Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fobbed Off

In the middle of somewhere in Southern England, there is a little town where tour buses stop not for long, only to give a tantalizing glimpse of the well-renowned charm of the English countryside. This town is sleepy and most shops are still closed at 10am. In fact, as though to underline the effect, there is a plaque hung on the wall of the only open shop, that claims that at this spot, nothing happened whatsoever. This town is supposed to be eminently forgettable, and of course, manages to be the opposite. I am thinking of that town today; that is exactly the kind of day I wanted this to be.

I have previously blogged about the joys of doing nothing, of having forgettable days, of the importance of the fallow season. Yesterday, I decided that I'd give myself this day off. I woke up earlier than usual and cleaned up the usual messes the old cat makes, anticipating a wonderfully nothing day. The other cats watched me cautiously all morning, wondering when I'd leave, since I seemed to be in a hurry. When I finally finished, I arranged myself on my usual spot on the couch; the kitten napping next to the spot jumped up and left the house, spooked at my strange break in routine.

When I sank down on my spot, I had decided against doing anything of import. However, somewhere in the middle of the day, as I checked mail and handled the recycling, I saw my car.

I knew the day would be lost in all manner of ways.

I was not wrong, more is the pity.

I have a new key fob that needs to be programmed to my car, and wikis and youtube videos had assured me it is easy work, no need to worry, none whatsoever. So I decided that since this job was not of much import (I have one working key), it would be allowed on a day like today. So armed with instructions, I clicked open the car and flicked my perfectly good nothing-day away.

The instructions wanted me to put in and remove my key fob a certain amount of times, within a certain number of seconds, and magically, the car would respond. It all felt like magic, like so much of science does: a certain action repeated in a particular configuration, like a ritual right out of The Golden Bough, and the magic would take.

Unfortunately, this spell was faulty, or I failed to follow the ritual properly, because the key fob stared back unresponsive at me and the car remained stubbornly silent and cold. Unbelieving, I tried running the car around a few blocks, thinking that perhaps she just needed to wake up a bit. Then, I let her rest for exactly a blink and a half, and began the ritual again.

Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results; perhaps he fails to understand the importance of repeating a ritual during a process of magic. Be that as it may, I stopped after four hours, since the neighbors began glancing uncomfortably in my direction, as I switched on and off the car and opened and closed the door, as though caught in some kind of inexplicable rhythm. The man walking his dog from the land behind mine guided his canine friend away, and the woman from two doors across steered the children she was supervising towards the large trees, encouraging them to move away from my stationary car, going off and on as though possessed.

I am defeated: the little black plastic box that looks like a defunct controller of a toy car remains unconquered. In deference to my neighbors, I have slunk back onto my spot on the couch, but I cannot stop glaring at the fob and beyond it, at the car. Of course, I make sure that my glaring at the car is not too baleful: it would never do to have my most important friend be angry with me.

I think I shall refrain from checking mail or handling any recycling until I can recover from today. The cats are absolutely right: one must make an effort to resist the siren call of chores and sit still until the world spins away.

A mug of saffron tea, tempered with lemon and ginger helps immensely if a day is to be successfully fobbed off. 

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