O tempora o mores

Suddenly, in a hardware store. A man pretending to know nuts and bolts loiters in aisle 666. I approach in the hopes of making electric conversation with fellow DIY geek, but then notice a name tag stapled to the man’s breast plate. There’s some blood on the tag and the name appears to be Alvin.

“I think I want to build a garden shed, Dirk.”


“…and I need expert advice.”

“Glad to help. But I ain’t no garden shed expert.”

“I don’t need an expert, Dirk. If expertise were a color, I’d be red, Dirk. Full on red. Do you know what that means, Dirk?”

“No, sir.”

“Cut the sir crap, Dirk. It means I’m an expert. If I were salmon pink I’d be an expert’s expert.”

“Got it.”

“Do you sell plans? I mean plans for military grade garden sheds?


“Damn. You disappoint me, Dirk.”

“Try the internet.”

“I did. Spent four days glued to the screen. I bought a BBQ.”

“We sell BBQs.”

“Not a good idea to send people to the internet then, is it Dirk?”

“I suppose not, sir.”

“Some habits die hard… don’t they, Dirk?”

“I’m on my break soon. You’ll have to talk to my supervisor.”

Supervisor, in a super disheveled state, saunters into aisle. He’s a furry rodent, with flaming apricot streaks, looking for a hamster wheel.

“Simon, this guy wants to build a shed. I’m going on my e-cigarette break.”

“If your face blows up you’ll have to get a new picture ID,” says Simon informatively.

Turning to me. “So you want to build a shed?”

“Not really, Dirk. I’ve selected the site for a garden shed. That’s all.”

“Do you want some books then? South American authors. Bolaño, Borges, Cortázar.”

“No. I just bought a killer BBQ from a store in Australia. That’s when I started to have second thoughts about a garden shed.”

“A few shelves are as good as a garden shed.”

“Here’s the thing Dirk. I want to build an opera house. The garden shed was a teaser.”

“You’ll have to YouTube ‘building an opera house.’ I can’t help you. I do book bindings.”

“You’re a clown, Dirk. But stop over at the house anytime. Join me for some crudités. I’m told the celery and cheez whiz is good.

 Synsepalum dulcificum

Miracle fruit DSC_2742_fss_sm


  1. I see your mood (expressed recently in a comment on my own blog) has not changed and now you have used it to create a piece—a wonderful piece of writing—that sublimates the discouragement as we bemoan popular customs of our times.

    This morning, as I checked on the blogs I follow, I came across this, by a fellow blogger:

    ” Don’t worry whether or not those around you consider you rude for doing so…choose beauty… always choose beauty, over almost anything else. Those who have also chosen beauty will understand.
    Any others will just have to wait.”

    I thought of you and a few others I know of, who valiantly and constantly so choose.

    The cliché says: if life give you lemons, make lemonade. You, in your inimitably cryptic style seem to be saying: pop a few berries from the synsepalum dulcificum tree…..then you can eat the lemon whole and it will taste sweet…or maybe that’s not what you’re saying, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post. It made my day. (so far…)

    Liked by 3 people

    • “For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
      which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so,
      because it serenely disdains to destroy us.
      Every angel is terrible.”

      ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I was disappointed in the opera house bit as it was so very yesterday. Staging an opera in a garden shed (which conceivably you just did) is far more state of the art – sort of like in Wellington, New Zealand, where the main sports stadium is called “The Cake Tin”. Rugby in a cake tin, opera in a garden shed… oh… there’s Covent Garden of course, and Madison Garden. Now I’m all muddled, and shall go and loiter with intent in Aisle 666 in the hope of being solicited by an Australian BBQ salesperson.


  3. this is great, absurd and funny and inspired me to build my own you tube-instructed opera house 🙂


  4. This is so full of popping energy! I have come back to your story 3-4 times over the last day or so. This, I think, is indicative of a really good story. Often I skim something to see if I’m going to go back and give it a second reading (kind of like a piece of legislation in the House of Commons) and this was so full of bite and snarl and snap it had to be read a number of times. There is so much to chew on and for the reader to play with. The opening sentence gets us running right away and the bloody breast-plate hollers “What???” and the growling dialogue… I could go on and on. Fabulous story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue, you are a darling for coming back several times.

      Humor is the thin veneer that covers up what bubbles bleakly just below the surface. I’m sure there’s a YouTube video for that too.

      But it’s an idiosyncratic savaging of how we live and I’m almost surprised the point came across. Half the time, say when the sun is down, it think the piece is total rubbish and then, around dawn, I have some doubts. But Sue–you’re a writer, and I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

      Liked by 2 people

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