A little-known fact, during this summer of much-ballyhooed heat complaints, is that Texas has had a pretty easy time of it. Not one triple-digit day until August — which is remarkable for Austin’s usual Death Valley summers. We all kept quiet about it, aside from a little tasteless snickering among ourselves about how New Yorkers and Washingtonians are big bawling babies about the heat and why don’t they get a grip? Summer, after all, is supposed to be intolerable; Henry James’ famous remark about how two of the most beautiful words in the English language are summer afternoon make it clear he never visited Texas.
Be that as it may, August has arrived with triple-digit temps and I’ll shamelessly glom onto this fact as an excuse for writing a list of unrelated observations. Otherwise, you know, if I try to think too hard, I might get heatstroke. So:
1) I think baseball is one of the most boring sports on earth, with the possible exception of golf. However, the story of the umpire’s botched call, which robbed a Detroit Tigers pitcher of a perfect no-hitter, was amazing. The umpire cried and apologized to the pitcher. The pitcher graciously accepted his apology, saying everyone makes mistakes. They shook hands at the next game.
I loved this so much I almost wept. Who cares about a perfect game? The larger story of taking responsibility, apologizing, forgiveness and — oh, yes! — redemption was a far rarer event. If any sport regularly featured heartwarming stories like this, I’d start showing up to games more often.
2) You know the brouhaha about France’s discussions about forbidding Muslim women from wearing the veil in public? I am of two minds about this.
Initially, I think, yeah, go for it. Who wants to see women cloaked in medieval garb that’s been forced on them? And, shouldn’t immigrants adopt the most important values of the culture they find themselves in?
But then, but then … it occurs to me that this is simply another case of men (albeit concerned, allegedly liberal Frenchmen) telling women they know what’s best for them and dictating what they should wear. What about women who truly want to wear the veil?
Then, I lie down and take a nap. Sometimes, this multiculturalism business is too much for me.
3) In recent weeks, I have realized my shameless overshopping behavior during our last weeks in New York was the result of my deepseated fears of deterioration and death. This is a great relief to me: Having an existential crisis is always preferable to having to brand yourself as a shallow, materialistic twit.
4) I’ve pretty much decided that half the world’s problems result from a failure to apologize (see #1, above). The other half is attributable to people who fail to take the high road and quit. See: John McCain, Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel, Arlen Specter. They say it’s about abstract principles, not their own petty concerns. Believe me, that’s never the case. It’s always personal and petty, and they always come before principle, just as they do in the alphabet.
5) As I have frequently mentioned, my personality is seriously lacking in all kinds of ways. For example, I can’t cook, I can’t carry a tune, I give crappy birthday presents if I miraculously remember it’s your birthday, and that high road I mentioned earlier isn’t always the route I take.
However, I do have to give myself credit for something. In the past seven days, two old friends have thanked me for referring them to therapy, in the first case, and hospice, in the second. I say this so you will know what to expect from me, instead of a homemade birthday cake. I’m sure you’d rather have the cake, but it’s simply not in my repertoire. Even shallow, materialistic shopaholics are capable of depth sometimes.
(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my all-time favorite posts about found! a teachable moment for men about women