Monday, June 29, 2009


I had a weekend almost entirely without obligation: no kids, no partner, no work, no choir. And if you don't count laundering the linens twice, the only productive thing I did between Friday night and Sunday night was to stake the tomato plants in the garden. I also did a little weeding.

If you don't stake your tomato plants, your tomatoes will all end up on the ground, where they'll rot before they ripen. Properly staked and tended plants give more and better fruit. My stakes are actually the handles from string mops that I bought at the dollar store for -- wait for it -- a dollar each. I bought them last year and then kept them in the garage over the winter. Despite spending a few months in ground that was often wet, they didn't rust at all, so now I'm using them for a second year, which means they cost only fifty cents per use. Am I thrifty, or what?

Tomato cages are also traditional, but they're pricey.

As I was pressing the stakes down into the soft ground (weeks of rain before a few days of sun that allowed me to get into the garden), I couldn't help thinking that the whims of the English language make it such that you could stake a tomato plant either a) to support the plant and increase its yield, b) to keep an undead tomato plant from rising up and devouring both you and your marinara sauce, or c) to create a living reenactment of the acrylic-on-black-velvet-living-room classic, Tomatoes Playing Poker. And that's without even considering the homophones.

I was careful not to put the stakes too close to the root of the plant. That could damage the plant, and would be a mis-stake.

I did venture into DC Saturday evening to catch a concert at the Kennedy Center. Since b&c wasn't in town, I invited my buddy George, and we had dinner at a Greek restaurant in upper Northeast beforehand. I thought perhaps it was just a hair too hot to eat outside, but almost immediately after we sat down, a light breeze came along, and it was just perfect. I had driven to Bethesda to pick him up, and we'd parked about two blocks from the restaurant, allowing us to walk through a delightful neighborhood and feel depressed about living in the suburbs where you can't walk to anything. But it was too nice an evening to stay depressed, what with the cool breeze and the excellent food and the extremely decorative young (twenty-five and thirty-three, I'd guess) gay couple who walked by holding hands. It reminded me of a time, perhaps a year ago, when I'd been driving on that same street, perhaps a block or two away, and had not approved of another gay couple who were holding hands. They were also both young and attractive, but one was in a suit, and the other was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. I don't think you should hold hands unless you maintain some level of parity of formality. I'm willing to give you one level of separation, say, a guy wearing a suit and another guy who's business casual. Or maybe a guy in khakis and a blue button-down shirt with a guy in jeans and a sweater, but that's already stretching it. The guys on Saturday night were both wearing jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts (one brown, one magenta). They were aesthetically appealing both separately and together.

I'm generally not that picky about my eye candy, but it usually comes in singles rather than doubles. It's a fairly common phenomenon, when I'm by myself, for me to drive along, see a boy, and say, "Pretty!" out loud where no one can hear it.

I was on my way to the supermarket Sunday evening when I saw another pair of young men, not holding hands but jogging. They were both wearing black shorts and running shoes and nothing else, and they were almost too pretty to bear. But, really, nothing is too pretty to bear. It's a shame they were going the other way and that I only had a moment to enjoy the sight of them.

I don't usually spend my suburban driving time ogling the cute young men, but that might be because there aren't so many of them around until one gets into the more urban areas. What I more typically do when I'm driving around the deeper suburbs is to semi-compulsively multiply the digits on mailboxes. In my immediate vicinity, it's not so easy because so many of the house numbers have zeroes in them. For example:

And here again:

I only have a temporarily addictive personality, though, so I don't multiply all the time. But if I remember that I haven't done it in a while, then I'll start to do it again, and I might, for a few minutes, have trouble letting go of it. In that case, the zeroes become a useful break because while I probably multiply more rapidly than most men (as with "stake," "multiply" has, um, multiple meanings, so feel free to make a joke comparing me to a rabbit), when I saw this:

it took me a couple of seconds to come up with 324. It's not uncommon to be driving along some suburban roads at forty or forty-five miles an hour, and then if you don't have some numbers with zeroes in them, it becomes difficult to keep up. Yet another reason to move to the city, get rid of the car, and spend your time ogling boys rather than numbers.

I'd miss the tomatoes, though. A couple of months ago, I was sitting in choir rehearsal, talking with another of the basses, and we were discussing gardens, and when I mentioned the upcoming tomato season, he said, "The only things money can't buy you are love and home-grown tomatoes." I replied, "I'm not so sure about love." He looked at me and said, "I just don't know what to say now," and I responded, "Then I guess my work here is done."


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  2. I bet your sauce is mean and bold too.