Tag Archives: bagels

“It’s All Political Now”

IMG_0685

JJ and Carl, reconciled, waiting to bake the bagels.

They stood behind the bagel shop, Carl smoking and talking, JJ looking across at the empty skate park bathed in yellowish street light. The trees were mostly bare of leaves now and the scene looked bereft and jaundiced, some long suspected inner disease finally showing itself on the surface.

“It’s all political now,” Carl said. “Everything. You can’t even stand in line at CVS without thinking, ‘Did he vote for him?’ ‘Did she?’ It’s like trying to spot vampires in daylight. And you know they’re ashamed.”

“They’re not monsters.”

“But the results will be monstrous.”

“They’re just people. People are angry.”

“Yeah. They want simple answers for a complex world. They want what they think was promised them without realizing they grew up in a relatively peaceful time in our nation’s history of blood and mayhem. Post WWII. Then post Cold War. But the rest of the world doesn’t care. The rich don’t care about the American Dream for everybody else. They’ll allow the average Joe just enough to have an Xbox or flat screen or some shitty pickup truck. But they’ll keep the rest and convince those ignorant suckers that they care about making America great. News flash: America’s never been great for a lot of people.”

“You’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this,” JJ said with a smile. “I suspect the last baker didn’t do a lot of listening.”

“Yeah well, he was limited. He could talk about online gaming and that’s about it. I don’t even know what that is. I may be a baker but I read Marx, I read Thoreau, I read Rousseau. This shit going on today? It thrives on ignorance.”

JJ looked at the empty skate park and thought back to summer nights when there were kids skating out there until after dark with their languid movements and sudden bursts of energy required for their tricks. They wore wool hats, even in the heat. It all seemd pretty simple. Enjoy yourself, do your work, think about places to go and how to get there.

“How’s Anne?”

“It’s good at home,” Carl said. “But, y’know what? I think she voted for him. She says she didn’t, but I think…I think she shows the signs. She wants people to pay.”

“Hmm.”

“You’re not surprised?”

JJ thought of Tess and Cody and the keystone cops desperation of their scheme to get their ranch back. “Nothing surprises me.”

“Nothing?”

“It’s a blessing and a curse.”

They heard the oven buzzer go off through the closed back door. Preheating was done, baking temperature had been reached, 550 degrees.

“It’s time,” Carl said.

“194 dozen?”

“No dude, we’re booming. 222 dozen these days.”

“This is going to hurt,” JJ said.

“It’ll come back to you. Muscle memory. Your body remembers the old patterns.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

2 Comments

Filed under JJ in the 21st Century

Finally, Again

JJ Triangle

Waiting for JJ at the Dollop Café. Lila, his girlfriend, and Carl, his best friend, are catching up. JJ is the only shared area in their friendship Venn. Meaning they only hang out when Lila and JJ are together. Except for that one time, of course.

Lila asked, “Still baking the bagels?”

“Yup,” Carl said. “Someone has to do it. They sell them here, in fact.”

“Oh yeah? Doing any writing?”

“Working on the novel.”

“Who isn’t?”

“I don’t know. Most people just blog. They blog about not writing their novel. And the pain of not writing their novel. And they don’t have time to write their novel.”

“You don’t have a blog?”

“I used to,” Carl said. “It was called BageLit. It was about bagels and literature.”

“Ummm.”

“I would start by describing a type of bagel, ingredients, and the finished product. Then compare it to a piece of literature. Usually a poem.”

“Such as?”

Birches, by Robert Frost. That’s like a cinnamon raisin bagel toasted with butter. Comforting and nostalgic. Simple. Evocative of the way things ought to be. A reset after a tough spell.”

Lila looked at him, this rough-around-the-edges-bagel-baking-freak. “You always did march to your own drummer.”

“What are the options? The prevailing beat sucks.”

The waitress brought them that good Dollop Café dark roast and they fixed their coffee in silence.

Lila asked, “Did you ever tell him about that one time?”

“Did you?”

“No, it would just thicken the plot. He doesn’t need that.”

“No one needs that.”

“How do you think he’s doing?”

“Obviously better not drinking,” Carl said. “But…”

“But what?”

“He’s somehow more and less at the same time.”

Lila sighed. “I think I know what you mean.”

“I mean, it’s good, right. But something…creepy maybe? About him sober.”

“Shh, here he comes.”

JJ was coming toward them, moving through the tables, a man feeling good, in the flow. He reached the table and smiled down upon them.

“Worlds collide,” JJ said. “Finally.”

“Finally again,” said Carl.

“Yeah,” JJ said. “Finally again. But it’s different now.”

“That’s for sure,” said Lila.

“This is what’s important,” JJ said and took the seat next to Lila. “This is what I’m grateful for.”

JJ read the menu while Carl and Lila shared a look. “More and less at the same time,” their glance confirmed.  “Exactly.”

The waitress came back. “I think I’ll have a cinnamon raisin bagel,” JJ said and put the menu back in the stand. “Toasted with butter.”

5 Comments

Filed under JJ in the 21st Century