Something that Bert occasionally did on Sesame Street, and obviously boring to the extreme. Very useful response when someone asks what you're doing and you'd rather not say.

Ernie: Hey Bert. What are you doing?
Bert: Reading about oatmeal.

On the Saturday morning that my brother called I was sitting at the table trying to find a way to extend the half life of my little local paper. All 28 pages of it.

How ya doin? he asks... I grunt something, and stare at the last few moments of a cartoon-

We'll be RIGHT BACK!

He asks around the edges, the way guys do, about my job, this little town and her. Yes, she is still gone. No, I do not think I will hear from her.

Silence

I can tell he regrets calling now, because it is still fresh enough to be sad, and neither one of us knows what to say. He tries to be witty-Well, I guess you have lots of free time for reading, huh?

This is true, I say, this is true. Thanks for calling, (I give him an out- he takes it)-OK, yep, OK. I stare at the phone, the TV- more commercials for cold cereal. I glance over at my current reading material and grin

It's great with fresh fruit!

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