Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amuse Bouche

What qualities and conditions are involved when you find yourself caring about a person, place or thing?  You might extend "thing" to the particulars of a book, a story, or an essay because these, in their way, are as plentiful as persons or places are to you.  


Sometimes, when sitting at one of your favorite coffee house "offices," or in some more overt public venue such as the Y, a book store, a street, or park, you will be attracted to individuals by some trait or physical appearance; they will have caught your attention long enough to cause you to feel more than mere curiosity, delving into a more specific kind of curiosity, such as Would this person be good to have as a friend?  What are the enjoyable signs radiating from this individual?  How far does your curiosity go?


Such individuals remind you in particular of books you encounter at used book stores.  Some quality--a remembered review?  an earlier resolve to have read the book?  an intriguing presentation of a subject that is dear to you?--has called the book forth to your attention.  Now, you pick it up, heft the chances of developing familiarity.


You might say you are caused to care by an assessment of the possibility of a relationship.  The assessment is as idiosyncratic as you can imagine the nature of idiosyncrasy to be.


You might say you are drawn into caring by some pheromone-like substance, detected by some radar you are ill-equipped to deconstruct.


You might also say you are drawn into caring by a sense of impending chemistry between you, the person, place, or thing (including book, magazine, story, or essay, and with great emphasis recognizing the potential for poetry) in which you understand you need additional contact with the person, place, or thing to allow you the sense of being able to create thoughts, words, sentences, and, ah yes, feelings.  You are drawn to potential tools for your personal toolkit.


It is a demonstrable truth that you are attracted to many items in the shelves of the larger grocery stores you patronize, a truth made manifest by the numerous entries on your American Express statement for Gelson's Markets, Trader Joe's, and Ralph's.  It is equally demonstrable that there are any number of items in these establishments over which your eyes seem to scan without picking up the slightest clue of a potential relationship.


In your earlier, bachelor days, your larders often reflected an indication of your personal finances, it seeming to you that when you were on your uppers with finances, your shelves were crammed with pates, kippered herring snacks, exotic olive oils, boxes of couscous, salmon roe, and of course real-time caviar, as well as equally exotic crackers on which to present such delicacies.  During times of greater stability, your diet was more apt to be more conventional, the whole grain, lamb, assorted greens, a crock pot of chili or perhaps a chicken soup.  Now you appear to be back to such concepts as fire-roasted peppers, pickled garden vegetable garnishes, beans in unlikely sauces, tinned sardines from Portugal, a variety of peanut butters, and, indeed, Thai peanut sauce, presumably to drench the numerous versions of rice, each in its unique packet.  Something about these items caused you to think you could have a relationship with them.  You were in effect, opting on behalf of your dog companion when you chose a lemon-herb roasted chicken and a barbecued chicken for her.  It is a responsibility, choosing the amuse bouches for your dog.


Why do you care?  It is not an easy thing to answer nor any the easier to pursue in thought or essay. You tend not to finish--reading or writing--stories you do not care for; you know this much, and perhaps this is where the thread is to be picked up.  You care about things your instincts and appetites tell you can and should be finished, brought to some agreeable conclusion or awareness.


With so many things about you that you do not care for or about, you in particular do not wish to spend time with persons, places, or things that do not hold out to you that sense of a promising relationship.


Even Sally would, you believe, find sense in that awareness.

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