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Bedtime Stories Commentary #54: "Mugnotes"

 OK, so I’m going to put this Bedtime Stories commentary on the main Bedtime Stories feed in addition to putting it on Patreon so that people who aren’t subscribed to Patreon will get to hear what the commentaries are like. Maybe that will entice a couple more people to join the Patreon. It’s only one dollar a month! I know other podcasts do, like, entire bonus episodes for their patrons, and I would love to be able to do something like that, but writing an entire short story every month is already extremely labor intensive, so writing a whole other story just would not be feasible at this point in my life. I mean, this year I’m obviously struggling to even get one story out a month, but I AM working on a story right now, and no one in my family has been to the hospital for anything other than regular checkups since the last story was posted, so that’s progress. Anyway, I’ve always just viewed the patreon as a means of supporting me if you want to express your appreciation for Bedtime Stories in that particular way, I DON’T really view it was a means of buying a bunch of additional content, but I still thought I should provide SOMETHING extra, and the commentaries aren’t MUCH, but they ARE something, so if you find this at all interesting or entertaining, well, there are 53 more of them sitting on the patreon right now just waiting for you, and there will be literally hundreds more, eventually.


There are two major things I recall about this story:

#1: My friend Matt specifically told me he thought it was funny at the time when I released it in 2010.

#2: I lost the original text document of it so I actually went back and listened to the audio file and transcribed it in probably 2012 or 2013. So some of the punctuation, paragraph breaks, and so forth in the current text document may not be the same as the original. Isn’t that fascinating? It’s the only Bedtime Story I’ve ever lost in any form, as far as I know.


Also, I looked up the email I initially wrote when I first sent out the story, and IN that email I said that there are 54 weeks in a year, and then I received a small deluge of emails correcting me. I still forget the correct number sometimes, but maybe if I write it again here, it will help cement it in my memory: there are 52 weeks in a year.


This story’s title is a made-up compound word, but NOT a portmanteau. Other titles that are compound words of my own invention are Bedtime Story #50: “Gnatswatter” and Bedtime Story #101: “Thankshoarding” and and Bedtime Story #162: “Walterworks” and Bedtime Story #169: “Lightningfly” and Bedtime Story #175: “Mancaveman” and Bedtime Story #182: “Antsitter” and Bedtime Story #208: “Selfleast” and Bedtime Story #211: “Clueful” and Bedtime Story #223: “Ungrates.” And then, of course, there are the portmanteau titles: Bedtime Story #3: “Adrifteen,” Bedtime Story #119: “Requestrian,” and Bedtime Story #222: “Pestinarian.” If you have a good case for my having miscategorized one of these titles, or if you believe there’s one I’ve missed, let me know!


This is the rare Bedtime Story where I think I was envisioning the setting as being similar to the area surrounding my apartment on the north side of Chicago in the Ravenswood neighborhood. Nothing here requires it to take place somewhere other than Multioak, but I just know what I was envisioning as I wrote, and I was envisioning Ravenswood.


I always read all the books assigned to me in high school. I also read all the books assigned to me in college except for one: Middlemarch. I was just busy with other stuff and thought I’d be able to fake my way through the in-class discussion. But I got a “C” on my class participation for the discussion of that book. So, I dunno, sort of successful. I think part of the problem was that I’d set the bar too high by never shutting up during the class discussion of the other books we’d read for class up to that point. So the drop-off was noticeable. I’m sure my professor, Dr. Deardorff, suspected the truth. I heard he died recently. He wasn’t very old. He was a great professor. He loved Bruce Springsteen, Don Delillo, and, like me, Nebraska Football, although he was not from Nebraska.


I wrote this story in 2010 and make reference to the first mugger wearing unfashionably short shorts. Imagine how short they’d have to be NOW to be unfashionably short! Just imagine!


I never got mugged while I was in Chicago, but a couple of my friends were victims of attempted muggings. They both escaped unharmed and without losing anything. My friend Aaron was walking down the street and a guy started walking next to him and told Aaron to step into an alley with him or he’d hurt him, but Aaron just laughed it off and kept walking and the guy didn’t do anything. My friend Peter had a more harrowing experience on the train where a guy told him he had a gun and insisted that Peter get off at the next platform with him and take him to an ATM to withdraw the maximum amount of cash, so Peter pretended to comply, but when they stepped out of the train car, Peter heard the tone that meant the doors were about to close, so he just stepped back into the car and left the would-be mugger alone on the platform.


My dad used to cut MY hair in the kitchen, but we didn’t have to use a garbage bag as a drape, my dad had a home haircutting kit that he’d gotten at a garage sale that had a real barber’s cape in it. I would be shocked to find out that he’d threatened to break anyone’s feet after I left the kitchen for a post-haircut shower, though.


I have one story about attempting to leave a note. It doesn’t have anything to do with mugging, but it DOES have a satisfying conclusion, I think. When I was working at Trader Joe’s in Chicago, around the same time that I wrote this story, I was attempting to park on the narrow street next to the store one day when a large delivery truck came bumbling toward me. The truck was so wide that I wasn’t sure it would be able to get by me, so I got as far to the right as I could while trying to avoid scraping against the cars parked there, and the truck managed to get past me with what felt like maybe an inch of clearance, BUT as I was creeping past, my side mirror struck the side mirror of a car parked along the curb and knocked it off entirely. The car was a distinctive purple, and I knew it belonged to someone who lived nearby because I saw it parked along that same street almost every day. I was very annoyed because I considered the whole incident to be the fault of the truck driver taking it on a street where it clearly didn’t belong, but as a highly, HIGHLY ethical person, I also knew that I should leave a note explaining the situation to the owner of the purple car. So I parked, I went inside, and I wrote a note on a strip of receipt paper from a register. I explained how the accident had happened – how it was certainly the fault of the truck driver – but I also left my name, phone number, and an apology for my role in the broken sideview mirror. Then I went back out to the purple car and left the note under the windshield wiper. Later, on my lunch break, I looked to see if the note was gone, but no, it was still under the windshield wiper, the owner of the purple car had not yet seen the note. It was still there when I got back from my lunch break, too. Then, during the 2nd half of my shift, a storm rolled in off of Lake Michigan complete with torrential rain, high winds, thunder, lightning, the works. I knew that if my note was still out there, it would probably not survive. Even if it didn’t blow away, it might become so sodden as to be illegible. So to the horror of my coworkers who insisted I had already done my duty as a neighbor and citizen, I wrote ANOTHER note explaining the original situation AND what had happened to the first note that necessitated the 2nd note, THEN I wrapped it in a plastic bag so it would be waterproof, ran back out through the storm to the purple car, and tucked it securely under the windshield wipers. It was still there when I drove home for the night. And then I never heard from the owner of the purple car. I didn’t know if the note had not survived the night, if the owner had found the note and decided not to call, if the owner had seen the bag under the windshield and had not thought to look inside for a note, or what. But I told you this story has a satisfying conclusion, and here it comes! A year later I was parking along the same street. I happened to be parallel parking behind that same purple car, and as I got out, the man who owned the purple car came out of his apartment building, looked at how my car was parked, and said, “You might want to park a little closer to the curb. I got my mirror knocked off along this street a while ago.” I didn’t know what to say. So I just said, “Oh, OK, thank you,” got back into my car, and adjusted my parking job so that my car was a little closer to the curb.