The Saturday-afternoon schedule was pretty simple, once the grocery shopping was out of the way: take in a play, then pick up something for dinner on the way home. The play was downtown, the restaurant on the west side, so there would be a fair amount of driving involved, and somewhere in the midst of it I detected faint traces of something with which I am not especially familiar: a sort of euphoria. I'm not quite sure I know where it came from, either, though I have some ideas.

For some reason, I parked in the same lot I use for visits to the Museum of Art: a coin-box facility on the northwest corner of Walker and Robert S. Kerr. (Two bucks on weekends.) This is only one block, and a short one at that, from the Museum, but the Music Hall is a bit farther down Couch Drive, and there are stairs to negotiate once there. (And since the play was in CitySpace, a 100-seat black-box theatre in the Music Hall's basement, there were more stairs.) Complaint from my questionable knees: none.

Also not at all painful: watching the actress in this one-woman show, who was much prettier than her photos. (I don't fault the photographer, whose reputation is sterling; some things don't translate well to halftone, and, well, my criteria don't necessarily correspond with the photographer's, either.) I was fairly well smitten halfway through Scene II, and it's probably a good thing I was seated near her mother, an incentive to behave with greater restraint than usual. Besides, in an era where the ostensible tastemakers seem to have taken Logan's Run to heart, forty-three and fabulous qualifies as a moral victory.

And once it was over, I had to walk back that same distance again. Still no complaint from the knees — the very same knees, I might add, which had given indications of imminent failure at work on Friday.

But the feeling didn't really hit until I'd come up Classen Drive, wandered around Mesta Park for a few minutes (mostly because I forgot to turn off at 13th and Shartel), and started westward in pursuit of dinner. This day, I decided, had been unusually free of suckage.

Of course, a thought like that never gets elicited without the immediate arrival of second thoughts, so I pondered the matter further, and came to the conclusion that apart from the usual irritations at the office, which are pretty much unavoidable, my life seems to be getting to the point where it's unusually free of suckage. I'm not where I'd like to be financially, and there's still some uneasiness about my physical self, but I think I've come to grips with life as I know it, and I've finally figured out that a few small luxuries here and there are more than enough, at least for me, to compensate for not having the sort of self-indulgent existence constantly held up to us as some sort of ideal. (I can think of no reason why I should consider my life deprived because I don't have a dishwasher or an HDTV or a king-sized bed.) Given some of the things I was saying five or six years ago, let alone at the tail end of the 1980s when I was actually institutionalized for a couple of months, this seems somewhere between remarkable and miraculous.

And ultimately, I detected one further factor: the gradual disappearance of my belief that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It is indisputable that some parts of it are in turmoil; it is, I believe, just as indisputable that the turmoil can be blamed on the excess of cretinous goons in those parts. (This, in turn, informs my politics, which center on goon discouragement and/or repulsion.) We have a tendency here in the Big PX to think that if everything isn't just as hunky-dory in Fallujah as it is on Fifth Avenue, something has gone terribly wrong, and it's All Our Fault. I refuse to subscribe to this premise. In fact, I'd actively denounce it, except there's already a better denunciation out there:

Here's the human race at the pinnacle of its achievement, mechanisms in place to deliver unprecedented prosperity to any who want it, ready to burst from the egg of its home planet, and still there are those who would feel uncomfortable without their homey little Flagellant nirvana of doom and gloom. Piss on them. Let them go have their snit in a corner. If they want to live in some medieval torture chamber of a world, I have no right to tell them they shouldn't, but they need to go do it privately in a closet someplace, okay? We're busy with the future over here.

And the one thing you can predict about the future is that it will arrive right on schedule, whether you're ready for it or not. I'm thinking that, despite a low level of wealth and the occasional physical problem and the utter lack of gorgeous women of a certain age, mine might actually be pretty darn good.

The Vent

  8 October 2006

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 Copyright © 2006 by Charles G. Hill