Memoirs are a big thing in the popular-book publishing arena these
days. It is a fad that is sure to pass. I intend to
hasten its passing with a micro-memoir of my own.
I am in Chicago. I have come to Chicago to visit the
University of Chicago, and to collect 23 of my chromosomes.
(They wandered off last September).
I have come from a spot near a decaying industrial city in the Midwest.
A minor item on my agenda for this trip, is to learn the
secrets of Prosperity from town where people still prosper.
My success in this venture is assured by my skill as a
Natural Observer of Humankind. Like other href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_hydroxide">NaOHs
I am capable of href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saponification">rendering
mere fat into something useful.
I sit in a Starbucks href="http://www.google.com/maps?hl=en&lr=&q=starbucks&near=Chicago,+IL&sll=41.85,-87.65&sspn=0.469532,0.796509&latlng=41850000,-87650000,16044380564469445165">at
the corner of 55th and Woodlawn. In order to learn
the secrets of Prosperity, I will examine the patrons of this upscale
establishment. First, I will examine their clothing.
There is a man wearing an outfit, consisting of matching denim pants
and coat. There is a tag on the back: Authentic
Jeans. These jeans, in addition to being Authentic,
have the distinction of having very large pockets. What I
surmise from the label, is that the people of Chicago value Authenticity.
Perhaps they are prosperous because they value Authenticity.
Or maybe it is the large pockets. I don't know.
I notice that many of the other patrons are wearing jeans, but only one
pair of jeans proclaims itself to be Authentic.
Perhaps all those others, those presumably-inauthentic jeans,
should be disrespected. And those wearing them should be
disrespected as well.
I finish drinking my Grande coffee "with room."
Let us take this moment to contemplate the fate of intestinal cell
#94860134. This particular cell is an epithelial cell at the
apex of a villus, about mid-way down my jejunum. Such cells
typically survive for only about three days. This one is
about to be flushed down a long pipe made of polyvinyl chloride.
Intestinal cell #94860134 will undergo href="http://www.answers.com/apoptosis">apoptosis.
Or maybe apotheosis.
I always get those two mixed up; they mean about the same
The contents of the cell will, at some point, end up in Lake Michigan,
where they will be incorporated into algae, or something like that.
Here at Starbucks, the key to the Men's Room is attached to a large
plastic ladle. They do that to keep someone from putting it
into his pocket, and walking off with it. Perhaps that is one
of the secrets of Prosperity: don't let anyone steal the key to the
It occurs to me that even the very large pockets of Authentic
jeans are not large enough to accommodate plastic ladles. No,
these jeans, Authentic or not, really serve only
one purpose: they cover underwear. Denizens of Chicago agree
with other Americans on this point. Underwear always must be
covered. We all have it, just like we all have stuff in our
intestines. But we must pretend that we don't have it.
Notice that covering it with something inauthentic
is just as effective as covering it with something Authentic.
We all know the reason that underwear must be covered. The reason is
that uncovered underwear will reflect light in certain recognizable
patterns. That light will be refracted by the lenses in the
eyes of other denizens. It will form corresponding patterns
on the retinas. There, the light will activate chromophores
within rods and cones. The rods and cones will generate
electrical impulses that will be propagated down the optic nerves, all
the way back to the occipital lobes. And when those
particular signals hit those particular lobes... well, I better not say
right now. Ask me later, when there is no one else around.
Intestinal cell #94860134, meanwhile, has just performed its last
useful act. It has absorbed a molecule of href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choline">choline
from an href="http://www.kraftfoods.com/om/history2.htm">Oscar Mayer
wiener that I ate yesterday. Later today, that
molecule will be used in frontal lobe cortical cell #48556057 to make a
molecule of acetylcholine.
And that molecule of acetylcholine will be released by
frontal lobe cortical cell #48556057. The release of that
molecule will remind me to write all this down.
Unfortunately, now I can't remember the secret of Prosperity.
Does everything have to be Authentic? Is
it the cells? The jeans? The large pockets? The key
to the restroom? Or is it spending time with those 46
chromosomes, 23 of which are mine?
I'm starting to wonder if you have gone to seed after all.
I've been reading a lot of Vonnegut lately, and am temporarily captivated by the absurdity of life. Don't worry, most of what I post here actually will make sense.