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Army-Sway

On Returning A Lamp A Spring Ago
By Catherine Swarmy

Well, I don”t know what it was, but I found myself in the Greenwich Village in May of Ought-Seven looking for this Arab fellow from whom I purchased a lamp in 1967.  Before you start on a tear and rush off to your desk and drop pen to paper, no, that lamp in question was not one of those with a genie in it.  When I bought it for twenty-four dollars in 1967, the lamp merchant assured me that my purchase was to have a lifetime guarantee.  Well, here it was not forty years later and the lamp was as dead as a damn dog.  Yes, yes, I had tugged the lamp with me as I relocated from New York to Serbia to France to California and back to New York.  And yes, you are not mistaken, with this is the same lamp I hit Alan Alda, the actor, with square over the mellon.  You call that an accurate portrayal of George Plimpton?  Well, I do not! Nor do I appreciate the clumsy grope, thank you, sir.

Oh, but I can hear you mutter under your garlic breath, “Catherine Swarmy, you have mistreated this lamp for decades, surely its degradation is your cross to bear.”  This is where your are wrong, and you should shut your mouth because you are stupid and stupid people should just shut the hell up.  It does not matter how many rings of hellfire this lamp had passed through, I still had the receipt, I still had my guarantee, and I intended to get the lamp replaced.  Or my money back!  Otherwise, we live in a society without rules rich people can enforce on others.  And if that happens, just put a gun in your mouth and suck it.

Only, get this, I had not even been down there in probably thirty years, and I must confess,  I was more than a pinch lost.  Not a block from where Christopher, Greenwich and Sixth Avenue intersect was, I had in my mind, was where this swarthy semitic charlatan turned his faulty wares into crisp cool American cabbage.  Once I stepped out the taxi cab I was not sure.  I mean, the whole neighborhood was different.  People lining the sidewalks eating breakfast in the afternoon.  The afternoon?

Obviously, I thought, I was in the wrong neighboorhood.  I had stepped out in a working class neighborhood where all discernible demographics worked “swing shift”, and two in the afternoon was their nine am.  That had to be it, I was in…oh, what was it called…Queens.  Well, I tried to stop the driver before he peeled off, but I was out of luck.  He may have been in a rush to his cave to take in a shower.  I would hope.  I dropped the lamp down on a vacant table with a notable “clump”, and you would not believe, all these breakfast on the middle of the god damned afternoon brats swung their heads around with no haste and great displeasure, mouths agape with eggs and toast, as if I had set off a god damned grenade in church.

“Christ, you’re eating breakfast on the street,” I hissed under my breath.

I was not in Queens, I discovered.  The fuzzy typeface ten feet above said I was on Avenue of Americas, whatever that meant, but the on cross from it said Christopher, so I don’t know, maybe I was in Manhattan after all.  It’s so hard to know where one is most of the time.  France?  No, Houston.  God, that actually happened to me once.  Ending up in Houston. Christ.

So I was riffling through my handbag for this ancient lamp receipt. Looking at the address, and by Christ, I couldn’t make the damned thing out.  I thought it was 411 Sixth Avenue, but at that moment it looked like 911.  I mean, in that classic fancy script, look at those numbers side by side one day, they are almost identical.  Well, I couldn’t make heads nor tails if it, so I asked a passing waitress if the number looked like nine eleven or not.  Well, you had never seen anyone more offended.  So, I asked a passing police officer, because i figured that he’s out on the street all day, he should know where things are.  Well, you would have thought I just said the Virgin Mary was a common street prostitute and gave his crabs in his big fat bushy mustache.

Honestly, New York.

That’s when Joe Torre pulled up in his car and said to me, “It looks like you need some help.”

Well, he was right, I did need help!  He was pretty swift, that one.  I’ll tell you more later, long story short, he ended up poisoning me and following me back to California to stalk me some more and…oh, I’ll tell you later.

Addendum to the lamp story: turns out you can buy replacement, oh what do you call them? Bulbs? They’re surprisingly affordable and come in packets of two. I bought eight hundred boxes. Winston says they are easy to replace. Pshh, unlikely.

FILE UNDER: HOW MANY ANCIENT SOCIALITES DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHT BULB?