Pi Kappa Pizza.
I HAVE COLLECTED, in my time, derringers, snowstorm paperweights, and china and porcelain dogs, and perhaps I should explain what happened to these old collections before I go on to my newest hobby, which is the true subject of this monograph. My derringer collection may be regarded as having been discontinued, since I collected only two, the second and last item as long ago as 1935. There were originally seventeen snowstorm paperweights, but only four or five are left. This kind of collection is known to the expert as a “diminished collection,” and it is not considered cricket to list it in your Who’s Who biography. The snowstorm paperweight suffers from its easy appeal to the eye and the hand. House guests like to play with paperweights and to slip them into their luggage while packing up to leave. As for my china and porcelain dogs, I disposed of that collection some two years ago. I had decided that the collection of actual objects, of any kind, was too much of a strain, and I determined to devote myself, instead, to the impalpable and the intangible.
Nothing in my new collection can be broken or stolen or juggled or thrown at cats. What I collect now is a certain kind of Broad Generalization, or Sweeping Statement. You will see what I mean when I bring out some of my rare and cherished pieces. All you need to start a collection of generalizations like mine is an attentive ear. Listen in particular to women, whose average generalization is from three to five times as broad as a man’s. Generalizations, male or female, may be true (“Women don’t sleep very well”), untrue (“There are no pianos in Japan”), half true (“People would rather drink than go to the theater”), debatable (“Architects have the wrong idea”), libellous (“Doctors don’t know what they’re doing”) , ridiculous (“You never see foreigners fishing”), fascinating but undemonstrable ( “People who break into houses don’t drink wine”), or idiosyncratic (“Peach ice cream is never as good as you think it’s going to be”).
“There are no pianos in Japan” was the first item in my collection. I picked it up at a reception while discussing an old movie called “The Battle,” or “Thunder in the East,” which starred Charles Boyer, Merle Oberon, and John Loder, some twenty years ago. In one scene, Boyer, as a Japanese naval captain, comes upon Miss Oberon, as his wife, Matsuko, playing an old Japanese air on the piano for the entertainment of Loder, a British naval officer with a dimple, who has forgotten more about fire control, range finding, marksmanship, and lovemaking than the Japanese commander is ever going to know. “Matsuko,” says the latter, “why do you play that silly little song? It may be tedious for our fran.” Their fran, John Loder, says, “No, it is, as a matter of — ” But I don’t know why I have to go into the whole plot. The lady with whom I was discussing the movie, at the reception, said that the detail about Matsuko and the piano was absurd, since “there are no pianos in Japan.” It seems that this lady was an authority on the musical setup in Japan because her great-uncle had married a singsong girl in Tokyo in 1912.
Now, I might have accepted the declarations that there are no saxophones in Bessarabia, no banjo- mandolins in Mozambique, no double basses in Zanzibar, no jew’s-harps in Rhodesia, no zithers in Madagascar, and no dulcimers in Milwaukee, but I could not believe that Japan, made out in the movie as a great imitator of Western culture, would not have any pianos. Some months after the reception, I picked up an old copy of the Saturday Evening Post and, in an article on Japan, read that there were, before the war, some fifteen thousand pianos in Japan. It just happened to say that, right there in the article.
You may wonder where I heard some of the other Sweeping Statements I have mentioned above. Well, the one about peach ice cream was contributed to my collection by a fifteen-year-old girl. I am a chocolate man myself, but the few times I have eaten peach ice cream it tasted exactly the way I figured it was going to taste, which is why I classify this statement as idiosyncratic ; that is, peculiar to one individual. The item about foreigners never fishing, or, at any rate, never fishing where you can see them, was given to me last summer by a lady who had just returned from a motor trip through New England. The charming generalization about people who break into houses popped out of a conversation I overheard between two women, one of whom said it was not safe to leave rye, Scotch, or bourbon in your summer house when you closed it for the winter, but it was perfectly all right to leave your wine, since intruders are notoriously men of in- sensitive palate, who cannot tell the difference between Nuits-St.-Georges and saddle polish. I would not repose too much confidence in this theory if I were you, however. It is one of those Comfortable Conclusions that can cost you a whole case of Chateau Lafite.
I HAVEN’T got space here to go through my entire collection, but there is room to examine a few more items. I’m not sure where I got hold of “Gamblers hate women” — possibly at Bleeck’s — but, like “Sopranos drive men crazy/’ it has an authentic ring. This is not true, I’m afraid, of “You can’t trust an electrician” or “Cops off duty always shoot somebody.” There may be something in “Dogs know when you’re despondent” and “Sick people hear everything,” but I sharply question the validity of “Nobody taps his fingers if he’s all right” and “People who like birds are queer.”
Some twenty years ago, a Pittsburgh city editor came out with the generalization that “Rewrite men go crazy when the moon is full,” but this is perhaps a little too special for the layman, who probably doesn’t know what a rewrite man is. Besides, it is the abusive type of Sweeping Statement and should not be dignified by analysis or classification.
In conclusion, let us briefly explore “Generals are afraid of their daughters,” vouchsafed by a lady after I had told her my General Wavell anecdote. It happens, for the sake of our present record, that the late General Wavell, of His Britannic Majesty’s forces, discussed his three daughters during an interview a few years ago. He said that whereas he had millions of men under his command who leaped at his every order, he couldn’t get his daughters down to break- fast on time when he was home on leave, in spite of stern directives issued the night before. As I have imagined it, his ordeal went something like this. It would get to be 7 A.M., and then 7:05, and General Wavell would shout up the stairs demanding to know where everybody was, and why the girls were not at table. Presently, one of them would call back sharply, as a girl has to when her father gets out of hand, “For heaven’s sake, Daddy, will you be quiet! Do you want to wake the neighbors ?” The General, his flanks rashly exposed, so to speak, would fall back in orderly retreat and eat his kippers by himself. Now, I submit that there is nothing in this to prove that the General was afraid of his daughters. The story merely establishes the fact that his daughters were not afraid of him.
If you are going to start collecting Sweeping Statements on your own, I must warn you that certain drawbacks are involved. You will be inclined to miss the meaning of conversations while lying in wait for generalizations. Your mouth will hang open slightly, your posture will grow rigid, and your eyes will take on the rapt expression of a person listening for the faint sound of distant sleigh bells. People will avoid your company and whisper that you are probably an old rewrite man yourself or, at best, a finger tapper who is a long way from being all right. But your collection will be a source of comfort in your declining years, when you can sit in the chimney corner cackling the evening away over some such gems, let us say, as my own two latest acquisitions : “Jewellers never go anywhere” and “Intellectual women dress funny.”
And a difficult, messy birth it was.
Know your target market.
Giddyap, my little brony.
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Somehow, everything ever posted through tumblr’s android app never made it onto the site. Should I have checked, all that while, living in a basement apartment with no good connectivity? Perhaps. But it’s like art portfolios. They’re great until you decide to drop art school and leave a three year output in your friend’s trunk right before he moves to Colorado.
“At least he’ll have a nice charcoal portrait of Nixon,” you think, glad to be done with it.
Anyhow, until the Society finds more permanent offices, expect infrequent formal posting combined with a robust Instagram presence.
Good job for not listening to those negative nancies who’d have left you standing on the corner of snooze and boring. You showed them, you did.
Finally, a Broadway show for the rest of us.
Science is patronizing you.
In the sudden burst of cloud and rain after so much sun, Spring hit a window, fell to the ground, stunned. You could see its imprint upon the window: a dusky shadow of wing and beak. Shake it off, Spring, you’ll be okay, won’t you?
Scientists today have announced the discovery of a particularly virulent strain of Cheetos.
Finding the housing market here refreshing.
Seattle is whip-smart, well-educated, politically motivated, sex-positive, a little forward yet slyly shy and ever-so reserved. Get a drink in Seattle and it’ll tell you things you never expected to hear on a first date. Seattle’s a helluva good time, and you’d like to buy it breakfast.
I married him, dear reader.