[lit-ideas] Monday Something

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2010 09:50:02 -0800

It starts at the washing machine.  Having passed a weekend reading about 
Elizabeth Dalhousie, Alexander McCall Smith's imaginary editor of a journal 
about ethics, I stand at the control knob wandering whether my wash is heavy 
and whether heavy is about weight or density of dirt?  My mind then grabs what 
students could call the metaphorical "aspect": does any of us, boating through 
the world, produce a light wash?  And, bonus question for the fleet, what is 
the right attitude to a "No wake" zone?

This weekend we were in L.A., flying in to spoil daughters: to visit them and 
to spend money on sundries.  I did the dadly bit--held this and that, grumped 
when the stumptown coffee wasn't right, wandered aloud how "body wash" is an 
improvement on soap--and browsed the aisles slowly, safely away from those who 
carried lists.  I found in the "ethnic" hair care section--you'll think I've 
got a thing about "ethnic," but this was happenstance--a brand of conditioner 
named "Placenta."  Among the lines of advice and encouragement printed on the 
bottle was "keep out of reach of children."

I find that standing in stores and museums is hard on the back.  To distract 
myself, I listed names for imaginary pubs--I liked "The Optimistic 
Curmudgeon"--and things that people might pursue in addition to happiness: 
buffalo, passenger pigeons, PBS pledges, the state of number one-ness, perps, 
ends, means, higher returns, Olympic records, lowering taxes, raising beds 
(particularly of truuuucks), greater firmness, more or less hair (according to 
preference), freedom from schemes, outcomes, conditions and conditioners.

At another store's exit--and we were in: the cheese shop, two resale shops, two 
museum shops, bookstores (of course)...not to mention the farmers' market, 
others I've forgotten-- there was a sign offering a ten percent discount on 
"gormet cookies," and a man asking his friend to "remind him" where exactly 
Alberta is.  I don't believe he knew.  

As for L.A. drivers...I have a new theory.  I think it's atavistic, an ancient 
inheritance from the hunt... they zoom and fail to indicate simply because they 
don't want others to guess where they're going and so to find the feed first.  
From one shore of the dry basin to the other, L.A. is one enormous "Make wake 
or die" zone.

David Ritchie,
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