30 October 2003

"I'm not sure... about automobiles....
With all their speed forward they may be a
step backward in civilization - that is, in
spiritual civilization.  It may be that they
will not add to the beauty of the world, nor
to the life of men's souls.  I am not sure. 
But automobiles have come, and they bring a
greater change in our life than most of us
suspect.  They are here, and almost all
outward things are going to be different
because of what they bring.  They are going
to alter war, and they are going to alter peace."
   - Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons

I have been driving the road that rings our great metropolis daily for more years than I care to think about. Actually, it's not just a road -- it's a super-highway, with sometimes three, sometimes four, lanes of high-speed traffic, into which and out of which merge motorcycles, cars, buses, and tractor-trailer trucks carrying all sorts of materials, some hazardous, some not. Over the years, I have played the daily game of dodgems known to all as "the commute."

I have seen fellow commuters behind the wheels of their vehicles applying makeup (what is it, guys? Bronzers, moisturizers, lip balm, what?), combing their hair, dressing, undressing, reading (maps, newspapers, GPS devices, business reports, books), using cell phones (talking, dialing, menuing -- don't get me started on this), eating, smoking, drinking, singing, and otherwise entertaining themselves.

These people do anything to keep their minds off the only task that matters, which is this: driving in a safe, responsible, attentive manner on the crowded freeway. They're a blight, and they endanger lives.
Yours, mine, and their own.

Excuse me. I need to increase the payout for my accidental death insurance.


20 October 2003

It isn't so astonishing, the number of things that I can
remember, as the number of things I can remember that 
aren't so.
   - Mark Twain, a Biography

Try as I might, I can't keep facts straight from place to place, year to year, person to person. Not that I'm a natural-born liar, although as a writer, I do have family members, friends, and even enemies who are willing to attest to exactly that, it's just that there are too damned many things going on at any one time, for me to be able to hold it in memory, and retrieve it upon command (usually my beloved's).

By the time I am focused well enough to store one thing properly, sixteen others (or more) have come sailing under the bridge, and are long gone downstream before I can even make the most cursory glance in their direction. What results is a jumble -- a mismatch of this event with that person or place, resulting in some outcome that I firmly fix in my memory as 100% accurate.

The outcomes of such mismatches can be alternately hilarious, or hair-raising. Family wars erupt when I recall my parents' instructions to me for living ("No, no, RB, nobody said 'leave home.' We said, 'You need to get your own life,' and you ran off like your tail was on fire." My friends cringe as I re-tell their own stories to them, blithely attributing the worst and most intimate details to "somebody I know." I hardly ever remember them as the sources. I am certain this is why there are so many people reluctant to confide in me -- who knows what peculiar spin will be imparted, or in whose direction the story will be aimed?

And don't even get me started on passwords. It took me five tries before I finally gave up, and asked the blogging company to resend me not only my password, but also my username. I can't seem to carry more than three of each in my personal storage device (read, my brain) at any give point in time. I also can't guarantee that the most recent one in will be one of the three I remember.

If this is what "senior moments" are all about, let the seniors keep them. I've got enough to worry about, without forgetting everything I ever knew (or thought I knew).

Excuse me. What was I just talking about?