Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Which I Quote Wholesale from Douglas Adams

I read this paragraph tonight and just really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd pass it onto you all:

"He had discovered that the reason for the carnival atmosphere on Saquo-Pilia Hensha was that the local people were celebrating the annual feast of the Assumption of St. Antwelm. St. Antwelm had been, during his lifetime, a great and popular king who had made a great and popular assumption. What King Antwelm had assumed was that what everybody wanted, all other things being equal, was to be happy and enjoy themselves and have the best possible time together. On his death, he had willed his entire personal fortune to financing an annual festival to remind everyone of this, with lots of good food and dancing and very silly games like Hunt the Wocket. His Assumption had been such a brilliantly good one that he was made into a saint for it. Not only that, but all the people who had previously been made saints for doing things like being stoned to death in a thoroughly miserable way or living upside down in barrels of dung were instantly demoted and were now thought to be rather embarrassing."

From "Mostly Harmless," by the late, lamented, wonderful and hilarious Douglas Adams. Everyone got their towels?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Some Pig, Indeed

This morning I was driving Laney to her tennis lesson and from the back seat, apropos of nothing, she says to me "The doctor in the book said it was the web that was the miracle not the words."

As those of you with chillun know, parenting is all highs and lows, valleys and troughs, one coming hard after the next. Count this one as a high. Big time*.

Last night was a Saturday night in the heart of the summer. After I read a chapter of "Otherwise Known as Shelia the Great" to Laney she grabbed a book from her bookshelf to read for a while before falling asleep. She chose "Charlotte's Web." I then wandered downstairs, poured myself a bourbon and sat down at the piano where, over a period of two or three hours, I'm pretty sure I came close to reanimating the corpse of George Gershwin so he could head into my living room, slam the piano lid down and say, "Look. Just... no. Stop."

I was deeply invested in playing Gerswhin terribly and it was a Saturday night in the middle of summer, so I was content to let Laney read for as long as she wanted. Turns out, she read the whole book.

We'd read it together before. The last time it was a purely collaborative experience because I was crying so hard by the end that Laney exhorted me, "Get it together, Mom!" and then took over the reading of it.

But then, last night, reading on her own she came across a passage that articulates the poetically rational philosophy that I've tried to impart to her for her whole life. The supernatural makes for great stories, but it's not real. Nature, however, is pretty fucking amazing. There are miracles all around you. Things grow and are beautiful and people are kind to one another and food tastes so good. So, rather than setting up worship of water turning into wine, enjoy water and, one day, enjoy wine. Appreciate the great art of nature.

Sigh. As usual, I'm not saying it well. That Chuck Darwin could turn a phrase:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Or, the miracle is not the words, it's the web.

* Ain't I lucky to have such a smart, book-loving kid? She's also great in that she keeps me from getting all cocky about it. For example, as I write this, Laney is sitting on the other end of the couch, legs in the air in that way that only kids and yoga masters are comfortable in, reading a book. She looked up from and said, "Do you mind? I just farted at you." I kinda did.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Look, Just Don't Do that

Today after I parked my car, I read my email on my phone in the garage elevator. Terrible habit! I really need to stop that. One of the mails I read practically guaranteed a shit morning, navigating the murky waters of someone else's IT department. I hate dealing with other people's IT departments. So much. Don't you? Do you ever have to? It's the worst!

So, I left the garage kind of of lost in thought, trying to think of a good way to handle the situation. I crossed the street and headed into the CVS to buy my morning Diet Coke.

As I was about to walk through the door, a guy on a bicycle zoomed up right next to me, super close, and said, "Good morning," real chirpy right into my face. I was startled, under-caffeinated, and still mostly thinking about how to respond to the customer and so I didn't return his aggressive "good morning" in a timely enough manner. He wheeled away and said, real shitty-like, "I guess it's not then!"

God, that annoys me. And, you know what, it annoys every woman I know. It's more common corollary is the guy who demands of some girl he doesn't know that she smile. If he's older and southern, he'll probably also tell you that you're prettier when you smile. I hate that. Because the thing is, it's not flirting, it's not charming. It's aggressive and demanding. It's not a double-x chromosomal imperative to smile and be cheerful and make the world a pleasant place. Sometimes, we've got shit on our minds.

So a PSA, fellows, don't order strange women to smile. Don't get all up in their faces and demand pleasantries. It's onerous and obnoxious. Imagine how you'd feel if some strange guy felt welcome to complain about your insufficient cheer.

You'd hate that. So don't do it. Just, dont.