Monday, September 14, 2009

Civil Service

It’s fascinating to see the variety of tattoos on display these days. But something just crossed my path which, I swear, looked more like my Aunt Dorothy’s dinnerware from 1953. A malaise of semi-tropical flowers in semi-tropical colors. One person’s floor is certainly another person’s ceiling. This on the same day as a conversation I had with a woman in a coffeehouse earlier. It was one of those “I’m talking to you and telling you everything about my life whether or not you are interested moments. At first I thought she was just autistic or perhaps had Asperger’s syndrome. Her voice was a few decibels louder than most and it was clear she had no sense of social borders, social decorum. Big deal; I’ve got time on my hands these days. So after her spiel about a drug addicted boyfriend, how she’s waiting for God to send someone to marry and how her 7 year old cat is her only friend, she left as quickly as she enveloped me. Something about having to deliver motorcycle parts to someone somewhere. I really don’t want to know any more.
Whenever I'm out walking I love the fact that most people that pass by are other humans that share this planet whom I've never seen before. They are people I do not know. I often look right at them. To many, it's unnerving, but occasionally someone smiles or nods or somehow breaks the plane of distance and image. And then there are those folks like the pair I saw this afternoon. Both walking on the same sidewalk towards each other. Both on cell phones. Neither one saw the other; it's a wonder they didn't trip over each other.
In related matters, looks like a real crisis in civility is underway. From calling the President of the United States a liar in the halls of Congress to Serena ranting over a bad call by the line judge to Kanye West being Kanye West, the media’s all over it. “Is this the death of civility?” they ask. Honey, it died a long time before last week. Still we parce the meaning of these latest events.
Maybe it's all about the need to tell people what you think and where you are every moment of the day. Pitiful. And yet there are those who declare all these tirades brilliant. The all publicity is good publicity school of thought. Here I invoke Marshall McCluhan, "the medium is the message."

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