“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
“It is a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”
― Andrew Jackson
Tremendous thunderstorms rattled the Metroplex with pelting rain and shattering lighting late last night. Unfortunately, all flights going east were canceled from Love Field and our son Lee couldn’t get home to New Orleans. I drove through the weather to the airport to pick him up and bring him home late last night.
So we had another day with him for the holidays. We decided to go eat at Noodle Wave, one of our favorite places to eat – fantastic Thai food, along with great service in a surprisingly artistic and comfortable decor. It is located in an unfortunate strip of lower end shops and restaurants inspired by the cuisine from five different countries (including Thailand).
I have gone to Noodle Wave often and parked in that lot many times and I’m sure I’ve stared at the sign of the LOW PRIZE FOOD MART more than once without realizing that they meant PRICE. I did a quick internet search and all the text referring to the place is LOW PRICE. The only pages that LOW PRIZE FOOD MART is mentioned in in their applications and renewal for their liquor license.
I can’t believe that someone would make a mistake like this in a sign so big and in a busy location – I prefer to think of it as a clever, ironic, and hipster statement about the inevitable failure of consumer culture.
But I know I’m wrong.
“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.”
― Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.
Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign”:
The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness.
—-from Gerontion, by T.S. Eliot
There was a sign here once, on this very wall. I’m sure I must have seen it long ago when I passed this way before, when it was here, when it was whole, when it was relevant… to something. But what was it? What did it mean? Why is it gone now?
What terrible disaster befell the owners of the sign? It might have been a sudden death, an unexpected and unprepared tragedy. Most likely though, it was a slow dissolution over time, a deliberate failing covering decades, sluggish yet inexorable. Like the frog in cool water I imagine the involved never really felt the change, the lazily rising boil, an unseen poach of doom. Or maybe they felt a shadow of cataclysm, a hidden fear, dismissed as paranoia or lack of confidence, or deliberately ignored out of a fearful inability to face the inevitable.
Was it a proud name? A bit of art? Bright colors? A splash of neon phosphorescence? Clever typography?
It doesn’t matter, really. What is gone is gone. Dust is dust.
What you see now is all there is: cracked plaster, empty mounting holes circled with spall, streaks of rust stain on dusty stucco. The cold wind howls by.
Some might look at the bright side – maybe the missing sign is simply an indication that success was so sudden and bountiful the denizens were able to depart for greener shores.
I doubt it, though. This looks like a place that you visit on the way down, not heavenward.
The remains hint at letters, but are indecipherable. The past does not fit well with literacy. Entropy is not lucid.
Then I am on my way again. Maybe some day another sign will grace the wall.
Or at least a fresh coat of paint.
I didn’t feel like it (I was exhausted and my head was pounding) but I went for a little bike ride after work. My bike was in the back of the car so I drove down to the nearby Forest Lane train station – one that the Cottonwood Trail runs by. I changed clothes in the car, which is difficult for me, and pulled the bike out of the hatchback, which is easy. While I was getting my shit together I noticed this advertising sign stuck in the grass border around the parking lot.
This saddens me. Not so much that somebody has started a shuttle service to the local prisons (For Family and Friends) – if there is a need, there should be someone to fill it. It saddens me that there is such a need.
And look at that bus! I can see chartering a van to take my friends and family for an afternoon visit at the slammer… but who could fill up that bus? That thing has a dual rear axle – that’s a serious hunk of bus there. Are they are thinking about more than mere visits? That bus would be useful for a prison break. You could take a whole unit over the fence and drive them to a nice afternoon at a baseball game all for one low price. I wish that was true… over the obvious fact that there are enough folks up the river that you can fill a bus up on visiting day.
Across the parking lot is a cheap gas station that has a constant flow of shady characters moving in and out with bags full of bottles. I guess the people that run the shuttle service figured out (maybe with extensive research and a focus group or two) that friends and relatives of incarcerated jailbirds tend to walk through this lot – maybe carrying their cheap booze to the train. People riding the train with alcohol won’t have a car they can drive to the pen. They would need a shuttle.
I haven’t seen that ad anywhere else.
So I climbed on my bike and went for a short ride. My head never stopped pounding, so I only went a half-dozen miles or so, stopping at a shady bench to read a short story on my Kindle. While I was loading my bike back in the car for the trip home I watched a few folks walk through the lot… but nobody asked for a pen so they could write the phone number down.