(Wednesday. 18 October. 2000. Before the end of "innocence" that so many people seemed to have had).

Being unhappily and temporarily ill yesterday had one positive outcome. I was able to sift through the piles of clothing that had stacked up in various corners of my apartment, and to start making plans for a trip to one of the local laundromats.

The scene, as usual, was dismal. The attendant looked as though she might, at any moment and with no warning, kill herself or one of her patrons. And the patrons possibly deserved killing. Some of them anyway, looked like people straight out of some strange movie. The guy with the weird eyes and his strangely shaped wife. The college kid with "Thuggie" written all over him. And, various and sundry others....

This particular coin-op that I frequent has three things going for it: a television, a machine that gladly takes your quarters for the chance at you winning quarters, and dryers that actually have a chance of making your clothes dry within the hour. When I arrived, the couple mentioned above were happily grunting over the hilarity and family entertainment that is Who Wants to be a Millionaire? - truly twisted, in it's own right. A crowd was around the quarter machine, and the plink-plunk sound was punctuated by the occassional "oooh..." or "ohhhhhh..."

The game show came and went. And then, much to my befuddled surprise, the announcement of the third and last presidential debate. Oh the joy! As the event started, Jim Leher mumbled something incoherent about a plane crash - and the governor of Missouri dying. Tragic stuff, indeed. And I had a bad feeling about it. Indeed, even as Leher called for a moment of silence, I knew it was one of those nights...

plink....plunk......plink...plunk....plink....plunk---chchchcching....

So, the moment of silence brought good luck to somebody, I suppose....

Then, the debate started with some inane question about health care, directed to Al Gore. Gore, instead of just answering the question, immediately cheapened the moment of silence by speaking about the death of Mel Carnahan. Then, gave a pointless answer to the question. So did Bush.

"Can we change this?"

I thought it was from theTV - a plainitive cry from somewhere across the ether. A cry for help, maybe? Someone at the network, fed up with debates and everything else? No...it was a fellow traveler at the laudromat.

"Excuse me, ma'am, can we change the channel?"

The attendant brought out the remote control - and I finished folding my laundry to the soothing/grating tones of Bob Costas calling the Yankees/Mariners game.

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