Thursday, April 20, 2006

Daughters of Time

Days, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
Muffled and dumb, like barefoot dervishes,
And marching single in an endless file,
Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
To each they offer gifts, after his will,--
Bread, kingdoms, stars, or sky that holds them all.
I, in my pleachéd garden, watched the pomp,
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.


I love this poem. It makes me sad, but I love it. A memory associated with it makes me giggle, even within the sadness. After yesterday, I'm not sure I'll be giggling any more. Yesterday was a hypocritic day, big time. I am not happy today.

But before I tell you about mine, let me tell you about my eccentric old English teacher's example of a hypocritic day. It's not really funny, and yet I have remembered this with smiles for many, many years. How many? None of your business.


My teacher's words, more or less: "When I was young, I sponsored the drama group at the high school. One day in particular had been extra-wonderful. The students were wonderful, the rehearsal was wonderful, the weather was wonderful, my mood was wonderful, everything in the universe as I knew it was wonderful. It was a wonderful day. Nothing went wrong, not one thing. Perfection in a day does not come often. It had come today. As I was walking home from school, I felt the urge to share this wonderful day with my mother. All the way to her house, I was smiling and humming, pondering the wonderful-ness of this day. It was still light out, and the mourning doves and crickets were singing a duet that I will never forget. It was wonderful, just like everything else on that day. I couldn't wait to share this wonderful day with my mother. I walked into her house, and there was mother, dead on the couch."

Anyone who was in that Junior English class with me on that day will remember that story. (And zillions more, but I'll get to those later.)

We were teenagers. We were cool. Our first inclination was to laugh, but we couldn't laugh, because her mother was dead. Her dry, pedantic delivery made this story even funnier, but we couldn't laugh. She had a habit of saying the word 'wonderful' so much that it lost its meaning completely. That was funny too, but we couldn't laugh. Her glasses had lenses so thick, they looked like the bottoms of coke bottles, and they were so heavy that they moved down her nose and fell off every few minutes, but we couldn't laugh. Her hair was very thin and bright blue, and her scalp was bright pink, and the back of her head looked like some kind of baby shower centerpiece, but we couldn't laugh. Her dress was made of old-lady material, floral pattern, and so thin that we could see every detail of her slip, including the lace and the rusty safety pins holding up the hem, but we couldn't laugh. She demanded that we look straight at her whenever we spoke or listened to her, but it was difficult because when she sat at her desk, she sat with her knees far apart, and there was no modesty panel on the desk, and we did not want to see anything she was inadvertently showing us. NOBODY wanted to see that. So, we had a hard time meeting her eyes and she thought we were smart-alecs and often chastized us for not being willing to look her in the eye. We couldn't tell her why. She was very deaf, and could barely see even with the coke-bottle lenses, and her students in those last years played horrible tricks on her, and while I never actively participated in any of them, I observed and giggled and never told on anyone, which of course makes me as guilty as anyone who actually DID something to her. I'll tell more of these stories later. You'll laugh, but you'll feel a little guilty about doing so.

But I digress. Yesterday was a hypocritic day.

It started out really well. The best class sessions so far this semester; neither class wanted to leave when the time was up. The discussions were fascinating, and we'd probably still be there together if that other class hadn't needed the room for themselves, selfish things. I had a doctor's appointment later that afternoon in the city, so I stayed up there and graded (a very few) essays and got some things done. Then I drove down to the Dollar Tree (a teacher's paradise) for a few minutes, and went on to my appointment. It went well, too. Oh, I'm fat and lazy and my blood sugar is off the charts, but everything else was ok. I left the doctor's office still smiling.

I had a little time before my next appointment (supper with a friend!) so I drove over to WalMart and got a few necessities.

Then I met my friend Frau for an early supper, and as always, had a great time; she's such a lovely person and a truly good friend.

The trip home was peaceful and pretty; the car windows were open and the honeysuckle and tar made a pleasant fragrance. (there is always the smell of tar on Hoosier roads. They are in a constant state of repair, and yet they're never repaired. Go figure.)

When I pulled into the driveway, the sense of peace and happiness was still with me. It stayed with me until I got into the house and saw the phone blinking, with a message. Somehow I knew that message would not be good. I actually went cold all over, with premonition.

It was the police. Someone had reported that my car had bumped another car in the parking lot, and the owner had called the police, because I had left the scene. I drove back up to the city so the police officer could examine my car.

This is a nightmare. I did not bump anyone. The police found no marks on my car. I had not heard anything, I did not feel any kind of bump.

The police officer told me that I would be better off to just pay for the bumper on this other car; otherwise it would be dragged out into a long complicated thing. She gave me a copy of the accident report with the phone number of this other car's owner on it.

A few minutes ago I called this number, apologized, explained that I did not realize I had hit anything (I still don't think I did) hadn't felt or heard it, but if I had indeed done any damage I would certainly pay for their grazed bumper.

The man accepted my apology and told me that it was more than a grazed bumper; I had also taken out their brand new fender. Does anyone else sense a scam of some sort?

I swear, I did not hit anything in that parking lot. But I am going to be paying for these people's new bumper and fender. How will I pay for this? I don't know. If I report it to my insurance, the rates will go up astronomically, even though I have never in all my life so much as had a ticket of any kind. But we all know how insurance companies operate; thirty years of perfect records and one fender-grazed THAT I DIDN'T EVEN DO, and suddenly I'm a liability risk. (How can those people sleep at night, I wonder?) But since we have no savings and a negative balance (whoops) in the checking, we'll have to turn these people's two estimates into our insurance company.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful day. And there was happiness, dead on the couch.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:58 AM | |


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