2003 Notebook: Weak XXIII
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5 June 2003
No. 4,220 (cartoon)
You’re acting like a cartoon character.

What did you expect?

6 June 2003
Refreshments with Sabine
Sabine and I drove from her home in Germany to an auberge in France. Sabine did all the driving, so by the time we arrived she was exhausted and ready for a drink. I was merely ready for a drink. I let Sabine place the order since she speaks French and I do not. Sabine also speaks English and German, and, in her exhaustion, managed to use all three languages in one sentence when she asked for drinks.

And that’s how we discovered what may or may not be a new discovery: red wine (Côtes-du-Rhône) and ice cream (vanilla). I found the concoction refreshing on a warm, humid afternoon, but I don’t think I’ll try it again.

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7 June 2003
Bad Painting Alert
Travel and heat both increase thirst; that’s why I decided to drop by a bar on a hot afternoon in Alsace for some wine. I ended up at a brasserie with a painter working in the courtyard. The man was technically adept at using garish colors to make inescapably awful paintings. His signature piece was a horrific, bright-orange painting of an Afghan woman, shamelessly plagiarized from a famous photograph in National Geographic magazine.

I sat in the most distant part of the courtyard, but I couldn’t avoid the huge, meretricious canvas even thought it was partially obscured by a stack of chairs. I left after only two glasses of wine.

8 June 2003
The Biggest Surprise About Being a Parent
When I see friends who’ve made their first baby or two since our last visit, I always ask the same question: “What surprises you most about being a parent?” The question allows me to acknowledge the wee critter’s existence yet spend the minimal amount of time talking about children.

I usually get some good answers, ranging from “I can’t believe that the little creature had a personality the minute it emerged from the womb,” to, “I wish we wouldn’t have done it.” (Of course, a parent would have used “he” or “she” in the preceding sentence instead of “it,” but then I’m not a parent.) The most common response is, “I’m no longer the center of the universe, and it’s wonderful.” Why anyone would choose to relinquish their position at the center of the universe is beyond me, but then again I’m not a parent.

Today, Thomas gave me the best answer to my query. After a thoughtful pause, he replied, “I suppose the biggest surprise about being a father is being a father.”

He was lying, but his is still my favorite answer.

9 June 2003
Approaching the Idea
I met a Belgian artist, Leopold Padchum, working in the hilly forests near Kœnigsbourg Castle. He looked like he was having a wonderful time, but then it’s pretty hard not to have big fun with a huge catapult.

Leopold was flinging all kinds of objects into the distant woods: furniture, sacks of garbage, books, small boulders, and even an old bicycle.

I tried discussing his work, but we didn’t get very far since I can’t speak Belgian and Leopold spoke very little English. We did, however, have an interesting, albeit brief, discussion about the nature of ideas.

“You must approach the idea as if a virgin,” Leopold declared.

“Me or the idea?” I asked.

“Of course both,” he replied.

And then he sent a horse’s leg whirling and sailing far down the hill. I didn’t hear it land.

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10 June 2003
Tricolor Alert
I saw an old, small lamp; the lampshade showed a cute, little girl in a wagon waving the French Tricolor. I’m not sure what it means when I find anything French in general and French children in particular cute, but I know it can’t be good. I fear I may be drinking adulterated absinthe.

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart