Posted by: 4initalia | February 6, 2009

Tea and Sympathy

No thanks, I’ll stay inside

It’s another cold and rainy day in Modena. Well, since it’s rainy, I don’t actually know whether it’s cold; it’s not like I need to know, and I like to mind my own business when I can.

Besides, I got an email from a friend in Denver with news about a sudden onset of painful shoulderitis. Sharolyn woke up with a hurt shoulder; I suspect stress. So with rain ensuring that I don’t have to learn anything more about the quirks of living in Italy until it stops, I can concentrate on sending a cheery and concerned response.

It’s so amazing to answer an email and NOT HAVE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE!! In the States I was maniacally busy. I was simultaneously practicing law, teaching it, preparing to abandon various ships, and living with people who inexplicably expected clean clothes and meals. So I am okey dokey with a little down time.

Even now I am multi-tasking: I am typing while drinking tea and listening to James Taylor videos on YouTube. A cup of tea, a little email, some music, life is good.

So let’s fire up a video; what’s a good sore shoulder song to get us started? We’ll go with You’ve Got a Friend.

“Hi Sharolyn! I’m so sorry about your shoulder! How did it happen? How do you wake up with a sore shoulder? Is it tension? Because I can TOTALLY relate….”

Okay, no I can’t. But I need to be empathetic, here. If it weren’t for the yoga, and not having to work, and being in Italy, I’d be tense, too. So what do I say about that? When it’s already time to pick a new video?

My email/listen-to-music plan has a fatal flaw. Did you ever notice how brief James Taylor songs are? They are so short that by the time you pick a video and get back to your email, the song is already over. I think this is clearly a problem with James Taylor that no one has discovered before. “James Taylor, he’s so great, and he just gets better with age.” Yada yada yada.

But doesn’t anyone notice that his songs are only about three words long, and it takes no time at all to sing them?

Why do I have to do all the hard work thinking of these things? Can’t someone else do some of the heavy lifting? God, it’s exhausting, and now I need a new cup of tea, and that doesn’t get made by itself. I’m starting to get a little tense.

Back to Sharolyn’s email. Where was I? Something about tension. I’ll tell you about tension, pal. I’m listening to James Taylor and Carly Simon sing You Can Close Your Eyes. YouTube tells me that video lasts a mere 2:09. They’ll belt it out for all of two minutes and nine seconds, and then I have to choose something else. A Carly Simon solo is no better: Blackbird, 2:36. If I switch fauna, and go with both of them singing Mockingbird, it’s good for only three minutes, forty five seconds.

All these people do is sing. They’re not doing anything hard, like drinking tea and hanging out in Italy. Can’t they keep at it for longer than it takes to boil water? It’s a travesty, and it’s leading to the downfall of communication: no wonder Johnny can’t read. Or listen to long songs. Or type emails.

While the rest of you are out there, in the rain, making money, I have discovered something really scary: the whole texting thing is James Taylor’s fault. Texting, the “i cnt typ wth vwls” thing, seventeen letters on a tiny screen expressing all that humanity has to say while standing in line at Target, will lead us to an utter annihilation of classical literature.

Why? Classical literature requires a lot of words on a lot of pages, and clearly, with this texting stuff, that’s over. Young pups are ditching vowels and pitching punctuation, and we’re all riding an emoticon straight to hell.

: (

But how, you ask, is the demise of literature James Taylor’s fault?  James Taylor has a grip on the Boomer psyche that is positively Anacondal. So while today’s  whippersnappers were in utero,  their parents listened to super-short songs like Sweet Baby James (2:06), and continued to do so throughout their tots’ formative years. Short James Taylor songs quite possibly affected the developing brains of Boomer offspring.

Don’t you see? Kids today are predisposed to expect only miniscule bursts of information, which inevitably, and tragically, led to texting.

i m sd.

And if kids today won’t read an entire sentence, why would they read a book, especially a long one? Who needs to read War and Peace, when you can say it all in three consonants and a vowel? Here is War and Peace in text:

i m sd. : ).

But Russian novels are so depressing, even the joys of peace time were subdued. If Tolstoy were texting Wr n Ps today, he could have described the War of 1812 and its aftermath without even adding the cheery emoticon.

So what am I doing sending Sharolyn some lame email about the potential causes of her injury? All that needs to be said, all that ever needs to be said, is:

i m sd.

Now you’ve done it. I’m too depressed for tea. Sharolyn is wounded, communication is dead, and you’re expecting Florence Nightingale. Does anyone care how I feel?

I need to find another YouTube video and the stress is starting to lock up my shoulder.

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