Words and Thoughts — June 15, 2023

Hello again, alleged readers! Wow, just wow, I tell you what. Hell of a week over here at the office last week. Had ourselves a bit of a fire drill. Fortunately, it was only a drill. Nonetheless, it was terrifying. Nearly all of my lives flashed before my eyes, including the one where I was the photographer that did Bucky Dent’s Playgirl pinup. Not my best work, but not my worst either. I’d probably rank the Bucky Dent nudes, in quality and importance, somewhere between “The Blue Marble” (Schmitt, 1972) and “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” (Rosenthal, 1945). I didn’t get to see the life where I invented the eating-chalk-game this time around though. Regardless, as I recount to you the harrowing tale of the fire drill from last week, to protect anonymity, I’ve changed everyone’s name to Pat, except mine.

You know what I always say, “Ol’ Stav Knudsenen ain’t about to change his name for nobody, no way!” Except, Oprah. I would change my name to one of four alternatives if Oprah asked me to.

So, there I was, enjoying my mid-morning break in the break-room kitchen. The sun illuminated the tiniest sliver of the far corner of the room through the adjacent window, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t just enough of the corner, in just enough of its golden hue, to soften the harshness of the omnipresent fluorescent lighting. I found myself pondering how lucky I was to see these particular rays of sunlight. These particles of light, or waves, depending on which half of that debate you choose to observe, could have emanated out from the sun in any of an almost infinite number of directions, charting their way through the void and vacuum of space, never to be perceived by human eyes (note: please do not look directly at the sun unless you have a really good reason to). Instead, these bits of golden warmth ended up right where I was, in the kitchen, having travelled 94 million miles for the right to stand up to their cold and insincere cousin: fluorescent lighting, created by the hands of humans as but a mere facsimile, and a poor one at that, of the sun itself. These fragments of golden salvation marched right into the kitchen that day, grabbed that fluorescent lighting by the collar and shouted, “Listen here you big, dumb, son of a gun! You take your 5,000 Kelvin ‘daylight’ and ‘bright white’ yak-crap and go on and get the hell out of here!”

My parents used to tell me that the sun was Clint Eastwood.

I had been in the kitchen for a while at this point of the story. I’m not sure exactly how long, because I was going through a terrible phase where I had forgotten how to tell time. To get around this debilitating affliction, I burned a CD with 16 tracks of OMC’s one-hit-wonder, “How Bizarre”. I played the CD on repeat on a Walkman knockoff from a Thai street market to help me keep track of the passage of time. I must have been in the kitchen for seven or eight “How Bizarres” by then. And I reckon I had as many to go before the pound of arugula I had been dry aging for about 8,275 “How Bizarres” was ready to come out of the microwave. It was just then that Pat came flying into the kitchen (not literally, more just running fast) shouting about who knows what. However, Pat, after having knocked over a stack of styrofoam plates, did draw my attention to the fire alarm going off. I should note that Pat would have knocked over even more styrofoam plates if I hadn’t been using about a dozen of them to keep the arugula from touching any part of the inside of the microwave, as we all know that touching the inside of the microwave causes jaundice.

I got up, and asked Pat to be quiet because I was having a hard time hearing the fire alarm. At which point a different Pat came into the kitchen, also yelling and coughing. It was then that I realized there was no way I was going to get to hear the end of the fire alarm with Pat, and other Pat, and eventually other other Pat all yelling unprofessionally in the kitchen. I have no idea how much longer I was in the kitchen because I had taken my headphones off by then and obviously lost all concept of time as a result.

I’m happy to report that all thirty-five Pats, and I, Stav Knudsenen, survived the great fire drill of last week.

Stay tuned, alleged readers, for more jaundice prevention tips!