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Tuesday, Jun. 22, 2004 - 10:19 a.m.

The Publix supermarket near me carries Organic Valley milk, which I drink because I am especially grossed out by the goings-on at large corporate dairy farms (this does not prevent me from drinking the milk at L’s house, which he buys from Sav-A-Lot, the supermarket equivalent of the Dollar Store. But that’s beside the point.) Anyway, for some reason Publix has seen fit to abbreviate the brand name of my milk to “Organ Valley” in their computer system.

This baffles me. Removing the “ic” reduces the name so little – why not “Org. Valley”? Why not “Organic V”? “Org. Val.”? I can think of many, many abbreviations which do not involve the word “organ”. If they can write out “Smuckers Raspberry”, “High Life 12PK”, and “Cabot Cheese”, why the inexplicable shortening of “organic”?

So I am forced to conclude that Publix is being intentionally gross. This belief is buttressed by the fact that the supermarket manager’s name is Chip Fletcher. That’s a gross name. He sounds like a pimply twenty-two-year-old who lives above his parents’ garage. Also gross is…oh, heck, let me just show you the first few lines of my latest receipt:

PUBLIX
Rosewood Shopping Center
Chip Fletcher 806 8839

JOY WAS YOUR CASHIER TODAY

ORGAN VALLEY NF ML 3.39
PUB CAT LITTER 1.39
1.44 lb @ 1.99 /lb
NECTARINES PREMIUM 2.87
PUB NUTTY NUGGETS 2.29

...and so on. My cashier was joy itself! Off-brand Grape-Nuts fall from the sky like confetti! I romp through piles of kitty litter and bleeding organs in the valley of Chip Fletcher!

Today I went to the bike shop. I’d been in there once last week and left feeling sheepish and un-bikey, but today was different. I asked the young clerk for some bearing grease, and he showed me where it was. Then, on a whim, I asked whether they carried parts for old Sturmey Archer hubs – I didn’t think they would, but I was curious. The young guy beckoned to a much older guy who pulled a frayed cardboard box from under the counter. The box was full of parts in little bags, all New Old Stock Sturmey Archer stuff. “Here’s a trigger and cable,” he said, “and if you can’t get a good deal on the control chain on Ebay, let me know and I’ll have a look at my warehouse. I used to own a bike shop, and I’ve got tons of this stuff.” Perfect. I feel like I just found a new heroin dealer. The shop is four blocks from my house. I’d better find a job fast.

So, after going through the motions of job-hunting for a few hours, I rushed home to repack the bearing in my front hub. I then polished up my fenders and rims one final time and began to put my bike back together again.

This was a strange process. I’d made diagrams of where the fifty or so screws, bearings, locknuts, and washers went, but of course there were extra pieces of unknown origin left over. I’d tried also to place pieces in the right direction (outermost part up) on the shelf where I laid them out, but for some I had to guess which way they should face, tighten everything to see if they would hold, then loosen it all and try a different structure. I think the bike will not fall apart when I first ride it, but I am not certain.

And now, except for the hub control chain and the main drive chain, my bike is all put together. It stands up on its kickstand. Its fenders shine. I can sit on it and roll around the apartment. I have probably spent, cumulatively, two hours just staring at it today. Writing about it makes me need to get up and walk into the kitchen every thirty seconds to stare some more. There is something in the curve of the top tube that makes my breath stop.

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