Hmm Weekly for May 26, 2020

The world will end on a Tuesday

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS DEP’T.

How Did You Sleep Last Night?

By Lori Teresa Yearwood

A BAD NIGHT’S sleep can meet many definitions, says Salt Lake City hair salon owner Rachel Hoang. There are the times when the sinus headaches hit, for example. And then there are the times of Major Stress. Like Sunday, May 17.

“I had a friend staying with me because she was leaving a bad situation with a boyfriend and so she had been hanging out with me over the weekend in order to separate herself from this person. My house was a safe space.”

On top of the “normal stresses of the pandemic,” Hoang said, it was the last week of school for her kids, and it was the week she was reopening her business, Curly Hair Studios. Add to that the pressure she felt to try to help her friend and it definitely all equaled Major Stress.

Midnight.

Hoang’s dresser fan and ceiling fan whirred, creating a cold white noise that served as a comforting contrast to the 20-pound weighted blanket she lay beneath. Still, one thought raced repetitively through the 36-year-old’s mind:

“Who else needs help?”

Of course, Hoang wondered if she had best helped her friend. Had she been supportive enough? Or should she have been less supportive? Her friend was planning on returning to her own home the next morning. Would she be safe?

“I analyze the situation until it is literally dead on the ground," Hoang said, "then I realize I am not responsible for other people’s lives or actions.” Sometimes, the white noise helps to drown it all out. But that Sunday, the fans weren’t enough. Nor was the two-hour Epsom salt soak in her bathtub jacuzzi. Or watching Frozen on Netflix with her three boys.

Now, past 1 a.m., Hoang’s husband was downstairs watching television. Hoang lay down and closed her eyes, her mind drifting to a recent confrontation with a client. Hoang had been suited up in a plastic face shield as well as a mask.

“The client suggested that neither of us needed to wear a mask.” Hoang had already sorted out her answer: “The Health Department requires the stylist to wear a mask.”

The client quickly acquiesced.

“She knew I wasn’t going to change my mind.”

Still, when Hoang thinks about conversations like that, she can’t sleep.

“For weeks before I re-opened, I had all these conversations in my head ahead of time so I prepared myself with each client and decided which stylist should work with whom so we could support each other.”

One a.m. Everyone in the seven-chair salon is sticking to pretty strict rules: No more than four chairs utilized at one time. No more than one guest per stylist. No one waiting for appointments. The bathroom is sanitized after each client uses it, and the front door of the studio is kept locked so that stylists greet their guests one-on-one.

“We’ve also made a pact amongst ourselves,” Hoang said, “Until this is over, we will be very careful in our lives so we don’t bring it to each other or our guests. We’re not going to large gatherings and we’re not going to stores unless we need to.”

Three a.m.

Because of the requirement for social distancing inside the 1,300 square foot studio, Curly Hair Studios is operating at 50 percent of its pre-COVID rate. Thanks to federal grants for businesses, the drop in income hasn’t wrought havoc.

“But there is an overwhelming amount of people trying to get in, and you just can’t help all of them,” Hoang said.

“How Did You Sleep Last Night?” is an ongoing series.

Another Week, Another Hmm Weekly

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ADVICE DEP’T.

Ask The Sophist

Dear The Sophist,
I have an advice column I'm supposed to write this week, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get letters to work with, and with the holiday on Monday, I let things get away from me. Can I basically bag it this time around?

Signed,
Close to Home

Dear Homie,

Spring is blooming into summer and the world is going up in flames. Under the circumstances, your gesture of concern about not doing the work is tantamount to doing the work. Mix yourself a Spaghett and call this week a success.

At your service,
The Sophist

Got something you need to justify to yourself, or to the world at large? Other columnists are here to judge you, but The Sophist is here to tell you why you're right. Send your questions to AskTheSophist@hmmweekly.com, and get the answers you want.

THOUGHT DEP’T.

Do you have a thought? Send it to hmmweekly@hmmweekly.com.

THE READERS WRITE DEP’T.

By W.N. Vann

I HAD ANOTHER thought, as a reader, that I thought I'd share since it seems you would still like to get them. It's not a thought, though, in the hand-scrawled manner. It's more of a rumination.

I haven't had anything mended since the pandemic, because it's unsafe to go out and my tailor is forced to be closed. Also, I've never learned to sew, so I can't do it myself. I was doing a brief survey of my shirt collars, though, and I realized that things are getting a bit messy. At the low end, there's this variety. 

That's just a little bit of foxing, and it's kind of desirable in certain internet corners of #menswear, because it shows that you've had your clothing a long time. Some sort of Boston Cracked Shoe ethic—I don't know, I'm a parvenu.

This is a more serious strain of damage. The collar is coming apart in places. I'm not sure how it did this, or why the right side of my neck is more dangerous to oxford cloth than the left, although I do just now notice myself tilting my head in a canine manner at a string of oak tree buds sprouting in the run-off dirt and debris that has amassed in my neighbor's gutters. (I can see my neighbor's gutters from my desk.) I marvel at the effect of curiosity-generated friction against my collars.

This is my favorite shirt, and I will never abandon it, no matter how tattered. It's almost a point of pride that this even hangs together. I may have a tailor reverse the collar on the others when the pandemic ends to add a few more years of life to them, but this one is a perfect Sunday shirt.

VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.

Spring, Part 12

YOU CAN FOLLOW hmmweeklygram on Instagram.

BRAIN ITCH DEP’T.

Bacon exclamation point

RECIPES DEP’T.

WE KEEP TELLING you we will soon exhaust our selection of recipes for ancient but reproducible sandwiches, taken from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, by Eva Greene Fuller; 1909; McClurg and Co., Chicago, found in the public domain for the delectation of all. What will we do for provocative Public Domain Content when we have exhausted our supply of sandwich recipes?

NOVELTY SANDWICH
Chop one small onion, eight olives, one green pepper (seeds removed), and one chow chow pickle fine. Add one cupful of grated Parmesan cheese; moisten with enough mustard dressing from the chow chow to form a paste. Spread on this slices of lightly buttered white bread. Cover with another slice and cut in triangles.

OLIVE SQUARES
Cut thin squares of brown bread and lightly butter, adding a dash of pepper and salt. Stone eight olives, chop them with two stalks of celery, one tiny cucumber pickle, a teaspoonful of catsup, a dash of salt and pepper, and very little mustard. Mix well and spread on brown bread, covering with another square.

CAVIARE SANDWICH NO. 2
To a can of caviare add the juice of half a lemon, and one teaspoonful of olive oil. Mix well together until a paste is formed. Spread mixture on this slices of lightly buttered white bread or toast and cover with another slice of bread.

AUSTRIAN SANDWICH
Two cans of boned and skinned sardines, two balls of cottage cheese, one small onion chopped fine, two tablespoonfuls of chopped parsley, two tablespoonfuls of chopped mint, two tablespoonfuls of vinegar, salt to taste, a dash of red pepper, the grated rind and juice of two lemons; also use the oil from the sardines. Mix and beat thoroughly; spread between thin slices of lightly buttered rye or brown bread.

If you make one of these sandwiches, before you eat it, please send a picture to hmmweekly@substack.com.

HMM WEEKLY IS written by Tom Scocca, editor, and Joe MacBacon, creative director. If you enjoy Hmm Weekly, please let a friend know about it, and if you're reading this because someone forwarded it to you, go ahead and sign up for a copy of your own right now.
Thanks for reading, and any time you want, email us at hmmweekly@substack.com.