Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Loser's Parents Return from Florida

They are back from Florida, where they stayed on the coast and watched the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. The Complete and Total Loser went to a Midwestern college for four years yet in that time has never set foot in the Sunshine State like so many of his peers.
His parents used to go to St. Barts, but they're too old now to cope with the lack of banisters and cobblestone streets there. The Loser imagined all month they were better off in Florida, where he's pretty sure ambulances patrol streets like ice cream trucks and geriatric hospitals are minutes away.
"We didn't see one black face the whole month," the Loser's mother said. This is just reporting; she is no bigot. (If anyone's that it's the Loser, who lives in the city where a large percentage of blacks pose at least a degree of threat and where he has indeed been robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight by two of them.) They said also there were no Jews where they were.
The Loser's father found it extremely relaxing to watch the shore birds. Pelicans, gulls and smaller birds -- sandpipers? -- shared the same sea and shore. "How," he asks, "do they survive?"
This sounds like a dumb question, but it's not.
Twenty-first century Americans are so far from nature that when we observe animals close up, it is astonishing that they can live. No clothes, no shelter, no technology of any kind. No health insurance! Naked creatures with little beaks and webbed feet, surrounded by predators, chased by cars, filth and toxins they can't possibly adapt to quickly enough, their habitat torn down and replaced by inedible structures with confusing reflective surfaces.
Yet some of them survive. And even thrive.

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