A Joke, an Explanation, and a Thought

There’s a joke I like that goes as follows:

Sol Goldstein is a comfortable widower living in Southern California.  His children are grown and successful, his grandchildren are great kids.  His parents are long dead, his wife, God rest her, has been dead long enough for memories of her to be sweet rather than to sting.

His friends and neighbors love and respect him, but there’s no one who depends on him.

Sol has never been one for long periods of rest.  He’s a doer, never content with mere contentment, so one day, Sol decides he’s going to row to Japan.

He tells all his friends and neighbors.  Most think it’s a passing spark of wanderlust, a worried few wonder if it might be dementia.  Only his best friend, Rabi Ian Steinman, worries seriously, because only he knows just how serious Sol is about this trip.

Weeks pass.  Sol’s been going to the community center every day to use the rowing machines.  He’s got a nice little dingy, nothing fancy, but a fine, sleek one man boat, impossibly small for his intended journey.

“Sol,” pleads Rabi Steinman, “you’re not a young man anymore. You’ll kill yourself out there.”

“And? What if I do? I’ve lead a good life, I’ve loved, I’ve made my mark on the world. My kids are set, there kids will turn out great. What’s one more adventure for an old man? Lost at sea, boy, now there’s a final story worth telling!

“I’m telling you, Ian, come the first day of spring, I’m off! That’s that! And I want to leave early, too, so I’ve got the sun to my back all morning. Hey, if I’m far enough out, I can watch the sun rise, now, wouldn’t that be something!”

Ian tries for weeks to convince his friend of how crazy his idea is, but come the nineteenth of march Sol’s boat is packed and ready to go.

Finally, Ian can stand the idea of his friend going off to his death no longer, and so sneaks down to the boat and ties a line to the bow, running it under the little dingy and tying it to the dock where it won’t be visible.

The morning of the twentieth is foggy, the whole ocean seems a fluffy cloud.  It’s so thick that Sol has to use his old lantern to find the dock.  But he finds it, and by a quarter to six he’s got himself settled into a steady rowing pattern.

Now, it being a foggy day, Sol can’t tell that he’s not going anywhere. He rows and rows all morning, occasionally singing old songs to entertain himself.

Songs that Ian Steinman hears through his open window.  Ian’s been up all night, racked with guilt over what he’s done to his friend, and while it’s clear Sol is enjoying himself, Ian can’t help but feel guilty for tricking Sol.  It gets to be too much, so Ian throws off his blankets, puts on his bathrobe, and marches down to the dock, determined to confess his actions to his friend and send him on his way, a friend respecting another friend’s wishes.

By the time Steinman makes it to the docks, Sol has launched into an old navy drinking song, singing so loudly he doesn’t hear Steinman’s approach or even his first few calls.  Steinman calls louder, then louder.

“Sol! SOL!”

Finally, Sol hears his name being called, and for the first time in hours stops his rowing and singing.

Calmly and deliberately he folds his oar back into the boat and sits back into his seat with his back straight. He sighs and shrugs to loosen his shoulders and only then says:

“So. Who do I know in Japan?”

Every other day I get a single visitor from Thailand.  I’ve never been to Thailand, though I’ve heard it’s a beautiful country.  All visits from every place are more than welcome, but it does make me wonder, “so, who do I know in Thailand?”

Whoever you are, you’ve become a mystery.  Perhaps you’ll leave a comment some time so that I know who you are, or perhaps, like Batman, you’ll remain at your silent vigil.

It’s been six days without alcohol, six days with a concerted, though not entirely successful, edict against unhealthy foods.  Six days’ breakfasts of oatmeal.  I really hate oatmeal.  I never hate it the first day, it’s something like treacle, pleasant at first, but quickly overwhelming.  I thoroughly loathe it by this point.

I’ve lost five pounds.  My initial efforts, fallible thought they are, seem to be yielding results.

I’m not sure which I miss more, pizza or wine.  It’s been a couple of years since I could drink beer, so I don’t often even think of it, let alone think of it enough to miss it.  It takes such a Herculean effort for me to get drunk that I don’t miss liquor, something I drank for effect rather than flavor.  The only drink I really enjoyed, but can longer have, is wine.  I miss the reds and I miss the bubbles.  I suppose I’ll have to celebrate future achievements with over priced bottles of kombucha, rather than champagne.

This month, I was supposed to begin editing my novel.  Today is the first day I remembered that.  I also have a strong sense of “I don’t wanna” regarding every activity I’ve offered myself so far.  I do want to write, but it’s been so long I’m on the outside once more.  I have to find the door all over again.  Given the effort, the first few fodder pages or thousands of words that serve a purpose similar to bridge pylons sunk into mud, I’m not inclined to reward myself for the effort with the tedium of seeking out, then picking the lock for, picking my way into, yet another mode of thinking.  To really edit a piece, I have to have the piece on my mind, and I’m not ready to cross both bridges today.

Today, I’d much rather write something new, maybe pick at some fragments.  Start as carrion capitalist, and then perhaps evolve into something generative.  If not autotrophic, at least something highly predatory, something capable of hunting down new ideas if they can’t be self-generated.

The blog’s a start.  Now onto something more.



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