Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Grateful Pause

Our birthdays fall close together, mine and my wife's. Hers came first. I forgot it. On the crucial day, one of the daughters sent a text message reminding me that I "had better do something sweet or...just something." Problem: I accidentally left my cell phone in the wife's car all that day and didn't get the text message till a day late.

'Sorry,' I said.

'That's okay,' she replied. When they say that, they never mean it. They can come close to fooling you, though.

I asked if I could make it up by cooking on the grill for her that weekend. Belated, but at least it was something. She said that would be nice.

A few days later my birthday rolls around. Which I had also forgotten, but not her, no sir, I walk into the living room and on my chair are three packages, some cards, and another package on the floor. Everything's been nicely gift-wrapped. The ribbons spiral.

'I know why you did this,' I say. Naturally, I felt like crawling under the house and living there for about a week.

'Happy birthday,' says she.

The first three packages were clothes. That's good, because if she don't buy'em, I wear what crawls out of the drawer. The last package contained a box, and the box contained a Canon digital camera. I was stunned. She knew I wanted one, but also knew I had made my mind up to living without one.

Over the past few days I have been studying it. It's got a lens that goes in and out when you punch a button. It's got a zoom feature. I can look at the pictures on TV, the computer, or hook the camera up to the printer and do it that way. I can stitch small pictures together to make a huge panorama. I can take moving pictures with it. That very night I walked into the back bedroom and took a picture. It was a dark room, hardly any light except for the camera's flash. This was the result, a watercolor from the 1980's:

My indoor picture taking problems have been solved in one stroke.

The moral to all of which is that most women are more thoughtful than most men, and that they take great pleasure in reminding you of it. But more than that they enjoy giving the gift. They know they can't buy your affection, but they also know that you know that feeling like you ought to crawl under the house is a price worth paying to be reminded of just how thoughtful she really is. And thank God, I might add. Imagine the world without her touch in it.
                     *       *          *
I've been suffering from some physical annoyance I won't bore you with, which makes it hard to concentrate, or to desire some state other than that of sleep. But I would ask you to keep your eyes open for a new website coming soon, a successor to Enchiridion-Militis, which will re-unite yours truly with fellow lovers of the West like Paul Cella, Lydia McGrew, Zippy, Steve Burton, Jeff Martin, Daniel Larison and maybe a few others. The title is still secret, but twill be announced in several places including here.
P.S. A minor annoyance: she won't tell me how much the camera cost. Why do women do that?


TS said...

This is good news - now we can see your paintings in a more timely fashion.

Jeff said...

Happy birthday to the both of you! Your story hits home. I've done the same as you, and my wife responded the same as yours. Women are all alike. Except when they're different. Or better than others, as ours are. (still reading Bill's blog honey?)

William Luse said...

Only if I take pictures in a timely fashion, TS.

Or better than others, as ours are.
Since she checks this place out now and then, I'm going to agree with that 100%.

Peony Moss said...

Happy birthday to both of you!

William Luse said...

Thank you. Based on past experience, you remind me of her.

Lydia McGrew said...

Happy birthday, and get totally well and wide awake soon, Bill.

(You won't believe this, but my husband and I actually have a "character" in our book called "Johnny Wideawake." He is omniscient about all his own thoughts and has all his present experiences before his mind simultaneously. Philosophy is _so_ exciting!)

William Luse said...

has all his present experiences before his mind simultaneously.
How many present experiences can one have at one time? Or do you mean he has all his experiences before his mind as if they were in the present? Still, I think I'd like to read the book. Sounds like an idea C.S. Lewis might have come up with. Is it in plain English or philosophese?

Lydia McGrew said...

It's in gracefully written philosophese. (I've been thinking all afternoon about how to answer that question honestly.) Tim's a better writer than I and makes sure everything we do is well-written, but it's still full of terminology and such that marks out the narrow audience, I have to admit.

How many present experiences can you have at one time? Perhaps it would be more helpful of me to say "facets of experience." I'm ot sure. But either way, I'd say quite a lot. If you just sort of "look around" in your consciousness, you'll find a lot of things there--aspects of your visual experience, simultaneous tactile experiences, verbal thoughts--all shaking around together. Of course, because you and I aren't Johnny Wideawake, we can't stop the film and be absolutely sure _all_ these things are going on at the same time, but we can be pretty sure, and we can bring several of them into present consciousness clearly and distinctly. I can, for example, sense the feeling of my fingers on the keys at the same time as the visual sensation of the screen in front of me at the same time as the meanings of the words I'm typing running through my head. _And_ there's a leftover smell of dinner (Italian porkchops) hanging over it all. You get the idea. Johnny can do _all_ of that, _and_ analyze all the inferential relations among the things he knows, without losing the "now." Sort of self-omniscient in a freeze-framed moment of time.

William Luse said...

When I was younger, I could watch TV, read a magazine article, ponder a moral conundrum, consider how to make the pizza dough crispier and chewier, entertain a sexual fantasy, and carry on a conversation with my wife all at the same time. It used to amaze her. Nowadays she's more likely to conclude: "You haven't heard a word I just said." (I attribute it to the effort to suppress fantasies, which expends a great deal of present-time consciousness.)

Still, I'd like to read the book. Where can I find it?

TS said...

When I was younger, I could watch TV, read a magazine article, ponder a moral conundrum, consider how to make the pizza dough crispier and chewier, entertain a sexual fantasy, and carry on a conversation with my wife all at the same time.

I could do all that while riding a unicycle.

TS said...

[Witty comment to be named later. This is a place-holder.]

William Luse said...

Well, since you've already made me laugh, it had better be really witty.

TS said...

In that case, it may be much later.

William Luse said...

I can wait.