Cucumber Sandwiches, Swedish Thins, Tonic
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{ posted: Saturday, 24 March, 2018 at 2:25pm // views: 23 // words: 689 }

“In sports coat drinking cucumber.
    From a gilt-edged deck to pick
nothing, or else any number
    since I’ve forgot the trick.

In an odd mood today. Probably just a bit tired.

But I thought of a man the other day telling me the way to smuggle things through customs is to wear a sports coat. I nodded approvingly since I’ve always found there to be few situations a sports coat can’t get you out of. The guy suggested it’s because they make you look like you’re superior, but I think they just make you look purposeful. No one without a plan drags out of bed and throws on a sports coat.

Thinking of purpose in general.

I find that I’m much keener on thinking about my ancestors than myself. Taking pride in their accomplishments instead of trying to earn my own.

Seems to me that since they’re dead, lives completed start to finish, you can much more easily attach a single, meaningful narrative to it. Peering back a couple hundred years after an ancestor left the old country for the new world, it means something precise and grand. But in the instant did it seem like anything more than the man in the midst of his own life who moved from Panora to Des Moines?

It’s tougher to contrive a story in the midst of it, and unpleasant to face the conclusion that your intentions might have less to do with the outcome than you’d like.

All a pretty nebulous way of saying that it bothers me sometimes to stand at the start of a day with possibilities limited only by what I’m willing or able to come up with. It’s depressing to admit that I’ve gotten to where I prefer the weekdays, where obligations let me wash my hands of needing to choose what to do.

It’s not the way to be. I think a man needs habits, hobbies, rituals so that instead of needing to fill the day, he needs only to fill the period between 10am, when he finishes the crossword, and 1pm, when he has lunch, etc…

So today, after taking my sons to the dump, I took them to the local market and found myself thinking of the English concept of tea time, and thought I’d like something like that to split the gulf between lunch and dinner, so I bought a bottle of tonic water, a cucumber, and some wafery ginger snaps from Sweden.

At home, I poured the tonic over ice with a bit of lime juice and apple cider vinegar and sliced the cucumber thin and placed the little discs on a piece of rye bread with mayonnaise. You really ought to use white bread, I think, but I don’t care to own a loaf of white bread, and I’m sure my wife doesn’t either. Then I put some of the ginger Swedish “Thins” on a plate with the sandwich and took them to the desk in my upstairs study, along with the remains of last Sunday’s Times that I still hadn’t read.

Honestly, I only brought it upstairs since it seemed the most photogenic spot in the house, and as soon as I’d snapped a picture of the curated layout, I started to take it all downstairs so I could be in vicinity to break up the next fight between the boys before it came to blows. But I stopped on the landing. If I had arranged it there where it looked nicest, why not enjoy it there? My younger needs to learn to dodge a punch anyway.

I felt a bit silly. Like most people who photograph their food, I harbor a great deal of contempt for other people who photograph their food and I assign the basest possible motives to them. Why do it? To suggest to others that this is what our life looks like? To pause and expand the fleeting positive moments in the day for ourselves? Because it is our life, or can be, or should be?

I read a few columns while eating the cucumber and mayonnaise sandwiches, overwhelmed by the parched rye bread. The drink tasted pretty lousy too.