Sunday, January 14, 2018


I run warm. I can venture out in the cold in a t-shirt, no problem, and I rarely sleep with blankets. I feel like an ember, and it's a good feeling. But on those extremely rare occasions when I do get chilled, it's very hard to warm me up. It can be quite a serious development. There was one night so cold when I went to college in Rochester that I still haven't fully warmed up. I tell people this sometimes, as a joke. But I'm not really joking.

I understand most things quickly and clearly, at least in my idiosyncratic way. But when I do get confused, I need things explained to me as if to a child. I once, as an adult, broke down sobbing in a post office when the clerk sullenly refused to help me properly affix the form to a registered mail package while a long holiday season line impatiently waited behind me. It was the most humiliating moment of my life.

I can create things and solve problems and make cool things happen with almost magical speed (I built most of Chowhound in a week or so). But when I get dead-ended - when I confront an obstacle I don't know how to overcome, or am besieged with multiple hindrances - I can freeze up badly, and my recovery's downright pathetic, far worse than other people's. I once tried to repair my Wallace and Gromit talking alarm clock, hit an impossible snag, and left the pieces splayed out on my dining table for 18 months. They weren't touched until I had to move to a new place.

I have no facility whatsoever for operating talentlessly. Those with no particular talent, familiar with doubtful flailing, enjoy an incalculable advantage, while I exist in a hellscape of dismantled alarm clocks, imperiled by chills and tormented by confusion.

The tale of Samson has resonance. Our strengths are predicated on familiar conditions and clear runways. Frailty shadows flair, and weakness haunts power. Cut off some hair or tweak some parameter and "hero" doesn't just go to "zero", she plunges into negative numbers.

Superman fears Kryptonite way more than you or I fear cancer or homelessness.

1 comment:

Display Name said...

Oh my gosh Jim, I know this is not the point of your post but it doesn't surprise me that an experience at the post office was your doom. I have been going to the post office nearly every weekday for almost twenty years. I used to go on saturdays too until I came to my senses. Don't get me started.

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