Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blog and Tings

One of my favorite store names on the island – hell, one of my favorite store names anywhere – is actually the name for three very different stores.

There's Paint and Things. And then there's Plywood and Things. And Jeans and Tings. Tings is actually how it's pronounced here, but only the jeans purveyor spelled it that way on the sign.

It's so upfront. It says right there, “We sell paint (or plywood or jeans) but we reserve the right to sell any other thing if we can make a buck doing it.” The owners clearly don't want to be limited in their commercial endeavor.

I have been waiting patiently for someone to open a store just named “Things.” Or even better, “Tings.”

It's a little like the old five and dime stores, or the mom and pop corner stores, whose signs on the front door advertised that they sold groceries, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and “sundries,” or sometimes notions.” How did they decide which to sell? I can see Mom and Pop arguing about it. “I think we should sell sundries. We could make a fortune on sundries!” “No Eb! What would the neighbors say? Notions have been good to us, let's leave it at that.”

And if they sold both? Would you want to be the employee responsible for deciding whether something was a sundry or a notion? They couldn't pay you enough for that kind of pressure. “Sundry or notion? Sundry or notion?” How could you ever decide?

I can almost see someone standing out front, stroking his chin and saying, “Hmmmm. I have a notion to buy some sundries.”

That's what I like about the Crucian way. Tings. (Or things.) Nice and vague. All encompassing. Those are three merchants who just won't get pinned down.

Other stores names of note: It's tough to beat this one Mr. Cheap Neighborhood. Just your basic neighborhood convenience store. Or Mr. Dollar, which non-intuitively, is not a dollar store. That would be Nigel's 1-2-3.

But you've gotta love the slogan for Mr. Dollar. "If we don't have it, you don't need it." That's pretty direct, pretty in your face. "Just be quiet and buy some tings."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This is from Coconuts on the Beach, the westside restaurant and bar. The final resting place for many a flip that has flopped.

And this is actually only about a third of the wall. Most of the footwear is anonymous, just stuff that got left behind. A couple have notations about the storm during which they washed ashore. And one or two have been signed by the person who left them, which seems to be cheating to me. That would be for the wall of abandoned soles, I think.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Feeing Cranky

These aren't island things, they'e just things I've noticed or that bugged me.

There's a TV commercial that makes me cringe every time I see it. It's this old coot talking about how he's used catheters for years – yeah, that'd make you cranky, but it's not the cringe inducing part. What makes me wince is when he says this company “handles everything for me.” I do not want that picture in my head, of some faceless company “handling” his catheterization!

I mean, really, doesn't anyone at the ad agency even read the copy before they shoot the commercials?

Got an e-mail from someone I don't know inviting me to her garden party. I suppose that was nice, but all it did was piss me off. I have no idea who this person is. People send something like this to everyone on their list and pardon me but it's thoughtless. I end up on a lot of people's e-mail lists, people I've never met, but they need to remember that we're not really "friends" just because Facebook or whatever says we are. This e-mail was written in an “Ah, it will all be so grand and I'll share my wonderful garden with all my friends” style that I'd have found annoying if I actually knew the woman. And the invite included a photo of her (but  not the garden) and I'm quite sure I don't know her. She didn't even mention what state (let alone city) she lives in. It just felt awfully presumptuous, like I should be happy to be included in the list from somebody I've never heard of for an event I have no interest in and wouldn't attend unless kidnappers took my children and made that part of the ransom demand. And the whole thing taking more than a meg in my inbox.

Man, I'm feeling cranky.

And then there's the ad for the “only slipper you'll ever need.” It was one of those late-night commercials. I was reading and wasn't paying close attention to the TV yammering away, although I heard the claim I'd never need another pair of slippers in my life. They were enthusiastic about it on the commercial. So enthusiastic that they doubled the offer! For the incredibly low price of whatever it was, they'd send you not one but TWO pairs!

And Tori turned to me and said, “If it's the only slipper I'll ever need, why would I want two pairs?”

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Honest Little Ballerina

Those who know me at all know that I am not a fan of the dance. “John?” they'll say, “He's not so much into the capering.”

But there I was Friday, at a dance recital, and enjoying it.

I was not there for the dancing. I was there for my son, Max. No, he wasn't dancing. He was there for a girl. She's a friend. But she's not a “girlfriend,” he'll say emphatically. 

He's 13.

Anyway, the young lady in question was in the Caribbean School of Dance recital being held that night at the high school, and I wasn't going to just dump him at the gate and leave, no matter how much he wanted me to. I brought a book and was prepared to while away the three hours lost in “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

But at the door we were told that wasn't an option. If I was going to come in past the gate, not even into the auditorium but just through the gate, it was going to cost us $15. Each.

Steaming, I thought to myself, “Well, if I've gotta pay thirty bucks, I'm going to by God enjoy this somehow!” So I settled back grimly to enjoy the dancing.

The first number didn't feel me with a lot of hope – it was older dancers, high school and 20s, I'd guess, and they were very serious about the art form. But there was part they did in slow motion for some reason. They were telling some kind of story but damn me if I could figure out what it was.)

But the next number was fantastic! Kindergartners who had been dancing for about 7 months, standing on stage beaming. They didn't really get what was going on, but they were on stage in the most beautiful dresses they had ever worn and you could tell how happy that made them.

The dancers shuffled one by one across the stage, hands held aloft in classic ballet pose (or signalling “touchdow”) and most of them sneaking a wave at the crowd. They were thrilled, except for one. The last kid in line was NOT a happy prancer. No. Hands at her side, head down, she stomped across the stage 'til she got halfway. At first I thought, “Oh, it's a little story about the sad one and the others all cheer her up.” No, there was no story and no make believe. She HATED it. Then she got halfway across the stage and noticed the audience. She lowered her head even further and covered her eyes, but went stoically on, keeping her place in line even though she was apparently crying most of the time. 

For me, that was worth the $15 right there. It was the most honesty I saw on stage all night, probably the most honesty I've seen on stage in years. And the audience loved it too. There wasn't a dry seat in the house.

There were more kindergartners, and first graders, and it worked its way up the age groups, the dancers becoming more serious and “artistic” and self-conscious as they got older, until they got back to the adults and my mind wandered. There literally were hundreds of dancers, and the thing lasted a long three hours.

Max's friend was very good. After the show he waited at the backstage entrance for ages to give her the stuffed monkey he'd brought as a gift. It was almost half an hour. When she finally came out he was able to talk to her for about 12 seconds before her parents whisked her away. He seemed satisfied with that.

But for me, nothing matched that moment when one little ballerina seemed to say, “You can make me do this, but you can't make me like it!”