Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Winning a dollar on a late-night walk with a children’s book author in 1994

I remember one time, three years ago in the summer, I was writing a short story in Lindley Hall late at night, and I met this woman who wrote children’s books. We went to the Runcible Spoon and got coffee (well, I got a Coke), and then went on this long walk in the dark, through south Bloomington, past Simms’ apartment and past the old Red Chair bakery and through the student ghetto. But it’s weird because I don’t remember her name, or what she looked like. I think she looked like a 22 year old version of the child psychologist on ER, but I can’t remember anything else about you. I totally forgot about the whole thing, but then remembered this bizarre, solitary walk in dark streets, talking about literature and life in a deeply theoretical way to a person I didn’t know. And then I stopped to get a Coke out of a machine about 5 blocks from Simms’ old place, and I won a dollar from the machine. Otherwise, a surreal but uneventful moment.

I wish I could find a web page about buying an abandoned missile silo in Idaho or North Dakota or something. It would be like a bunch of little SoHo lofts, one on top of another, crossed with an army surplus store. All of the toilets would have little metal plaques, olive drab, spraypainted with serial numbers and part numbers in bright yellow. I’d like to get it with some of the equipment there. There wouldn’t be missiles, or top secret launch computers, but maybe there would be gas masks and survival rations and other cool junk. I love army stores – especially the kind that have more than just bomber jackets and cigarette lighters. The best ones have pieces of radio electronics, rusted jerrycans from WW2, and pieces of nylon webbing that you can’t figure out what they are for, and they say something like “M-1023921 NYLON PLACEMENT TIEDOWN” or something on the label. I’m always hoping to dig around there and find something cool, like a 1952 manual on surviving a nuclear blast that tells you to put on sunglasses and wipe mud on your face or something. I’d like to start an art movement called Military Art Deco – it would be a bunch of 1950’s military stuff. Instead of Brady Bunch looking kitchen furniture, it would be Gi Joe looking portable kitchen stuff. Buy up stuff from the surplus store before my trend catches on.