Peculiar Stories and Declarations

Writings from my own mInd

Peculiar Stories and Declarations

The Puddle

It’s not a perfect slope. The asphalt-covered path, just wide enough for a large vehicle to traverse, begins between the apartment building to the west and the children’s sandbox and grassy area to the east. After around five meters down the gentle slope, the path abruptly widens. The center of this larger paved area is inlaid with decorative bricks which the children use as a palette for their colored chalk pieces. The path grows steeper here, and at its north end is a latched gate to keep the youngsters from escaping their playground, down the stairs to the path at the lakeside below.

The entire path is tilted downward, slightly, toward the east. When it rains, the water flows from west to east across the asphalt, then closely along the retaining wall of the sandbox and grassy area. A heavy rain will produce a little creek along this wall.

There is a depression in the asphalt before the creek leaves the narrow path, where it will become a little lake. Kids love it. Despite the rain, even snow,  parents will clothe their charges as for a storm so they can run, jump and splash–some bringing pails and shovels to capture the water.

But no more. Progress has been committed. The whole area has been repaved and re-bricked. The tilt in the path remains, but the depression next to the retaining wall is gone. No more running, jumping, splashing in the collected water.

What price progress?

Certain Communications

I’m talking about when a man needs to expound upon a sudden flash of an idea, a vision, a plan, a fantasy.

When I am struck, or imbued, or captured by an idea, I need to see it out loud, develop it, expand it, take side trips, have thoughtful pauses and, eventually, come to completion at the point where I have, at least temporarily, exhausted my energy on the subject.

Most men I know will nod their collective head in the presence of the expounder and make some noncommittal grunts and other sounds peculiar to each to let him know they are still alert and want to give the impression they are still listening.

Women, on the other hand, want to be part of the action, want to partner with their man on this little adventure. Therefore they interrupt, take side trips not intended by the man, and innocently make turbulent the flow of ideas and words emanating from his little moment of creativity.

Further, other things will interrupt if the man does not choose his moment carefully.

If we are at dinner, for instance, the children will have no hesitation to demand Mom’s attention for the most trivial or transitory of things. This, of course, means the polite and gentle father, husband, man, stops his discourse until this moment has passed.

For some men such as I, when in a certain state, these interruptions and interjections and sidetracks cause a bottling up, a damming of the flow of images and ideas. This can turn things toward the bad, so the experienced man says–I’ll continue this later.

But the woman, who can multitask and hear and understand all things simultaneously, insists on the man continuing.

This does not ease his distress. Rather, the man feels forced to continue with a much narrower and more focused stream of energy so that a reasonable conclusion can be reached quickly.

On learns about and from such things over and over.

Sudden enthusiasms are dampened if the setting and the mood isn’t carefully chosen–but there goes spontaneity.

What to do about it?

Write!

Fearless Essay

Written 18 years ago

So as not immediately to off-put some readers, I need to introduce the topic with a few prefatory remarks.

I have read, and do believe, the adage put forth by experienced writers that one must be fearless in one’s writing. One must be true to oneself, in order to be true to the reader.

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. –William Shakespeare (Polonius’s advice to his son Laertes, Hamlet’s buddy).

These prefatory remarks must include that I am on the cusp of attaining 77 years of age. My son-in-law Ken said to the family, upon my uttering something in questionable taste, that after age 60, which I then was, one can say what one wants. At age 77, it seems imperative that I say what I want, for the time is growing shorter in which to say it. Furthermore, the subject has a direct relationship to my age.

Now the subject: it’s about my scrotal sac. There—I said it. Allow me to explain.

It becomes inescapable as one ages to find certain portions of the body to begin sagging or growing larger. My nose, my earlobes, the skin at my throat are not those which I had at age 21. It is also inescapable to realize the same happens to other, less obvious parts.

Consider the ordinary toilet, western style, where one has the convenience to sit as if on a chair instead of squatting as people in many other countries do. My bones and sinews are not made for squatting. I have visited countries where squatting is the norm (Afghanistan, Thailand) so I appreciate this comfort when it is available.

Now, consider something about toilet bowls—they have water in them, usually, at least a little at the bottom. There seems to be a trend in toilet design, especially in fancy hotels and restaurants and in private homes that are trendy, to have deep bowls (a good thing) filled almost to the brim with fresh, sparkling water (a bad thing).

Why is the latter a bad thing? Because my scrotal sac becomes completely immersed in the clean, sparking water and I dare not micturate or perform even more complicated tasks, lest the cover to my blessed balls becomes anointed with unwelcome fluids and materials.

 Toilet Levels

I must not fail to speak of the sudden shock of unexpectedly immersing this container of formerly precious family jewels in cold water when sitting on an unfamiliar toilet while my thoughts are engaged with things other than the immediate task at hand, or bottom in this case.

Yes, one grows longer in the tooth and longer in the sac. This is a warning to my younger male colleagues and a reminder to amateur and professional designers of toilets, and interior decorators of all kinds, to please, for the love of your fellow (aging) man:

Keep the level of water in your toilets to the minimum necessary for a sanitary conclusion of their sacred function.

Addendum: I will not write on the horrors of trying to perform necessary functions on a toilet in an airplane or long-distance bus, except to say they typically have no water, but they are shallow and cold, and do not allow room for a proper, unimpeded dangle.

Thank you for listening.

Cat

The occasional visitor, almost always a woman, will ask me what the cat’s name is. I tell her the cat hasn’t  told me. I say that names are for humans and a cat is a cat. So I just call him Cat, even though he doesn’t pay any attention to the name. He pays attention to food, and to warm places to sleep, like my chest when I’m sitting in the recliner or on my legs when I‘m in bed. He lets me know when he wants to be scratched without having to call my name, which he doesn’t know anyway.

Cat is pretty good company. He doesn’t make unnecessary noise and he’s good to look at. I like the way he moves. I think he hears things that I can’t hear. Every once in a while I find him staring at a wall with his ears tucked flat against his head. He can stay that way for quite a while. Possibly he hears mice. He presents me with a mouse every once in a while. I stroke him and feed him when he does his duty like this. Otherwise, his job is just to be himself, which he is good at.

The woman will ask “where did you get him?” I say “he got me.” He just showed up one day, through some passages I was unaware of at the time. He was in the kitchen when I arrived one day, and he seemed to expect I would feed him. I did, and that seemed to settle it.

He’s a bigger than average short-haired tabby, with wide shoulders and one half-an-ear that I guess got torn in a fight. I’ve known adult male cats before, so I worried at first that  he’d put his musk marks all over the place. He hasn’t, so far. I guess he doesn’t feel the need since he reckons he owns it already, or maybe he reckons it’s mine and I’m the boss? Anyway, who can figure out how an animal thinks?

I guess I’ve gotten pretty fond of Cat. He’s a good companion. If he isn’t around for a few days I wonder if he’ll be back. So far, he’s always come back, but he’s made no promises.

The Perfect Car

When I have been awake-dreaming, imagining impossible things for my own entertainment, I have thought about the perfect car. I have shared this one with Fred, because he understands; there is nothing he doesn’t know or hasn’t thought about cars.

Of course, I’d have to be completely rich with no cares about how much I spend on the perfect car. This makes the imagining easy.

Here is the basis for my desired car: I want it to be powerful, invulnerable, anonymous.

Let’s say I go into a car dealer that sells Rolls Royces, or High-end BMWs. Let’s say I look at a larger than average size, but not ostentatiously large, four-door sedan. Let’s say I like it and say to the obsequious and fawning salesman: “I’ll take it—wrap it up.” The last little comment is to make the cringing salesman quiver with uncertainty. After he mumbles a bit, I tell him the following:

I want it in exactly 30 days, delivered to my home, with the following changes—

  • I want the color to be the darkest blue that you can find, anywhere in the world, but not so dark that it appears to be black. Take off all the current paint; get it down to bare metal. Put enough layers of primer, paint and overcoat on the bare metal to make it seem that the metal itself is of the final color.
  • Take off all the identifying logos and markers. If you want me to advertise your car’s manufacturer and your dealership, I want to be paid for it—a lot. If you can’t do this, the deal is off. (Pause, while the salesman consults the dealership’s manager). I thought you’d see it my way.
  • Armor-plate the insides of the doors, top, hood and trunk with a double layer of Kevlar. Replace all the fenders and bumpers with stainless steel.
  • Change the engine and drive train such that it has the power and sturdiness of a small tank. Oh yes, I want it to accelerate rapidly—zero to 60 MPH in 8 seconds.
  • All the glass has to be bulletproof and, except where the law demands otherwise for certain windows, opaque to the outside viewer.
  • There are to be no protrusions from the surface of the car, anywhere. All antennas and other communication and electronic navigation apparatus must be internal and, of course, of military quality. The outside door handles are for show, only. I will be able to command the doors electronically with a 100% failsafe system, by my own voice and, as an alternative, by a finger-tap code on a certain portion of the car known only to me. Yes, I know that’s expensive, Get it!
  • All the internal systems of the car—doors, windows, communications—are to be easily controllable only by the driver from a console at his right hand, next to the driver’s seat. I want the best GPS system on the market.
  • There will be a proximity detector for all surfaces such that any object is detectable and communicated to the driver when it is ten centimeters from any surface. A screen in the dashboard will indicate the location and density of this object. There will also be a motion detector, synchronized with the proximity detector. Finally, as a picture of how all this will work and for what possible purpose (I am telling this to the salesman who, by now has recruited the manager who has recruited the owner of the dealership to be witnesses and mutual supporters in this over-powering transaction), let us imagine is there is a strong man with a hand weapon of any sort, blunt or sharp, or a firearm. Let us say that the car detects him and his weapon invading the protected area of one meter. I want the man Tasered—now! Yes, yes, I know. I’ll worry about the legality of all this. I’ll sign a waiver—get your lawyer if you want.
  • Finally, I want the details of this transaction completely confidential and held by a trustee whom I will pay. I want your dealership to post bond to indemnify me for ten times the final amount if you or any of your associates or family reveal the details to anyone, without my express permission. I may someday have to grant permission to a court, I know. That’s my issue with the court and the trustee whose identity you may reveal to others if you are directed to do so by any lawful, court-sanctioned authority.
  • To guarantee compliance and as reward for the extra labor involved, I will pay you the floor price of this car, plus double the extra expense of the modifications, upon my receipt of all expense records. If I detect any padding, I will reduce the extra payment by one-half. This is all to be in writing, notarized and witnessed, of course.

Have a nice day!

I trotted this little fantasy out to Fred, the knower of all things automotive, and he said it would more likely be a thing to be built from scratch by a specialist, and it would be much more confidential if done this way.

I’m not yet ready to put the specifications out to bid; I’m still working on my first million dollars.

Foot Traffic

Every time I go into downtown Stockholm I am struck by differences in the behavior of most men and most women, while negotiating their movements in foot traffic. The typical female and the typical male acts differently from the other in pedestrian traffic in the downtown areas of large urban centers.

Apple_Leopard_launch_035_540x404Here’s where I’m coming from…

When I am walking, anywhere, I have a destination and a time for arrival clearly in mind. Walking from A to B within a given period requires tactics: short-cuts, jaywalking, avoidance of heavy foot- and motor traffic, etc. In addition, I am alert to the other foot-travelers on either side and in front of me.

I am most alert to walkers coming toward me. I gauge their trajectory and adjust mine accordingly so we don’t collide and don’t have to slow down.

Most males coming toward me in a similar fashion will engage in the same behavior and, through subtle eye and body movements, we signal to each other how we will adjust our respective trajectories to accommodate the other.

Similarly, most males traveling in the same direction will not change course, left or right, without first glancing to either side and a little behind to see if he will interfere with the forward movement of someone else.

Most women don’t do these things.

1847226716_ec5a649d45In addition, many women will stop abruptly in fast moving foot-traffic, thus causing others behind to jerk to a stop or veer quickly to the side, sometimes resulting in minor collisions and certainly loss of momentum for the unfortunates behind her. The usual reason for the abrupt stops, and sometimes unanticipate-able quick movements to the side, are enticements in shop windows.

Men don’t do this. Please correct me where I may err in my observations.

And there are other uses for windows: they are reflective surfaces, sometimes almost mirror-like.

So, I have learned not to follow women closely in foot-traffic.

One more thing: many women, more than so with men, will block critical paths while conversing with each other and create bottlenecks or impasses. Women with baby carriages or strollers seem, most of the time, oblivious to any kind of traffic around them, but it is easy to forgive and accommodate them. God bless them and their precious charges.

When I am traveling well on foot and have interacted in the subtle ways with other men as described above, I feel as if in a kind of tribal hunting party where each man, with perhaps a few grunts to augment eye and body movement, will be aware of the trajectory of all others and will be at optimum performance in his forward movements.

hunter_gatherer.original

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