Tuesday, January 02, 2007

GALLSTONE DREAMS AROUND MY SMALL NECK

Mom, Noodles, Rubella, and I were watching Jeopardy. Sometimes we were really spot on; other times we couldn't even figure out what the questions meant. Just when things were heating up, the show cut to a "special" newsflash, in which a perky woman said they'd allegedly just executed that Saddam. She then turned the time over to her much less than informative colleague who was apparently in Iraq that minute. Clad in a sheep-colored jacket, for lack of a better description, the young man squinted into the camera and bade us viewers a good morning. 1) It was not morning where we were. 2) It was not a good morning for Saddam. He essentially reiterated the fact that the Iraqis had allegedly done away with their former mustachioed dictator, and then informed us that NBC had elected to take the high road and not show the execution footage. For this we missed the double jeopardy round.

On the plane, I am sandwiched between the window and an affluent Long Island couple who are sitting behind their three well-quaffed, undoubtedly soccer playing teenagers. The woman shuffles the New Year's edition of the New York Times. She flips to a spread of hundreds of tiny little portraits in boxes across the page. It is the roster of the dead from the war. She clucks her tongue with disapproval. Disapproval with what, I'm not sure. Maybe the war, or maybe the roster itself. She elbows her husband, who is wearing a $150 fleece jacket and has a long, pencil-like nose. He is reading a mountain biking magazine. "Did you see this?" The woman rustles the paper. The man nods. "Yeah." He goes back to his magazine. The woman begins scrutinizing the paper as though it is her long lost high school annual. I envision her gesturing to a couple of the photographs with a lacquered nail and telling me about each fellow. "He had asked me to the prom but then caught meningitis. It was very dangerous. He did not mind that I went with someone else. And he was the starting center for the varsity basketball team. Ended up being a carpenter, despite his father's wishes." After awhile, the husband leans over. He's holding open a magazine page to a picture of a thoroughly impractical looking bicycle. "I think I'll get this one," he says. The wife says that will be fine.

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