Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Professor and My Eating Disorder

Professor Ian Shoop took another walk this morning down the High Street in Cloverdale. I passed him on my walk home from the Wonderland Bakery where I met a few friends and discussed the concept of information loss which may or may not occur as one crosses the event horizon of a black hole.

Please don’t come to the conclusion that I’m smarter than I look. The residents of Cloverdale really are as smart as they look. So, with one glance, even from a distance, you can pretty much sum up the IQ of any person you’re approaching on the pavement. That helps if they stop you for a quick conflab. In the case of my friends and I, our conversations cover a broad spectrum considering their cognitive abilities. With some of my Cloverdale friends I find that even discussing the weather can be a challenge, especially if its doing more than one thing at once - such as rain combined with a strong wind. My other friends and I are perfectly comfortable discussing black holes and event horizons. Mind you, I may not be able to match them brain cell for brain cell, but I’m a darn good listener and know when to nod my head in agreement - whether I understand what was said or not.

Anyway, our little Saturday morning gathering discussed the topic mentioned above while enjoying a muffin, with cream center, and cup of ice cold milk. At half past nine I excused myself, thanked Mr. Moss for his hospitality, purchased a nice sticky bun for tomorrow’s breakfast, and stepped out into the sunshine for the walk home - which is where I bumped into Professor Ian Shoop.

Bumped into isn’t exactly accurate. I saw him from a distance and knew from his appearance he was in deep thought over something in the realm of physics. His eyes lit up when he saw me. I thought to cross the street and dash into Tipsey’s Travel Service to avoid him (his conversations can keep you engaged for over an hour) but decided to stay my course. Perhaps he would have something interesting to say today. Maybe enlighten me on a new discovery or theory.

Ten steps from me he started talking to himself, going through a rehearsal of his first few words. At two steps he inhaled. At one, he spoke.

“Fine weather today,” he said pointing to the bright blue sky. I was confused. I was sure most people in Cloverdale regarded me as fairly intelligent. After all, I just finished my 27th year of teaching school and I have a university degree. In my mind I reviewed all the possible reasons why he would greet me with the current state of the weather.

“Yes beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky,” I replied with a look of curiosity.

“Well, yes there is one if you look toward the mountains you’ll see the first indications of a.....” he stopped himself abruptly and looked intently at my mouth, then proceeded to finish his statement, “.....yes not a cloud in the sky. Good observation.” The Professor tipped his hat and continued to walk toward the canal.

I was confused but thought twice before letting it deflate my spirits. It was a fine day and I was determined to keep it that way.

The train station was my last stop before reaching home. My Saturday morning routine included a stop at the station’s news stand to pick up a copy of “News of the World”. I was disappointed to see Miss Lily wasn’t at her usual post in the newstand’s window. Miss Lily and I always enjoyed a discussion, usually sparked by the headline on the newspaper. Today someone else was at the till. A teenager with an unremarkable face peppered with acne.

“Hello,” I said as I approached. The young lady smiled as she sat her phone down on the counter. It seemed I had interrupted a text.
“News of the World please.”
“Wha?” she responded with a look of confusion bordered by indifference.
“News of the Worlds,” I repeated.
“Ya don’t want tha one mister,” she said as she held a copy in her hand and examined the headline.
“Here ya go. How ‘bout a nice junior cross word puzzle,” she suggested.
“Why would I want the Junior Crossword Puzzle?” I asked, to which the girl shrugged her shoulders and slid the newspaper over the counter and into my hand. I dropped the proper amount of coinage into her palm and turned to walk away.

“Ya won’t understand it,” she mumbled under her breath. I pretended not to hear.

There was something terribly wrong in our village of the bewildered. Why did everyone seem to think I had lost half my IQ?

The answer was apparent when I got home and had a chance to look at myself in the mirror. The chocolate muffin with creamy center left a nice ring around the outside of my mouth and the front of my shirt held a noticeable stain of dribbled milk. My eating disorder was to blame for everyone’s misperceptions of my state of mind.

I vowed, in the future, to always check myself in the mirror whenever I eat out to avoid misunderstandings.

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