Wearing nothing but a towel
Sports makes no sense to me at all, although I understand several people claim to enjoy watching it and talking endlessly about it. I know one or two of them as it happens, and they are not really such bad people. But I find sports about as interesting as watching mold grow. (For example, football largely appears to involve grown men in tights trying to grab hold of other grown men. The whole idea seems to be to stop anything happening, and each brief moment of everybody jumping on everybody else and bringing the whole game to a halt is followed by a longer time of nothing happening at all. It lacks a certain continuity of action, although I admit I might be missing something.) Anyway, as a result of my obvious prejudices I almost missed some interesting information in the Sept. 9 edition of the New Yorker, in an article concerning genetics and chemistry, and their effect on human physiology and our ability to play sports.
Writer Malcolm Gladwell says many U.S. military draftees during the First World War could not button their uniform collars because they had swollen thyroid glands —goiters. However this problem was not seen in draftees from the coast. The difference turned out to be iodine, which was present in coastal diets but not elsewhere. Swollen thyroids existed at rates 40 to 50 times higher in such states as Idaho, Michigan and Montana, when compared to places like dear old Maine. Likewise, it seems intelligence was also linked positively to the presence of iodine.
I am given to understand that lobsters are absolutely riddled with iodine. Overflowing with the stuff. Bursting with it. This all seems to suggest that eating lobster is terribly good for your thyroid (who knew?) and your brain power (but of course.)
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Saturday morning found me standing on the sidewalk on Main Street outside a house near the South End clock, talking with two perfectly charming people. Some time around noonish the tenant of the house emerged in his pajamas and clutching his head, saying our conversation had woken up his girlfriend, and would we please mind going away? He told us both of them had been up until 3 a.m. drinking, and were now quite hung over.
His request, which was quite polite, unfortunately brought out the very worst in me. I struggle with the difference between how I know I should treat other people and my occasional tendency to be really be quite awful to them. The two ladies suggested we should move along, but I am afraid my inner idiot rose to the surface, all bright and glistening in the sunshine, and raised some foolish objection against being moved along from a public sidewalk. I realize now what a complete oaf I was. Oh dear.
Anyway the damage was done and the unseen hungover girlfriend was now wide awake. Furthermore, there was some kind of dog festival going on across the way at the public landing, and by this point their loudspeakers were blaring away at great volume about giving a round of applause for Mimsy and Poochums, so I am sure the poor girl never got a another wink of sleep.
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There was a sizeable cruise ship in the harbor on Sunday, parked not too far from these concrete towers where I live at the foot of Mechanic Street. I like cruise ships very much. The passengers look at me on top of the south tower and dial 911, thinking they are helping me out. I look back at them and wave, which only makes them more certain I am in a fix. And all the time they are in a big fat ship floating just a few fathoms above sunken Atlantis, and don’t know anything about it at all.
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Perhaps it is the same where you live, but many of the maple trees in the South End are suffering from a blight this year. Leaves have been turning crispy brown and plummeting to the ground for several months, and it all begins when each leaf develops a black spot. Of course the Black Spot has been a symbol of mortality for some time, ever since the days of Long John Silver and his desperate attempt to recover Kidd’s treasure by taking over the good ship Hispaniola. The Black Spot was the pirates’ sentence upon one of their own, and was handed to the condemned man shortly before his uppance came. All I can say is that the pirates have been very busy around here this summer.
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Everybody wants to be in a movie. Fabulous Bob recently had a snapshot taken of himself sitting on his deck wearing nothing but a towel, so that he can send it in to the people who are advertising for extras in the movie proposed for filming in this place. Traditionally speaking, characters who appear in movies wearing only a towel are men of power and influence sorting things out in a steam-filled back room, disposing of lesser men’s fortunes, destinies, and even lives with the casual flick of a soggy cigar. Now I am certain there are dozens of movies with a scene like this in them, but right at this moment I can only think of the Blues Brothers. As with Jake and Elwood Blues, I can visualize Fabulous Bob sitting in a sauna wearing a towel, a hat, and fogged sunglasses through which he cannot see a thing — and quite unable to read his lines on the cue card pasted to the wall opposite him.
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About that newly discovered Van Gogh painting I mentioned last week, it turns out it wasn’t found in a hole in Talbot Avenue after all. It was in Norway or some other such benighted kingdom. Sorry about that.
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Spanish Bob called from Granada to say he’s heard enough about the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse. Poor chap seems to think I have some influence in that quarter. Anyway, that’s quite enough for this week, don’t you think?
David Grima is a former editor for Courier Publications. He can be reached at email@example.com, but please don’t bother complaining about his misinterpretation of football as he will not understand.