By lex, Fri – February 11, 2005
Vodka martini (Ketel 1), very dry. One olive. With Brie cheese and crackers, if it do ya.
I save the olive ’til the end.
It’s raining again in Sunny SoCal. And in combination with the olive, I believe this has affected my mood.
Big day on campus today – we had a change of command. Out with the old flag officer (and a wonderful gentleman) in with the new (no one really knows, yet.) So we were all a-flutter in our service dress blues, and your humble scribe was the formation commander. If any of my USMC readers would have seen the appallingly random and shockingly inconsistent result attended by the command, “At a close interval, dress right – DRESS!” they would maybe forgive us more than they have already.
We’re just saying.
Driving down the 5 today (in the autovoiture, it being a rainy day), just south of the La Jolla swoop, I espied a single representative of the state of California’s finest pulled over on the shoulder, lights out. Which I took as considerate, knowing as I do the inevitable custom of SoCal freeway drivers to jam on their brakes and rubberneck at the sight of a CHP light show. Which, in combination with the rain, would have no doubt made for a pile up of epic proportions.
Very clever, these CHP.
Anyway, there was a car down in the holler off the road edge, a BMW M3 by the grille, in the brambles, facing the wrong way and with the blinker tapping out a slow dirge to eventual battery depletion. Nothing more could I see, but I imagined all in a moment the inevitable human drama – the slick road, the excessive speed, the panicked stop, the spinning of the wheel, the road edge flying up, the sound, the silence.
This goes on all around us all the time, and we do not see it.
It’s the rain, I tell you. Or perhaps the olive.
I cannot tie a necktie, and it drives me to distraction.
I hope I do not sound more than ordinarily arrogant (for a fighter pilot) when I say that I tend to be good at things. You know, stuff. I pick it up quickly, whatever it is. I’m not bragging, it’s just the way it is, and I have gotten used to it.
You should too.
Which is why my inability to tie a proper necktie drives me to distraction.
I don’t have to wear a necktie very often. It’s been flight suits, for the most part. Open collared khakis, for the rest. Sometimes I wear a tie to church.
I was getting dressed today for the change of command today, and as I buttoned up my shirt, I lifted up the (previously tied) necktie (that someone else had tied for me) and lowered it over my head, only to discover that the end of the tie did not quite reach down to my belt buckle. Which of course, it is absolutely supposed to do.
No – it fell short of my belt buckle by a measurable distance. Leaving me feeling, in my service dress blues, a bit like Popeye’s hamburger-chomping friend Wimpy. Which simply would not do, for so many reasons. Most of which having to do with his 1940’s attitude, mustache, waistline and name.
I determined that I would retie the damnable thing. How hard could it be?
I must have retied the thing a dozen times, trying to get the length just right. Never mind the knot. And the clock kept ticking.
I’d make the finest possible adjustment in starting positions, on my way to the essential half-Windsor – and find the tie end reaching to my knees. Or nearly.
A centimeter’s adjustment would I go in the opposite direction – and the thin end would extend below the fat end, neither reaching to my belt. Meh.
Finally, at the last possible moment, I created a knot that would not, by itself, shame the naval service. And that reached all the way to my belt.
Fully satisfied (may I say smug?) with my success, I came home, and in a moment’s distraction, pulled the knot apart.