Sunday, October 21, 2018

What's the Big Idea?


My default position seems to be looking for the big idea. That transcendent wisdom or folly extracted from the minutiae of the mundane. Show me a cough and I start to think cough syrup and I then wonder whether coughs should be suppressed or expectorated. And furthermore whether anything should be inhibited or let loose. What did Spinoza or Schopenhauer have to say about that?

In the case of cough preparations a friend swears by the narcotic syrup, Hycodan, which acts on the cough reflex to quiet it down. Socrates may have had a coughing fit when he chose the ultimate suppressant, Hemlock, demonstrating that sometimes the examined life isn't worth living either.

And speaking of coughs it’s a short leap to focus on Kleenex. I’m looking for a subject so ordinary it escapes observation and any sort of overarching significance.

It occurs to me that there may be something wrong with my nose. It drips. Where are you running, nose? And not only my east and west nostrils but also my bilateral eyes. A partial parotidectomy in 1981 seems to have tampered with my salivary glands causing an oversecretion. In addition ever since cataract surgery about ten years ago my eyes no longer reabsorb tears so they make their way out of their sockets and travel down my cheeks as if I’m weeping. Of course our geopolitics offers much to weep about. 

North of the neck I count seven orifices. Only my ears behave. As a result we have no less than nine boxes of Kleenex in our two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. I just counted them. They are always at the ready at easy reach. Peggy joins me in this mishagosh.

Maybe nine boxes are a function of old age. We are crying for you, Argentina…..and everything up from there on the map. We are crying a river. Our body humours are speaking in the only language they have. I grant them their fluency.

So call me rheumy, call me lachrymose, just don't call me before 8 A.M. And bless the tissue; so perfect in dimension (form follows function), so sublime in texture, so rectilinear and virginal as the driven blizzard in North Dakota only to find its demise as crumpled as Ohio or, better yet, the shape of Frank Geary's next building. 

What did folks do before Kleenex or any other tissue? Why they used handkerchiefs, of course. I used to have one in my pocket during my time at P.S. 99. I think my mother even ironed them. 
When you stop to think of it hankies are really not very sanitary. Far better to employ one of those downy swan-white tissues. There is nothing whiter and softer except perhaps a wad of cotton but wholly unsuitable for the task at hand.

Before handkerchiefs I suppose there was always long-sleeve shirts but that’s as far as I want to take this. I must stop myself before I start looking for the big idea. There is no big idea for a change. What a relief! Don't get me started.

1 comment:

  1. I’m laughing now. Thank you. Under the current state of affairs I don’t laugh as much as I used to.

    ReplyDelete