Sunday, June 26, 2005

Birthdays of the Dead

A bit of a complaint.
An old friend wrote me two e mails, the first being something about Moliere, the French playwright of the what, 17th, 15th, century? And the second read: Happy birthday Sartre. Not Jean-Paul, or Jean Paul Sartre or any other version of a complete name. The latter philosopher lived in the 20th century, but was not a close acquaintance of either of us by any means. ]
Immediately, as I have no edit button in my brain, I shot back a smart remark for him to reserve that type of erudition for women he hoped to meet at the beach and that perhaps said women would be more impressed by his mere mention of great writers and thinkers of the past.
This, as usual met with less than enthusiastic reception, but I had no care.
I can’t deal with people celebrating birthdays of the dead. I just barely condone celebrations of the birth of living people, but still find it unseemly to have to give gifts to people just because they give themselves parties. I have no real complaint about parties for children unless they are first (and possibly second) birthdays in which case the celebratee is probably not aware of what the hubbub is about.
I found it disappointing when the Birthdays of Washington and Lincoln became little more than an excuse for white sales, something that does not actually apply any more.
While I am mentioning the linen sales, I must also remark that no stores are fooling me to rush to a sale, when I noticed that there is some kind of weekly discount deal in progress.
Nonetheless, I take umbrage for the celebration in honor of people who cannot appreciate the effort.
I also wonder what is to become of toys and gifts left at roadside shrines. I first saw these near bridges in Rome, Italy, and found them to be funky art installations.
As it turns out, these impromptu gatherings of items now accompany the deaths, mostly of children, and mostly in poor neighborhoods where the children of the participants may not have toys of their own. I wonder, if after people leave the site, small unfortunates can avail themselves of these toys left for departed souls, or if they must pass by daily and covet playthings which day by day become more soiled and ruined, losing color and substance until the pile of items goes the way of the intended recipient.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Yard Sale

To Shop, or not to shop?
We were driving in upstate NY, having just gone antiquing in Cold Springs and were driving back to Croton when we passed a sign that said: Greystone Monastery, and under that a smaller sign that said Yard Sale. All four of us are keen bargainers and avid flea-market fiends so one of us said “Monastery Yard Sale”.
“OH, no,” I said, “what do they have, old cassocks?”
“And grails,” Deb was quick to add.
“Yeah, how often do you need those?”

Mental Sorbet

In which our heroine redefines her parameters

Walking through the courtyard, Nory heard Tyler cursing quietly beneath the old station wagon. It was one of the largest wagons Nory could remember, but probably her father had owned one very much like it in the early ‘60’s. This was lower and way longer than an SUV, and truth be told, though kind of ugly, also had an odd eye appeal. She knelt down to say hello, and find out what he was fixing today. Tyler’s family owned a lot of cars, and at least one needed work at any given time, so it was not unusual to find him beneath one.
“Hi,” she said to the aggravated boy.
“WHAT?” was his anguished retort.
“Well, I just thought I would say hi and see what you are fixing. “
“I am replacing the exhaust system, and I got it stuck.”
Nory, on the ground, looked through the car. She noticed that on her end, there were places for bolts or screws so she asked” Where does this attach?” Tyler pointed to the rusty spot where the exhaust would bolt to the chassis of the car. “Well, if that is where it goes then you have got the whole mess on the wrong side of whatever this is called” indicating some piled flat pieces of metal hanging from the underside of the car.
Tyler came out from beneath to see what Nory was talking about, and told her that those were springs and that she had once again hit the nail on the head. He had the entire contraption on the wrong side of the springs. At this point, Kevin, noticing Nory speaking to the bottom of the car had sidled over to grasp the situation more firmly. The two boys then scraped knuckles while Nory directed calmly. Once the assemblage was put into place, Tyler asked “did you, in all of your stories neglect to tell me that you had been a mechanic?”
“Nope,” said Nory, slipping off to finish her task.
It was not until her drive home that she realized what had occurred. Earlier, during a misunderstanding because she could not remember the name of the pound sign, her employer laughed and told her that her true calling was to be a comedian. I am not really that funny she thought to herself. I think I am more like mental sorbet; I cleanse the mental palate so that people can think clearly.
I do that a lot, come to think of it. She finished the ride home listening to the radio, feeling quite pleased.