The boys are gone. Richard has moved downtown, Russell has left for Poughkeepsie, and they have left behind — socks. Lots and lots of socks. In so doing, they have inadvertently given me a new quest: to find a match for every orphaned male sock in the house.
This is an ideal quest. It is not unattainable, but it isn’t easy, either. It requires important qualities, like creativity, and inventiveness, and stick-to-it-iveness, as well as the ability to think like an abandoned sock. So far, I’ve found missing socks under beds, in random boxes and crates, in closets, tucked into old shoes, on desks, behind the washer and dryer, and under shelves. I’ve found socks that don’t appear to have ever been worn, socks that look like they have been put into a blender, socks that reek at levels approaching fatal toxicity, and socks that have been left rolled in a ball and then become calcified into a crusty brittle mass.
Still, I feel a rich reward whenever I locate the missing mate for a sock. If that happens, I try to wear the now reunited pair that very day, to experience the immediate satisfaction of a successful quest. As Lancelot, Galahad, and Don Quixote will tell you, any meaningful quest is all about prompt gratification.
Here’s an update on the Scottish decision to release Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the terrorist convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has finally addressed the issue after being quiet for some time, and he has drawn criticism both for his delay in commenting and the substance of his remarks. His statement seems pretty mush-mouthed to me — “I was angered by the welcome the terrorist received, but it was Scotland’s decision, and by the way we are committed to fighting terrorism and pursuing peace” — and probably was carefully designed to try to appeal to people of just about every political persuasion.
I am a fan of the Brits; they have been stalwart allies in the fight against terrorism. You do have to wonder, however, whether their resolve may be wavering. After all, the notion that countries should show compassion for someone like the Lockerbie Bomber is a novel concept. For example, Rudolf Hess spent 41 years in Spandau Prison after being convicted at Nuremberg. Hess died there — even though he had flown to Scotland in 1942 in an effort to negotiate peace and was arrested at that time. Hess was sentenced to life in prison, and in those days life meant life.
The latest story about the circumstances of Michael Jackson’s death is sad, but also symptomatic of how modern medical practices often seem to be extraordinarily reliant on prescribing drugs as the cure for every ill. The amount of medication Jackson apparently received is astonishing.
Can’t sleep? We’ll give you a drug, and if that doesn’t work we’ll give you another, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll try another. We’ve become accustomed to a world where there is a claimed wonder drug for every physical and mental problem. With the emphasis by patients and doctors alike on immediate, drug-induced relief from non-life-threatening conditions like insomnia, is it any wonder that there are instances of wretched excess?