Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Concerning fleeting thoughts

The title of the new Bush book, "Dead Serious," triggered a fleeting thought—shouldn't it be Deathly Serious? Or Deadly Serious? Dead serious is what your mom is when she points her fork at you and tells you, "Don't slurp your spaghetti." Surely we can agree that our president is way past dead serious.

I'm having record numbers of fleeting thoughts these days, and I hope it's just a spell and not that I've arrived at "That's the way the cookies crumbles, baby."

In between fleeting thoughts I've been busy in the kitchen. Fall fills me with reckless ambition, so I ambitiously tackled a batch of Cristina's Hungarian mushroom soup. This recipe wouldn't be a cinch even for someone other than an infrequent cook. It's a restaurant-size batch, naturally, and this time I remembered to borrow a daughter's big kettle—last fall I divvied everything between two pots better suited for side-dish veggies, and it was a mess.

Cristina's Hungarian mushroom soup has many, many ingredients and it calls for much, much chopping. Attention is required, which you might think would keep my fleeting thoughts at bay, and so it did until I was well into chopping the mushrooms. Such a huge mound—someone with a prankster mindset might be tempted to stuff every niche and cranny of a VW bug with them. Anyway, when I was about halfway through the mushrooms my attention wavered, and fleeting thoughts started to take over again. Most were too superfluous to share, which is the way with fleeting thoughts. We don't select them; they simply appear.

It's not often that I feel abashed about my fleeting thoughts, but sometimes a wicked one pops up, and I'm grateful we can't read one another's minds. I do not believe I have enough of the wicked type to see a shrink about, but, still, here at the far reaches of advanced middle age ... heavens.

Lest you think I have naught but fleeting thoughts, I once in a while get into a dead serious clip that goes on for minutes.

Nearing the end of the mushroom chop, for instance, I had one about Fred Thompson. I kept visualizing him in all those weeks before he added his name to the hefty list of those who believe they're called upon to be president, all those long weeks when CNN didn't have anything better to show than that bite of Fred lumbering down a pillared hall that looks as if it might be the Hall of Justice. His great head is lowered in dead serious thought, and he does look ever so presidential. If his P.R. people don't take that clip, cut out the pillared hall and substitute a just-landed helicopter, and then show Fred lumbering along with his great head lowered and headed for what we'd figure is the White House, they'll miss showing a preview of Fred doing the Helicopter Walk—the daily news clip we see of every president on every channel on every day going back as far as grainy TV.

When President Bush was just at the beginning of doing the Helicopter Walk his discomfort was dismaying to see, but soon enough he turned into the best Helicopter Walker of all time. He no longer has a trace of self-consciousness in his salute when he waves to the left and then to the right to what must be a collection of admirers, though the clip never shows who's there and maybe there's nobody there. In any case, Fred's P.R. people will miss the boat if they don't use that clip. Many months from now when we're standing in the voting booth preparing to touch-screen our choice, that clip of Fred could well have been planted subliminally, like HEAD ON, APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD! Weird things influence our voting tendencies.

After such sustained thinking, I was right back to the fleeters:

You gotta clean the house ... (my sisters are coming).

What'll I have for dinner ? ... (in the middle of breakfast dishes).

Homeland Security—how come not Homeland Absurdity? ... (every day we hear about the goofs). What'll I have for dinner? ... (I'm doing the dishes after lunch).

You gotta clean the house. ...

Nice glutes ... (should I fall in behind a splendid presentation).

Nice glutes isn't a common fleeting thought—not one that pops up over and over like "What'll I have for dinner?" which today is easy—Hungarian mushroom soup. It turned out good.

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