December 28, 2009


The week between Christmas and New Year feels like a hiatus. Business as usual is touched with an air of suspension.

I went to the local beach with a couple of neighbors, to the bistro for a beer. A musical duo was doing covers of Earth Wind & Fire, Jimmy Buffet, The Drifters, Sunday-afternoon-at-the-beach fare. It was crowded and content, post festive, filled with buff young dads, going just a tad soft... in other words in their prime. Fit young mothers, the most beautiful women in the world. Gangly children, abstract and tanned. "Children are Egyptian," artist Andrew Wyeth once said of their austerity, not at all like Renoir's sugary confections. A couple of boomers were dancing.

Ruth told a story about persuading her son to be a medic in Vietnam to keep him safe from mortal combat. In his first month there, his company was ambushed and a Vietcong insurgent broke Alec's rifle over his femur, breaking that too, bit him on his shoulder, and made off with all the penicillin and morphine. He returned home, albeit in two pieces, but alive. Safety, in war, is relative. Her grandson was in Afghanistan for Christmas. We lamented the intransigence of war in human history, and the principal of scarcity that motivates it. I remembered watching a bunch of gulls on the shore. The big alpha male seemed relegated to spend every moment of its privileged existence, between preening, defending its ascendancy, fending off the feints of lesser gulls, who took turns making incursions at his territory, at their leisure, between socializing with one another. What’s so great about being a superpower? I wondered.

The conversation lightened and became general. I watched an alpha dad waiting in line for drinks and a tray of assorted fries for his brood. He was wearing fabulous alpha dad sunglasses, framed in sporty basketball jersey yellow. But he was waiting in line like everybody else. The only feint in his direction came from the counter girl, who leaned forward to take his order, showing her fabulous cleavage. He returned, laden with batter-fried bounty and frosty drinks, to a table of smiling faces and excited kids. "Now December found the love..." sang Not Earth Wind & Fire "...that we shared in September. Only blue talk and love, remember the true love we share today..."