12.27.11: Who's That Guy

At this point in the day, I should do a squat, just so I can say I did something.

In no particular order of importance:

I had my coat and sunglasses and car keys and was all set to head off to the Mall to return things, until I realized: okay, I’m not sane anymore. Why would I want to stand in a long line today when I could stand in a short line tomorrow? What madness is this? Millions did this today, no doubt in search of Deals, but perhaps for something more: extending Christmas another day, somehow. The letdown can be tremendous, even for a grown-up, a demographic to which I supposedly belong. A happy thing, long coming, is over, and the house is filled with all the symbols and signifiers of the thing that hasn’t happened yet. So we have a week of decompression and disengagement, until Bacchus staggers on stage on New Year’s Eve and the empty din drives out the peace and the calm and the sweet contentment.

But man, I had to get out of the house. Went to the grocery store, where all the holiday items were on sale. Move ‘em out. The Muzak had dumped carols for a 70s playlist, and I can’t tell you how much I really, really didn’t care that the biggest kick Elton John ever got was a thing called the Crocodile Rock. So he never had him a better time, and he doubts he ever will? Well, that’s pathetic. Peak of my life was dancing in high school! Alll downhill from there.

Could have enjoyed almost anything at that point. Jingle Bell Rock, even. Except “We Need a Little Christmas,” perhaps. Never liked that one. Things suck! We need seasonal cliches! Okay, no.

So that was the day: accomplished nothing. No attention span; flitted around from thing to thing, bored by everything a moment after I alit.

Daughter, with glowing pride, showed me her organizational system for the pictures and movies she will take with her iPod touch. She broke them down by Family and Friends, with subfolders for each member, and subfolders for movies and pictures, named by subject and date.

You can imagine my pride. It's not like passing on a love of wordworking or singing opera, but given the spattered mess of her computer desktops heretofore, with 100 files named iiwenfow.jpg or something equally intuitive, it's remarkable.



This fellow. Who was he?


Saw this fellow on a picture in the gangway of the Eurodam. The picture had that before-the-war aspect, a picture of life in the great, civilized days of maritime travel. (Or so the cliche has it. The eras when people seemed to dress more sharply in public are mistaken as “civilized,” as if everyone had great manners and fine opinions, and didn’t sprawl boneless in a chair after six gins and bitch about how the Jews brought it all on their own heads.) One of the things about the first few days on a ship: you get lost, and until you orient yourself properly - come down the stairs? Right at the picture of Rembrandt. Coming out of the elevator? Left, then left again - you end up walking down some strange corridors, cursing yourself for a lubber.

I saw him again:


And a few days later, taking a short cut through another deck:



He looks a bit like my father, in Dutch manifestation. So: taken from a photo album, and given to the line? Pictures from official records? One picture I would never have noticed, but to see him all over the ship just made me wonder. Can't imagine I'll ever know.


Perhaps many of the candid photos around the ship came from his scrapbook, and these were rare shots of the man behind the camera. Dieter! Let me take one of you, I don't have any. Or he never took any, picturesand the person who took these shots is even more of a mystery than he is. Yet both have attained a form of life-after-death, if only as illustrations in a great vessel wandering around the world with a constantly replenished stock of revelers. It makes you consider everyone else on the ship - their destinations, professions, memories, childhoods. Suddenly even that small sample of humanity seems too complex and too detailed to imagine. This is why we like movies and novels: they serve up the lives of strangers in manageable portions.

Anyway, Hans, or Dieter, or whatever your name was: hope you had a pleasant journey.

The opposite of nameless obscurity: here’s a little test of your 20th Century pop-culture savvy. It’s from a 1945 radio show, one of those odd remakes of a movie that often had the same stars. They’d boil the entire plot down to half an hour, cut out the fat, and spoil it for anyone who hadn’t seen it. My ears caught something in the voice of the attorney. It’s remarkable how the smallest inflection or tone can tell you who’s talking. For some of you, this will be immediate; for others, it may remind you of something but you’re not quite sure who . . . or what.


And that concludes this parade of banalties; back tomorrow with another heapin' helpin' of the Interstial Week of Waiting. They shouldn't drop the ball in Times Square; they should drop The Other Shoe.


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