I have found the most perplexing thing in my bookcase. It's a steno pad in which a person records an epic twenty day journey from Saint Louis to points west and back. I read it mainly to solve the mystery of who wrote it. It could be Mom, Dad, Carleen, Delores, or Great Aunt Rosemary. Gary says it wasn't any of his relatives.
It starts on 7/7/1956, and I'm afraid that disqualifies Mom's sister Delores, who would be dead by then. (Then there were four.)
Day 1: St.Louis to Beloit Kansas. Every page lists the expenses for that day and a running total for the trip as a whole. Day 1 cost all of $6.70 cents. The motel was $2.60. Dad took similar to-the-penny accounts on our trip to Washington D.C., so Dad was the front runner for Mystery Traveller on Day 1.
Day 2: Moniton Springs Colorado. Great disappointment the scenery didn't change the instant they crossed the border.
Day 3: Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. Rhapsody! Closeness to God! Dad is disqualified! Might be family friend Carleen, who did visit Pikes Peak.
Day 4: Denver.Pretty and modern. Total is up to $33.40.
Day 5: Vernel Utah. Venomous hatred of Vernel. "Berthold Pass is the Continental Divide. After much discussion, we none of us could figure out just what the Continental Divide is. However, we are all of the opinion that it divides the Continent some way."
Day 6: Salt Lake City. Disappointed. Missed a tour and missed the organ recital at the temple.
Day 7: Tripped over the curb and had the "first mishap of the trip," in which the Traveller got a scraped hand by bracing against the fall. This disqualifies Mom, who couldn't throw out a hand to brace herself. This might also disqualify Carleen, who in family lore reacted to Pikes Peak and altitude sickness by having her very first period. If so, I can't see a hand scrape as "the first mishap." However, it does fit with Carleen's timeline, because she could have been twenty in 1956 and she was a late bloomer. Day 7 is a big day because after the mishap they visit Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. The Traveller is not impressed with Hoover Dam; Vegas is more her style.
Day 8: They (The Traveller and her mysterious cohort, "Sue") have lunch in San Bernadino, and it occurs to me they've gone through Saint Louie, Joplin Missouri, and now San Bernadino. It's an actual journal of the Route 66 song, only the Traveller has not seemed to have many kicks so far. Finally they make it to L.A. and visit Chinatown, "Old Mexico," and The Strip. They go clubbing and see Joe E. Lewis, and "sometimes he was a little vulgar" (evidence for Carleen) "but he was so funny you just had to laugh" (pointing to Rosemary). They see Eddie Fisher (underlined) on the way out to put their feet in the ocean.
Day 9: "We had lunch in Capistrano. I tried Mexican food and I did not like it one bit." Okay, that nails it, this is Carleen. The day is spent at Laguana and Long Beach. The Grand Total so far is $66.00, including the root beer float (.25) and the Coke (.10).
Day 10: Dazzled by the Farmer's Market. Smog hurt her eyes. The running total is $67.50 and is abandoned for the rest of the trip.
Day 11: Visited CBS, NBC, and took in a radio show. Saw Donald O'Connor (also deserving of underline) at dinner. Went clubbing that night at "the Purple Onion. It is a really Bohemian type place. Undiscovered talents, but they were all terrific. The patrons were really the end though, just like something out of Greenwich Village."
Day 12: Catalina Island. "I saw the best looking young man I've ever seen on the boat home. They have the most (underlined TWICE) attractive young men here." The pendulum swings back to Rosemary ... only she reports she called "Momma" that evening, and Rosemary never had a mother at all. This clinches it for Carleen.
Day 13: Forest Lawn Cemetery and lunch with relatives.
Day 14: "We had lunch at Disneyland and it was simply awful." This has not changed. Then they went to Knotts Berry Farm that same day.
Day 15: Tour of The Star's Homes, lunch at the Brown Derby, Pasadena, and a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, where they are in the nosebleed seats, surrounded by "mad lovers" and "hillbillies."
Day 16: They pack up to head home.
Day 17: Cross the desert in 115 degree heat, then see the Grand Canyon. There is a very strange segue in which she can't really enjoy the Grand Canyon "thinking of those people who crashed." I did a little research and that would have been this accident, which happened a week before they left.
Day 18: Have breakfast at 4:30 in Gallup, New Mexico (everybody sing!) and see the Painted Desert at sunrise.
Day 19: She sleeps through Texas, but wakes up to observe that "Oklahoma City is mighty pretty." No, not really. They eat lunch at a ritzy place in Oklahoma City ($1.10!) and she reports "Oklahoma is a lovely place. They have both trees and water." I think she's exhausted. I would have been exhausted on Day 4.
Day 20: Arrive in Missouri. "Had lunch in Cuba, Mo, the godawfulest place we have ever been in." I believe Mom's parents had bought land there a year earlier, so this is an inside joke.
Of course, it made me want to follow in their footsteps on Route 66, kind of like those Oregon Trail re-creation trips history buffs take. I can't imagine driving the 12 hour days, though, especially capped off with clubbing at the Purple Onion.
... and not just because I'm over fourteen.
He would have liked me at twelve. I was innocent once, and I held on to my innocence till well into sixth grade, when a mean girl suggested I was a little too old to still wear my favorite pinafore.
No, he wouldn't like me because I watched Salinger just last night. I don't know why I let it sit in my Netflix queue so long. It was just wonderful, even though you have to be on your guard when the life of a man at 91 is edited down to two hours. ("I was made a villain in the editing!" cried J.D. Salinger, reality star. He isn't a villain, of course, just a huge fan of quirky innocent young girls. )
Mom was alive when Joyce Maynard sold his letters and published her book. Mom's venom and disdain made me wonder if Mom had a personal attachment to J.D. too.
I do feel bad that I suggested Seymour Glass was a pedophile. But, can't help it, it's the reader's filter. Pedophiles I know, shell-shock I don't.
So, imagine my delight when the documentary said the work Salinger has been doing since the sixties would be released starting in 2015 and extending to 2050.
Imagine my despair when I realized I would die before I got to see the last few works.
Imagine my joy when I woke up today to the news just today on CNN that three Salinger stories had been released illicitly ahead of their 2050 deadline.
And if you've seen the documentary, imagine my horror when I read the stories here and found typos. (Yes! I read them! I'm gonna die before they come out in 2050!) They are in order from most to least perfect. Read them if you don't have fifty years to wait.
Update: It's been taken down. I'll remember the first one forever.
The EVIL! that Is Man of Steel. I should have listened to everyone. You ALL said Man of Steel was an awful movie. I had hopes after I saw the first shirtless scene, but then I fell asleep midway through. I woke up convinced my house had exploded. Ninety minutes of whooshing and booming had polluted my dreams.
The EVIL! that is Visine. Did you know that Visine damages your eyes? The vaso-constrictors that "get the red out" makes your eyes redder when they wear off. A vicious evil cycle! You have to only buy the Visine that has one ingredient: Lubricant. I heard this from my ophthalmologist. Chapstick, however, is a habit and not an addiction.
The EVIL! that is ToeJammers (name approximate). I must have seen the commercial on CNN - but I only saw it once. It seemed to recommend one pay twenty dollars for four black beer cozies one could place around the feet of ones bed. They were printed with the name of the product, which I think might have been "ToeJammers," because they were to protect you from stubbing your toes on the bed frame. The commercial only ran once that I saw, perhaps because I screamed "IT'S A BEER COZY" at my screen. I can't find any reference to them on the web, so perhaps I dreamed this evil.
Gary is finally over the first phase of his retirement, his TV binge-watching period. He's binged on Fringe, Alias, The Killing, Medium, and some Swedish thing about a reporter. Clearly, he likes strong female characters. He's now segued to books on the iPad. Given his specific tv tastes listed above you'd think he'd download a book with a strong female character.
He started off with Treasure Island. The kid's book. It was an odd book to start with. I imagine in his youth he didn't have time to finish Treasure Island? It was free? He's stepping right into his second childhood? I don't know.
Then, he read Ender's Game, which is science fiction. I was expecting a long run of Sci-fi. Oddly, no. After a brief detour to The Shining, he read the first "Jack Reacher" book. I don't know the name. All I know about it is that there was a Tom Cruise move with that name, and I mentioned it to Gary.
Gary filled my ears with WHY TOM CRUISE IS TOTALLY WRONG in that role, and to hear him talk you'd think Jack Reacher was a relative. Evidently, Jack R. is an older man who lost his job and now wanders the earth with no possessions except the clothes on his back.
The lack of clothing fascinates Gary. When I told him I'd put his clothes in the dryer, he said, "Jack Reacher just buys new clothes. Or he could go to the laundromat and wash his one set of clothes. Of course ... he'd have to have another set of clothes to wear while he's washing his first set of clothes, otherwise he'd be naked in the laundromat." This made him wonder if there are people wandering around laundromats nude, wih the excuse they are washing their only set of clothes. "That would not be good."
I asked if there were other Jack Reacher novels he could read. "Oh, yes. There are 62." This made me wonder if they all had the same writer, or if they followed the Nancy Drew model of ghostwriters sharing a pseudonym.
"No!" He realized the author would have to have written one Jack Reacher book a year since grade school. "No, I'm wrong. There are about 47 books."
"Are you going to read them all?"
"Yes, I have to read them all in order."
So, book-binging is the new tv-binging. I googled Jack Reacher, my new competition for Gary's attention, and thankfully there are only 18 books and six short stories.
Gary has been given increased decision-making power for this winter vacation. I originally wanted to see Biltmore mansion, and he countered with climbing Half-Dome in Yosemite in the snow. Then he talked himself out of that and we settled on New Orleans.
I made the horrible mistake of showing him an article titled What Not to Do in New Orleans, and he became convinced that New Orleans is a Bad Idea. (My guess is he read the Bourbon Street paragraph that included the words "showgirls," "transvestites" and "cover bands.") To get him out of the funk I had to make a list of everything I want to do in New Orleans. There are about twenty things, and ten start with "Eat."
I'd narrowed the hotels down to five (Friend #2 was very helpful) and had Gary make the final decision. He picked the haunted one off Bourbon. Of course I'm thrilled, not just because it's a nice boutique hotel but because any problems are his fault now. I anticipate there will be noise, but we have earplugs. I don't know what he has against transvestite showgirls who play in cover bands but they'll be caterwauling right under the balcony and IT WON'T BE MY FAULT.