Saturday, August 30, 2008


There are three vases, or rather, one jelly jar, a pickle jar, and a mustard jar, filled with zinnias - the giant kind - my favorites. They envelop me as I sit here writing at my vintage 1950's kitchen table with its yellow Formica top, and black, stick-like metal legs, splayed out like a giant insectoid robot from Mars.

Bear with me. This morning I am attempting to turn over a new leaf. My plan is to sprinkle happy dust on this page. No darkness - No circuitous meanderings into my subconscious - Not today - Can't do - My mind needs a break.

Oh! lovely, impossibly bright, delightfully garish zinnias. The first time I saw you in blazing sunlight, you seemed so improbable, I mistook you for cheap plastic flowers. But, here, in the half-light of my sun-starved window, the sheen on your petals is soft, and ethereal, like those faces of aging actresses seen through gauze covered lenses. You were definitely worth the bother planting, feeding, and watering throughout the summer. To the rest of your friends who remain out there in the flower bed - unplucked, and attached to the earth: Sorry you're still knee-deep in nettles. I meant to tend to you yesterday. Truthfully, though, if it weren't for my pesky neighbor, I'd leave you to duke it out with the weeds. I actually prefer unchecked, tumultuous growth - in nature, that is. I just wish it wasn't such an apt metaphor for the chaos going on in my head. I'd rather my mind were a nicely plotted out, impeccably groomed garden.


As those last words flowed from me, the scales fell, simultaneously, from my eyes. Suddenly, I see, as if for the first time, the clutter that surrounds me, and consequently, the source of all this blather. How painfully obvious. This place is a dump. The mess is so bad it's comical. Scraps of paper - heaps of them - some folded, some lightly crumpled - threaten to topple down on my writing pad from all sides. And, it's not stuff I can just sweep in the trash bin. No. This is vital information: addresses, phone numbers, receipts, passwords, appointments, flashes of genius hastily written down. The outpourings of pockets, backpacks, fanny packs, wallets, etc. I can't believe it. I'm becoming one of those messy, mental types I've always found so sadly amusing.

Right now, a scene is unfolding in my mind. There are two characters. The first is yours truly in the guise of a slightly, nutty, fussy professor in a herring bone jacket with suede elbow patches. The second character is my sweet tempered wife, played by someone resembling a silver haired Helen Hayes.

The wife enters her husband's study. She is wearing a broad brimmed sun hat, and is carrying a basket containing freshly cut, long stemmed roses. The professorial me is unaware of his wife's presence because, as expected, he is absorbed in scholarly thought. Suddenly, he begins darting about, rummaging wildly through one stack of papers after another, quickly growing frustrated as he is unable to find what he needs among the welter of books and folders.
The wife quietly removes her hat. She is smiling compassionately, as she observes her husband's frantic behavior. Then, with a bemused, tsk, tsking shake of her elegantly coiffed head she says:

Neville, darling. Whatever is the matter?

Neville, his head shooting upward in surprise, peers over the top of his reading glasses, and shouts:

Confound it, Georgina! Must you sneak up on me like that?

Georgina replies, meekly:

I'm sorry darling. I just...

Cutting off her attempt to apologize, Neville rants on:

Was that beastly Mrs. Parker nosing around my study with her feather duster again? Damn! Where's that blasted paper? How could I miss it? It's the size of the Manhattan telephone directory.

Perhaps, I can help, dear. What's the title?

The Tautologies Of George W. Bush, And Their Effect On The Rising Incidence Of Dwarfism In The United States.

With great delicacy, Georgina asks:

Why, what's that in your hand dear?

Looking flustered, Neville replies:

Ah! Of course. There it is.

A pregnant pause. Then, as a tender smile breaks across the face of the professor, crinkling the corners of his eyes, which appear dewy from the glycerin put there when the camera was close up on Georgina, he says softly:

My dearest, darling, Georgina. I'd be lost without you.
To which Georgina, displaying uncharacteristic moxie, replies:

Well, of course you would, dear.

Sweet Jesus! Is that where I'm headed? Well, at least he's a professor - tenured, I'm sure. What's more, he has a devoted mate. Me? I'm penniless, and single. No!No! Don't go there, Glen. Remember. No darkness today. Just look at the zinnias, Glen. LOOK At THE ZINNIAS.

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