Prunes and Prism

RULES FOR YOUNG LADIES: Some arch advice on snagging a husband. Exercising the mouth into a pretty shape through repetition of certain words seems to have been an indoor sport for young nineteenth-century girls; in Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens' overly bred girl repeats, "papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism." (

Friday, February 17, 2006

Life During Wartime

I never write about politics, and whole days go by when I can't even care about politics. (There, I said it.)

And yet: Just this morning I heard a story on Morning Edition about a group home for women with HIV, remarkable in that it is not part of the 141 federal programs that George Bush has proposed to eliminate in the next fiscal year. Why spend $14.5 billion recklessly feeding and medicating the elderly, who are after all just scrabbling around for the last Social Security dime with their arthritic little claws?

I wasn't truly disheartened, though, until I walked through the turnstile to exit the West 4th subway station and found two beefy guys in fatigues and berets, handing out Army recruitment pamphlets as if they were flyers for a topless bar. (I guess the enlistment numbers really are as low as reported.) I was embarrassed for them, and ashamed for all of us.*

So far the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the nebulous war on terror, have cost the Dr. Seussian sum of almost half a trillion dollars.

Once when the Comrade would extol the dubious virtues of Communism (and they are dubious -- Soviet dentistry so macabre you'd pay not to get it), I'd counter that it was a society where the citizenry were all-important but the people were expendable, and that maybe it still is -- how could Putin just let those men in the Kursk die at the bottom of the sea, without asking for help?

You can imagine what happened to that infantile argument after Hurricane Katrina. When the Comrade came home he found me crying in front of the TV (unlike me -- emotionally labile though I am, I'm far more likely to cry over figure skating than natural disasters or genocide) and said the Russians had done a better job of evacuating Chernobyl.

So as not to end this with a nuclear accident: Flying in the face of this year's global-warming trend, we had a two-foot snow on Sunday. The Comrade and I went wading out in Prospect Park while I bored him with stories about Mary and Laura Ingalls, and how they used to put maple syrup out on the snow to harden into candy, and how this seemed to me the finest treat on earth. Also, snow cream, which is what Southern people make with snow, heavy cream, and a little vanilla flavoring. I don't know why, either, and Prospect Park snow would probably give you babies with nine heads -- speaking of nuclear accidents, which I can't seem to tear myself away from. It was beautiful, though.

*One of my therapist Father Intintola's most astute observations was that you're embarrassed by things you do, and ashamed by what you are.


Post a Comment

<< Home