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Saturday, Oct. 04, 2003 - 12:25 p.m.

I had a most eventful walk back to my car yesterday. My route takes me right through the college bar/secondhand boutique/pita counter section of town. There are two recent additions to this area, the first being a set of pink patio umbrellas outside one of the bars. These umbrellas are decorated with purple and turquoise wavy lines, with the exclamation ďPlaytime!Ē repeated several times at varying angles. One side of each umbrella says ďSeagramís Coolers: Itís What Women Like!Ē

These umbrellas make me inexplicably furious.

The second addition is the Starbucks that opened last week. Itís the only one Iíve ever seen in this town, though Iím sure there are others out by the malls on the edges of town. I canít tell yet if itís getting any business; the same man was sitting at one of its sidewalk tables every day this week, writing in a notebook and smoking a cigarette, but I have seen no other patrons.

The man was sitting there again Friday afternoon. As I approached, he looked up at me for the first time ever, though he wasnít REALLY looking at me Ė his eyes were kind of unfocused, and I saw that he was less dirty hipster poet and more just plain unstable. He started muttering, then announced in a loud voice ďYOU MUST TRUST TO GAIN TRUST. ACCEPT YOUR COCAINE ADDICT!Ē

I like this. Itís ambiguous: am I to accept my local cocaine addict? Is he referring to himself? Or am I to accept my inner cocaine addict? What might that involve?

This American Life was preempted last night by a live broadcast from the South Carolina State Fair, so my usual Friday night solo dinner was accompanied by Built to Spill instead. I realized yesterday afternoon that Iíd never cooked meat in my life, since I donít eat it. Iíve cooked fish and seafood now and then, but never meat. I decided to remedy this. The desire to try cooking something new overrode my semi-vegetarian ethics, and I went to the yuppie grocery store and bought a skinless, boneless chicken breast. I sautťed it and made chicken piccata. I also made fennel a la greque, with which I was unimpressed.

Cooking chicken was fun (the cat was especially ecstatic, thinking Iíd finally come to my carnivorous senses), but my house still smells like chicken. Thankfully, L came over later to eat the second half of the chicken breast Ė it was good, but I didnít need any more of it. We also ate two slices each of the chocolate mousse cake from yesterday.

Thatís a good beginning for a weekend. The rest of it, so far, has consisted of me making grumpy political observations all morning while moving an enormous bookshelf with L.

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