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Being out and about yesterday was deeply satisfying. It was the sort of day that, before Remicade, I'd grown afraid to try on. What with uncertain bowels, creaky joints, and abysmal energy levels, I rarely left the neighborhood, and the homebody habit persisted even after the infusions banished my ailments. It's still something of a surprise to find that I've gone out not once but twice. The first trip took me to the podiatrist's, where six of the seven pieces in which I'd returned from Puerto Rico - little bits of reef - were removed from my heel. I felt better at once. Then I crossed town a bit to Sixth and 52nd, where Rochester Big & Tall has its Midtown Manhattan branch. I needed handkerchiefs desperately, but I could have gotten those anywhere. I was looking for comfortable everyday trousers, and I found them bearing a Polo label. On sale, happily. There was also an irresistible lime-green sports shirt with a salmon and yellow plaid that was obviously made with me in mind.

If I'd had the clothes delivered to the apartment, I'd have proceeded uptown to the Tower Records branch at Lincoln Center, but my big and tall clothes filled such a large bag that I occupied the space of two pedestrians. So I took the clothes home, sat down for about ten minutes, and then headed downtown to the main Tower branch, at Broadway and East Fourth. I hardly ever go to Tower anymore; I find that a policy of online purchases, as needed, conduces to greater restraint in the acquisitions department. But I had to buy a few jazz CDs as a gift, and while I was at it... I bought the great 1978 Carlos Kleiber Der Rosenkavalier on DVD, a high-water moment in the career of Gwyneth Jones.

At the check-out counter, two dudes were talking about a colleague. They looked exactly like the scruffy young men of my youth, except that the clerk who was totting up my purchases sported a nose ring. The colleague under discussion was apparently a heavy marijuana smoker who, more remarkably, has been working at Tower since the store opened, twenty-four years ago. The nose-ring guy turned to me and said, "So, what do you think." Did I think that he and his neighbor ought to do the same - work at Tower for a quarter century? I answered in the negative. I hadn't been to the store in over fifteen years, and everything was just where it was the last time I visited.

In another passing exchange, I pointed out to a very little girl in the elevator who told her mommy that I had "a lot of beard" that that's better than not having enough. But I wasn't fast enough; she had turned her attention to a boarding passenger, about whose gender she wondered even less discreetly. 


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