17 June 2007...1:53 pm

The Accidental Say

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In Spanish, there’s a grammatic convention that I think borders on perfect. It’s the accidental “se,” or accidental reflexive, and it serves to put the blame, well, not on me. When unintentional events occur in the English language, the actor stays the same--Bill Buckner lost the ball–but, in Spanish, se le perdió la pelota. The ball was lost to him. Indeed. Jeez. Sorry.

Since my errors are less frequently televised but no less common than those of American Leaguers, I adore the accidental se. In fact, it’s adorable to me. I lose and drop and spill and forget things All The Time, and I loathe it. But I think there’s been an accident brewing in my Red Admirable writing for which I want to take credit. Last week I chronicled my (totally madcap) initial adventures at the fire library and I identified a very specific type of person who tends to sit at a desk surrounded by walls that don’t quite make the ceiling and has an email address with lots of numbers and no recognizable names with one of the giant ISPs. He checks his email regularly, and because he’s generally related to or affiliated (on the same softball team) with others of his type, there are always a few new messages. They’re usually articles from AOL News, or Good Morning Tamarica (I just think that would be funny, if there were a show dedicated to ensuring that Tamara knew the weather in a cheery way), or The Post, and their titles include “Instead of Lactating, Mother Whiskey Sours; Tot Teetotaler” and “Sir Paul Politely Declines To Takeover Siberian Military Base” and “How Bad Is Your Job? Ask Your Second Cousin.”

Anyway, so concludes an enjoyable aside for me, but I reiterated all of that not to showcase my stunning Sunday morning wit (hide behind the pews, youse) but to say that I’d kind of like to just write about groups of people like that from now on. Like, groups that I’m pretty sure exist because I happened to encounter someone who isn’t young, overeducated, attractive or likes polka dots. Yesterday, for example, I was visited at the shoe store by an unaccountably large number of men who came in just to confirm that we do not, in fact, carry men’s shoes. It didn’t make any sense. They already knew we didn’t, and everything in the windows has a pointy toe & looks like it might come in red patent leather. There was one fellow, though, for whom a single confirmation was just not enough. He came in two times. And I was thus able to deduce that he belongs to thirty-five year old-ish group of people who haven’t gotten tired of yanking up their Bugle Boys to cover their boxers, who run informal car wash enterprises on the corner of South 3rd and Bedford, and accompany the new Rhianna album on their own car’s speakers with a striking falsetto. They also come into fancy, boring shoe stores like this guy did and ask “you got the Macbeth, still?”

[No. We don't have him anymore. He's about to run away in those Ecko sneaks and get his wife some super strong soap.]

“All we have are those three, at the end. They’re unisex. For men and women.”

“Oh, for men and women? You think you got, like, an eight in these guys?”

“Uh, I don’t know. Do you want me to go check?”

“Nah, nah. You maybe got it. All right.” Then he looked around furtively and explained with a certain reluctance “You should sell more sneakers, you know? People around here,” he looked out the window as though he were about to be racist “people around here would buy sneakers.”

“Huh.” I mean, he was definitely right. “Yeah. I’m just not the boss.”

“Ohhh, you’re not the boss, huh?” This seemed to be an incredibly alluring fact, like I was a substitute and we could immediately commence throwing paper airplanes. He nodded several times in quick succession and told me he’d see me around. Then he came in an hour later and the conversation was repeated. Basically verbatim. Or maybe it was an accident on all fronts and the conversation was repeated on us.

I think he might be on the corner again today. You can go check it out. See if that guy can occupy the front of a playing card in my deck of Kinds Of People That Exist.

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