La Provence May 18 2002

Page 2

I did my best to force our topics to personal issues, but no
matter how pointed my questions, we would always return to the taste
of butter or Mark's cappuccino, which in spite of its inauthentic production, was quite good.

May 18th and a bit of snow and sleet kept the crowds away, so even at high noon, I had my choice of tables. I picked not the same table we always choose (Adam was the first to comment, the second time we sat at our "regular" table), but one next to the window, where we'd have more light, not to mention a clear view of passersby. Dan, arriving just before me, ("Hey Dan, no work, no wife, and no life, means you finally get somewhere on time," my friendly greeting) was the first to complain. "I like familiarity."

Well, I don't. I dread the return leg of a hike if it's back along the same trail. We were there but minutes when Adam walked in, ignored us, and sat down at our old table. Okay, I exaggerate, but he did wonder why sit at a table with a view when the weather would keep the viewees to a minimum.

Mark was the only one not to say a word about my choice of tables. My attempt to provoke here failed, " Mark, I don't understand why you are so adaptable."
Let's all be reasonable, a stranger would surely assume Mark, the lawyer, guarded in his movements from past back problems, and living in a world of high pressure tort cases, would have resisted this new table before the man with the smile, Dan, or the man with the wit, Adam. Our camping trips are the same, with Mark in years past following all suggestions no matter how insane, until now, he drives the rest of to do more. Barring a good (and it has to be good) bottle of wine.

I'm off track, but it was part of our discussion; it just didn't last. Adam blamed it on time, we need more to open up, but that was precisely why I pushed the agenda, because time is limited, and why spend it talking about television programs?

Dan and I are always illustrating ways we have changed. He brought up a new table he put together, with its four legs rotated 180 degrees in the wrong direction, thereby creating a loose fit, one he had to remedy with a trip to Home Depot. Hours to put the table together incorrectly, all because...he thought he knew better? Because he does know better? Not until he looked at the box illustration did he see his mistake. That led to talk about reading manuals. Most of us don't, and Dan's table came without one. I mentioned Susan's husband, Jim, who won't touch anything without first reading the manual cover to cover. Even their brand new computer. I can't understand the manual unless I first get the parts in hand, and have some knowledge of how the object works (or doesn't), and Dan is similar. Adam was off fetching dessert, and we missed his input. I know he understands the printed word, but does he bother with instructions? My guess, yes.

My example was of a "better" plug that I bought to replace the shorted one on my vacuum cleaner. Chosen because of it's color and sleek design, I found it kludgey and downright stupid (so much for a better mousetrap), but my explanation left Adam wondering if I too had missed something basic. His reservation was the same as mine, otherwise I would have written a letter of ridicule to the manufacturer. My complaint mostly involved the separate parts, illustrated here. The common question arises, are we turning into fossils, too rigid to adapt anymore? Dan, the puzzle solver, appliance fixer non pareil, stumbles assembling a table, and I can't even wire a new plug...without growling.

Are we dreaming of the past simpler more understandable times? What about our Elephant Ears for dessert, that weren't as "good" as those Adam and Dan enjoyed as mere yoots?
Adam did raise the issue of Mark moving back home (living with his sister, her husband and newly born was tolerable in Belmont, but not in the distant village of Townsend, and it was obvious by his choice of adjectives, this was not all positive. But Mark had just finished his first year of law school (why then go right back to his old post office job, and not one as a...law clerk perhaps?), and he was helping out some (mowing the lawn), but what I missed was tying Adam's feelings with Mark Schreiber's, and his thoughts about Christopher roaming Europe without a thought about a job, post office or not.

Tangents. We all moved from the main topic, whatever it was, and supplied our own, what we called tangents. Sometimes they made sense, others clearly a simple attempt to skirt the topic and focus on ourselves. I remember one of Adam's, "You didn't really think a toilet cost a thousand dollars." And that's the thing about tangents, I remember them better than the original subject.

Other stuff discussed:

  • Christopher on his way to Croatia.
  • Forwards from Q, Schreib enjoying them more than, say Dan
    the deleter.
  • Linda in China
  • Mark's tank book, the one that Mark Q and I bought independently for Mark S.
  • Matrix run-around
  • Greg moving into his own apartment
  • Kathryn (Mentora) not getting the Tufts job -given to Deloitte & Tush
  • Mark and Ginger in Atlanta during Molly's prom.
  • Adam dissing my story because of its presumed brevity.
  • My not getting Dan's response to my story.
  • Adam's stepson Mark's invasion of his computer privacy.
  • Tricia on the Cape at another Inner Circle of Light get-together.