Weekend Note:
Modest Proposal
21 July 2012

Lovely weather, for a change. And on a weekend, too.

On Wednesday afternoon, I decided to run some errands even though I knew that it was going to rain. Dressed entirely in cotton (but for my loafers), I declined to burden myself with an umbrella. My Tilley hat would have to do. Also, I carried a zipped tote bag from Bean’s. I got across 86th Street — only that far — and then the rain came. It was a pounding rain, but intermittent at first. I lingered under awnings and walked out during let-ups. I made my way down First Avenue to 79th Street, where I took care of two of the errands on one side of the avenue before crossing to the other. By that time, there were no more let-ups. The monsoon was upon us, sweeping curtains of rain up and down the road while twisting the trees every which-way. By the time I walked into Agata & Valentina, I was soaking wet.

Or so I thought until the walk home, through pouring rain. The rain was blowing down behind me, and presently I became unpleasantly aware of walking in very wet pants. I felt sure that my back pocket would melt, and that my wallet would spill onto the pavement. It’s one thing to be wet almost everywhere else; being wet in the seat is, well, wrong. Especially now that old enough to wonder how long it’ll be before I’m back in diapers.

When I got home, my clothes were as wet as they’d have been if I’d jumped in a lake. But I wasn’t, strangely enough. I was damp, but not soaking after all.  The same could not be said for my copy of Jane Gardam’s Crusoe’s Daughter, which I’d brought along “just in case.” The top edge of the book got quite wet, zipped tote notwithstanding, and the tops of the pages were decorated with quite distracting draperies of moisture. The book was still wet when I finished reading it, on Thursday.


The news from Aurora, Colorado, raises a tidal wave of questions and conclusions, all mixed up and crazy. It tells of the kind of event that, in my idea of a properly-ordered society, would be simply inconceivable. I refuse to see the killer as an isolated rogue, as an instance of spontaneously generated evil. He seems to me, rather, fearfully to embody the outlook of the Dark Knight Rises character played by Tom Hardy. Indeed, no trip to the movie theatre is complete these days without at least a few feet of apocalyptic explosions. The imagination of disaster has clearly metastasized since Susan Sontag wrote her essay on the subject. What used to work like a preclusive charm againstf nuclear holocaust now resembles the dress rehearsal for a Cormac McCarthy festival.

I do have an idea, though.

When Kathleen was in eighth grade, she was something of a troublemaker, but the nuns (madames of the Sacred Heart, thank you very much) knew how to handle her.  They rigged an election and made Kathleen the class president. It was the same logic that transformed Joseph P Kennedy from a stock manipulator into the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Why not try it out on the National Rifle Associaion?

Hand over the regulation of guns to the NRA. No more Second Amendment problems! No more feckless legislation! Who better to make sure that the people who kill people don’t have access to the guns that “don’t.” Just put the NRA in charge, and fine the pants off it every time something like Aurora happens.

Just a thought.