The Write Way
Friday 29 July 2011
Life is funny, isn't it, the way it springs revelations on us?
I had occasion to travel on a bus last week ... alone. The Love of My Life was playing golf, and the shops I needed to visit were too far to walk, so I undertook an adventure on Public Transport. That's not unusual for us (as you already know). We often head off into town on the bus and train and then hop on a ferry for a trip up and/or down the river. What made this different was that I was doing it solo, and that really makes a difference.
All was well on the inward leg of my journey, because I'd deliberately waited until the morning rush was over before setting out; it was when I was homeward bound that my problems started and I had my epiphany ...
I'd been a little longer than I had anticipated, and as a result it was getting close to Peak Hour when I boarded the bus, but I settled myself into a window seat near the side door where there's a see-through panel separating the seat from the people who choose to ignore the warning signs and stand near the door.
It had taken some quick manoeuvring to get there before the couple of other passengers who got on at my stop, but I'd proven victorious and had managed to avoid having to sit at one of those facing-the-middle seats located along the sides of the bus towards the front. These are designed with fold-up seats so people with strollers, wheelchairs etc can have room. It's also the part of the bus which has straps, so people who are only travelling a short distance can jam in there -- it's quite literally standing room only.
But if you find yourself in one of these in peak hour, it's a nightmare, because you spend the entire journey facing the nether regions of your fellow passengers. So I make it my business never to sit there!
However, as we all know, nothing lasts forever, and as we trundled along, the bus continued to fill, until there was only the seat next to me and a couple right at the back still available.
The bus stopped and there was a kerfuffle at the front as someone struggled to search his pockets for his ticket (why don't people look for their tickets while they're standing at the bus stop?) He eventually found it and then proceeded to lumber down the aisle (for he was one of those people who can best be described as 'large').
"Please, don't let him sit here, please, please, pl ... Oh bugger!" I muttered, as with a gargantuan sigh and a great deal of huffing, he dropped onto the seat next to me. If we'd been in a cartoon, I'd have bounced off my seat and there would have been an impression of my head and upper body protruding from the bus's roof, such was the force with which he landed.
I shrank as far into my corner as possible, but as the bus wound through the streets, I felt his flesh seeping under mine with every twist and turn. And as I sat huddled in my corner, lifting myself higher and higher off the seat and folding my arms and legs closer into my body in a way that would make a contortionist weep with envy, I pondered this reaction.
Would I have felt the same if it were Sean Connery or Brad Pitt or Hugh Jackman sitting next to me and pressing the flesh?
Reluctantly I had to admit that I would, because we're all very protective of our private space. Mind you, if it had been one of the T'riffic Trio, I'm sure I could have forced myself to stoically endure it ... but that's another fantasy ... er ... story.
And that's when I had my revelation, which is this: as much as I like and appreciate the company of my fellows, there are very few in this world that I'm prepared to let into my private space. And I'm certain that if pressed, most of us would admit to feeling the same way.
In order to distract myself from thoughts of what that oddly unpleasant smell could possibly be, I started listing the people I could comfortably share this close proximity with ... the Love of My Life, my children, my parents ... a limited number of close friends I've known for a long time ... And that's about it!
But the prospect of sitting shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm or thigh to thigh with a stranger, especially a large, possibly unwashed stranger who's been goodness knows where, well, that's an entirely different kettle of fish all together!
I know, I know ... that speaks volumes about my hang-ups, doesn't it?
I also had lots of time to consider how it is that some people become so large, I mean, no-one goes to bed one night, trim taut 'n terrific and wakes up the following morning morbidly obese. It takes a great deal of time and effort to do that to yourself.
And yes, I can hear you loudly proclaiming, "It's not his fault!"
But I ask, who else is responsible for what goes into a person's mouth but that person?
No-one is standing, gun pointed at his head screaming, "Step away from the yoghurt! Put down that fresh fruit! Move across to that triple-cheese pizza now! Do it!"
The poor soul ... he looked so uncomfortable, lugging around that huge body. And his breathing was so laboured, I feared he was going to expire any minute. (And since I've already 'fessed up to one of my hang-ups, I may as well add another ... I hate to admit that I suspect the limit of my help would have been to call the ambulance on my phone and start CPR chest compressions. I wonder how many of us -- really and truly -- would be able to apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in these circumstances.)
This all took place on a cool and dry winter's day, how this man manages in the heat and humidity of summer I can't begin to imagine.
But he didn't arrive in this world like that ... Spat from a clam, fully-formed, like Venus.
No, he started as we all did (or as most of us did), as a normal-weight baby, with a long, healthy and active life ahead of him to enjoy.
How does this happen?
It's not a financial matter, because it's much cheaper to buy a couple of apples to munch as a snack than a serve of chips or a hamburger or a chocolate-laden biscuit or a calorie-rich cream-stuffed donut. And a glass of water from the tap is free as well as calorie-free, plus it quenches thirst more effectively than sugar-rich soft drinks or creamy coffees.
And it's not a matter of time, because you can grab a couple of slices of bread out of the cupboard, cut up a tomato, add a slice of cheese and a lettuce leaf much faster than you can drive to the "fast-food" outlet, park the car, stand in a queue and buy a takeaway.
It's all about choices -- we choose what we eat and how much we eat, and no-one else is responsible for that except us. Even if all your meals are prepared for you, it's still your choice how much you eat.
All right ...Yes, I admit that this is one of my personal hobby-horses and another symptom of my GOW syndrome (Grumpy Old Woman), bit doesn't it get on your goat, too, the way people won't accept responsibility for any of their problems any more?
What do goats have to do with anything?
It's just an expression ... it means to really annoy. In fact, when you stop and think about it, lots of idiomatic expressions seem to revolve around irritation:
to be as mad as a cut snake
to drive someone batty
to bug someone
to ruffle someone’s feathers
to be like a red rag to a bull
to get/put someone's back up
to get someone's dander up
to raise someone’s hackles
to make someone's blood boil
to get in someone’s hair
to drive someone up the wall
to be a pain in the neck (or other part of the anatomy)
to tick someone off
to grate on someone's nerves
And lots involve animals ... see hundreds of them here
This week's Little Something Extra has some tips to help you and your family (if you need help) stay fit and healthy -- you can get the tips for less than the cost of a can of fizzy drink and a packet of fatty chips! You'll also find some interesting findings about cayenne pepper and coughing ... No, that's all I'm saying at the moment.
While touching lightly on the subject of food, here are some well-known thoughts you may care to drop into your next conversation:
I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead -- not sick, not wounded -- dead. (Woody Allen)
Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. (Unknown)
Never eat more than you can lift. (Miss Piggy)
Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. (Mark Twain)
This week's quiz:
Some words about food and digestion and health and ...
cellulite, cholesterol, diuretic, hypotension, metabolism, bariatrics, adipocytes, catabolism, endorphins, hypertension
1. branch of medicine dealing with the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity, both pharmacological and surgical
2. group of proteins produced naturally by the body with potent analgesic properties (similar to morphine)
3. chemical processes that take place within a living cell or organism that break down substances to provide energy and/or raw materials which are then re-synthesised into new and necessary substances to support life
4. waxy lipid (fat); important for our health, but excess is deposited on the surfaces of blood vessels making them stiff and causing blockage
5. the dimples and bumps in the skin, usually around the thighs and buttocks, caused when the natural structure of the skin is stretched by fat cells growing too large
6. metabolic breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones, often resulting in a release of energy
7. the scientific term for fat cells
8. drug that increases the discharge of urine, used to move fluid through the body quickly as a form of purging
9. blood pressure above the normal range
10. blood pressure below the normal range
Here are some useful tips if you have a teenaged daughter ... food is the bane of their lives, remember?
To activate your teenaged daughter, simply place her in the vicinity of a telephone or Instant Messenger. No further programming is required.
Your teenaged daughter requires regular meals, which must be purchased for her at restaurants, because she detests everything you eat because it is like so disgusting.
She does not want you to accompany her to these restaurants, because some people might see you and like I'm sure I want my friends to see me eating dinner with my parents.
Either order take-out food or just give her the money, preferably both. If you order pizza, never answer the doorbell because the delivery boy might see you and Ohmigod he is so-o-o hot.
Yes, your daughter's idea of an attractive man is the pizza boy. (Source)
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Last week's quiz:
Match up these philosophical terms with their meanings:
aesthetics, determinism, antinomy, meme, apodeictic, eudaemonism, dialectic, metaphysics, existentialism, materialism
1. system of ethics which defines and enforces moral obligation by its relation to happiness or personal well-being; approach to ethics that aims at the achievement of a good life; concerned with satisfying the objective conditions of happiness rather than with pursuing the subjective experience of pleasure - EUDAEMONISM
2. the characteristic feature of any proposition that states what is necessary (or impossible), perfectly certain (or inconceivable), or demonstrably true (or false); of a proposition that it's necessarily true or logically certain - APODEICTIC
3. branch of philosophy concerned with providing a comprehensive account of the most general features of reality as a whole; the study of being as such; concerned with the existence and nature of minds, bodies, god, space, time, causality, unity, identity and the world; the philosophical study of being and knowing - METAPHYSICS
4. the branch of philosophy dealing with beauty and taste - AESTHETICS
5. a 20th-century philosophical movement; assumes that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves; emphasises the primacy of individual existence over any presumed natural essence for human beings; belief that the fact of existence as a human being entails both unqualified freedom to make of yourself whatever you will and the awesome responsibility of employing that freedom appropriately, without being driven by anxiety toward escaping into the self-deception of any conventional set of rules for behaviour, even though the entire project may turn out to be absurd - EXISTENTIALISM
6. belief that, since each momentary state of the world entails all of its future states, it must be possible (in principle) to offer a causal explanation for everything that happens. When applied to human behavior, this belief is sometimes supposed to be incompatible with the freedom required for moral responsibility. The most extreme variety is fatalism - DETERMINISM
7. a contradiction between two statements that seem equally reasonable - ANTINOMY
8. self-replicating unit of cultural meaning, as understood by biologist Richard Dawkins. Transmitted socially among individuals of different generations, evolve through processes of mutation and natural selection. (Thus, for example, the jingles sung by children while skipping rope, the conventional standards for fashionable dress, and the notions comprising the "common-sense" view of the world are all passed on through time, gradually modifying without any deliberate guidance) - MEME
9. belief that only physical things truly exist; claim (or promise) to explain every apparent instance of a mental phenomenon as a feature of some physical object; philosophical theory that matter is the only reality - MATERIALSIM
10. any formal system of reasoning that arrives at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments; a contradiction of ideas that serves as the determining factor in their interaction - DIALECTIC
And since we've been chatting about health ...
Here are some signs you're eating genetically modified food:
Your green beans are attempting a split-flanking manoeuvre on your clearly surprised mashed potatoes.
You use the leftover chicken as a night-light for your kid's room.
The label says that your buffalo chicken wings are made from REAL flying bison.
And finally, a bit of a quiz:
Question: What do you call a supermarket without genetically-modified food?
A Little Something Extra
Get your copy of my ebook, Healthy, Happy and Fit -- a Guide for the Whole Family here. couldn't buy a hamburger for what it costs, and a hamburger only satisfies you for a couple of hours. And yet with my ebook, you'll get tips that will help your whole family stay fit and healthy for the rest of their lives. That's what I call a bargain!
We should all learn how to do this ... CPR here
And artificial respiration ... mouth-to-mouth here
Cayenne pepper ... treating heart attacks? See what you think here
Can coughing help save you if you're having a heart attack? Always call the ambulance ... here
Oxymoron of the week: fast-food restaurant
Word of the week: Cibophobia (n) fear of food. This word comes from the Latin cibus - food. I hope you don't suffer from this ...
And a Latin phrase never to use to force your children to eat:
Aud id devorabis amabisque, aut cras prandebis!
[OHD EED day-woh-RAH-bees ah-mah-BEES-kway OHT KRAHS prahn-DAY-bees]
(You'll eat it and like it, or you'll have it for breakfast tomorrow!)
Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders? How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king) Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here for these and more: http://www.cafepress.com/write101
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Copyright Jennifer Stewart 2011
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com