Tag Archives: P.G. Wodehouse

Road trip: Salem to Portland to Salem

On the drive up to Portland, we listened to the end of the audiobook we had started the day before, A Damsel in Distress by P. G. Wodehouse. We got to the place where I was going to attend a Sacred Harp singing convention, and the book wasn’t quite done yet. We sat there in the car and listened for ten minutes, and the book wasn’t quite done yet. “The final chapter,” said the narrator, and Carol said, “Let’s listen to the last chapter on the drive home.” So we stopped the recording, and I got out to go sing for a few hours.

Carol came to pick me up at three, and we went for a walk with two friends, A— and N—. We took a walk in a park, and A— and I talked about Unitarian Universalism while N— and Carol talked about ecological pollution prevention.

From there, Carol and I drove across the Broadway Bridge and parked near Union Station, a big McKim, Mead, and White building. We walked into the station to use the bathrooms, and it is still quite grand, with big wooden benches (Wikipedia has a nice panoramic photo), and a dozen trains a day passing through or terminating there.

We walked around, and wound up at Powell’s Books. Of course we wound up at Powell’s Books; it’s the kind of place that exerts a gravitational force on people like us. Powell’s exerted a gravitational force on a great many people this evening, and I was almost distracted from the books by the truly excellent people watching. But I exerted self discipline, went and found half a dozen books to buy, and went to have a cup of coffee. The coffee shop in Powell’s was packed, but Carol had saved me a chair. Next to me, a young man studied for the Graduate Record Exams. Across the table, a middle-aged man read some obscure book and barely sipped a cup of coffee. On the other side of Carol, two older men played speed chess.

I half-watched the chess players for a while: White played e4 and bam! hit the button of the clock. Black played e5 and bam! bam! bam! hit the clock three times (he favored the three bam clock gambit). White unwrapped a sandwich as he brought his knight out to f3 and bam! hit the clock. Black immediately played his knight to c6 and bam! bam! bam! White shot his bishop out to b5 and took a bite of sandwich, then remembered that he had to hit the clock and bam! But I don’t play chess any more, and my attention wandered back to the book I was reading.

We walked back to the car, and as soon as we got back on the freeway we played the last chapter of the audiobook. It all ended satisfactorily, as we knew it would, but it was funny enough, and unexpected enough, to keep us listening to the very end.