2002 Notebook: Weak XVI
gratuitous image
16 April 2002
No. 6,838 (cartoon)
What is creation without art?


17 April 2002
Janet’s Bathroom Priorities
Janet invited me over to her new condominium for drinks, so I went.

“Wow!” I exclaimed. “You can see half of San Francisco from here!”

“I paid a lot more to be on the twenty-third floor,” she said, “but it’s worth it.”

I didn’t take the bait to ask her how much she paid for the tiny apartment; people from my part of the world don’t talk about such things. And anyway, I knew that Janet would mention the price, since people from her part of the world delight in discussing such topics.

After a couple drinks, I asked Janet where the toilet was. She told me that I was sitting on it! She took the seat off my chair to reveal a toilet seat, then removed the lid from a carved, mahogany box and pulled out a roll of toilet paper.

“I’ll wait in the hall,” Janet announced cheerfully, “let me know when you’re done.”

Although I didn’t like the idea of urinating in the middle of a friend’s living room, my bladder overruled my modesty.

When Janet returned and we resumed our conversation, I asked her why she bought a $363,000 condominium without a separate bathroom.

“Well, it did have a regular bathroom when I bought it,” she explained, “but I decided it made the apartment seem too tiny, so I knocked out the walls.”

“And where do you bathe?” I asked.

“Oh, you just slide the dining room table over,” she explained, “there’s a bathtub underneath.”

Of course.

18 April 2002
Slurred Hearing
I like writing for a number of reasons. First, I can usually edit out my more inane thoughts before anyone ever realized they passed through my head. Secondly, I don’t speak very well. I talk too fast, and I always slur my speech regardless of whether or not I’ve had a couple of drinks.

I was reminded of my proclivity for lazy speech when Erin made a simple request in the middle of my excited soliloquy.

“David,” she interrupted, “shut up!”

Up I shut.

“Now, when you resume your apocryphal tale,” Erin continued, “speak s-l-o-w-l-y, e-nun-ci-ate, and ar-ti-cu-late.”

“Erin, m’dear,” I replied, “I fear you’re slurring your hearing.”

Erin wisely ignored me.

“I could see why you’d talk fast if you had a lot to say, but you’d be better off if you talked much more deliberately,” Erin explained. “That strategy might give your brain a chance to catch up with your tongue.”

“Thanks, Erin,” I said. “I suppose that’s good advice.”

I didn’t add that I had no intention of taking her good advice. After all, Edward Dahlberg was right when he observed, “There is hardly a man on earth who will take advice unless he is certain that it is positively bad.”

19 April 2002
JFA Lives!
Eddie was unambiguously drunk when he showed up at the lab this evening.

“You would appear to be a tad tipsy,” I said. “What’s the occasion?”

“Why did Reagan send the marines to Beirut?” Eddie asked.

“What does that have to do with inebriation?” I replied.

“He was trying to impress Jodie Foster!” Eddie roared.

I liked the Hinckley joke; I rarely hear any Hinckley jokes these days.

“And what does that have to do with inebriation?” I repeated after an involuntary laugh.

“I’m going to see Jodie Foster’s new movie tonight!” Eddie announced with a ridiculous grin.

“And that’s the reason you’re almost legless?” I inquired.

“Of course it is,” Eddie confirmed. “I love Jodie Foster, and since I probably won’t remember half of the movie I’m about to see, I’ll get to see it for the first time again later.”

I wasn’t sure about Eddie’s drinking and viewing strategy, but we both agreed that Jodie Foster’s Army was a very fine musical ensemble.

20 April 2002
The Same Group of Random People
Elizabeth said we should drop by her neighbor Scott’s party tonight, and I agreed. I had no idea who Scott was, and that made the prospect all the more appealing. Since I was unlikely to know anyone there, I looked forward to the opportunities provided by anonymity. In practice, that usually means being able to graze and browse the bar without being interrupted by unsolicited conversations.

When we walked into the apartment, the kitchen was empty, as were all the bottles therein. Self-explanatory, really. We then walked down the hall and surveyed the living room. I didn’t know what to make of the couple dozen people milling around, so I looked at Elizabeth for a cue.

“It’s the same group of random people,” she declared.

“How can the same group of people be random?” I asked.

“I use random in a different way,” Elizabeth explained.

I had no idea what she meant, but I did know enough not to debate anyone who’s appended a Philosophiæ Doctor to her surname.

We left in search of a different group of random people.

21 April 2002
The Most Fascinating Kind of Art
Most work is pointless and futile, especially mine. That’s why I’ve considered hiring unskilled people to do useless tasks. If I ever had the money, I might pay one person to move a huge pile of dirt from one place to another, using only a large spoon. And, when that task was completed, I’d pay the same person to use the same spoon to move the same pile of dirt back to the original location. Or, I might commission someone to use color pencils to fill in an entire coloring book, then erase every trace of the work.

And so on.

I thought of my stupid idea today when I learned that a large corporation had already implemented my lunacy. It turns out that the double-dealing, double-crossing, and guileful bureaucrats at the Enron Corporation set up a huge commodities trading center in the firm’s Texas headquarters. Visitors could see Enron employees stationed at huge computer monitors and teleconferencing stations heatedly haggling and bargaining, just like in the movies. And, in Houston as in Hollywood, the whole scene was nothing but a façade. The Enron employees were only acting; their equipment wasn’t connected to the world outside.

I think Andy Warhol might have liked the greedy scumbags running Enron. I base this worthless speculation on one of Warhol’s most popular quotes, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.”

22 April 2002
Dance is a Challenging Medium
Jessica told her boyfriend Merle how much I enjoyed (last year’s awards ceremony (bloody elbow notwithstanding), and so it was that Merle invited me to tonight’s festivities. I accepted the invitation with fond memories of the good, free wine (bloody elbow notwithstanding), but Merle had another agenda.

A few minutes into the presentation, Merle jabbed me in the ribs, pulled out a pair of huge binoculars from his shoulder bag, and chortled, “Get a load of this!”

“This” was a performance by two dancers from the San Francisco ballet, Joanna Berman and some guy. I couldn’t see much without binoculars, since we were in the highest balcony of the opera house looking down on the dancers several hundred meters below. I didn’t mind watching the abstracted dance, given my usual problems with dance.

After the performance, I asked Merle how he enjoyed it.

“Couldn’t see nothing,” grumbled Merle.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Those look like pretty powerful binoculars.”

“We’re too high,” explained Merle. “I like to check out the dancer’s frilly underwear when she kicks up her leg. Looking down, I couldn’t see nothing. These seats are total crap.”

Frilly underwear?! Oh dear; I fear Merle was thinking of French women doing historical reënactments of the can-can, even though I doubt he’s ever been to France. I decided not to ask.

“Yep,” I agreed, “Dance is a challenging medium, no matter how you look at it.”

23 April 2002
Letting Down, Very Badly
Every now and then, I suffer from delusions of adequacy. Specifically, I imagine that I’m a decent writer. And sometimes, usually after a few pints of Rainier Ale, I even fantasize that I’m a good writer.

I never suffer from these hallucinations for long before reality rears its ugly head. Today, for example, I read some purported excerpts from the Queen Mother’s remembrance board on the Internet.

“I thought she would never die; she has let us all down very badly.”
—D. Holmes, Somerset

“She was a trooper and she never gave up. I remember one time she was visiting a school and I asked her if she would like to make a visit to the cloakroom before she left. ‘No,’ she replied, ‘I didn’t give in to the Nazis and I won’t give in to the bladder.’ That’s how she was, a fighter, who refused to be beaten by anything. She pissed herself later though; it was sickening.”
—B. Forrester, North Yorkshire

“Her death should act as a warning to others who think it is cool to experiment with drugs.”
—E. Franks, Cheshire

“It is such a loss; God has shat on our heads.”
—K. O’Neil, Inverness

“No matter how she felt, no matter the situation, she always wore a smile. Just like a retard.”
—G. Hollins, East Sussex

“I remember she came to visit us in the East End one time. She was so kind, so generous, and so sweet. She whispered softly in my ear, ‘you know it’s not true,’ she said, ‘you don’t smell of shit.’ She was a wondrous person.”
—E. Collier, London

Although I don’t usually recognize a hierarchy of aesthetics, I believe it’s fair to say that D. Holmes, B. Forrester, E. Franks, K. O’Neil, G. Hollins, and E. Collier are more interesting and amusing writers than I’ll ever be.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart