[lit-ideas] Hereabouts

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2015 12:00:57 -0700

You'll perhaps recall when they stood up to blue jays (who haven't been seen
since) the chickens demonstrated that they are not cowardly. Yesterday they
showed this once again, standing firm in the face of danger. It happened this
way: in the morning smoke from wildfires a long way away began to fill the sky
and by afternoon the world had taken on a weird orange glow. Visibility was
severely reduced. Mimo wandered over to inquire what this meant.
"Is this it, then?"
"What kind of 'it' do you have in mind?"
"The end of the world."
Rocky joined her, "Looks like an Arma-thingy, wouldn't you say?"
Cheddar, "Yes, yes. Definitely an Arma-thing."
Appenzeller got off her duff to see if there were final, divine instructions,
"What is normal procedure when the horsemen of the Apoca-wotsit come by?"
Peccorino suggested chickens shouldn't go down without a fight, "We could rally
together, disarm the foe."
Rocky protested, "You can't disarm Armageddon. It's got arms built in."
Cheddar said, "No wings on the sun."
Appenzeller, "What's that got to do with anything?"
Cheddar, "I was merely making a celestial observation."
"Idiotic observation, more like."
I counseled patience.
Peccorino asked, "What do you think, oh god?"
I said I thought it would pass. And lo! I was right.
For once.

Outside the pub an Indian couple and their daughter were speaking a language
unknown to me. He was very much Mr. Look-I've-Got-A-Job-With-Intel. She was
her own person too, not Mrs. Compliant. The kid looked like a chip off two
bright blocks. They tied their dog's leash to a table leg and ordered
hamburgers. The dog was a labra-poodle, or some such thing, quite big, smart,
clearly puzzled by its owners. They didn't speak dog. At all. When I told my
wife all this she suggested that they might have been temporarily in charge of
the animal, dog-sitting. Anything's possible, but I don't think so. I believe
they acquired a dog as they had bought a Mercedes and a house, because in
America you do these things. And order hamburger.

Such an odd word, "effectives," describing soldiers in the field. It has
built-in a reminder of how much armies were weakened by disease, injury,
drunkenness, desertion, lack or sleep and food. One could be "in" the army,
but not count as an effective. As for "veteran," well the daughter of the
Director of Veteran's Affairs described in her blog how when she meets old guys
who've been in combat she feels conflicted about the term. The short answer is
that for four years she counted as an effective; now she's a veteran.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

Other related posts: