Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Costco Experience

Here's a picture Ace took when we went to Memphis today. He called out of the blue and off we went. On the way we talked about John D. MacDonald some. I thought I had detected a single similarity between MacDonald and Charles Willeford, two extremely different writers. But I noticed that they are both willing to stop their plots in what I find to be a really pleasant way, and just dally over some other subject for a whole chapter or two, say: not what you expect necessarily from a "crime novel." I asked Ace - who was a newspaperman in Florida, you know - whether he thought it had anything to do with the fact that MacDonald and Willeford are both considered "Florida writers," as stylistically different as they are. Ace gave me a good history lesson on Florida crime writing and the particular idiosyncrasies of John D. MacDonald, and the ride to Memphis whizzed by. Ace was going there to speak at a branch of the Memphis Public Library. When we pulled in I could not help but notice that people were selling barbecue from a tent in the library parking lot. Because we were in Memphis! So I let Ace go in to "speak" and had some barbecue instead. I was drawn to the welcome sight of baloney. Not your thin Oscar Mayer-style slices. Nice thick honest rounds of real baloney, my friends. And they put two on a sandwich, as I now know from experience. I finished my sandwich - a real bargain at $3! - and was about to walk into the library when I overheard the library security guard say to a bystander, "The slaw is exceptional." I asked if he were referring to the slaw they put on the barbecue sandwiches in the library parking lot and he said yes and I quite agreed with him. So I said that I was almost tempted to go back and try the smoked sausage. He revealed that he had first had a smoked sausage and then gone back for the baloney! So we bonded over that. So did I go back and have a smoked sausage sandwich? It is really none of your beeswax. THAT KIND OF PERSONAL DECISION IS BETWEEN ME AND THE LIBRARY SECURITY GUARD. I saw no signage, so I asked the barbecue guys whether they had a restaurant and the main guy said, "No, we ride around." Then he said that his regular spot is on the corner of Winchester and Elvis Presley Boulevard. Go visit! And tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you. Finally I went in the library and was very pleasantly surprised to find that Ace's fellow speakers included Scott Phillips and Jedidiah Ayres. We were able to catch up a little bit. Then Ace and I had some Gus's Fried Chicken (SIDE NOTE! When Kent sent me the photo to use in my "Kent Eating Chicken" "post" I promised in return to take him to Gus's next time he visits... and he told me he has already been, of course! He has even been to a second secret Tennessee chicken location that John T. Edge told him about! You can't get ahead of Kent Osborne when it comes to chicken). Over chicken, thinking back on the speaking engagement I had just enjoyed, I speculated that our friend Scott was the first person to use the phrase "a pile of genitals" in the Memphis Public Library and Ace responded, "I THINK NOT." Then Ace said, "Have you ever had the Costco experience?" I had to answer in the negative. Turned out, Ace had to go to Costco and renew his membership and buy one million items from Costco. It also turns out the "Costco experience" is pretty much the same as the "grocery store experience." BUT! Then I passed a whole stack of kayaks in the Costco. Kayaks stacked to the skies! And Ace said, "You know they also sell coffins at Costco." He wasn't kidding! They really do. But the final part of the Costco experience is that when you leave they kind of frisk you! Well, they go through your stuff like you're smuggling uranium. There's your Costco experience. We drove back to town and dropped off the frozen stuff and one of Ace's kids hit me with a light saber. (PS Ace's kids are the best! I am recalling the incident with fondness and good humor!) "Chicken, kayaks and coffins," Dr. Theresa said, summing up my own summary of my day. It sounded like the title of a memoir! Maybe of the founder of Costco! When Ace brought me home we found Dr. Theresa and Megan there. They had just finished watching the old live-action Disney chiller THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS, inspired by Jimmy's thesis defense, in which he cited it, and they were still a little freaked out by the apparently traumatic alternate endings with which the DVD had come supplied. So I gave Megan her first ever belt of rye. A 13-year-old rye! Oh, this day has been coming.