—From EF—

“There appears to have been a struggle.” That’s one of my most cherished Facebook memes, headlined by “my style of housekeeping.” I am in emergency mode again, since tomorrow I get my right hip whacked and won’t be trying to wield mop and broom and vacuum for a while. And then just about when I become capable, we’re taking off for Europe. I can’t tolerate welcoming a house-sitter into a gnarly mess.

It’s never been one of my best-honed skills, but starting with the marathon run-up to opening King Lear, and then touring it nationally, and then getting hip replacement #1, the proverbial hand-basket is parked outside the door. At the ripe old age of 76, it’s time for me to learn how to deal with some periodic professional household help.

There are lots of lists with excellent recommendations for people, and I have a couple of friends who do this for a living. I think I need to start by asking one of them how to cope psychologically. After all, it doesn’t make any sense to precede a helping visit by a two-day marathon of cleaning.

Well, I could start by asking a friend who shared a Geisha day with me—hard to get closer than that. Years ago, we were at a gathering where one of the guys was feeling pretty morose because his birthday was coming up and it didn’t seem as if anybody gave a damn. By chance, she and I shared a glance and started to giggle, discreetly enough to avoid causing offence.

Later we talked and plotted and then invited the dude for the birthday present of all time, the total attention of two ladies celebrating his existence. We wined him, dined him, washed him, massaged him, etcetera, and it was a hoot. And it gave a special new level of bonding to the friendship between her and me.

So if I could partner with this lady in that kind of enterprise, I think I could reasonably ask her to assist me in getting over myself. I’m gonna do it.

—From the Fool—

I’ve had trouble sleeping. I get there okay unless my head itches as if my hair is growing too fast but then I try to think slow thoughts that get me bored and I go to sleep.

And then I start dreaming about walking someplace to catch a bus but I don’t know where it stops and so I just keep walking for blocks past banks and car dealerships and that’s really boring so it’s restful.

But then it’s the hallway at school and I’m looking for my locker but I forget the number. I know there’s something in there that I need, like walking past the banks. I know I must be way out of school for years and years but the smell keeps pulling you back.

Then finally there’s a door. I open the door and it’s little kids. It’s Mrs. Little’s kindergarten and it’s Election Time which is right before Cookies Time. They’re electing Kindergarten President. The big issue is a little girl named Orpah who’s lying flat on the floor. The question is what to do. Should they tell her “You can have two cookies” or should they kick her in the head or maybe let the janitor sweep her up?

But one of the candidates was this boy who looks big for his age, about two hundred pounds, and he jumps up and yells “Fire!” Pretty soon all the little kids are yelling “Fire!” and you could tell who’s going to win and rule kindergarten. But it’s hard to sleep through the yelling.

So finally Mrs. Little yells, “That’s enough, children!” and they all sit down and she tells them to get their rugs and lay down and be ashamed for ten minutes. Which is then more peaceful but I can’t stop hearing the big enormous jumbo little boy yelling “Fire!”

Maybe tomorrow I’ll check out what’s happening in Second Grade.

—From CB—

Walking through our local Farmers Market today, I find the walkway blocked by a small dog, or rather, a small-dog extension. As a slight, gently-bent woman scans a potter’s offerings, her pet—a small rat terrier or a tall rat—is checking out opportunities at the chocolate stand across the walkway. Between lady and dog stretches a long elastic leash.

A humane restraint for the dog, but a challenge to anyone—myself at the moment—who wants to waltz down the walkway. I shuffle one way, the dog shifts cooperatively, maintaining the blockade. As the creature’s human companion contemplates the stoneware, I try various strategies of circumvention, subvention, supravention. At last weighing my options for a surprise punt, I picture a wee fur-ball lofting over the vendors’ tents.

But I simply ask, “Ma’am, could you reel in your dog?” and she replies, “Oh, sorry” and complies. I feel bad for the slightly guilty lisp in her voice, but I proceed.

What promotes the free will and entrepreneurship of one creature risks impeding the pathway of another. The balance of wills is the human art of politics, though at times complicated by small rambling dogs. As it happened, the woman didn’t scream at me for speciesist insensitivity, and I didn’t squash the mutt, and we both walked forth to a day rife with possibilities. May we all find such balance in future encounters.

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