March 17th, 2007

Interesting words

"Youth and beauty are the faithful companions of poets; but those charming phantoms scarcely visit the rest of us, even for the space of a season. We do not know how to retain them."
Anatole France

How did I miss him?

I am sitting here at the computer, drinking my coffee in my St. Olaf mug, reading the NYTimes. You know, the usual morning for an eldster who has nothing to do on Friday night. I was browsing the obits and came across a fairly large one for a man named Richard S. Prather "Author of Naked Mysteries." I had never heard of the man, even though he wrote in a genre that I know quite well, at least by reputation. This man's hero was a character named Shell Scott "a 6-foot-2 ex-marine with a broken nose, a bristling white buzz cut and an ear ravaged by a bullet he took in the Pacific theater." The books were apparently upbeat, funny and bizarre, with a heavy tendency to include naked people, especially females, in the plots.

How could I have missed at least being familiar with the name, I, who in the seventies read all the MacDonalds (both John and John D.) as they came out? Moreover, anyone with a taste for Hammett and his descendants has to know of a writer who could pen the line:

'She'd just turned 21, but had obviously signaled for the turn a long time ago.'

The fellow was a classic man of his age (85), even married 61 years to his wife. Even his obit photo shows a man with a pencil-thin mustache and a disgusting but endearing loud wide collar shirt and leisure suit.

Once again, all of a sudden, I am reminded of the huge quantity of stuff that I never got around to learning.

When cheapness hits home

I was raised not to waste things. Even my pencils in grade school had to be used to their nubs before replacements were allowed by my parents. Here at the Salt Mine, my first and most permanent reminder that I come from a different class than my students is their refusal to bend over and pick up a pencil or pen that has hit the ground. I do not like that casual waste, though it means that I haven't had to buy a writing utensil for twenty-seven years.

The habit came to me forcefully today. I am dressed up for a winging shindig tonight at the SMHS annual auction, so I put on my fancy duds. I forgot to stick a pen in my pocket, so decided to take one from my desk. Now, when VD died in 2001, among the detritus that came to me were several nice Cross pens. I have a few at home and a few here. I decided to use a silver Cross pen for the evening. BUT, that pen has what Cross calls a "broad" ink cartridge, meaning a thicker nib and one that requires some pressure to flow easily. I personally prefer thin line nibs, so have never been willing to use the silver pen. Okay, now also in my drawer is a package of Cross replacements that VD bought for her future use. I took one of the "medium" replacement point refills (not my heart's desire but totally usable by me) and put it into the silver pen. Well and good, right.

Then the dilemma. What do I do with the "broad" point refill that was already in the pen? At first I wrapped it in a baggie and put in a note with "broad" on it. Drawered it. Stared at the drawer. Opened the drawer, reached in and THREW THE BROAD POINT REFILL INTO THE WASTE BASKET!!!

The waste of it. And those refills cost a whole $2.60 per each. I suppose before I leave here I will take it back out and put it into the drawer "just in case" I have a need for a broad point refill. Well, it was a good fight, and I almost won.

Blast it.