Of Macaroni and Cheese and Being Absorbed

Have you noticed how restaurants now offer “comfort foods”?  Macaroni and cheese.  Grilled cheese sandwiches.  Of course, those “comfort foods” are not comfortable at all for our lactose intolerant friends.  For them, the “comfort foods” may be linguini cooked in olive oil and garlic or something similar.

Comfort foods take us back to something that is familiar and pleasant.  This, of course, overlooks the tendency of restauranteurs to make their “comfort foods” trendy -- you know, four-cheese macaroni and cheese with handcrafted, toasted sour dough squares and anchovies!  Why isn’t the Betty Crocker Cookbook version good enough?

Many of us find comfort in being absorbed in a task or activity.  We all know musicians, artists, and writers who become so focused on their art that they are oblivious to their surroundings.  Gamers can play for hours without food or sleep.  How many times have you been so absorbed in something that you later asked, “Where did the time go?”

In the perfect world, our day jobs draw us in the same way.  Time passes without even a casual glance at the clock.  Doing, thinking, and processing make hours speed by so that at the end of the day, you ask, “Where did the time go?”  That is when work is truly fun!

Comfort meets absorption describes our recent visit to the Ferndale Music Company -- Paul’s new venture.  The store is small -- maybe 500 square feet -- on Ferndale’s Main Street of Victorian and early 20th Century store fronts.  Acoustic guitars hang from the wall behind a display case.  Part of that wall is devoted to ukuleles.  Electric guitars and basses hang from the other wall.  Amps and two drum kits fill up the floor space leaving room for a couple of chairs for lessons.  Fitting of Paul’s and his customers’ eclecticism, a mandolin and couple of banjos are interspersed among the guitars.

To Paul’s consternation, the windows were covered with Tyvek and the front sidewalk closed as the facade of the building was under renovation.  Customers had to find their way through a side door and “museum” of kinetic people movers.

Just like old times, Paul and I talked music, guitars, gigs, and bands.  We tested out some of the pedals and other gadgets in his inventory.

While Paul tended to business, I took over his work bench.  I pulled strings, finger nail polish, wire cutters, rags, and a tuner from my guitar case.  Between customers, we gabbed and caught up on the last three months.  The process of cleaning up, polishing, and restringing a guitar was totally engaging.  This was guitarists’ version of “stitch and bitch.”   

The time flew by, and I thought, “Where did the time go?”

The walk back to the hotel was time to tally up the visit.  New pedal:  $199.  Shaker skulls:  $10.  A couple of hours at Ferndale Music Company:  Priceless.

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