If you surprise your wife on a Friday morning by announcing that you've spent four months secretly planning a trip to New York to celebrate your seventh wedding anniversary, and that you're leaving that night, it's even more fun, when she asks what you're going to be doing in New York, to be able to tell her, "We'll be going to International Pickle Day!"
We ate a lot of regular pickles, some pickled beans and radishes, some kimchi, some more pickles. And here, I suppose, is this post's tenuous connection to this blog's ostensible purpose: in reading the International Pickle Day materials, I learned two new terms for cucumbers: curvey describes a type of cucumber that is destined for pickling (56% of the nearly 3 billion grown annually in the United States), while slicer refers to a cucumber that is to be shipped to groceries and sold as is. I also learned the Dutch phrase in de pickel zitten, which means "to sit in the pickle"--the rough equivalent of our "to be in a pickle."
It was a great trip. We saw friends, had good food and drink, talked about books and music, heard stories of bad workplaces. Which leads me to think, once again, that there really isn't enough fiction about office life, relative to the amount of time and emotion we spend there. Though maybe Bartleby the Scrivener is enough?
Bartleby reminds me that there were of course books on the trip, too. We met our friend Bernice at the Brooklyn Book Festival, where I couldn't resist picking up some of the beautifully designed novellas published by Melville House. And my current Prince fixation led me to pick up a book on his album Sign 'o' the Times by my friend Maura's sometimes co-blogger Michaelangelo Matos, who won me over with this line:
The only music from 1987 to match it for sheer libido isn't an R&B record-it's Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction, cock-rock metal with a disco rhythm section.At the Book Festival, we also saw a panel featuring Ed from the Dizzies, along with Rob Sheffield and Chuck Klosterman--the last of whom came out with an unforgettable (if possible untrue?) line:
Even with something you absolutely love, if you think about it long enough, you can make it seem horrible.
Oh, and we wandered the Strand, where I picked up Mary Ann Caws's impressionistic, digressive volume on Proust in the Overlook Illustrated Lives series, from which I gleaned this anecdote:
At the moment when [Proust's brother] Robert was about to marry Marthe in the nearby church of St. Augustin, Proust, panicked as usual over the notion that he might be cold, stuffed his tuxedo with a great mass of thermal wadding, placed several mufflers around his neck, and three overcoats over the tux, and so attired, was too massive to get down the aisle and had to stand aside. "To each row in turn he announced in a loud voice that he had been ill for months, that he would be still more ill that evening, that it was not his fault."Proust as Monty Python character--now that's a side of the man I would never have expected to see.
All in all, a lovely whirlwind trip. Now back home, and back to regularly scheduled blogging. And, you know, work and all that stuff, too.