Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh, City Life

And now, a return to form with a late-night blog entry. Here goes:

What a weird week it has been! When my friend Jerry Atwood was in high school, his senior year they decided to get senior shirts made that said "What a long, strange trip it has been," you know, like the Grateful Dead thing. Anyway, he didn't like this idea, and wrote a letter to the school newspaper. Long story short, he was suspended for bring a stun gun to school because he was afraid that a bunch of jocks were going to beat him up. To hear him tell this story is a real treat.

Some moments just feel totally cosmic. Not like it's always a good thing, but that the balances of the universe have evened out, and you get what you have coming to you, good or bad. Let me explain:

The day after my birthday, I went to Indianapolis to meet my parents at an Italian restaurant downtown. My aunt Helen was there and so was Grandpa Dixon. My dad had just returned from Brazil, and he was going to be traveling with Helen and Grandpa to a family reunion in New Hampshire. Grandpa got to talking about how he had met Doris, my grandmother, and he said that when he first met her, he thought that he didn't stand a chance against all the other guys who were vying for her attention, but that for some reason he just decided to go for it, and the rest is history. The cosmic alliteration of Dwight and Doris Dixon was sufficient, and they found it in themselves to not pass this tradition of alliteration to all of their children, (although now that I think about it, it may have seemed like they were headed down that path at first, because their first child was named Deanna).

Grandpa is quite hard of hearing at his age, and speaks quite loudly. As he was telling his story (and his voice was carrying), I wondered if the people sitting in the neighboring booths were listening in on what he was saying as well. "Is it possible that they are finding this interesting at all?" Would I want to listen to the stories of someone else's grandpa? In my heart, I want to say yes, but I really can't be sure. What if that person's grandpa was Noam Chomsky? Is James Lipton a grandpa? These are things that I wonder. I really do not like James Lipton. I bet he is a creepy grandpa.

On the way home from this restaurant, I ran out of gas. I walked about .5 miles to buy a gas can and fill it up. My state of mind as I made that walk was one I will never forget. As I walked slowly and cars whizzed by so fast, I couldn't help but think that it was my own negligence that had landed me in this predicament. "E" means empty. Don't think you know how much further below "E" it's supposed to go. I had put off getting gas, and now it had come back to get me. I had really been "nipped in the butt."* <- more on this below! At the gas station, the woman at the counter said that they had been selling more gas cans than they ever had before. She said "It might be expensive, but that doesn't mean you don't still have to fill your car up." All throughout high school, the notion of ending up a gas station attendant was thrown around by teachers as a threat for those who didn't take school seriously. "Sure, you can drop out of high school, if you don't mind working at a gas station for the rest of your life." It worked. I studied, not for the desire for any sort of greatness, but from the fear of ending up working at a gas station. But this woman at the gas station, she knew what was up. Without flat-out saying it in so many works, she knew that the laws of thermodynamics that run an engine are as unchanging as the balance of the universe. Maybe she knew it from seeing so many other people screw up, or maybe she knew it because she had been there before.

You'd think by my 31st birthday I would know this, but I guess I'm still trying to figure it out. Nip it in the bud, they say. Make it right early on.

*Speaking of "nip it in the bud," here's some wonderfully recursive irony: At a meeting for work the other day, one of the supervisors kept saying "nip it on the butt" in contexts that suggested that she really meant "nip it in the bud." However, this malapropism was not nipped in the bud early enough, causing her to continue using it about three times throughout the meeting.

In her defense though, I will say that "nipping something on the butt" is perhaps a more culturally tangible phrase than its predecessor. If you were nipped in the butt by something, like a dog (dogs are the only things I have heard of that nip, but maybe that's just me) then you would probably not do it again. If a problem was quickly nipped on the butt, it is unlikely that it would happen again (although they disagree here).

What's great about the evolution of oral language is that it does whatever the hell it wants, there's no stopping it, even with prescriptive grammar. Words mean whatever people believe them to mean, and as long as that meaning is shared, the word embodies that form of reality. Whoa dude, I know, yeah.

Last Sunday, on the day of my b-day, I drew a comic, but by the time I got around to thinking of posting it, it seemed completely inappropriate, wrong. Maybe I'll sneak it in later.

In closing:



1 comment:

Shannon said...

That IS an awesome birthday present.