough to realize that no spirit would want to cohabit with such a vile-smelling individual.

Despite all this, we daily lather and brush with Octagon and Pepsodent. That savage and smelly enjoyment of thrift we experience is simply too good to relinquish.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Hermitage

St. Bartholomew: Well, here we are.
St. Jonas: Yes, we are here.
St. Bartholomew: A Happy Sabbath to you, brother.
St. Jonas: To you, brother, A Happy Sabbath.
St. Bartholomew: Which cathedral are you going to to-day?
St. Jonas: Methinks I will go to the Collegdale cathedral, over which Father Nixon usually presides, perhaps he will be there to-day. What of you?
St. Bartholomew: I am waiting to hear from the bretheren at Oakwood. Perhaps I will sojurn in that direction.
St. Jonas: Well, A Happy Sabbath to you brother.
St. Bartholomew: To you, brother, A Happy Sabbath.

Friday, January 4, 2008


(Dedicated to Caitlin, who innocently asked why :)

In Peru I daily sustained the psychologically traumatizing outworkings of a desperate band of rogue turkeys. They began to focus the brunt of their energies on me soon after I arrived, although it took me a while to realize the sinister nature of their workings.

When I first staggered down the lane with my 5-gallon load of water, I was taken aback by the beady glare of the turkeys. I put a brave face on it, smiled at them, and even made peremptory gestures of friendship. The glares only increased in intensity, until I began to wonder if I wouldn't promptly be pickled by some photometric technique the conniving beasts had developed.

Besides the glare, this avian has perfected the deafening "group gobble": (a similar technique was used by the communists for intimidation). At some unidentifiable signal, the group explodes into a repetitive and rapid-fire string of invectives. One morning I believe I deciphered the following chant.

"There He Comes!" "HE COMES HE COMES HE COMES HE COMES!" (very fast)
"Grab Him!" "GRRRRRAB GRAB GRAB GRAB GRAB GRAB!" (deafening)
"We'll Stew Him!" "FOOOR LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH!" (terrifying)
"He's getting by us!" "HE LEAVES HE LEAVES HE LEAVES" (quite right my dear savages)
"Blood tomorrow!" "BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD!" (ah, alex would you get the water to-day?)

While the turkeys never actually attempted their dire threats on my person, they did sabotage me behind my back. While gone on a Christmas visa-renewal odyssey, the turkeys completely savaged the garden that Alex and I had cherished. They even had the gall to be picking at it's last remnants when we returned.

One morning when returning from a jog on the beautiful road that runs to Hierbas Buenas, I came galloping back down the last stretch of driveway to the guardians house, accompanied by the sinister group gobble and glare. In front of the old rickety steps which went up into the guardians house was a largish area of mud, which we generally took care to avoid: infused as it was with turkey refuse. On this
occasion I threw caution to the wind and went to take a running leap onto the old rickety porch. My left foot never left the ground, and I crashed to the earth and slid halfway under the steps. The gobble resounding in my ears, and the refuse coating my entire backside, I closed my eyes and made a lasting oath of enmity.

Deeply sad as it was to leave Peru, I was glad enough to leave the turkeys behind.
The drive from Boston to my home in Maine was wonderful, and I was filled with nostalgia as we turned into our driveway. Mom suddenly askedbarry to stop the car so I could go pet the neighbours "tommy", whom I genially supposed to be the dog or the cat, the bunny or even an armadillo. I acquiesced until I caught sight of "Tommy", when I charitably asked that we continue down the driveway. Oh heavens, no, Mom, NO i'm NEVER going to pet a TURKEY!