Street Talk: Notebook orphans (“The smells!”) fail to jog memory

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Some days, I want to put together a piece of writing so powerful it will change lives and open minds in this increasingly contentious world. I want to help. I want to be part of humanity’s slow crawl from the swamps of suffering.

Other days, I just want to list the funny things I find in my old notebooks. Notebook orphans, we call them. Here are a few to get us started.

“Dandelion greens and cornbread.”

There they were, a pair of food items scribbled at the bottom of a page in my reporter’s notebook, a notebook that was not just old and crumpled but caked with some kind of ick, as well. What do these four words mean? I haven’t a clue. If I were to guess, I’d say it was the start of some really awesome country song I meant to write: something about a sophisticated city man who married a country girl and traded in wine and caviar for greens and cornbread.

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Eh? Eh? You’d square dance to that, wouldn’t you? Word. I should’ve been a country star.

“The smells!”

Same notebook, same brand of inexplicable comment left on an otherwise empty page. “The smells!” This could apply to practically anything. Trash pickup week in Lewiston? The draining of the canals? The newsroom on election night, when the scents of flop sweat and pressure mingle with microwaved food and wet feet? Don’t know. What I do know is that this line has no place in my country song.

“Ugly as an old iron pot.”

Sometimes I just get so mad at my mother …

“Beautiful mustache.”

I didn’t write this about myself, that’s for sure. I’ve never grown a mustache and the one time I tried, the teasing was unbearable. I’m thinking I wrote this while trolling Walmart for column fodder. I’m also thinking I wrote it about a woman.

“Fat Man’s Club.”

Are we talking a club for fat men or some kind of cudgel carried by a portly gentleman? The joy of notebook orphans is that we don’t know. And will never know. Still, if you are an obese man and I was supposed to write about your fraternity, give me a call because, clearly, I forgot.

“Goose leather.”

This one was scrawled in the middle of a page and at a slant. If you ask me, it begs for an exclamation point because “Goose leather!” sounds like something a young father would exclaim in place of swearing around his child’s tender ears. “Goose leather!” Leonard cried, when the wrench slipped off the bolt and his cold knuckles were bloodied on rusty engine parts. Oh, that’s good. That’s going in my song.

“Food donated to pansy.”

Pretty sure I meant “pantry” here, but who knows, right?

“Meow.”

I kid you not, this word was written in neat capital letters across the top of a page. Very cryptic. Now I’ve got to go find some cat translator to tell me what it means. I’m betting it’s some kind of feline profanity, similar in tone and content to, “Goose leather!”

“She’s terrified of human hands.”

As opposed to robot hands? Monkey hands? Clock hands? I have no recollection of writing this. Play a little minuet over it, and I bet you could get a hit single out of it.

“Kiss my face, play in my hair.”

Obviously, part of a not-very-good letter to the Penthouse Forum.

“They’re so bald.”

Who are? The guys from the Fat Man’s Club? The Lex Luthor fan club? Goose leather! I have no idea what this means or why it appeared on the very first page of an otherwise empty notebook.

“I got the scallops.”

Good for you. I got the orange juice. We’re bragging about our shopping lists now? Or maybe this was somebody relating that he has some obscure and hideous disease. “Just got word from the doctor, son. I got the scallops.” Not to worry, man. Some cream and a little comb will clear that right up.

“The cats will drive you crazy.”

Well, if you’re walking around with scallops in your pockets, sure.

“Ought to be careful about coming to Lewiston.”

Well, this sounds like advice given to me 20 years ago by a local hooker. She had a beautiful mustache.

“I’m just heartbroken.”

I hate comments like this with no context. It could have been uttered by a man who lost his dog to the icy river. It could have been a Patriots fan or a Romney supporter. I just don’t know. Its meaning is lost to time and the white mystery of the notebook.

And finally we have, not an enigmatic string of words but a drawing. Dominating an entire notebook page, it’s what appears to be a lewd drawing but which is probably just a rough map of Florida.

Yes, surely that’s what it is. Florida.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Cat translators and mustachioed women can email him at mlaflamme@sunjournal.com.

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