Henry Baker’s afternoon adventure

Henry Baker hated his name. He wasn’t crazy about the Baker, but it was his last name and he considered it a given. Besides, it was the only thing he had left of his father.

No, Baker was fine. Even Mom thought so. It was Henry he had a real beef with.

He loved his mother very much but he hated his name, and that was a problem because while she loved him very much, too, she may have loved the idea of having a son named Henry just as much.

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Dreams in VHS

I know some people think that video store clerks are losers, that they’re kids, or punks, with basically no lives or friends, and that they walk through life dressed in clothes that push whatever movie is being pushed at the time and speak in movie quotes.

Fine, right now, I’m wearing a black T-shirt and a baseball cap with “The Heat Is On!” printed on them because we’re pushing Beverly Hills Cop.

The slogan’s particularly funny right now because it’s minus-25 outside. How cold is minus-25? It’s so cold that when you stand at the bus stop and don’t blink for a while, you don’t seem to be able to shut your eyes anymore. It’s so cold that when you inhale through your nose, your nostrils seem to get glued shut.

Both things happened to me when I walked from the bus station to work to our store just a few blocks away.

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The Ambassador

Once upon a time, she had been a wunderkind. An overachiever, a go-getter. She had graduated from high school a year ahead of time, and then joined the foreign office as a 20-year-old, and in another time, she would have been on track to become the youngest foreign minister in her country’s history, and probably, the youngest prime minister, and possibly, the first female prime minister.

But not in the Seventies, maybe not even in the Eighties, although after Thatcher in the UK, there were some rumblings – in the circles that were in the know – about her becoming a cabinet member, but by then, she was too far into her diplomatic life overseas, and loved it too much to put in the effort to make it happen. She had her supporters, of course, but not enough of them at the very top.

Also, she had always been one of those people who saw the whole world, not just one country, as her domain, and when she at the age of 24 got her first foreign posting – an undersecretary in Asia – she saw it as a stepping stone to … something.

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Clean house

He knew it right away, the second he got out of the taxi and saw the footprints in the snow. He had expected to see footprints in the snow, yes, because his wife was walking in front of him – while he carried their luggage.

He didn’t like seeing his wife’s footprints in the snow, either, but he had stopped raising the issue a long time ago. She just didn’t think it was important, not like he did. On the other hand, he didn’t think vacuuming was important. She did. For example.

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Oh Happy Day

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”
― William James, 19th century American philosopher, doctor, and psychologist

Patient Zero was riding the subway. Well, her name was Jessica Serow and she was neither sick nor very patient. If anything, she was impulsive which is why it was surprising that the whole chain of events started with her reading a book. A book! That alone would make anyone who knew her laugh, but it wasn’t what made her laugh. No, what made her chuckle was something she read. She was alone that day which is why she was reading in the first place. She knew better than to read in company.

(What it was that she read has been speculated wildly. Some say it was P.G. Wodehouse, others talk about an IKEA catalogue.)

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The islander

»People often say that island people are special. I say it, too, but the difference is that when others say it, they put air quotes around special. I don’t.

But living on an island does something to a man. (And woman, I don’t mean it like that). I don’t know what it is, like you don’t know what booze does to a man until you see it, you don’t see the island in the man – until you do. But it gets to every one of us, believe me.

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My invisible friend

Everybody should have a friend like Emma. I don’t know if I deserved her, or if that’s even a word you can ever use about your friends, but I’m really happy she’s my friend. Or that she was my friend. Or possibly is, I don’t know which word to use since I haven’t seen her in almost thirty years.

It’s always been like that, though. Not that you always don’t see her for thirty years, but it’s always been Emma who’s chosen the level of friendship we were going to have.

Her first words to me were, “We’re going to be friends forever.”

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