Friday, April 21, 2017

The Merge

I am a dad, so I think about certain things a lot. Elvis Costello. Cargo shorts. And merging.

Merging is fraught with peril, as we all know. You're counting on someone to do the right thing, to uphold the social contract. And yet, so often, some filthy youngster breaks that contract--the very thread that holds our fragile society together--and fucks it up for everyone.

But I want to tell you, this morning I had a merge so pleasant, so perfect, that it restored my faith in humans as a species.

All the ingredients were there for disaster: a UPS truck. A minivan with butterfly stickers on the back window. An Uber. You were merging from the right, minivan with butterfly stickers, and I admit it--I doubted you. I was sure that at some point during the merge you would hit the brakes for no apparent reason, or panic and bail out into another lane, screwing everything up. And you, Uber guy--you were inexplicably not on your phone, and did not make alarming feints or attempt to outlast the minivan in a battle of wills.

No! Everyone performed their roles beautifully, and we slid zipperlike into the lane with such nonchalance that I could have sworn I heard--just for a second--a heavenly choir. singing our praises.

And I thought maybe I could stay in this moment forever, appreciating its perfection. But in the end I still had to go to work, and some troglodyte cut me off at the next light.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Better Off

A couple of weeks ago, I went skiing for the first time in a while. Let's be generous here and say 28 years. The last time I had been before that, I was about 16 years old, and I managed to knock myself unconscious and had to be pulled down the mountain on one of those little ski-patrol sleds with a severe concussion. It was not like the movie Hot Dog: The Movie at all. More like that movie Awakenings which I am pretty sure is about Robin Williams annoying coma patients until they break out of their fugue state to tell him to shut up. Too soon? Maybe.

I figured it was time to take my daughter skiing, since she is seven and hopefully still able to zoom down the slopes with zero regard for her own personal safety, as I was wont to do when I was seven. Hopefully she will not follow the same arc that led me to potential brain damage, but I don't want to enforce my world view on her.  So we drove up to a cheapo ski place to enjoy the crazy amount of snow we have gotten here in California this year. Predictably, my daughter was not that interested in skiing, but did follow through with a half-hour lesson and could probably be enticed into further slaloming if it involves candy and/or extra video games.

I spent the first couple of hours at the ski place playing with her and her friend, hurling them around on innertubes, and watching them take lessons, while my wife and our friends were off humiliating themselves on the slopes in their own ski lessons. 

Then it was time for me to join in the EXTREME ACTION of radical downhill! That's what the green circle and nearly-flat slope mean, right?

And surprisingly it all came back to me pretty well. The balance and skiing part I mean, not the traumatic memories of a ski popping off and hitting me under the chin, so I lay prone and lifeless in the snow for an unknown period of time, although those did come back to me as well. I didn't fall off the chair lift--in fact I didn't even fall down once, though as I mentioned the slope I was on was pretty close to flat, so nothing much would have happened anyway.

And I realized I forgot how much I enjoyed it--the skiing part, not the unconsciousness part. I could give the unconsciousness thing a miss, honestly.


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