Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Shallow End

Years ago, a place called Atomic City sold MC the perfect t-shirt for Herr Cranky. On the front was a bare-chested man with the words "Victor Mature lives" written across his pecs and abs. The anguished dude's thought bubble read: "I wish I was deep instead of just macho." The Crankies were never quite sure why deep and macho were mutually exclusive, but ambiguity about Victor Mature's character didn't get in the way of their sartorial pleasure.

So now MC's enjoyment of contemporary memoirs has left her feeling that her own character is about an inch deep. David Sedaris and Rhoda Janzen's rip-roaring tales of substance abuse, emotional apocalypse,  and entertainingly wacko relatives didn't encourage self-doubt. Anne Lamott's essays, however, always leave MC scuffling her shoes in the dirt thinking, I could be a better person if I just meditated more. I should ask my neighbors to share their reflective personal insights. I should swim with seals more often.

Extra helpings of meditation could only improve MC's operating system, true enough. But her neighbors are already sufficiently sage. And on the whole, she doesn't see herself snorkeling with seals. Aquatic mammals can be plenty profound, but MC, sadly, is much too distracted to appreciate their offerings unless they come with English subtitles. Compared to Lamott's thoughtful spirituality, MC is decidedly swimming in the shallow end.

People who make their living writing sensitively about single motherhood really should have zen-master-type moments in the middle of traffic. The rest of us, however, show our breeding and character by not bringing firearms to the pediatrician's waiting room. Cranky 2 recently reactivated her strep throat, and MC repeated the familiar routine of doctor's office, pharmacy, and frozen fruit bars. In a waiting room of children dripping with viruses and bacteria, the selection of pregnant-mommy magazines and Fox News broadcasts creates an atmosphere that the CIA could productively use to extract information from suspected terrorists. And yet the parental units of these little petri dishes purposefully douse themselves with hand sanitizer and exit with scripts for Amoxicillin. MC thinks that germ-encrusted politeness is perhaps the height of civil discourse.

There's a time and a place for depth of character. The Richard Nixon impeachment hearings, for example. And happily, Barbara Jordan knew just what to say:
My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.

MC wishes she could manufacture pithy, quotable verbage like that on demand. Delivering stirring oratory is probably not in the cards for MC; however, a recently installed statue of Representative Jordan at Big State University invites one to reflect on depth of character, statesmanship, and why flawless enunciation and a baritone register sounds so, well, deep. C2 demonstrates what you can do after all that thoughtful reflection.


  1. You do not give yourself enough credit. I happen to know for a fact that you are a regular swimmer in the deep end. Not only that, you deftly make meaningful commentary out of streptococcus, woven amongst rich references to the words of elder stateswomen and historical events. If you went much deeper, BP and its adversaries would be fighting over you to descend to the coldest layers of the Gulf and judiciously sort out the well dispute. (No doubt, you could dispense justice with aplomb in that case, too.)

  2. A not-so-subtle method of looking up someone's dress. I never tried a method this obvious.

    Might this be R-rated behaviour??