Secret Pop

Jul 12, 2005

For the Sake of Keeping

I switched to a different handbag a couple of days ago. I buy a lot of handbags. I fall in love with a handbag and then use it completely up. Leaving it in shameful tatters. A dirty, frayed shadow of its former stylish glory. The one I am retiring is definitely ready to be put out to pasteur, if handbags can be imagined to be sent out to graze on the green hillsides of some idyllic country dell. And if that image can somehow be correlated to being hung from a hook in one of my overly full closets. The leather of its shoulder straps is cracking at the edges, its satin lining sheltering an unusually large amount of loose tobacco. It was time.

I went into the closet in my guest bedroom and found a handbag I haven't used in some time. It's in very good repair. Not as cute or stylish as its predecessor, but ideal for how many cameras I've been carrying back and forth and for the fact that I have to work in an office during the day. I abandoned it early in its life, clearly. There are none of the usual signs of wear and tear. Only five year-old pieces of flattened Bubblicious and a few tubes of lipstick in colors I don't believe I ever wore. It also contains a piece of gypsum.

This piece of gypsum was given to me by a friendly fellow at a chemical factory in Oklahoma, where I was consulting for a day. He was one of the plant managers, and he wanted to give me a token of Oklahoma goodwill to take home with me. He told me the importance of gypsum. I have long since forgotten what it was. But I was fishing around in one of the pockets for change for the parking meter, and my fingers found that smooth piece of rock, and I remembered that grueling trip, which forced me to leave a rather slapdash high school reunion early so I could fly out with all of my materials prepared. I remembered getting to the airport on time and finding that fog had delayed my flight, which led me to The Waffle Spot, where I ate breakfast and drank apple juice before heading back to the airport and embarking on a nightmarish series of trip segments, ending in Woodman, Oklahoma (Woodson? I don't know.), where I got in very late, ate Arby's in my room, woke up very early, spent the day talking about attachment-dependent cell culture, ate dinner at Chili's, and then flew back home. And had to go back to my real job the next day. I remember the after-midnight phone call in the room of the bed and breakfast. He was just making sure I got there safely. He was probably waking up the proprietor of the place, but he or she was very nice about it. It was so late that even a bath seemed an imprudent sacrifice of sleep. I didn't sleep much anyway. Time zone change. Work anxiety. The fear that my actual job would wig out if they knew I was taking the day off to fly to Oklahoma and train people in how to sell molecular biology products.

All this from my fingers brushing against that piece of gypsum. My version of The Dead Zone. He'll use the baby as a human shield. It'll end his political career.


Did I say gypsum? I think I meant quartz.

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