This was the week of everybody around me having health problems or concerns, so that can fuck the fuck off as soon as it likes.
But today was fun. To cheer up my friend Katie, I met her in town.
We looked around the Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World exhibit at the John Rylands Library...something which I'm sorry to say I basically couldn't engage with at all, fascinating as I find the subject matter. Mostly it was books in glass cases, which I understand being, y'know, Early Modern need to be kept in safe conditions. But they were not just behind glass and in very dim light, they were also accompanied by very small labels, with some of the writing being light-blue-on-white, explaining what everything was, which were useless to and a bit of a struggle even for fully-sighted Katie. There was a "Large print guide" at the start of the exhibit, which delighted me because it looked to be full of interesting stuff....until I realized that I couldn't relate anything I was reading to what I could see -- there was no way to know which interesting book or object was being talked about in the descriptions I was reading. Katie thought it was the same text as the brochure she'd originally found out about this exhibit from. Add this to the light-blue-on-white or white-on-light-blue text in the very dim lighting conditions, and the fact that Katie had been led to expect a lot more than a little corridor with about six things to look at in it, and neither of us could quite say we were happy with it.
Shame as I do love the John Rylands. And now with my volunteering/museums/accessibility habits well-ingrained (as anyone who's been to any kind of museum or similar with me in the last six months can attest, I'm always going on about fonts and light and contrast and signposting now; Katie said I should make myself a job as a disability consultant), I've tweeted them to ask who I can talk to about accessibility because I have some feedback. And Katie and I found a couple of comfy chairs just waiting for us to sit in them and chat about work and health and relationships and everything (possibly annoying the Terribly Serious visitors to this corridor, but if so they were too polite and British to say anything) before we decided we should get some food.
We ended up going to Ed's, the chain trying to be 50s American diners that has recently made it to Manchester. What I knew only as "the place to go if I'm waiting for a train at Euston" Katie was familiar with as somewhere she and her friends would go after school, age twelve or thirteen, to have cheesy fries and peanut butter milkshakes and imagine they were doing exactly what all American teenagers do. So of course we had to get cheesy fries, and this time her peanut butter milkshake had banana in it too. I considered a root beer float but went for the other thing I always get at this place: chocolate malt. Being my father's child, I far prefer malts to shakes, and they're impossible to find otherwise (though Andrew once made me one with Ovaltine and it worked surprisingly okay). We also had "Atomic American Onion Rings," which is just onion rings with lots of implausible things to dip them in: "jalapeño jelly," barbeque sauce, cheese (and we're talking proper bright-yellow chemical-tasting cheese sauce here, same thing that was on the fries), guacamole and sour cream.
After we'd eaten all the onion rings, we still had half a bowl of cheesy fries left, but dumped the sour cream, guac and the other cheese sauce into the bowl as well, getting a bit giddy by this point from all the sugar and just how much we were enjoying each other's company. "Whatever the female equivalent of a bromance is," Katie said, "that's what we're doing." So I told her about Galentine's Day
, which yes technically would have been yesterday but we were clearly celebrating exactly the things it means to celebrate: friendship with women you can be yourself around. Appropriately, perhaps, we'd already spent a bunch of time talking about some womanly things, like hormonal birth control, being socialized to blame yourself for everything about other people that disappoints you, emotional labor, how difficult it's been to overcome diet culture and how delighted we were that we could enjoy our meal of fat and carbs and everything that's supposed to be bad for us.