From the deep underground bunker, far from prying eyes, he emerged into the sunlight. It was unfamiliar to him, his eyes burned and he felt strange breathing the Martelle air. “So this is what the outside world is like?” he thought to himself. The sky was blue, the sort of blue that is generally associated with a cliche. He tried to think of a cliche to describe the blue, and realized that he couldn’t remember a single one. It was lovely though and he seemed to remember liking sunlight and fresh air.
He had a mission. A secret mission to infiltrate the college town of Iowa City. He would find a parking space, and if this first, exceedingly dangerous part of the mission was completed, he would then set out on foot. A lap around the downtown area of Iowa City reminded him that the Kinko’s he had used so many years earlier was gone. It occurred to him that some intel might have been a good idea. Not knowing who he could trust he decided to make a bold move and ask someone. They suggested a little place a few block away.
He had decided to undertake a bit of an experiment the evening before. Something so incredibly NOT revolutionary that it just might not do anything. Since he loved writing his blog, and having around 100 people a day read it, had brought him much joy, he decided he would make an effort to, ‘Put the word in the street.’ He thought about Jake and Elwood, while Fats Domino’s ‘I’m Walking’ ran through his head. The question on his mind, “Could a campaign of small strategically placed posters drive people to the blog?” It seemed that maybe, just maybe a few people may be curious enough to check out a blog, if the right bit of paper were on the board of a small town grocery store. This was his mission, to find a copy place, infiltrate and then to politely ask for 50 copies. To a normal person this might not seem like such a mission, but, eh, he doesn’t get out much.
It was well past noon when he found the copy place. Having succeeded in getting his copies and communicating with someone who routinely spends time in the real world, he had only to return to his car and make the drive back to Martelle, and he would have completed the mission. Something happend on the way back to the car.
As he walked past the people on the hunger strike, he realized that he could use a bit of a nosh. He had passed by Donnelly’s Pub on 110 E. College Street in Iowa City, IA 52240 (319) 338-7355, earlier and decided to eat. The delightful waitress/bartender/cook Stacey brought him a Coke. He couldn’t remember ever ordering deviled eggs as an appetizer, so he did. They were, as the French would say if they were speaking English, very good. Soon Stacy brought him the patty melt and fries. The fries where crispy, the patty melt was possibly the best patty melt created, this side of the Mississippi, in the last 50 years, or at the very least, it was good too.
He could have gone home then. It would have been easy. The parking garage was just down the street. He didn’t listen to the voice in his head screaming, “Get back to your bunker, get back to saftey…too many people…damn those fries were tasty…don’t…start….mingling”
Back in the day, he had been a bit of compulsive mingler. He suddenly remembered that his Kimberly 8H graphite drawing pencil had been worn almost completely down. This was his favorite pencil for marking wood. Being an 8H it made a very crisp and thin line. He would mark his projects with the pencil and then go over them with the marking knife. It had been a good system, until the pencil was too short to use. He would buy a new hard lead pencil!
Down the block from Donnelly’s Pub, and across the street, was Dick Blick Art materials. He entered and a woman named Chelsea offered to help. He didn’t need any help as he had already spotted the drawing supplies ailse. A tiny girl was looking over the pencils with an intensity that made him think she was, at 12 or 13, a vastly superior artist. That was ok, he didn’t draw much. The pencils were for words and woodworking.
He took his two pencils and strange looking black eraser, which had caught his eye, to the counter, another woman, also named Chelsea helped him. It seemed strange. Had he been out of society so long that all the women were named Chelsea? Was some sort of effect from the Clinton years? He wasn’t sure, but it definitely seems suspicious. The 2nd Chelsea, if that was, in fact, her real name, was very pleasant and he mingled with her a bit. He headed out the door and quickly realized that he had forgotten push pins. The push pins were the lynch pins of his entire plan. He returned to Dick Blick and Celsea II helped him again. She showed him some reasonably priced plastic push pins and some grotesquely overpriced aluminum pins. He was powerless to resist their alluring shininess.
While at the counter he mingled with the Chelseas and third young woman, who may have wanted to say her name was Chelsea, but sensed he wouldn’t believe another Chelsea, and she quickly came up with the moniker Jenny. It was a good choice, she looked like a Jenny, and he was almost convinced that she wasn’t another Chelsea…almost. While mingling with the the three of them he decided to show them his copy of the flyer he had so cleverly created. They were very kind and one of the many Chelseas said that he could put it on their wall. She warned that it was a very hard wall to put a push pin into, and she was right, the first attempt went poorly.
He had a flash of flyer hanging brilliance when he deftly used two previous holes left by preveious push pin pushers. The first flyer was afixed to a wall. Would it bring anyone to the site? He didn’t know, but he felt quite pleased with his plan and he new shiny push pins.
From the art supply store he strode, sunlight on his face, and a tune, the aforementioned ‘I’m Walking’ in his heart. He passed through the pedestrian mall. The hunger strikers had gone home or to a buffet. There were a couple of young ladies, Hannah and Kelly sitting on a blanket making and selling jewelry. They were talking with a rather brilliant artist named Ansel. The three of them were delightful. The ladies had made six sales in the couple of hours they had been there. Ansel shared stories of his Fire and Performance Art Troupe, Pyrotechnic, (http://www.pyrotechniq.org/). They chatted about social media and art. It was a delightful time, but now it was time to head home.
He walked away from Ansel, Hannah and Kelly and headed straight to the Dublin Underground. His favorite pub in all of the world. He ordered an RC, without a straw, and proceed to mingle some more. A few minutes later and Jessica, the bar tender, Brett and he were setting up the Scrabble board. Before the game could begin, he tried to find the bar copy of their Scrabble dictionary, but alas it was nowhere to be seen.
Up the stairs he bound and over to Prairie Lights. He said to the tall man (played by Lance Edmond’s), “If I were in need of an emergency copy of The Official Scrabble Dictionary, where might I find it.” Without missing a beat, the tall man said, “Second floor, side wall on your left, three quarters of the way to the back, bottom shelf.” This was the greatest display of book store helping, since the first Gutenberg bible rolled off the press, and was laid the front of the shop and the keeper said, “The Good Book eh, we have one in the front, by the copy of Tony Blackensmith’s treatise, ‘Turnip Farming: for Dullards’. He left with his Scrabble dictionary, convinced that he had just witnessed customer service greatness.
Returning to the Dublin he was crushed like a grape by the brilliant wordery (Probably not a word) of Jessica the bar tender. He bade Jessica, Brett and his wife Jennifer farewell and made his way to the parking garage. He learned that his car was not on the 3rd floor, but actually on the 2nd floor, after a moment of overwhelming confusing. The drive home was pleasant. He affixed his flier at the Casey’s General store in Solan Iowa, met a couple who were heading out to see an historic church. He joined them and mingled some more.
Back on the road he decided that he was hungry after a long day of being in public, so he stopped at Gary’s Foods and bought a Jack’s pizza and placed another flyer on their wall. When he got home he was exhausted, and realized that he had promised to write a guest blog piece for a friend, had his social media blog piece to write and still needed to do something about woodworking.
It occurred to him that in every great design there should be negative space. On his Journey along the path of woodworker, today, the mingling, the promotion of his blog, were just that, negative space. Is that a cop out? Yes it is. Will his woodworking blog fans be disappointed? Most likely, but that is the sort of thing that happens when an Extremely Average blogger leaves his cave.