Life goes on despite unsolved problems

I’m feeling punchy. I spent the morning writing a letter of recommendation for someone who is perfect for the job, and I kept having this urge to write “he is perfect for the job, so just hire him and let me shut up already” but of course I couldn’t write that so I kept producing words and words and trying to make them sound like the results of sober circumspection. Then an afternoon of lousy business: all the crappy paperwork that makes up most of every day and keeps me continually on the edge of insanity.

Meanwhile, unreality hovers over us, as usual. Despite the fact that Eila has made another one of those eerie jumps in maturity this week where all of a sudden she’s more with-it than she was, she continues to have these odd moments of category fusion. I was watching Mary Poppins with her the other day (which I used to hate because it has nothing to do with the real Mary Poppins, but now admire) and when the ballet came on — you know, all those sweeps dancing to “step in time” — we were both entranced. Then

Eila: They are very good at that.
Me:  They sure are.
Eila: I bet they do it every night.

See, I was thinking of the dancers, but she was thinking of the chimney sweeps. She isn’t yet ready to apply the reality/ fantasy distinction (at which she’s usually quite good) to the conventions of the musical theatre.

Not only that but we are short of wine, and I can never remember whether beer on wine is very fine, or wine on beer you’re in the clear. Both, I always assume, depending on your supplies and preferences.


9 thoughts on “Life goes on despite unsolved problems

  1. I’m sure a simple explanation to Eila about the conventions of music theatre, which I’m sure you gave her, will open up a whole new world of understanding for her. This confusion is an easy mistake to make. It is after all the whole ‘actors vs. the characters they play’ dichotomy that many adults still confuse and on which advertising thrives.

  2. Normally I might say something like “they’re actors. Real sweeps don’t dance on rooftops.” But this time — I don’t know why — I saw no reason to burst her bubble. Let her think they do. God knows it would be great if they did.

    Yesterday she and I watched Toy Story. This is all about learning the difference between fantasy and reality, and being okay with it. Again I gave no lecture. She’s working everything out at her own pace.

    You’re so right that adults can’t distinguish. We all think the latest hair care product and the right car will transform us into creatures resembling the imaginings of the advertisers. Such a temptation! Z and I try as often as possible to point out that ads lie.

  3. And rightly so. Ads have an ulterior movtive to deceive and more importantly to persuade. They don’t want you to be thinking “Oh, it’s just an actor.” With dancing chimneysweeps on the other hand, we viewers choose to be participants in a game of convention by agreeing to suspend our disbelief. Should one not be an initiate to the agreement, the deception is benign; the motive being something along the lines of a celebration of life. What a lovely thing to be persuaded of.

  4. Okay! So: beer on wine, will leave you feeling fine; wine on beer, I counsel this my dear.

    Or is it: beer on wine and everyone will leave you alone; wine on beer, and you’ll be giving everyone around you advice.

    Or: beer on wine, get outta here; wine on beer and you’ll feel like your stomach is full of rodents.

  5. For the record, I still believe that chimney sweeps sing and dance on rooftops. Having never encountered a chimney sweep in real life, why should I believe otherwise?

  6. I lost all faith in the beer-wine algorithm when I realized the Dutch and the Germans — peoples very close in so many ways — have reversed versions of it.

  7. Oooh — don’t let the Dutch hear you saying that. Have I not told you about the American Studies conference I was at in Leiden, at which the mayor gave a welcome address that included assurances that the Dutch and the Americans have much in common? “We both fought the Spanish,” he said, “And we learned to like them again. We both fought the Germans… Anyhow, we have a lot in common.”

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