2001 Notebook: Weak VII
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12 February 2001
A Real Man Need Not to Explain His Self
There’s a new illustration in an alley near the lab. Someone drew a picture of a scary guy, complete with fangs. It may have been one of those “image and text” pieces, or perhaps the illustrator just added a caption. In any case, the drawing was accompanied by the sentence, “A Real Man Need Not to Explain His Self.”

It seems silly for someone to explain that he needn’t explain his self, but real men are nothing if not silly.

13 February 2001
Matrimonial Expectation Management
Eva and I were discussing marriage tonight. (Since half of us were already married, it was an abstract discussion.) We were wondering whether marrying someone with whom you’re madly in love works better than an arranged marriage.

“I suppose it doesn’t make much difference after a decade,” I hypothesized. “In one case you start out with an intense infatuation that evolves into a less volatile and more secure relationship; in the other scenario you start out with a stranger and end up in more or less the same relationship.”

“I think marriage is all about expectation management,” Eva replied.

I’m certain Eva will have a successful marriage, or at least as sure as anyone can be about such speculation.

14 February 2001
Institutionalized Mating Day
Sylvia told me Valentine’s Day isn’t what it used to be. I told her I hadn’t noticed, since it’s one of those manufactured “holidays” I try to avoid.

Sylvia then went on to explain that the Christians created Valentine’s Day by hijacking the Feast of Lupercalis from the Romans. As with the other pagan celebrations they stole, the Christians changed the very nature of the celebration. That’s why Valentine’s Day doesn’t involve drawing partners by lottery, which I suppose is a more direct and dependable way of facilitating coupling than gifts of flowers and candy.

I told Sylvia I didn’t care for the Roman holiday either. Mating is one of those practices that just shouldn’t be institutionalized.

15 February 2001
The Sturgeon or the Fried Egg?
Yevgeny is having a great conversation with Larry. It’s not scintillating, but it is fascinating to watch someone from Novosobirsk trying to communicate with a good ’ol boy from a small Alabama town that may or may not be called Eastern Hole.

Yevgeny tried to break an impasse in the talk by observing, “Ah, that’s a sturgeon or caviar question.”

“Say what?” asked Larry. (He says that all the time.)

“It’s old Russian saying,” Yevgeny explained. “It means that no one can say which came first, the sturgeon or caviar.”

“Oh, we got the same saying over here,” Larry replied, “but here we call it ‘the fried chicken or the fried egg’ question.”

16 February 2001
No Way to Treat a Supermodel
I am having a huge supermodel fit, but I think it’s the only appropriate response to a spectacular injustice. My supermodeling job only lasted one hundred and forty-four seconds. And that was for just one photograph of my knee covered in some stupid Italian suit.

“A hundred and forty-four seconds!” I screamed. “That’s ridiculous! That’s no way to treat a supermodel!”

“Well, when you consider that the strobe illuminates the film for only a tiny fraction of a second, even a thousand-exposure session really lasts less than a second,” the photographer explained.

“Don’t try to mollify me with your moronic mathematics!” I said in a slightly softer scream. “That’s no way to treat a supermodel!”

“I’m really sorry, David,” the photographer continued, “but we were under a tight budget on this one. Since I wouldn’t dream of asking you to work for less than five thousand dollars an hour, that’s all your time we could afford for a couple hundred bucks.”

“Well why didn’t you just use a mannequin, then?” I asked. “Even my mother wouldn’t recognize my knee in those baggy trousers.”

“Well, we did consider that, but it costs more than two hundred dollars to rent a mannequin,” the photographer finally admitted.

“Why, I never!” I shrieked.

“Then maybe you should,” the photographer replied.

That’s no way to treat a supermodel!

17 February 2001
A Great APE!
I visited the Alternate Press Expo today, and I’m glad I did. I was amazed at how much good work and great work I saw there. It was enough to make me believe that humans aren’t, in the memorable phrase of one of the exhibitors, “the carbon-based mistake.”

There were too many fine authors and artists to mention any by name, so I’ll be lazy and repeat two things I learned there.

First, I loved Shaenon K. Garrity’s brilliant sponsorship policy that I’ll certainly use in the unlikely event that sponsorship ever becomes a possibility. “I mean, it’s not like I let just anyone sponsor my events. First they have to give me money.”

And then there’s the case of the somewhat mythical beast, the cameleopard. The cameleopard is a cross between a camel and a leopard, and it really does exist, sort of. That is, the critter once called the cameleopard really exists, but it’s unrelated, mostly, to either the camel or the leopard. That’s why people now refer to a cameleopard as a giraffe.

18 February 2001
An Unpleasant Revelation
I enjoy new self-revelations that reveal something wonderful about me that I’d never noticed before. Actually, that enjoyment is purely hypothetical, since I long ago completed the very short inventory of my strengths. (I wrote the entire list on the back of a business card in a Seattle bar in 1981. I left space at the bottom for additions, real estate that’s remained vacant for some twenty years.)

Revelations about my myriad weaknesses and failings are much more common. Today, the list just got longer.

An email correspondent asked me a simple question that called for a straightforward reply. The writer was identified three different ways: as “bhunternh” in the email account identification, as “Hunter William” in the email “from” field, and as “B. Hunter” in the signature.

As I started to write a three-sentence reply, I started to wonder about my correspondent’s gender. Although “Hunter William” certainly sounds masculine, “William” is a common surname, and the only person I know with the first name of “Hunter” is a female of the opposite sex. And then there’s the signature. Where does the initial come from? Bob? Beulah? Bill? Betty?

And that’s when it hit me. Even though I’ve claimed to treat men and women equally, I just realized that I am in fact prejudiced. I almost always find women more pleasant, smarter, and more interesting than men.

Having a conscious prejudice, like preferring cats to dogs, is one thing. Discovering a previously subconscious prejudice, though, is a rabbit of a different ilk. Oh well, at least I had the foresight to keep a list of my myriad flaws on a fat computer drive instead of on the backs of a gross of business cards.

19 February 2001
A Successful New Year’s Resolution
Joshua dropped by the lab and suggested we have a drink. Since he brought Rainier Ale with him, how could I say no?

“How are you doing with your new year’s resolution?” Joshua asked.

“So far so good,” I lied. “I shouldn’t have any problem finishing my book this year.”

“Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve stuck to my new year’s resolution so far,” Joshua said. “They say the first seven weeks are the hardest, so I may be over the hump.”

“You probably already told me,” I replied, “but what was your new year’s resolution?”

“I decided that I was wasting too much time on unrewarding activities,” Josh explained, “so this year I decided to exercise less, eat more fatty foods, and drink cheap malt liquor at least twice a week.”

“That’s brilliant!” I exclaimed. “You should start a cult.”

“Yeah, I thought about it,” Joshua admitted, “but there’s too much competition.”

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart