austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Again and again they promise the moon

How are you? You don't have to answer that. I know how you are, and everyone else does. You're tired. I'm tired. Everybody you ever meet is tired, and if you ask them, they'll agree they're tired. The last person who didn't insist he was tired was one Murston R Pangloss, a tire salesman outside Storrs, Connecticut, which when you think about it doesn't actually narrow down where he was all that much, and he was crushed in 2006 by the toppling of a giant Michelin Man statue. You can still get a good argument going about whether that was an ironic ending, if you ask people in-between yawns.

This wasn't always the case. In earlier generations when people only felt tired after they'd done something tiring, usually involving hoisting. Anyone would agree a person who's gone hoisting deserves to be tired, especially in the days before widespread computerization meant that would-be hoisters would have to spend half the day looking for something in need of a hoist. But apart from that people would be generally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Of course, they also would sing the Whiffenpoof Song so there were things to worry about. But social conventions have now changed, then changed back, then went back again so much that being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed is presently considered an unflattering look on everybody but Laser Squirrels.

You can say all this tiredness is from people not sleeping enough but there's more to it than that. There are people who've been in a persistent napping state since 1996, rousing only to complain about dial-up speed and how small the newspapers are printing the comics anymore, who still say they're tired. Either we're doing things that make us more tired than we used to, or else we're not doing the things that don't make us more tired than we used to not do. Go diagram that sentence if it doesn't make sense to you, which you won't do, because nobody learns how to diagram sentences anymore, because we're too tired to figure out what the heck a modifying particle or a hoisted gerund or a hewn propositional pretext is.

A few brave souls try to insist their tiredness isn't any big thing. They'll say that they're only ``a little tired'' or ``a bit tired'', as if the tired-ness was a neatly domesticated pet, even as they wander drowsily into a Budget Uproariations meeting, attempt to butter one of those brown fanfold envelopes with the elastic string to close it that you never see in any stores but some people just always have, then pour a cup of coffee on the Customer Dissatisfaction representative, which would cause him to wake howling in pain except the person who plugged in the coffee maker in her semi-sleep plugged it into an Ethernet plug that wasn't used in four years, so the coffee is lukewarm but has a popular Twitter feed.

Before we take rash actions let's admit there are people who are legitimately tired. Someone might have been off sustaining the important historical tradition of lighthouse-eating, for example, or might have been busy bench-pressing the lesser asteroids. No shame attaches to being tired from that. It's the people who haven't got legitimate excuses who need to start doing the things we used to do that kept us from being tired, and what are they?

I don't know. I wasn't around back then. From what I read, though, we used to do a lot more hewing of things. Used to be people would find raw materials and hew them, something roughly, into new things. So maybe it's something in hewing that fends off tiredness. We can't be perfectly sure without experiments, so I'm charging everyone out there who hasn't been teaching paint to giggle or been doing some other excused activity to go to the nearest garage (NOTE: Get permission of the garage-owner first; ask between yawns) and hew something for a couple weeks. I'm going to take a different angle on things people used to do, and try using ``shan't'' in conversation. Eventually we'll find the key, or we won't. Shan't.

Trivia: The Palace at Versailles originally had no room reserved specifically for dining; public feasts would be held in a reception space and the King took most of his private meals in his bedroom. Louis XV made space for a dining room in 1735. Source: The Essence Of Style: How The French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, And Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: The Wave Watcher's Companion: From Ocean Waves To Light Waves Via Shock Waves, Stadium Waves, And All The Rest Of Life's Undulations, Gavin Pretor-Pinney. Oddly for someone with that name, the author is British.

Tags: humor

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