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(His Birthday Before Last, Continued)
Oh, yeah! I just thought of one of the other bad omens on my birthday, or s—or so I took it, earlier in the day, before I had my pie-based revelations.
So I went to… I w—walked up to the bookstore as I like to do. I was gonna meet Carlotta. She flew down from New York for my birthday. And I… was… sweating. It’s very humid these days.
And I thought, “I’ll go get a…” I thought, “Is it okay if I drink a milkshake?” You know? “It’s my birthday!” What am I, four? That I want a milkshake for my birthday? So I went and… I went to the candy store. Where, you know, it’s a sad sight, a grown man with a white beard in a candy store. It’s not… there’s all… it’s just very suspicious. [Laughter.] And, and upsetting. [Laughter.]
I had an interesting experience there once.
One evening Anastasia and I planned an atrocious but satisfying dinner for two: double cheeseburgers from Handy Andy, Tater Tots for Anastasia and French fries for me… and chocolate shakes.
Handy Andy does not make chocolate shakes. That’s too exotic for Handy Andy. [Sniff.] Too complicated.
On the way to Handy Andy I stopped by this candy shop I’m talking about to get the shakes. They always make ‘em really thick. Too thick for my comfort. So I thought, well, they’ll melt a little bit. They won’t be so impossible to drink. This is the perfect plan. And I was right. Let there be no suspense.
When I stopped to get the milkshakes, uhm, as the young man was… putting… ice cream in one of those… big silver cups, and… beginning the process… a young woman came to ring me up. She was, uh, wearing, taped to her bosom a… a post-it note, uhhhhh, inscribed in pencil. I didn’t wish to stare at her chest, uhm, so I just said, “What’s on your post-it note?”
And she said, “I got fired. It says, ‘Your services are no longer required at Iggy’s Sweet Tooth. Please vacate the premises at once and you will not be receiving a final paycheck.’”
And I said, “Well, why are you still here?”
And she said, “Because I refuse to be fired.”
And I said, “You’re like Bartleby the Scrivener!”
And she wasn’t familiar with Bartleby the Scrivener. So… but she sounded very interested in the st—in the little bit of the story I told her and… she asked me to write it down because she was gonna go read it. And I believed her, because she…
I don’t know, maybe she won’t read it, because Bartleby wouldn’t. Would he?
I admired her cockeyed plan.
What a cheerful solution.
I came home and told Anastasia about it immediately! And especially knowing that she would respond to the post-it note and think of it as a scarlet letter, given her professional… interest in Hester Prynne, who was the star of her doctoral dissertation.
Anyway, that young woman’s plan didn’t work, I take it, because she’s no longer there. And whoever is working there now is not nearly as interesting. So I’m standing in line for quite a while because, you know, it’s a big day for the candy store. People are in the mood for candy. And I stand in line and stand in line, and then the clerk… walks right past me. The cashier ignores me entirely, like I’m not there. Literally like I’m a ghost. And says to the next people in line, “Can I get someone some ice cream?”
[Mouth and nose noises.]
I was standin’ there holding [short laugh] a Popsicle. I had… you know, I thought… I was like, “See? I’m not gonna drink a milkshake after all. That would be… I’m gonna eat three pies later.” [Laughter.] “Maybe I shouldn’t have a milkshake.” But, uh…
I remember during a work meeting, talking to Dirk and Maisie about when you eat… “Eat.” When you drink milkshakes! And… we agreed it’s usually the day after drinking alcohol. And then [a cat meows], uh, Dirk said “a strawberry milkshake,” which surprised Maisie and surprised me. Uh… Maisie swore by vanilla and then, of course, Dirk also said he liked [stifled laugh] vanilla.
Isn’t…? This is good. I’m pretty happy with this subject.
Well…! And then… Maisie said “never chocolate.” And Dirk agreed strongly. “Never chocolate.” And I thought, “What’s wrong with… chocolate?”
[Cat meows in the distance.]
“It’s too much,” I believe is what [stifled laugh] Maisie said about chocolate.
[Cat meows and meows and meows.]
“It’s not classic!” was another phrase that was bandied about.
And I thought, surely! And I have done no research to corroborate this. But surely… chocolate must be one of the first two flavors of milkshake, along with vanilla. If anything, Dirk’s strawberry milkshake is the aberration. [Cat has continued to meow this whole time.]
Dirk said he liked to get, after a night of drinking…
At the conclusion of a night of drinking, he liked to get… hot French fries and dip them in a cold vanilla milkshake and eat them. I’ve never heard of that, although Nemo, the showrunner, who happened to be in the room, seemed to think it was a regular activity.
I did—I’m sure I’ve mentioned that my friend Lizzie dips the… Popeyes French fries into the Popeyes mashed potatoes, but it bears repeating.
This way to the next episode.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.