Have a Stinking Rotten Birthday

My wife’s birthday is this week so we decided to go out yesterday as a pre-celebration event. I gave her a few books as early gifts, all the while holding back on my home runs until this Tuesday, the big day. The day started out innocent enough. It was a bright, cool Vermont Spring day. Clouds dotted the blue sky and we were hopeful about our plans to go out to Saratoga Springs. Saratoga means a few things to us:

  • Shopping: We can hit a Wal-Mart, Target, etc. for anything we can’t find around here. We know they are evil companies wrecking our nation, but dang it, we can’t find Sirachi hot sauce or bean bags anywhere around here! Target was on the list because we needed to buy presents for a friend’s wedding off the registry.
  • Walking and hanging out: Saratoga has some nice streets to walk and they’re dotted with cafes, bagel joints, and book stores.
  • Borders: One publisher said that he’d rather deal with the mafia than Borders and Barnes and Noble, but heck, I wanted to check out McLaren’s latest: The Secret Message of Jesus. And the Borders cafe is just the place to do that.
  • Dinner: There are a couple of nice restaurants in Saratoga that we really like and others that we want to try out. Our favorite so far is called Scallions.

So there you have it. A simple plan. Some pratical needs built into plans for a relaxing day on the town.

And then things started to go wrong.


The rain started. It rained the whole hour long drive over. OK, no big deal. We decided to get the shopping out of the way. So there we were in Target with a registry list in our hands. Most everything had already been bought except for an entertainment system thing, and it was out of our price range. In fact, everything that had not been bought yet did not have an aisle number next to the item. Frustration rose while we wandered around trying to find anything on the list, coming up empty no matter what we chose. Even the pot holders were hard to find. In the end we settled on a pot holder and some dish towels that we’re pretty sure match the registry. Swell. Maybe we’ll wrap the towels around a jug of maple syrup or something. Yeah Mac, don’t expect anything flashy from us next weekend.

We were a bit frustrated after roaming Target for so long with so little to show for it. A quick stop in Wal-Mart preceded the actual highlight of the day: a bite to eat at Taco Bell. Yeah, it gets a lot worse now.

Our first move was Borders. We were counting on Borders. If all else failed, we could at least count on a nice coffee drink at Borders and a pile of books to pass the day. No matter how much it rained, we could count on this. But then we couldn’t.

The cafe had a huge sheet of black plastic covering it up. It’s closed for renovations until June 13th. AAAAGGGHHHH!!!!! We were horrified. Borders has little by way of seating in the book store proper. We sadly grabbed a handful of books each and then wandered to the second level, eventually settling on a wooden bench. We didn’t last long.

Our next move was to leave Borders and just settle in a cafe. After a short time in a cafe accross the street, we decided to go for a walk. That actually worked out, the rain had subsided and the sun was out. While walking we came upon a book store going out of business. All of the books were 50% off. If you know us, you’ll realize that this is what we live for. We rushed in at 5:45 pm, only to be told by the clerk he was closing in 5 minutes. I guess when you’re going out of business you don’t have to worry about being flexible with your customers. We frantically looked through the books for a gem, only to be hustled out of the store at 5:50.

Walking down the street, we noticed that everything in Saratoga, except for a few really expensive restaurants, closes at 6 pm on Sunday. We began to worry. Scallions was closed. Hope was fading. Nothing much left to do in town. Every thrift store Julie wanted to visit had closed at 3 pm anyway.

With our tails between our legs, we decided to go out of town to the box store area and hang out the Barnes and Noble. I generally aboic B&N because their book selection isn’t as good as Borders. B&N may have more books by way of quantity, but Borders seems to have a more diverse and interesting collection. Borders also has a better selection of magazines and literary journals. Since Julie was looking for a poetry journal and the latest by Tan and Winterson, but she was once again disappointed by B&N.

We sat in the cafe for a little while. I read McLaren’s latest. Julie read Get Fuzzy. We soon surrendered ourselves to fate and went home for a bowl of cereal.

And during the ride home we actually had more fun griping about our day than we probably had all day long. It was just a comedy of errors and frustration. Here’s to a better time on Tuesday!