2002 Notebook: Weak XVIII
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30 April 2002
No. 8,264 (cartoon)
We have to get out of here.

No; that’s what they’d expect.

1 May 2002
May Day Celebrations, Declined
I declined Nick’s invitation to join him at today’s May Day celebrations. Although I usually never let my hypocrisy become an obstacle to enjoying a good party, I have to admit that I’ve spent my entire life avoiding labor and fertility.

Perhaps a solo burrito later on. Or, perhaps not.

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2 May 2002
Lust, Love, Like
When I asked Mike Sarich whose cat was tattooed on his forearm, he replied, “mine.” He went on to explain that any regular feature of his art that he used for four years was awarded a permanent exhibit on his epidermal gallery.

I then asked his about the three upper-case Ls on his wrist: “British pounds?”

“No, they stand for the three stages of marriage: lust, love, and like,” he explained. “And maybe ‘landing the big one,’ too.”

Mike then mentioned, in passing, that his hands were shaking because of Parkinson’s disease. I told him that I’d hoped he was suffering from delirium tremens. Mike took a sip of water and told me that was out of the question.

I never met anyone with Parkinson’s disease before. I was upset, and thus forgot to ask him whether ‘landing the big one’ would merit a fourth L.

3 May 2002
Front Page Writer’s Block
Rachel called me from New York and asked me if I’d heard which famous author would be skewered on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” I answered.

“J. K. Rowling, that’s who,” continued Rachel. “She’s going to miss the July deadline for the next installment in her Harry Potter series. We’re gonna trash her, big time.”

Oh dear, Rachel seems to take living in New York and working at the Times much too seriously. Although I’m not above a bit of schadenfreude now and then, Rachel’s carrying the literary bloodlust theme much too far.

Poor J. K. Rowling, figuratively speaking. Although any single page of any Harry Potter book will probably generate more revenue than I’ll make in several lifetimes, the whole enterprise has cost the author a great deal. I feel sorry for the poor, wealthy woman. She misses a deadline, and it’s front-page news in the New York Times. On Sunday, even.

I’ve been depressingly unproductive for the last year and a half, and no one has noticed but me. I’ll get over it; I always have. I like the freedom of anonymity, the freedom to fail, the freedom to work without external scrutiny.

Poor J. K. Rowling. I think the late Joseph Heller put success and failure in perspective. “Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis, and suicide. With failure comes failure.”

4 May 2002
Grand National Wife Assurance Company
The universe is chock full of mysteries, wall-to-wall and floor-to ceiling mysteries. That’s why I live here.

Among the universe’s myriad mysteries, human courtship in San Francisco presents one of the most interesting conundrums. Specifically, there seem to be a lot people stymied in their search for a partner “because there’s no one out there.” This is demonstrably untrue, although Garrison Keillor may or may not have been correct when he said that as one gets older, available partners are like parking spaces: they’re either taken or handicapped.

The parking angle has a certain resonance in San Francisco, a lovely city with a dearth of parking spaces. Perhaps it’s always been that way, conceptually speaking. A friend just sent me the text of an old document suggesting that San Francisco mating problems go back to the earliest days of the city.

    Grand National Wife Assurance Company (1848)

    The object of this society is purely philanthropic being to relieve the frightful amount of matrimonial destitution now so alarmingly prevalent.

    Perhaps the united classes are not aware that there are at this moment many, many individuals, of one-and-twenty to thirty years, and upwards, now dragging on their existence in a state of cheerless celibacy; the female portion of them without a protector, the male without nobody to look after their things.

    The Wife Assurance Society will place within reach of almost every man, a partner of his joys and a soother of his sorrows; as well as a decided ornament to his establishment.

    For the accommodation of persons anxious for immediate felicity, a large number of hands will be continually ready for disposal on the following scale of fees:

    A good serviceable wife $10

    With accomplishments $15

    Pretty $23

    Intellectual $26

    Of superior beauty and fascinating manners $27

    Extra superfine in every respect, all that imagination can conceive $31

    Monied wives at one per cent, each on their capital. Ladies are respectfully invited to register their names gratis.

    P.S. The amiability of all wives guaranteed, if required, on payment of one shilling extra.

The authenticity and provenance of this document are dubious at best. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that the “Grand National Wife Assurance Company” is a contemporary hoax. (Dollars and shillings? Extra superfine?!)

I’m keeping my skepticism to myself, though. Since it’s true that misery really does love company, I’ve found that my lonely friends quite like the concept of the Grand National Wife Assurance Company.

5 May 2002
Drinko de Mayo!
Oh boy, it’s Cinco de Mayo, one of my favorite holidays. I’m delighted to be in San Francisco today; I plan on celebrating the occasion with a trek to the Mission for a burrito and beer.

I once read the history of Cinco de Mayo, which involved something about valiant, outnumbered Mexican troops defeating their cruel, Norwegian oppressors. Or something like that. All I can remember are the old woodcuts showing brave Mexican peasants in ponchos, sombreros, and sandals chasing heavily-armed, horn-helmeted Norwegians.

The details don’t really matter; there’s not much correlation between contemporary holidays and their historical antecedents. After all, almost no one spends much time during a Thanksgiving feast meditating on the abominable Europeans’ theft of North America from the Native Americans. Similarly, I won’t let my ignorance of Norwegian colonialism and military aggression get in the way of enjoying a gigantic burrito floating downstream in a torrent of cerveza.

Viva whatever!

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6 May 2002
The Michael-Rosen-is-Sixty Rumor
Michael Rosen allegedly turned sixty yesterday. I say “allegedly,” since I have a hard time believing he’s really sixty years old.

I fear the Michael-Rosen-is-sixty rumor is a lie spread by petty, small-minded people who are jealous of his success. Will these petty scoundrels stop at nothing?

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart