I have good habits, too. I eat very well. I go to bed early and go to the gym when I get up. I am amiable and try to get along with everyone, even those I don't agree with or like. But when it comes to drinking water, I'm a failure. I intend to. Sometimes, I'll be conscious of doing it. . . for a day or two. I try to stop drinking alcohol at night and start brewing tea, but that doesn't always happen. I've read, though, that my morning consumption of coffee counts, so maybe I'm doing better than I thought.
Last night, my evening cocktail was a New Zealand Sav, one of those citrusy things. I often take a bottle with me when I dine with my mother. I thought she liked it. Nope. She told me so the other day. I will switch back to Chardonnays with her. Because that's how I am. I accommodate.
It's not always easy. There is a fellow at the gym who is known to be "a successful attorney." We all know what that is code for--he has made too much money. The fellow, in my opinion, is, in the vernacular of the past, a douche. He bought a new Porsche 911. The good one. If you are anything like me, kids, you'll have to look it up. But. . . I'm a "dirtbag." That's vernacular, too, for someone who hasn't made enough money. And I've never been into cars.
So when the successful attorney came in, the Big Boys quit exercising and started talking. Oh, lord, it went on and on and on. When they were finished talking, they all had to go out and see it. I didn't go, of course, but it was reported that several of the fellows got erections. I can't and don't wish to confirm this, so it is just secondhand anecdotal information that shouldn't even be reported. Still, it makes an unusually satisfying visual. Were I a cartoonist. . . .
My town is full of "car enthusiasts." You can find them on a Thursday or Friday night at one of the Boulevard restaurants and bars where the "attractive Russian women" go. Code. I assume they are not all Russian, but the innuendo is clear. These men are ones who lead with their "success." They got Bling!
So. . . where am I going with this? That I am an amiable and considerate man. I know these fellows and am nice. I don't like what they like, but that's o.k. I'm sure it's ditto the other way 'round. The thing is, though, they give me perspective. I have too many colleagues and friends who "can't be around them." Personally, I would never be able to analyze them from afar. I feel like an anthropologist sometimes spending a year living with "the natives" in order to "understand" their culture by cataloging and categorizing.
It's just taxonomy.
It is not set in stone, of course. Over time, taxonomies change. I have a degree in zoology, but the taxonomies I learned are no longer valid. There are more Kingdoms than when I was in school, and this, my unlearned friends, is at the macro level. More Kingdoms leads to more Phylums, and so on down the line.
One must be able to adapt.
But we, as humans, have categorical brains. I put the successful attorney in the "douche" category, and he puts me in the "dirtbag" pile. It's just a matter of privileging.
Last night, I was talking to someone about the current state of education. She is a college professor who has been asked to change her curriculum so that it aligns with new state guidelines. She was in a department meeting where they were all told to do so, told that if they did not abide, there would be no support from the college when the shit storm began. My friend said everyone in the department was dismayed, but they all rolled over like obedient dogs. Nobody wanted any trouble.
I'm cataloging these people, too.
It is common to hear now that it is a waste of money and time to go to college, that the trades are where all the money is. I am beginning to agree, by and large. Education has become so watered down by the demands of the state that they might as well put degrees in Cracker Jack boxes. College isn't so much about becoming an intellectual now as it is becoming a success.
Woe is me. . . I wanted to be an intellectual. Books, art, politics. . . you know, the old Bohemian thing.
Maybe I only succeeded in not becoming a success.
I read a book review of Richard Ford's new novel today, the 5th in a series of books with the same narrator. Ford has been considered an important writer since the 1970s. I liked his early work, but I quit following him long ago. Still, if I don't enjoy reading him so much now, I still respect the work. And, of course, the chutzpah, too. Putting yourself "out there" in writing is like putting a target on your back. Sooner or later, you're going to get popped.
After writing brightly about Ford's legacy, the critic ends with this:
“Be Mine” isn’t shoddy, exactly, but it’s the thinnest and least persuasive of the Bascombe novels. The seams in these books have begun to show.
Too many strangers break into unprompted, and sometimes hokey, soliloquies. Ford’s penchant for summing up every other paragraph with a cracker-barrel bromide has begun to grate. A book derived from “Be Mine” called “The Wit and Wisdom of Frank Bascombe” would include throw-pillow slogans like “Fatherhood is a battle in any language” and “It is the thought that counts.”