Bulletin Board, excerpt

From (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, January 12 and 13, 2005

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As they say in England: 'I went to the pictures tomorrow…'

(January 12)

Writes Poet X of PDX: "I forget how it came up, but I shared 'One fine day in the middle of the night …' and ' "I see," said the blind man …' with an e-pal in England, and he related a British verse with similar bent:

" 'I went to the pictures tomorrow.

" 'I got a front seat at the back.

" 'A lady gave me a plain bun with currants in.

" 'I ate it and gave it to her back.'

"What I find odd is that there's not really a rhyme to it: 'back' and 'back.' (The whole 'currants in' line has clumsy meter, besides.) But the first two lines are great!"

Word for Word (January 13)

Writes Poet X of PDX: "Reading Wendy H.'s entry a few days back (about 'elbow grease,' in which she said 'I remember it word for word') prompts me to tell a story I've been meaning to commit to paper for awhile. I nearly submitted it when the topic was personal 'moments of glory,' but those were mostly sports-related, and this story didn't quite fit.

"But I sure remember it word for word. (A new category lurking in the wings?) [Bulletin Board says: Bring it on!]

"Back in '82, I was the night cook at a tiny greasy spoon on Lake Street in Minneapolis — a neighborhood on its way to becoming known as an unsafe place to be, particularly at night. Peggy, the waitress who worked with meek me, was a living saint, had worked there for a long time, and knew how to keep the place under control — all three tables and the L-shaped counter, that is.

"On this particular night, Peggy was sick but there, just not her usual self — in fact, the only time she ever was so. I was flipping burgers and hash browns within earshot of the 3 a.m. argument starting between someone at the counter, maybe four feet from me, and a couple at the booth another four feet beyond him. All three were regulars, if I remember, and alcohol was surely a factor. And the place was pretty full (15 customers could do that).

"The tension was much higher than the point where Peggy would have usually settled things down. I realized she didn't have 'it' in her that night, and I was going to have to intervene — very out of character for me.

"When the person at the counter continued the escalation, I stepped out from the grill area, spatula in hand, and barked, pointing to the three individuals in turn: 'You, shut up. You, sit down. And you, you're out of here.'

"And they listened! Maybe it was that spatula. But to this day I remember it — word for word — as the time I felt anger and expressed it appropriately, effectively. It's like an empowerment mantra/memory for me now.

"And I'm able to relate the story only because I wasn't at work the night a bullet came through the front window and lodged in the mirror behind where I stood most of my shift. (It was a Sunday, and the weekend cook was in the back.)"

Divided by a common language

Or: Could be verse! (responsorial)

Reports Anita of Hammond, Wis.: "After reading Poet X of PDX in Wednesday's BB, I remembered a nonsensical ditty that I learned at age 10 — and here it goes: 'Ladies and Jelly Beans! I stand here before you to sit in back of you, to tell you of something I know nothing about. This Thursday, which is Good Friday, Women's Club will meet. Men only, of course! Admission is free, pay at the door. Pull up a chair and sit on the floor.'

"I can't believe that I still remember this after 50 years, and yet I can't remember what I fixed for supper last night!"

Band Name of the Day: Peggy and the Spatulas