Monday, May 31, 2004

Regarding Mona

I've mentioned Mona before. She's one of my favorite patrons who happens to live in the same neighborhood as the library itself. In addition to being a patron of the library, she's a patron of the local arts scene as well, and that's how my wife and I came to run into her a few weeks back at the concert of the chorale I sing with. She and Ashley got on quite well and Mona said she wanted to have us over sometime.

Well, recently I got a note at work that Mona wanted me to call her. I figured this was about scheduling a time to come over and it was, though not exactly how I thought. Mona was having some computer issues which she thought I could help with. She's fairly new to computers and the internet, but she seems to be very much into trying new things so she bought herself a very nice computer with DSL service. (I'm quite jealous as my computer is DSLess and crappy.) Mona's computer issue was that her speakers weren't working. She said they were definitely turned on and the volume was up, but beyond that she didn't know if they were even connected to her computer. Last Thursday, I offered to come by sometime over the weekend. That turned into a Friday morning visit once my wife and I decided to get out of town this weekend for some memorial day relaxing at my in-law's house in North Carolina. I gave Mona a call and she said come on over.

Mona is a Zen Buddhist. I don't know if that's why she asked me to take off my shoes when I first arrived or if she just doesn't like to clean the floors very often, but it was cool with me. Her house is just amazing. It's decorated floor to ceiling with Appalachian folk art that she's collected over the years. And it all just meshes perfectly with the house itself. The place is an historic building to begin with, with original floors in many places, beam supported ceilings and antique hardware on all the doors and cabinets. It is't a large house, by any means, but it seems the perfect size. It's like the place was made to house both Mona and her collection. She took me on a guided tour of the place and it just got more impressive the further in we went. Her dining room was fantastic, with an antique, rustic-looking dining table that looked like it could easily support the weight of, say, Marlon Brando. The kitchen was nice and roomy, with wormy chestnut cabinets and an enormous butcher-block island. Then, in what appeared to be a closet from the outside, was a spiral staircase leading up to a guest bedroom with a huge bath and an even bigger attic space that would function as a great office. I was impressed. I also knew that when my wife does eventually see it, she'll kick herself for having gone to her scheduled hair appointment rather than coming with me.

Finally, Mona lead me to her own office where her computer was. As I'd hoped, the problem with her speakers was that while their physical volume nob was turned up the virtual one in the computer was turned down. I clicked on the little speaker icon and raised the level, rebooted and the sound worked just fine. Took me all of ten seconds to figure out. Mona was elated.

"Do I owe you anything?" she asked.

"No, ma'am. Not a thing," I said.

We talked a bit more on the way back to the front door. Mona seemed determined to pay me somehow but I was just as determined to remain the Boyscout-Doer-of-Good-Deeds-for-Free.

"Do you drink beer?" she asked.

"Not as much as I used to," I said. "I like beer, but I eat pretty low-carb these days so I don't drink as much."

"Well, beer's just about the only alcohol I drink," she said. "My favorite is a Chinese beer called Tsingtao, but I recently bought a case of Tai beer called Singha. Would you like to take some with you?"

Mona went to a low buffet cabinet and opened up what turned out to be her beer larder. Just rows and rows of intriguing looking imported beer. Not an American label to be seen. Probably a beer connoisseur's dream.

I accepted. I figured I was going out of town to my in-laws and was bound to do some diet cheating along the way, might as well enjoy an imported beer while I was at it.

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.