Not that you care, but: I’m dealing with holiday deadlines, which means I have to produce twice the number of short rich nougaty bon-bon columns. I wrote three today, and have to write three tomorrow. It was also a Chuck E. Cheese day, but that’s not a bother; I love those trips now, especially since we spend less time together during the day. (I think this entire massive archiving project is a way to keep me from going mad in the big empty house, frankly.) I won two jackpots – the skeeball high score and the trap-the-flashing-light game. In retrospect, the point of Chuck E. Cheese’s is not to reward adults for their skill, but we were playing together; what was I to do? Not aim for the 100 point skeeball hole? Please.

She cashed in her tickets – we no longer save them, having realized they expire before you have enough points for the big prizes – and skipped off to the prize counter. Literally, skipped. She skips a lot; the other day I went to drop off something at school, and we went to her locker; she skipped down the hall, hair waving from side to side. I’ll skip too, if no one’s watching. Not that I care, but it embarrasses her sometimes. Justifiably so. There’s a regrettably narrow window of opportunity for skipping, and it closes all too soon for too long – you have to be over 70 to get away with skipping again. Then people are impressed. Young at heart! How spry! Eventually skipping is replaced by the cool roll, the slouch-in-place – or maybe not. Some people always seem to be skipping, if only to themselves.

They’re the dumb ones, right? Happy clueless idiots. Serious people frown and bear the weight of the world, Atlas-like, on their narrow shoulders, worrying about things on behalf of everyone else. Lately I’ve been in a good mood, all things considered, and when people at the office or the grocery store ask how I am, I answer “Grand!” with brio and a grin. The reactions are interesting. It’s been a while since I’ve been in such a mood of extroverted satisfaction, so I’ve noted the responses. Some people are rather startled: fine is okay, since that’s what we all have to say, but grand? Have you figured out a new way to claw free of his mortal morass in which we sink? Others grin and affirm the protestation of grandness with a nod or a word. (Occasionally I note the silent estimation, made in the back of the head: what a goofball.) I should note that I’m not always grand, but I feel slightly grander when I insist that I am. And I should note that chattering cheerful people who get on the elevator and caw about trivial crap should be cut down with machetes. But no one has one when the need arises.

Anyway. After Chuck E we sped home, as it was my privilege to do the weekly Hewitt bit. We did not talk about House / Senate matters, which is good, because A) that level of politics bores me intently at the moment, and B) most of the Congresspersons he’d had on his show for two days had spoken in the same calm bland institutional drone, like the tires of a bus on the Beltway. Then I got back to writing while Gnat decompressed. We did some spelling – big test tomorrow, including the word “aquarium.”

“Will you be disappointed if I don’t get it right?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Not a lot, but some. You can spell it correctly if you study it and practice it, and if  you get it wrong it’s probably because you didn’t work hard enough.” All said with a mild offhand tone, incidentally. I’m not standing over her like a Gerald Scarfe drawing of a Pink Floyd headmaster.   (Note: it’s instructive to learn that Reagan was not the first president depicted as a nuke-happy idiot by European cartoonists.)  I mean, it’s true; I will be disappointed, but there are a thousand gradations of disappointment. It begins as a binary emotion, of course. Then you learn to add rationales and compensations, the tidy little lies you tell yourself.  To keep yourself skipping, I guess.

Did not mean to get into a long disquisition on the matter; only intended to note that while she was at the prize counter, I read an article on Problems Facing Turkey Today in the Weekly Standard. It was slightly depressing. But then she came back with a necklace and a ring, purchased with her Chuck E. Cheese points; she posed like a glamorous model, and everything was grand. There was more to the day than that, of course – but not really. That was the day, right there.

Anyway – I began this noting I had NO TIME FOR THIS, and now I really have to get back to work. New Diner: here. Have a fine weekend; thanks for the visits, and I’ll see you Monday.





c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.