The Draft

Strangely I am thankful to the NFL. This week, the NFL draft happened in Kansas City. It was a funny echo of being a New Yorker, someone who always has big deal stuff in town that, though interesting, is also a hassle. I was having drinks with friends when three men with enormous NFL passses ’round their necks came in. “That’s amazing, look at those,” we said, to show we did not care for this at all. The bar was beautiful. And about to close forever. The man who served us had shaky hands, suggesting to me the DT’s. Then another waiter stepped in held up fresh linen napkins for us, and brought little plates for our snack mix.

I’ve been applying for jobs and interviewing, and the chaos is tremendous. Prospective employers call from different numbers, leave messages, email at one email, or at another, tell me we will Zoom, or Google meet, or do one but not the other.

This increased my feeling that I am surviving.

The NFL draft meant that Kansas City could not hold school for two days.

I am thankful, because I am surviving.

It’s also deeply offensive. There will be too much traffic for the school busses! they say, as if everyone going to the NFL draft gets up and drives there at 7 am. As if the enormous good citizens will experience will be balanced by public school kids missing two days of school and forcing parents to scramble to find child care. Among the parents of Kansas City public school kids are (likely) the poorest parents in the area.

I was thankful I got to work from home. If you are in education, you are much too tired to fret about students not having enough time in school.

I mean, they should have more time, but I should not be there.

I accepted a job.

My aunt is ill. Most of the mortal illnesses I’ve been part of have been hard hitting and slow. My grandmother and my aunt both had dementia. By the time they were in bed all day with closed eyes, there had been many years of visits with their bent and melted selves. The aunt who is ill now, she appears to be herself, but she is very delicate.

So I get a call that we are having family dinner on a week night, and I am prepared. I enhance my preparation with two glasses of chianti. Together we are loud, happy, jokey. Not only is my aunt dying, but she also took her dog to the vet that day. Her dog, in the most dog-like gesture ever, died in an examining room while they waited for the vet.

No one really knows how to accept this much bad news. So everyone says they are so sorry, and it is so sad.

I went for a walk to see a new coffee place. The walls and ceiling are black, and the fixtures are gold. They have a French name, but the pastries have bulging biceps like they’ve been blood doping.

On the walk home, I detour to check out an abandoned community garden. There are signs up about where to walk, and there are compost bins, and there are no plants at all. The sign says don’t bother the livestock, including the bees. I walk back to a fenced area, where there is what appears to be a smart house for chickens. It has solar panels and sensors. But no chickens. In the far corner, I see bee boxes. Taking a few steps closer, I see the bees are as busy as their cliche suggests. I always visit the beehives at the monastery. I like to watch them from ten feet away.

The last outing of the weekend, I visit a Hawaiian themed place. They offer me a guava roll. I am not an adventurous eater. It’s good. I overhear three other customers talking about their church, and inviting the barista (a captive audience) to services they hold. Not on Sunday morning, when the barista works. Everyone there is so nice! the barista says.

I think, sounds like a great cult.

We actually do have one big Christianesque cult here in town, known as “the IHOP that isn’t the International House of Pancakes. Once on my porch one of them slowly revealed to me their happiness at church was IHOP cult happiness. Thinking back I feel queasy. Why didn’t I rip down that scientology poster when I was walking up 39th Street the other day?

Kitschy Hawaiian music acts on me the way marijuana impacts others. So with music and my coffee, I begin to forget the evangelists. Yes indeed, I feel. Indeed.

While I sit and read a novel, I look up to see a guy with two suitcases on wheels. One of them is hard-sided, like a case for photo equipment.

Imagining him another NFL-related visitor, I wonder what he thinks of this small city. I could tell him what this building used to be, stories of hand made floats and sculptures and small art pieces and dancing and fire and pepper spray and snow. But he doesn’t talk to me, and I don’t want to talk to anyone. He drinks his coffee, and wheels his bags on his way.


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