Colorless Green Ideas
Unintentionally Amusing In Person

Thursday, May 29, 2003  

The right idea, and another idea

While we were in Bellingham last weekend, we went to visit The Husband’s grandmother—the one who, for some reason, hasn’t died yet, although she’s been in a nursing home for nearly a decade—and I overheard the following:

(patter patter patter)

“I’m going to get hot chocolate!” (in a very-pleased-sounding wavery old-lady voice)

“Uh-huh.” (in a bored-sounding much-younger nursey voice)

(patter patter patter)

“I’m runnin’!” (in a very-pleased-sounding wavery old-lady voice)

“I can see that.” (in a bored-sounding much-younger nursey voice)

(patter patter patter)

(patter patter patter)

I turn to look, and this woman, who’s got to be in her eighties, comes scurrying past—she’s running, it’s true—sort of. She’s running with her feet, and using them to propel her wheelchair forward as what must seem to her like a breakneck pace, because she's leaning forward, cutting down wind resistance, grinning like a maniac, off to get her hot chocolate. I look over at The Husband, who has heard and seen this too, and we smile. If I have to live somewhere like this someday, I intend to run for my hot chocolate for as long as I can.

On the flip side (the hot chocolate lady and another old lady, sitting at a table):

“Do you want some cocoa?” (hot chocolate lady)

“No” (other lady)

“Some coffee?” (hot chocolate lady)

No” (other lady)

“Some water?” (hot chocolate lady)

NO” (other lady)

Nothing?” (hot chocolate lady, very incredulous)

“Nothing in this world.” (other lady)

“She doesn’t want anything!” (hot chocolate lady, still incredulous)

“Nothing in this world. Nothing in this world.” (other lady)

The other lady is the epitome of what I don’t want to become, but I have to watch myself, or I will slide down that road without noticing.

I guess I should start drinking more hot chocolate.

posted by Kim | 5:00 PM |

Wednesday, May 28, 2003  

Pretty much as expected…

So, last week, while I was at my work conference, I took a walk to get outside in the sunshine (hellooo summer!), and about three blocks away from the Convention Center, I walked past a guy that was part of my high-school social group. I said “Holy God, it’s Tom!” and he stopped, and talked to me for about a minute, and then went on his way.

This guy, who was a jerk and a problem drinker with anger-management issues, the kind of guy about which everyone says “he’s like that to everyone” as though that should excuse their massive and often vicious thoughtlessness, was one of the majorly cool guys in my social group, and once I dated him for a couple of weeks. He was in a truly truly awful band, and he screamed unintelligibly into the microphone about how tragic life was, and the rage that it inspired in him. His mother kicked him out of the house when he was a senior in high school, and he moved into a shitty apartment underneath some drug dealers, which became party central for our group of friends.

I lost track of him, along with almost everyone from that group, when I left home to go to college. I knew Tom was intelligent, but I also knew that he was unfocused and had serious authority issues, and I didn’t really expect him to go anywhere with his life. In fact, I didn’t really expect to ever see him again, unless I happened to go bar-hopping while visiting my parents.

But apparently, he lives in Portland, and has for a few years. He was walking to work when I saw him, and, judging by the fact that he was walking to work in the Convention Center area, which has hotels and restaurants and not much else, in jeans and a t-shirt, I would guess that he probably works as a dishwasher or maintenance person, and probably lives in a crappy apartment, and smokes too much, and drinks too much, and hangs out in seedy bars. He said it was odd he hadn’t seen me around, but since I live in another part of Portland, and pretty much go to movies and hang out with my husband when I’m not at work, I’m not surprised at all.

In fact, I’m not surprised that Tom appears, at least to the casual observer, to have turned out pretty much the way I would have guessed he would. I doubt he went to college, and I suspect that he does mostly the same stuff he did in high school—works a lame job, hangs around at home and in bars, and either gets tremendously drunk or moderately high during his evenings and weekends. I’m not saying that college and a career are the only way to go, but I also think that it’s a shame to see someone who has potential wasting it washing dishes and recreationally slaughtering brain cells.

Maybe I’m wrong—maybe he’s a writer or an artist, and he was walking to his studio. I hope so…

I find it a little depressing to run face to face into the idea that many of the bright, sensitive people that I used to know are simply being ground down into unhappy adults in dead-end lives, I guess…it’s one of those things that everyone always swore they’d never do.

posted by Kim | 3:59 PM |
All content copyrighted by the author.