Rendered Fat Content


Floris Claesz van Dijck: Still Life with Cheese (c. 1615)

"For me, it's only sometimes something …"

It would be news to nobody if I reported that things tend to happen in Clusters. Nothing much will happen for the longest time before a single week will bring a flurry of activity. Often, stuff will break down together, as if unrelated stuff were secretly conspiring and dedicated to causing only occasional trouble. Visit one repair department and you'll probably visit a half dozen in quick succession. It might be a law of the universe guiding this sort of thing.

A week ago today, I managed to swipe my watch off my arm by bumping into a crosspiece on the scaffolding.
The watch fell ten feet to the concrete below, bracelet separated. I knew from experience that I would very likely be unable to reattach that strap, so I headed down to the Main Street jewelry store, where I arrived five minutes after the repair person had left for an early lunch. I was invited to leave the watch until Tuesday, when the repair person would return, but I declined. The Muse later reattached the bracelet, but a couple of days later, Tuesday, I think, I noticed that I could not reset the time on the danged thing, so I was back at the jewelry shop again, this time for a more substantive reason, leaving the thing this time. They called a few hours later to report that the damage was both minor and easily fixed. They'd only nick me five bucks to reclaim it. Back to that jewelry shop I went.

It had been years since I'd shaded the entry of that jewelry shop, and it might be years again before I return, but for a few short days, it was my frequent destination, a Cluster. My eyeglasses were next. The repainting effort has been tough on my specs. I'm forever knocking them off my face or dropping them. I even managed to smear some epoxy on both lenses. It never takes very long before they're crooked and ill-aimed. I usually ignore this difficulty until something happens to make it imperative that I get them fixed that very minute. Down to the Main Street optometrist's shop where I learn that not only are the glasses misaligned, their lenses are also badly scratched. Jim informs me that they're still under warrantee, so he orders new lenses, which came in yesterday. David sits me down to inform me that the new lenses are a tad too small. He'll temporarily secure them into their frame with some double-sided tape that won't even make them look nerdy, and order some properly-sized lenses. I swear, it's always something.

While I was there, I scheduled a follow-up appointment to see about cleaning up those fuzzy lenses I got in cataract surgery. Must be vision week, I mumble, another Cluster. Again, following a lengthy absence, I'm suddenly a frequent customer there again. I feel like a veteran, not a stranger. I'll almost be an insider by the time this latest Cluster gets resolved.

I rarely miss an appointment. I tend to arrive a little early, even. Call me reliable. But this week, I've missed a Cluster of regularly scheduled sessions, and rather important ones, the kind I'll need to make amends for missing. I have no good excuses, just stories. That one session I missed because I was hurrying to make sure I didn't miss it. Moving two planks on the scaffolding, I had not noticed in my haste that the nearly full gallon of house paint was sharing that edge. As I pushed one plank aside, that gallon, with top loosely sitting on top, fell six feet to the pavement below, expelling a long arc of paint and the lid clear to the fence along the far side of the rose garden. I figure that it was about a thirty dollar geyser. I grabbed the hose, the only possible response involved washing that paint into the ground before it started drying. By the time I'd properly diluted and disappeared the stuff, that meeting I had been rushing to attend was over.

Clusters sometimes take the form of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. The best intentions sometimes go for naught, and these, too, tend to occur in Clusters. Not only have I been missing meetings, but I've also been getting lost lately. I go for months, even years, without getting anything like lost, then I get lost several times over the course of a few short days. I'll probably return to my factory settings after a few disorienting days, once that Cluster's past. Clusters always pass just about as invisibly as they arrive. It's probably not really fate, though they often seem like fate arriving. They're wrinkles, not actual streaks of bad luck. They're little plot twists, intended, I guess, to keep the same-old stories a little more interesting.

I expect my backstory to shortly settle back into its invisible background again. However boring it might become, it's at least equal parts reassuring. I sometimes forget just how fortunate I've been. I do not as a rule live a life of high drama but of lowly routine. Routine does not come in Clusters, but in constants. I know people, grave unfortunates, for whom every day seems like another Cluster, some catastrophe always visiting, upsets, the rule rather than the rare exception. I do not envy those poor devils a bit. I treasure my routines and revel in my occasional Clusters. For some, it's always something. For me, it's only sometimes something, and then, often in Clusters.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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