03 April 2009


So I have been reading Sarah Vowell intermittently since Christmas when Dave got me three of her books as gifts. It was a good choice on his part because I totally love her. I was laughing on the T while I read it on the trip home. This paragraph just killed me:

The professor asked if anyone had read Camus. I, of course, had read L'Etranger in the original French, and raised my hand.* I mentioned the protagonist who doesn't care about his mother's death. Then I said that I often washed dishes with my mom. When she'd hand me a knife to dry, I would have the fleeting thought that it would be pretty easy to kill her if I wanted. I should mention that I usually sat in the back, so when I said this about a hundred heads whipped around to stare at me. What I should have said was, "But I don't want to kill her!" What I actually said was, "Oh, like you never thought about killing your mom."

How can you not love this woman? Plus I am always the one who ends up with my whole department staring at me like another head has shot up out of my neck. I work in marketing, which isn't quite as full of kids who were popular in high school as sales departments tend to be, but marketing is full of the kids who were the ultra cool ones wearing all black and smoking cigarettes back behind the gym. Thus they seem shocked every time when I come out with some amusing anecdote about that time my first husband went on a three day drinking binge and came home perched happily inside a garbage truck. My feeling is that it's a fucking great story and I tell it well; their feeling is that I've had some crazy wild life and it's sort of in poor taste to mention it. So it's always nice to read someone else who is okay with admitting their own humilations.

Speaking of the trip home, I had promised Dave that I'd leave work promptly at 6 so I could be home at 7 so I could see his face for a few minutes before he left to play a gig. I of course didn't leave work at 6 - I left at something more like 6:20, because I was shooting the shit with my boss, who I like a lot. (Don't get me wrong, I really like everyone I work with. They just all think I'm nuts.) As I walked to the subway, I uttered a little prayer that the trains would cooperate and I'd get home near 7 anyway and not at like 7:30, which would have totally pissed Dave off.

Then I wondered who I was praying to, since I don't believe in God, and decided that maybe I had proven that there were no atheists in foxholes. Then I wondered why I don't believe in God, and remembered that it's because I can't get past that whole bad-things-happening-to-god-people thing. Then I wondered if, supposing there really is a God, if I was going to hell for not believing. The trains did cooperate and as I pulled into my last stop I thought to say thanks just in case but then wondered if the perhaps-God who might have helped me out with the trains could hear me from underground. As if God's reception is limited like the T-Mobile network. And then I made a conscious decision to stop thinking about theological matters and listened to Sense and Sensibility on the walk home instead.

*I too read this in the original French and would also have raised my hand.


Kaethe said...

My French is crummy for the reading. But Sarah Vowell is a crush of mine, too.

I think you weren't praying so much as wishing, which I do all the time. It's only praying if you think someone is listening and might actually do something about it.

Cara deBeer said...

Oh, my french is totally not good enough NOW. But 15 years ago I was fluent reading and writing, if not a good speaker.

Wishing vs prayer - that is a useful distinction. Thank you.

Chris said...

Just one more post to show why we love you, Cara.

And is "bad-things-happen-to-god-people" just a great typo or your own interpretation?

Cara deBeer said...

Aw, thanks. I didn't even notice that typo until last night and decided to leave it since it's kind of great.

Debi said...

I love this whole post. I cannot even count the number of times I laughed.