Friday, April 16, 2010

The Smell of Ray Halliday

Dear Tom’s of Maine,

I am a forty-six year old male. I am a schoolteacher, and when I was out of work for awhile, my father called me personable, and said I should be able to get back to work soon, and I did.

So you might figure there is no reason for me to be alone and living a bachelor’s existence with a cat.

Tom’s of Maine, I am doing what I can. I recently started eating radically right and exercising. I quit drinking and I am trying to keep a positive attitude. I am getting more work done and I am budgeting my time wisely, more wisely than I ever have. I keep my apartment nice, and, in general, my sink clear of dirty dishes.

In this spirit, I turned to you, Tom’s of Maine, for my toothpaste and deodorant needs. I want to be more “natural” and your products say that right on the cover. Plus your deodorant is aluminum free, and who wouldn’t want that? I bought a stick of your unscented Natural Original Care Aluminum-Free Deodorant Stick, and couldn’t hardly wait to get home and rub it on. I also bought your Natural Whole Care Anticavity & Tartar Control Plus Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste.
I brushed my teeth, rubbed my armpits and waited for my new, natural life to begin. I sat at the kitchen table and read my deodorant label. I noticed you use hops extract to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. I looked forward to my hop-killing-bacteria life.

Now, weeks later, my teeth couldn’t be happier. But, Tom’s of Maine, I believe we have reached a chemical impasse here, because I’m pretty sure that your hops formula is growing bacteria on me, maybe at a rate as fast as bacteria has ever grown.

Anyway, Tom’s of Maine, I am trying to change my life for the better. And while, in general, I do not mind smelling bad, there are certain obligations I have where I should, out of respect for other people, smell, at least neutral. This has not been the case.

Please accept the return of one unscented Natural Original Care Aluminum-Free Deodorant Stick. If you have any secret formulas that use something else to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria, I would be happy to try it. I trust you Tom’s of Maine, things just didn’t work out this time.


Ray Halliday

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Few Things About Jeff Dembowski

A few weeks, or months ago, this blog reached out and touched a long lost stranger, Jeff Dembowski. I knew him, I don't know, maybe as early as kindergarten, and we were friends until he moved away to, uh, Philadelphia sometime in junior high. He could do art stuff really good.
He shows up in one of my very first stories. Here's the line: "Jeff Dembowski draws good, but he threw up in the hallway and had to go home before art. He likes the art teacher because they are both Polish."
To be honest, I can't remember if he threw up in the hallway or not, but somebody did.
Now, you won't believe this, and neither will he. I haven't seen or heard from him since he moved, and that was a long time ago. But I think of him kind of often. I think of everybody kind of often. I've got a lot of time to think.
But, he sent me this teeny message in the comments section, "Hart's Hill?" which was the name of the elementary school we went to.
I am telling you, I thought of Jeff as I was writing that very post. And here's why. As I've been writing this blog, I've tried to think of sophisticated ways to talk about food, and haven't been having much luck. And I remembered that one day, at lunch, Jeff asked me what kind of sandwich I had, and I said peanut butter. And he said peanut butter and what? And I said, nothing, just peanut butter.
And he went, what? just plain old, dry peanut butter!
I thought that dry was a rather sophisticated term for someone so young to be using.
And then I get that comment in the bloggy comment section!
Small, weird world. Even smaller.
This week, I have some of my "art" in an art show. Wait. Some of my art. I only have two things, and they are shoebox dioramas. They can be seen at the Sonny Smith, 100 records thing at Gallery 16, 3rd and Bryant, San Francisco.
I guess I am sort of excited, but I did not go to the opening. And it happens to be because of Jeff Dembowski.
Maybe in the fourth, or fifth, or sixth grade, there was this art contest. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with Halloween. And I entered it, because I had a great idea. And I made my thing, and oh my god I was proud. I was so excited! But when we went, and I saw all the other stuff that was there, I realized how ridiculous, and awful my thing was. You think I'm just having some psychological self-esteem thing, but believe me, if you could see it, as I do, often, in my mind, you would agree.
Jeff Dembowski, if I remember, won that art contest. He made, I think, a castle, and it had pine cones and sparkles. It was beautiful.
I've had this theme occur many times in my life. You're doing your thing, and you think it's great. Your small group of friends think it's great, and they think you're great for doing it, whatever your thing is.
And then, you get out in the real world, around everybody else, and you realize that your stuff is just not on the same level, and you go home.

Today, at home, I had me a nice salad with spinach, fennel, sunflower seeds, some flax seed, and to make it not dry, Jeff Dembowski, lemon juice and olive oil.

Oh yeah, and a can of tuna. Can #11: best by aug 20 2009 VAL2E 1ZSWG 09:56. One can left.

I will let you know, as always, dear readers, how things go.