Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Ink Soup

ny Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
Seattle, Wash.

SEATTLE, Wash.– I like Seattle, don't get me wrong. I spend a lot of my time as a correspondent telling people that they've got it all wrong about the rain – the rain is what makes life possible out here. Today there was a most unusual rain –a third-position wiper rain – nearly unheard of, and I used my umbrella for the second time this year.

Today was the kind of day when Huck, our cat, comes onto the sofa for a head-scratch and to bask with me in front of the wood fire. I'm still burning the wood from the Douglas fir that we had pruned last year. But this is not about Seattle. It is about my nostalgia for Princeton.

Not the University, though I long for that. For the town. The phone just rang. It was a woman whom I've never met, but this did not prevent her crooning my name "Clarence" as if it were the lyric of a rock opera. She was calling to let me know that I was due for a teeth cleaning with Dr. D. Obviously, no one in the office had clued her in. I have left Dr. D. for Dr. M.

The dentist in Princeton for whom I truly pine is Dr. I. He is the artisan of the gold fillings that astonish the locals out here and make me something of a dental celebrity. Dr. I. was a dentists' dentist: he taught the art to his future competitors. I hope that his son Dr. S.I. is carrying on.

And my podiatrist, Dr. G! How I miss him! The so-called podiatrists in the northwest are frauds. A snip here, a snip there, a perfunctory rub of the sides of the feet ... and that'll be $75, please.

A visit to Dr. G. was like a visit to a spa. First the soaking in the warm whirlpool footbath, then the careful trimming of the nails, then the burnishing of any rough places, then, and then only, the treatment, gentle and thorough, of whatever foot ailment it was that had brought me to see him.

My podiatrist out here was, for a while, a motorcycle-riding redhead, who was nothing if not entertaining. But then she fired her receptionist, a buddy of mine from the gym, for no better reason than that he was a friend of the husband that she was currently getting shut of–to put it like the South Carolinian that I am.

So out of loyalty to my mistreated friend, I looked for another podiatrist. I found one, Dr Y., whose idea of foot care is to say, My, that must hurt, and then do next to nothing about it.

What Dr. G. did as a matter of course at every visit is, in the office of Dr. Y., a luxury extra called a pedicure and costs $50 cash, i.e., is not covered by the normal medical insurance.

Books? Don't get me started on books. There is a good bookstore on Pioneer Square, one of the oldest parts of Seattle, and one of the most dangerous. For every bibliophile there are eighteen winos, aggressive panhandlers, and even more dangerous people.

In the U-District, the vicinity of the Udub as the U. of Washington is called, there are of course some fine stores. But in my little corner of the town, Ballard, there is only a recently grownup version of what started and largely remains a children's bookstore – and is still called The Secret Garden.

There is nothing within reach like Logan Fox's splendid emporium, Micawber Books, the mere mention of which puts a lump in my throat. And not just because Logan always displays in his window every Ink Soup in which he is mentioned... . Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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