Post # 453 ASPIRATIONS (Ways and Means)

It would be exceedingly useful, if some electronically gifted, denizen of Silicon Valley, were to develop a GPS, which could (albeit by satellite) direct the best route to the achievement of one’s aspirational outcomes. Man’s recorded history and classic literature, speak to a dismal record of eternally vain attempts, and of subsequent failures, in the pursuit of mankind’s ultimately, meaningful, goals.

At the earliest stages of human life, innate, primitive desires, relating to man’s fundamental need for survival, would appear to have been automatically installed, by instinctive nature. These rudimentary desires gradually morph, from such initial, existential wants, to creative imaginings, which themselves, in time, undergo alteration, during the long, developmental process of childhood. As life goes on, childish fantasies and dreams, become translated and edited to express, progressively, more realistic and attainable, possibilities. With the progress of maturity, many early fantasied designs, become more specific, and begin to emulate aspirations, shared by other members of his societal group; albeit, refined by his personal, empirical experience.

Recognizably, the greatest number of man’s personal goals and aspirations are mutually shared in common, with other fellow societal members. Included are, good health, financial security, friendship and love, marital happiness, professional success and personal self-fulfillment. It is inarguable, that such outcomes will, necessarily, vary in degree of satisfactory attainment, due to nuances in persona, and the occurrence of determinative events, outside of one’s control.

Mandatory ingredients for normal life in any society are, one’s confident perception, of his acceptance, and the earned respect of others. Fortunately, all that is necessary to arrive at this relatively, easily attained outcome, is a demonstrated, responsible and consistent compliance, with societal expectations.

Another category of attainment, but, one universally requiring, adequate desire and dedication, includes, losing weight, learning a foreign language, reading all of Homer or Whitman, running the Marathon, learning to swim, ice skate, ski, dance or riding a bicycle. Successful outcomes, in such matters, usually require normative skills, and an appropriate level of motivation. Inner-directed type personalities, may be able to accomplish these goals and skills on their own; others may need coaching or tutorial assistance. As to these subjects, the requisites, as applicable, are physical skills, such as balance and strength or, academic capability; however, by far, the overriding consideration is motivation.

In fairness, it should be noted that, in certain, identified areas, such as business ventures, successful outcomes, may in great part, depend upon external factors, beyond one’s control. Changes in supply, stylistic variations, supply or absence of raw materials, labor issues, weather phenomena, economic downturns, changes in the law, scientific advances, monetary policy, politics and/or other variables, may operate to retard, or advance, success. A thorough knowledge of the relevant field, flexibility, and a fixed determination, seem to be the only practical and possible, recommendations, for hoped for success. In commercial agricultural pursuits, sufficient knowledge is also mandatorily required, but, in similar fashion, there are a great many uncontrollable variables, including weather, pests, government regulation and changes in consumer demand.

Mankind’s profoundly fundamental and existential challenges, world peace and brotherhood, absence of want, as updated, to include: victory over cancer and other diseases, reduction in air-borne carbon, increased longevity, are, classic goals, to which mankind, universally and eternally, has aspired. These, outcomes, however, will always remain, sad to say, merely, esoteric destinations, as long as, so many humans continue to downplay learning and wisdom, in favor of short-lived and shallow entertainment, and for as long as ignorant populism continues, as a virulent pathogen, to sicken the potential advancement of humanity, towards its evolutionary- intended destination, attained wisdom and world peace.

-p.

Post # 452    SONG OF THE BLOGPOST

The successful advent of the Fourth Anniversary of plinyblog.com, seems to incline us to introspective and autobiographical musing. We gratefully see this enjoyable, and responsible, activity as a special franchise, for the expression of our thoughts, ideas and perceptions on the empirical and emotional world of our personal experience. We have diligently listened, to the extent of our abilities, to life’s lessons, for the greater part of a century, and to the extent of such empirical education,  have attempted to convey, to the best of our abilities, the lessons learned, hopefully, in an appropriately, modest manner.

Over the slightly less than five hundred posts (including, essays, editorials and poetry), we are grateful to have had the opportunity to express ourselves, our thoughts and observations on a plethora of subjects. This, we acknowledge is a special franchise, for which we are duly appreciative, most especially to our regular followers and readers. We, at plinyblog.com, have accepted the challenge imposed by the obligation to be responsible, and interesting, as well as clear and (hopefully), readable. The challenge and opportunity, has been, most rewarding and no less than, stimulatingly, joyous.

Our loyal readers are aware that the wide variety of subjects undertaken, societal, anthropological, literary, historic, political, ethical and moral, psychological, ethnic and, indeed, the mundane, will reveal, nevertheless, a common theme, the advancement of mankind, and the enhancement of life, through the individual pursuit of learning. The latter provides depth and self- fulfillment to the individual, and ultimately, value to our Nation.

We are thankful to our readers for providing the opportunity for this most rewarding experience, and look forward to attempting to provide further interest and diversion, in the coming year.

Happy New Year, to all.

-p.

Post # 451  …..COUNTRYMEN, LEND ME YOUR TREE* (redux)

By an unusual, unanimous vote, the Officers and the entire Board of Directors, of plinyblog.com, after a period of controlled, but somewhat contentious, debate, has, now resolved, to put the erstwhile, popularly used phrase, “cultural borrowing,” in moth balls, to be immediately replaced and permanently superseded, by the more accurate, and empirically descriptive term, “cultural replication.” The prime movants of this change, correctly asserted, that “loans,” as we know them, have to be repaid, usually with interest. Moreover, should A “loan,” his lawnmower to B, for the period of time that the equipment is in B’s possession and use, A is deprived of the lawnmower. These observations, it is submitted, clearly, illustrate the patent inapplicability, to this specific topic, of the all- too commonly used noun, “loan.”

Accordingly, notwithstanding the word’s regular use, by recognized experts in such fields as, cultural anthropology, sociologists, and, as well, historians of note, we have resolved, respectfully, not to refer to the inter-cultural exchange, emulation or transmission of cultural practices or folkways, as “loans.”

The singular evergreen tree, eternally, revered by the ancient peoples, which remained, continuously, thriving and verdant, despite the fact, that in certain periods, of the year, (Winter) the Earth seemed to suffer in the throes of death. Religious-cultural observances, for example, the Roman “Feast of Saturnalia,” (4th Century), had rituals, principally involving the evergreen, performed in honor of the ailing Sun God. This practice, consistently, proved to be the curative, annually, restoring the Divinity and the Earth, to active health (as evidenced by the melting and running of brooks and streams, bunny rabbits and new greenery.) The history of Saturnalia, itself, has been traced to the very early days of man, to mark the end of the agricultural season. The, earlier, Feast of Dies Natali’s Solis, (3rd Century), celebrating the rebirth of the Sun God, is understood to have been celebrated with branches of this magically, green tree.

The word, “Yuletide”, or “Yule”, was a festival, historically observed by the Germanic peoples (ex., Norse and Gothic), eleven days after the date the Winter Solstice. The Norse Goddess,” Farigga,” was caused, by such ritual, to give birth, unfailingly, to a new, young, sun, each and very Springtime.

It may be observed that, the common, celebrations of the Winter Solstice, reiterated universally, by successive ages of man, were intended to promote the successfully, anticipated lightness and rebirth of the planet. The modern aphorism is, “If it seems to be working, keep doing it.” The Ancients, it seems, noted, the prior, consistent, successes of the observances, and emulated or replicated (not “borrowed”) them for use, with amendments, fitted to their own cultural context.

In the contemporaneous context, we do, miraculously see, a rebirth and resurrection of the planet in Springtime, verdant plants, hopping bunny rabbits, and awakened deciduous trees. Our Holidays of Christmas (death) and Easter (rebirth) are, indeed, identical to the celebrations of the ancients, and with the same perceived results. It does, logically, and rationally, seem to be a republication of the same mind- set and rituals. There is a strong rational temptation to see, in these beliefs and observances, replication as an emulation of the ancient rites, tailored to a contemporary mold. This, after all, may be true; but we have another (perhaps, original) idea.

We have learned from the study of history, and the reading of great literature, that the basic existential problems and issues, are not only universal, but timeless. This blogspace has eternally recommended the reading of great literature, for many good reasons. Perhaps the best reason is the realization, by the discerning reader, that the essential, lifetime issues, are eternally identical, albeit in different settings and contexts. Such reading, as we have constantly maintained, accordingly, furnishes the thoughtful reader, with a mature and objective, understanding and perspective, relative to his own life.

The analogous holiday celebrations referred to, are lucid examples of the universality of man, in every age, demonstrated, among other ways, by his specific, and revelatory, holidays. The price homo sapiens pays, for the generous gift, by evolution, of an advanced brain, is the (repressed) knowledge (fear) of his mortality. The franchise of life, is, inarguably treasured and celebrated; the eventual, certain, occurrence of death is of course, feared, but for practical reasons, rationalized and kept under the surface.

Holiday beliefs or fantasies, concerning, the possibility of rebirth, or resurrection, after death, would seem to be an understandable reaction, and attempt at the amelioration, of the recognized (and feared) inevitability of life’s termination. Our personal conjecture, is that such identically, motivated and analogous, holiday celebrations, have always served the same, universal, psychological, purpose. They may not merely, be interesting examples of cultural replication, but rather, the demonstration of mankind’s universal, contemporaneous fears and, his private, existential fantasies. [as was also, of course true, in ancient times].

-p.

* Wm. Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”: Marc Anthony,: “ Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears…”

Post # 450  IN THE REALM OF THE EGG CREAM

It seems, ages ago, [perhaps for the legitimate reason that, it was, ages ago], that any young boy, residing within the confines of the City of New York, with any acceptable, degree of pride and self- respect, would demonstrate those traits to critical company, by predictably, drinking “egg creams,” only, at an appropriate soda counter. For the benefit of the insufficiently worldly, of our readers, let us proceed to elucidate.

European recorded History, by analogous reference, reveals countless instances of hostility, and outright warfare, between claimants to the throne termed, “pretenders;” one claiming legitimacy, and the other, in its own, forensic, interest, contesting that claim. Ultimately, the true and authentic, Monarch, was said to be, religiously and legally, the choice of the divinity [“Devine Right of Kings”].

In the the heraldic, first half of the 20th Century, it was, demonstrably clear, that only the “wet,” soda fountain establishment, employing a “soda jerk,” who had mastered the artisanal and aesthetically valid, iteration, of the “egg cream” had the irrefutably clear right, to assert that it was the legitimately crowned Realm. It had, but weak opposition, from contenders, existing in the “dry” confectionary establishments.  The authentically, recognized, “wet,” confectionary, establishments, uniformly contained solid, granite-like counters, at which sat, the gourmet imbibers of that truly royal, Olympian nectar, the egg cream. The establishments of sodas and candy, signified as “dry” candy stores, could never field an adequate army of supporters, to initiate any serious challenge, to the latter’s recognized and religiously, authentic, rule. This was, divinely and eternally, ever the case, as to any and all, dry candy stores, albeit, with soda jerks who had, somehow, managed to acquire the exotic mysteries of the ancient, artisanal, “egg cream.”

For those random readers, who, for some [astounding] reason, happen not to be sufficiently schooled, in the conceptual existence of the egg cream, nor, in the vital and elegant process of its assembly, it may be useful to relate, the fundamental facts regarding both vital subjects. We do so, with the benign hope, and in the optimistic expectation, that the vast constellation of its former aficionados, will elect, in a disciplined and charitable manner, to temper their reactions of superiority and haughty impatience.

The legitimate and authentic egg cream (at times, “crème”) is, significantly, and primarily, a product of its artisanal and assiduously correct assembly process, as compared with its actual content. The contents are simply, chocolate syrup (traditionally, Fox’s “U-Bet”, brand), a few ounces of whole milk, and, fountain supplied, carbonated water. To comply with strictly accepted, orthodoxy, the glass should be the standard eight ounce, Coca Cola type; the visible words “Coca Cola”, which may be imprinted on the glass, itself, are not, merely, immaterial, but, in many cases, to the truly experienced cognoscenti, an assurance of the authentic, classic provenance, and quality, of the beverage.

The proper amount (see above) of chocolate syrup, is, customarily, introduced into the drinking glass, by means of a small spigot, located at the top of the syrup jar, or, in instances of large, economy-size containers, on its side. Two quick and short, hand pumps, is the tried and true technique, for balance, in the avoidance of the inclusion of too little, or too much, of this sweet ingredient. The next step is the addition of two or so, ounces of milk. These two, initial steps, are, concededly, within the natural skill, and experience, of any dispenser of so soda. But, from this crucial point on, the actual, defining, or “make or break,” procedure is commenced. It requires, true and assiduous attention, aesthetic skill, and, above all, sufficient experience. Before this final, absolutely, crucial and defining step, one is obliged to disclose, yet, some more revealing, cultural addenda, to the [pardon the expression] mix.

The anonymous esoterica of the “egg cream” is such that, despite its name, no eggs or cream, whatsoever, are included in its artisanal preparation. The beverage bears the distinctive name, solely justified, by its unique creamy-foamy properties. It is the very technique of preparation, which, only if, strictly and orthodoxly replicated, will result in the light, chocolatey, foamy consistency, entitling it to be, a legitimate and divine pretender, to that exotic, appellation.

After the specified chocolate syrup and milk have been dutifully, installed in the glass, the next and, ultimately defining step is, the addition of strong, short, streams of carbonated water, from the soda fountain. But we, must, of necessity, stop here for another caveat; this one, no less than, the ne plus ultra of the legitimate existence of the egg cream.

Every experienced young consumer and aficionado of the drink, would examine the area, proximate to the dispenser of soda, (the “soda jerk”) to observe whether, or not, he kept a long handled, small, metal spoon, at the ready. If none were apparent, the young, but savvy customer, would have, predictably, refrained from placing an order for the drink. This is because the technique of adding the strong bursts of carbonated water, to complete and to give birth to the drink, must be mandatorily, accomplished, by directing the broadcasted carbonated water, on to the back of the, hand held, classically required, long handled, small spoon; the direction of the flow of carbonated water from the concave side of the spoon was, routinely derogated. No other process will produce the legitimately, authentic, egg cream, as opposed to a milky, chocolatey and illegitimate, pretender to the divine name.  The authentically made drink, resulted in a properly combined, active, and integrated carbonation with the milk and chocolate, producing the desired, creamy and highly valued drink.

The authentically constructed egg cream, may not have been, as in the case of a true and legitimate European monarch, the claimed manifestation of divine right, but, in the realm of the appreciative youngster, it was, incontrovertibly, “divine”.

-p.

Post # 449 (fiction # 4) THE LOST MEDALLION

“Zachary Star,” was the name, assigned to him, a long time ago, by the Supervising Social Worker; the first name, arbitrary, the last name, for the unusual, but pretty, star-like mark on his right hand.

Soon after stealthily and resolutely, stepping out through the rear exit of the “Vineland Residence for Boys,” Zachary noticed, at his feet in the new fallen snow, a shiny, silver colored, medallion, brightly lit, by that night’s full moon. The Medallion seemed to be of ceramic construction, and appeared to be in an odd shape, conceivably, resembling a kidney bean. It had an appended neck chain, and Zachary, reflexively, put it around his neck, and continued, quickly, and silently on his route.

Early on, he had been informed, that he was simply left, at the Residence Entrance, approximately fourteen years ago, by an unidentified person, presumably, his natural mother. Only recently, had he made a bold determination to leave, and, on this night, steeled himself, to actually, depart from the cold and loveless institution, in an idealized quest for high adventure, or at the very least, a more satisfactory life.

The sum total of his personal possessions, were, two shirts, one clean pair of jeans and three pairs of underwear. He had a second bag with food, consisting of a wrapped, whole loaf of sliced white bread, a half-  full jar of peanut butter and two apples, all of which he had stolen from the kitchen pantry.

He wandered, without any destination or resolved purpose, except, that of putting distance between himself and the cold, regimented life, endured at the Home. Although his fingers were cold, he, somehow derived some (perhaps, imagined) relief from fingering the found medallion.

He soon thereafter, located an ample recess, in the doorway of a closed barbershop, and found some needed rest and sleep. When he awoke, dawn was beginning to break. As he sleepily and hungrily, stood, he felt, at his feet, a young, soft, furry cat, rubbing against him, while profusely, purring. He shared some of his bread and peanut butter with the young cat (marveling at the cat’s acceptance of such food) petted the cat and continued on his way, resolutely, followed, by the little, furry animal.

Zachary, followed closely by his new animal companion, traveling in a direction, which he perceived, was taking him away from the Home, came upon a market square, in which produce of every kind was sold. He chanced to notice, in the increasing daylight, some farmers bringing their produce to the market for sale. He reflexly, fingered his medallion, when he observed, that it’s ceramic configuration, was virtually, identical to the kidney beans, displayed, by the farmers, for sale.

He soon came upon a small group of old men, nearby, trying to warm themselves around an active fire, burning, in an empty oil can and stopped at the fire, to warm himself, diffidently, reaching over the brim, to warm his hands. A rather ancient appearing, dark skinned man with braided hair, noticed the medallion around Zach’s neck, and inquired as to its manner of acquisition. Zachary, truthfully related, that he found it on the ground, shining in the moonlight. The man, resembling an elderly American Indian, advised him that it was a magical, good luck medallion, and that his manner of finding it, was especially indicative of imminent good fortune. Zachary, looked down and discovered that the little cat seemed to be purring in response to the statement and, possibly to indicate moral encouragement.

As the light of day began to gradually, brighten in intensity, Zachary found himself, transfixed by the unmistakable, delicious aroma of freshly baked bread and cakes, and was drawn, mouthwateringly, into a bakery, in which, many varieties of highly delectable, baked products, were displayed for sale. The observant and empathic baker, observing the lone youngster’s condition, gave him some free baked products to eat. After a satisfying and somewhat extensive conversation with the needy young man, the baker offered him, a try-out, of his, sorely needed, position of delivery boy, and upon Zachary’s acceptance of the offer, immediately gave him instructions and set him to work. Positive and very satisfactory feedback, from customers, was received by the baker, and, after a few days the baker offered him the job, plus a rent-free warm room, in the back of the shop, as a temporary residence.

The close proximity of the two occupants of the premises, soon led to the mutual realization of the comfort of a close, family-type relationship [the baker was still young and unmarried]. When the baker was not feeling well or tired, he would allow Zack to fill in for him at the sales counter, and received many complimentary comments on his courteous service. The baker furnished Zachery’s back room, in a style of pleasant and comfortable ambiance.

A harmonious period of time had passed by, when the baker, suddenly, rushed into Zachary’s room, where he was reading, with the cat in his lap, and, nervously, and breathlessly, asked him to take over at the counter to serve the customer. Zack, dutifully, rushed to the counter, assuming that the baker had suddenly felt ill. When he arrived, he noticed a young attractive woman, who stated that she had just returned home, after being away for a couple of weeks. She said that she had always patronized the bakery and would, as previously done, come by, from time to time to buy baked products.

After the woman left with her purchases, Zachery solicitously, inquired after the baker’s state of present health, and received the response of “fine.” On further discussion, the baker admitted that he knew the woman customer, for some time, and loved her, but was shocked, suddenly, to see her after a period of her absence. Apparently, he had failed in his resolve, and, at her expectation, to propose marriage to her; and so, she unhappily, went away. He thanked Zachary, and agreed that if, and when she returns, they would both serve her.

Two days later, the woman returned to purchase some goods, Zachary was at the counter, at the time. For some reason, the cat was, excitedly, rubbing herself, against his leg. Zach, seemed to feel a pull or drag at his medallion, as both he and the woman, for some reason, reddened, and stared at each other. Zachery’s stomach began to become upset, and he started to tremble for no accountable reason. He thought that this time, it was he that was ill, and was relieved to see the baker return to the sales counter. However, the baker was also nervously trembling, visibly, at the sight of the woman. He began speaking at an uncommon speed, included in which was a profuse apology, and a tearful explanation of events, and most significantly, a heartfelt, sincere proposal of marriage. The woman sobbingly, but, clearly, accepted the proposal and the two [ Zachary was overjoyed to observe] locked each other in an embrace and loving kiss.

The cat purred loudly, as she brushed against Zachary’s leg, the medallion felt unnaturally heavy, and most miraculous of all, was the, unmistakable shape of a star on the woman’s right hand.

The couple married, mother and child were reunited, and the small, furry cat, still resides with the happy family threesome. At the first snowfall, Zachery removed the Medallion and generously, and very gently, left it on the ground, atop some fallen snow in front of the nearby Children’s Hospital.

-p.

Post # 448 (fiction # 3) THE SEQUIN PURSE

It isn’t as though Lucinda (“Cindy,” to her friends and neighbors), had little to do. Since, miraculously, surviving the horrific, fiery automobile accident, she vainly attempted to divert herself from its, traumatic recollection, by volunteering as a childhood librarian, at the Main Street Library, by participation in Church charity sales, and working, as a part time, real estate salesperson for a local broker. She had always been an avid gardener, and now, by necessity, rededicated herself to the solicitous care and oversight, of the shrubs and flowering bushes, growing in front of her modest, shingled house.

There had been, a veritable stream of consoling visitors, since the funeral of Ken, her late fiancé, the unlucky driver, of the smashed car, bringing, with their warm condolences, flowers, home baked cakes, and pies. Lucinda was often, momentarily, diverted, during the pendency of their visits, and heartfelt wishes, but returned to a state of inconsolable tragedy and angry, self-pity, as soon as company departed. Following one such visit, she despondently, tossed into the trash can, a lovely, home-made rhubarb and strawberry pie (known to be her favorite) previously brought by Susan, her best friend and erstwhile intended, Maid of Honor. After some weeks, she finally was able, between staccato sobs, to put the intended, and, unused wedding gown, and the matching, sequin purse, away in a cardboard box, in her small upstairs attic.

Her longtime best friend, Susan, earnestly, tried in every conceivable way, she could think of, to console Cindy, bringing her along to movies, concerts and to the occasional cultural programs which presented themselves to the town. Cindy was appreciative, but sad to say, seemed to be chronically inconsolable.

Susan and her husband, Barry, were, eternally concerned about political matters, such as ethics in government, the overhaul of the unfair, U.S. Tax code, the subject of compassionate capitalism, and the amelioration of climate change. In reality, Barry practiced law in a local office, and was, for, both, business and idealistic reasons, relatively active in State and local politics. It was election time, and so, Barry suggested to Susan, that she bring Cindy to some of the town political meetings. He was supporting, in the upcoming federal election, for President, the candidacy of liberal, Democratic Nominee, named, Jeff Prince, a capable, intelligent, well educated, widower, with an Honors degree in Political Science, from Geogetown University.

Lucinda (“Cindy”), accompanied Susan and Barry to several political programs, at first, reluctantly, but later on, often, finding the heat of debate and contention somewhat, diverting and enjoyable. She, after a while, would make written notes of the arguments of the debating presenters and keep them for later consideration. Not wishing to misplace or lose these, increasingly interesting notes, she bravely, (and uncomfortably) recovered her sequin purse, from the attic, for their storage. Before long, the dressy purse, originally intended to be an accompaniment to her sequin wedding dress, was bulging with recorded argumentative points, asserted at the political meetings.

Cindy soon elected, to terminate her real estate sales activities, as well as her services as volunteer, part- time children’s librarian, in order to allow time for attendance, with Susan and Barry, at political meetings; finding the forensic debate, somewhat more effective in diverting her from the grim thoughts of her past loss. She enjoyed the challenging, analytical, activity, of making brief, written notes, of the contested and debated points, storing the notes, in her (sequin) purse, for later, quiet consideration and analysis.

She came, in time, to know the offered platform and philosophy of the locally, preferred candidate, Jeff Prince, and to candidly, prefer his position to the other, competing candidates. Reviewing, re-reading and consideration of his positions on the issues, appealed to her, personally as properly, correct and empathic. She would regularly, following an exhaustively, debated meeting, when arrived home, empty her dressy purse, of the transcribed notes, and save them for possible, future reference.

The political air was becoming, noticeably, electric with excitement, as the date for the Presidential election drew near. The Presidential Candidate, Jeff Prince, and his opponents, were furiously traveling around the Country, barnstorming and speaking in support of their respective election. Barry learned, through the political channels, that Jeff Prince was soon arriving to make a twenty- minute stop at their hometown. He excitedly and immediately, notified Susan and Cindy, of the exact place and time of his appearance, so that they could personally, meet the Presidential Candidate, Jeff Prince, and have the rare opportunity of speaking with him.

Barry, Susan and Cindy, were waiting at the exact point, where the Candidate was to make his intended appearance. Cindy, especially, took care to bring her (sequined) purse, a pen and some writing paper, to record his words and the general experience. It was, unfortunately, raining, heavily, when our trio was able to personally, meet, and greet the Candidate. The famous personality, subsequently to be elected President of the United States, was a handsome, young man, who, hurriedly spoke with our three supporters, but noticeably, and intensely, kept staring at Lucinda, through the rain.

After the candidate hurriedly left, having exchanged wet, rainy handshakes, with the three friends Cindy was heard to alarmingly, cry out, “Where is my purse?” “My sequined purse is nowhere to be found.” The next day, the future President-to-be, returned to the local political headquarters, and reported that, in the rain and confusion, someone, in his party had taken the purse, mistakenly, assuming that it was hers. The celebrated young man was told, by Barry, who the owner of the wet, sequined bag, was, and he offered to return it to her. The handsome, future President, smiled broadly, winked, and happily, and anticipatorily said, “I’ll take it to her, myself.”

Post # 447 (fiction #2) AMITY TOWNSHIP*

It is the darnest thing. Not one person, of the total of 4,309, residents of Amity Township, [ located, just, twenty- two miles south, of the thriving metropolis, of Montague City], has any recollection, whatsoever, of the origins of the everlasting, long-term, antagonism, and enmity, between the Carpenter family, [Joe, Madge, Aunt Frieda and little Judy] and the Morgans, [Fred, Thelma and young Rob]. While, not comparable in intensity or violence, to the historical, widely publicized, “Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s,” such demonstrated, multi-generational, distaste has been virtually palpable, and publically apparent.

At the “General Food & Hardware Store,” the latest conjectural consensus, was that there must have been an old romantic rivalry, between a forerunner of one of the men, and a distant relative of one of the women, at the Romeo Barbershop, the prevailing uninformed opinion, as to cause, was, probably business competition, while another unsupported theory, kicking around at the Capulet Bar and Grill, lent possible attribution to possibly, some earlier act of commercial chicanery, by one against the other. These were all general conjecture; all that was actually known, was that the Carpenters and the Morgan’s, residing in virtually, identical, white, shingled houses, directly facing each other, on either side of Elizabethan Road, have spent, no less than, three generations of valuable time, with teeth, tightly, clenched, glowering, at each other. It is probable, that the contemporaneous families, as well, are completely ignorant of any empirical cause, but are nonetheless, able and willing, to recognize, and perpetuate the fixed assumption, that each is thetraditional enemy of the other. At the Amity Township Church, and other venues of public assembly, members of the two families, predictably, sit far from each other, in order to avoid unwanted social interaction.

The celebrated Carpenter-Morgan enmity, was, universally  accepted, by the residents of Amity Township, as a normal part of the local color. But, singular casualties, of this irrational and eternal feud, were young, Judy Carpenter, and Robby Morgan, who, it seems, had been, immediately, and magically, attracted to each other, since their introduction in early kindergarten. Since that time, and throughout their teenage years, they had been virtually inseparable. As they grew older, being ever cognizant, of the classic feud between their respective families, by necessity, conspired to meet in secrecy, and to absolutely refrain from disclosing the existence of their relationship, to their parents. The need for secrecy, did pose certain inconveniences, but ironically,seemed to make the decade, of their childhood relationship, magical and profound. In time, they, inconveniently, fell into the state of mutual and profound love.

The two lovers were fortunately successful, in obtaining, admission to an identical, nearby, and academically respected, College, where they each excelled, in studies, while also finding time to, regularly, see each other. Eventually, mutual plans were excitedly, made for their marriage, upon graduation; but no strategy had yet been devised by the two lovers, for the necessary confrontation and management, of the anticipated reaction, of their belligerent parents, responsive to the news. After much lachrymose, soul-searching, discussion, the two resolved, plainly and simply, to advise their respective parents, of their deep love, and firm intention to marry, irrespective, of the parents’ existing long-term, negative relationship. Their plan was to, firmly, break the news to them, during the final college Spring break, preceding Graduation.

We omit any description of the dramatic details, of the initial, parental, responses, to the introduction of the unexpected, and personally, shocking news. We will, however, relate the fact that, after a course of hysterical debate and emotional outcry, the four parents acceded to the announced plans of their engaged children, motivated particularly, by the engaged couple’s stated alternative, elopement. The parents then, of necessity, set about, the task of devising the necessary plans, and practical logistics, for the wedding. In the course of those very many necessary interactive experiences, and the shared pursuit of a mutual goal, the old enmity, between the Carpenters and the Morgan’s, seemed to be overridden, and eroded, as a useless, irrational, and better forgotten, vestige of the past. The former enemies, continued to morph, from the disciplined, obligation to work together toward a common purpose, to actually, liking each other, and finding their shared, conversational interaction, desirable, and pleasant.

Following a memorably, beautiful wedding, the two erstwhile adversaries, the Carpenters and the Morgan’s, began to socialize; often, crossing the road to visit one another for coffee and conversation, as well as going, together, to after Church, Sunday Brunch.  When the end of year, holidays arrived, the combined families, including, of course, the visiting, newly married couple, would sit, happily together, at large, festive  celebratory dinners, with food, champagne and holiday toasts. Many of the stated toasts, were, interestingly enough, on the subject of the many rewards of human amity. It was, joyfully, announced, at the major holiday celebration, on the second year of their marriage, that Judy was pregnant. The joyful and congratulatory toasts offered, by family and Amityville friends, at this, particular year’s holiday occasion, were dedicated to the continued, blissful, as well as the new and happy, biological, joinder of the two families.

It was unexpectedly, revealed at some point, at the beginning of their fourth year of the marriage that, that Judy and Robby, were undergoing serious marital troubles. Whether it was caused, as some have conjectured, in part, by insomniac stress, caused by their colicky baby, Robby’s long term employment layoff, Judy’s eczema, or otherwise, no one was aware; not even, truthfully, the married couple, themselves. The atmosphere seemed to have, somehow, hopelessly changed, and they each, discovered the presence of the other, intolerable. Remonstrations by both sets of parents, sessions, joint and single, with therapists and marriage counselors, seemed to be non-availing. It eerily, seemed, as if, the harder the effort to reconcile the couple, the greater the negative animus. Negotiations are presently underway, between the respective attorneys and the estranged couple, regarding the financial details of the divorce, including custody of the baby. As declared by both attorneys, they have never previously witnessed, the extent of such mutual loathing, between a divorcing couple, overtly evidenced, by, tightly, clenched teeth and outright glowering. The official divorce proceedings are scheduled to take place in three months.

At one of their regular weekly, post-Church brunches, the two heart- broken and confused, pairs of parents, have attempted, in vain, to console each other. They find that the situation regarding their married children is, “simply impossible to understand.” Isn’t friendship and peace, they declare, clearly, better and more pleasurable than conflict and discord?

-p.

* With profuse apology to William Shakespeare.