Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wrong Era, Wrong Coffee

I’ve previously alluded to the fact that in many ways, I think I was born into wrong era. I would have done great in the late 1930’s and early 40’s, because then I would have had a legitimate shot at wooing Barbara Stanwyck, Paulette Goddard, or even Vera-Ellen. Being born in time for the sexual revolution and the hazy crazy lazy days of the Summer of Love might have been fun as well. (I have this personal “bucket list” of things I want to do once I’m totally done working, my family is financially secure, and I have the liberty to totally fry my brain. This list includes taking selected drugs to see what happens. I realize I’m going about this the opposite of most folks, but I had a rather undistinguished drug and alcohol profile during college, so I’ve got to make it up on the back side.)

By the time I had my “intimate interpersonal relationship” coming of age, it was the early days of the AIDS epidemic and nearly every avenue of fun was completely shut down. And even now, I don’t understand much popular music, and popular culture is so far distant from me that I get more from “hard news” magazines like The National Enquirer than I do from People Magazine. (It’s a stark realization to know that you’re already a dozen years past the entertainment community’s mean target demographic of 18-35 years of age.)

I’m also not good with technology. I don’t mind the cell phone or texting, but I like it on my own time. There’s something to be said for not being available and not needing an excuse to prove it. And while I like what computers can do, operationally I’m pretty much still working with my first new computer, a 40 MB hard drive monstrosity I bought in 1986 for the tidy sum of $900. It had a word processor and a spreadsheet, and that’s still mostly what I use. (Kind of miss the orange and black CRT screen and the dot matrix printer, but what can you do?) I also believe that, with the possible exception of Beatles Rock Band, the Atari 2600 is the most complex game system anyone could ever want.

(This reminds me of the time that there was an exhibition on the history of toys at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. I took The Child, and after endless displays full of things that caused me to point and say, “I had that! I had that!” there were two TV screens with Pong. Pong! I was in heaven. Nobody born after 1980 has an idea how cool that is, but at the time this was a major league deal. I still remember 1978, when my father went to Sears and spent $150.00…about four million in today’s money…to get a Pong game. He was the best Dad EVER. Actually, still is. (Happy Father’s Day in advance.)

Excitedly, I talked The Child into a game. After a shaky start…it had been thirty years or so since my wrist was in prime Pong condition…I’m having an absolute blast. I’ve remembered how to get the ball to come off the paddle at a crazy angle to give it spin, and how, if you are moving the paddle just right when you hit the ball, it’ll actually go faster accorss the screen. Of course, with his quicker reflexes and better vision…I was still too vain to wear my glasses back then, even for distance…he was kicking my posterior. But this was fun! And it was a bonding activity. Daddy and Boy quality time. So I’m standing up, then sitting down, leaning left, then careening right, twisting my body in all kinds of pain-inducing ways to put some English of the ball, when I hear this little voice off to my left asking, “Dad, what else does it do?”

I’m focused on the screen, so I don’t realize what I’m stumbling into.

“That’s it. You hit the ball back and forth until the other guy misses. Isn’t this GREAT?”

Another minute or two, and he scores three more points.

“You sure it doesn’t do anything else?”

“No. Now serve.” (I’m six points down and the “let him win to build his self-confidence” parent is losing ground to the Hypercompetitive Dad.)

Forty seconds, another point. There’s a sigh from below. “I’m done now. Can we look at dinosaurs?”

And so the video game torch is passed.)

My taste in movies is also somewhat out of date. I’m a big fan of old movies, and one of my favorite actors in the late Danny Kaye. Most people know him now from the children’s movie “Hans Christian Andersen” or the comic “The Court Jester.” (I also highly recommend “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’ especially the doctor scene. Pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.) Kaye was a master of convoluted language, which led to the most quoted outtake from his films. In brief, he’s trying to poison another knight, and he doesn’t know which cup is tainted. So he has to repeat to himself:

“The vessel with the pestle holds the pellet with the poison.
The chalice from the palace holds the brew that is true.”

This is later complicated by some additional business with a flagon. (The one with the picture of a dragon.)

This all comes together because last week in the Atlanta airport, The Bride asked me to stand in line at Starbuck’s while she went to check on the gate.

“Why do I have to get the coffee all the time?” I asked.

“Because it’s in the bible.”

This was a new one. “Where?”

She smiled. “You know, the Book of He-brews.”

This got me thinking about other comical chapter titles in scripture. Aside from guys with funny names (and who doesn’t smile when they think of Habakkuk?), I’ve always thought the chapters in the Christian New Testament whose titles start with “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle” just sounded funny. (It occurs to me that this may only be funny only in English translation. The Spanish “Epistolos de Pablo” sounds maybe more like a children’s television show, especially if you say, ”Ninos! Es el tiempo de Epistolos de Pablo!” using the deep voice and cadence of the guy on Univision who does the promos for Sabado Gigante. No theological insult intended, to be sure.)

So as these various strains of though wander about in my brain, I started to wonder how Danny Kaye would handle the issue of biblical alliteration and coffee:

“The Epistle of the Apostle has the pellet with the poison.
The Bible without libel holds the brew that is true.”

Some mornings I really need to get more sleep.

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