Sunday, December 11, 2016

One No-Trump

I haven’t any idea what this means in Bridge nor do I care to know but for me it’s the challenge of filling up a page without once mentioning Donald except to say how this country has already been transformed. The past four weeks feel like four years. We are now a reality show nation of Winners and Losers. The former are generals and captains of industry or bullies, crooks that didn’t get caught, and those born on third base who think they hit a triple. The latter describes the rest of us.

Card-playing is yet another talent for which I am unfit. There are many other skills that consign me to the loser column in the administration's great divide. The new paradigm has me revisiting some early failures which disqualify me, thank God, from his inner circle. So pervasive is his impact that the bus to elsewhere is no longer running.

By age twelve the person I would never become was made clear to me. I shall never forget 7th grade. By any measure I should still be there repeating three classes for the 72nd year.

First there was Art. This time of the year we were expected to draw a Christmas scene. I imagined Santa stuck in a chimney or sleigh rides in Manhattan traffic but I was thoroughly incapable of representing them. I usually settled for a snowman traced by a quarter, nickel and dime. In compensation I’ve learned to paint with words.

Second was singing as in Glee Club. I could not carry a tune from here to there. Flat remains my default position. I was relegated to the back row with other remedial lip-syncers. My official designation was Listener and I embraced the role. Anyone can shut up but listening is a skill.

The third class which defines me to this day is my abject failure at wood-working. We were assigned to produce a bread-board from a slab of wood. What could be easier? All we had to do was make the four sides straight, square and smooth. Maybe I was entranced by the knots and burls or intoxicated by the wood-shavings. I would run a plane on the surface but the teacher’s T-square revealed unevenness. By the end of the term my bread-board was about the size of a large splinter. Color me uneven.

I had no idea what I would be when I grew up or if indeed I ever would but I would certainly not become Norman Rockwell, Frank Sinatra or Mr. Fixit. Over the years I have learned to change the paper toweling without calling in a handyman. I’ve even assembled a bookcase from Ikea but invariably there are left over screws.

My brother got the DNA that prepared him for manual arts. He had a tool kit. I had a library card. Possibly at one time in the pre-history of my double helix I also could work with my hands but that skill was dissipated after my ancestors built the pyramids.

How I ever got to 8th grade was an act of mercy and resignation by the faculty of P.S. 99. They probably figured I could do no harm singing in the shower. One day I might write a book entitled, How to Make Fire-Wood Out of a Coffee Table. For now I shall return to my coloring book. Pass the crayons.

The purpose of recalling these minor traumas is not to wallow in my ineptitude but to re-imagine them as soft clay and to sculpt those moments by addition or subtraction. Ultimately to accept my flawed self and set it all in a larger context. In this new country we find ourselves in I offer myself to the Loser column failing again to compose a blog of No-Trump.  

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