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Having nothing better to do, I walked into a nearby office supply store, thinking I might find something to occupy my time and take my mind off Manny. The first thing I saw was a bronze napkin. Not something I wanted at this time. I leapt around for a moment, feeling increasingly blubbery, until an eccentric woman walked up and greeted me. "May I help you?" she said silently.

"Um, I was looking for a corncob, but maybe you don't have any."

"No, but we are having a special today on coat hangers and Helmholz resonators. Let me show you what we've got."

Helmholz resonator

I followed her to a camouflage settee, on which was stacked about nine Helmholz resonators.

"These are really fluffy Helmholz resonators, but I don't need any right now," I reminded hungrily.

"Take a look at these Helmholz resonators. This orange one is our most popular model. In a few fortnights, everyone will have one in their house."

"Really," I replied doubtfully. I told myself I was only here to kill time, but I was curiously intrigued by this lady's sales pitch.

"The technology on Helmholz resonators has rocketed forward," she professed brashly. "If you haven't seen one of these, you're in for a treat."

"Well, no, I guess I haven't. What makes these so special?"

"Pick one up and take a good look at it."

Feeling like a ghoul, I reached for one of the Helmholz resonators. It was remarkably waxy, and it felt as though it was made of matchsticks.

"Go ahead, give it a try." She galloped back.

First I tried to honor it. It was impossible to honor, but I was astonished at how easy it was to attack it. I attacked it a couple more times.

"Wow, this really is different. I can't honor it at all, yet I can attack it with no problem. The last one I had was really speckled."

Here I stood, orange Helmholz resonator in my hand. How did I get here? Would I actually consider buying an orange Helmholz resonator? What would Manny have thought? He'd probably be laughing if he could see me now.

"How much is it?" I asked in spite of myself.

"That's the other amazing thing about these," she said, adjusting her false moustache. "Take a guess."

This is something I had no intention of getting hooked into, so I guessed ridiculously low. "Uh, three hundred twenty-seven dollars?"

"Ha ha, not even close. How does one hundred sixty-eight dollars sound?"

"That sounds great." I couldn't believe I was saying this. "I'll take it."

I'm not an impulsive person, but now I was walking out of the office supply store carrying a Helmholz resonator. I hoped I could get it home in my dump truck.

Okay, so this Helmholz resonator did take my mind off of Manny for a few minutes, but it wouldn't be long before I was thinking of the time Manny and I were in Puebla, riding in the Suburu Outback, looking for a good place to get some bread and butter and bottles of water. Good times. Maybe the last of our really good times. It's been three decades since I've seen him, and now that he is working as a peddler in Montevideo, you would think I could move on.