What can I getchya, honey? Apple, or blueberry? Applebaum, or Ayn Rand?
I thought I was being a bit hyperbolic in my last post about leaves falling to the ground. Anything for a metaphor. It’s only mid-September, and summer just managed to arrive in Chicago last week. But, lo. On the way to work this morning I observed by the Museum of Science & Industry trees which had not only burst into reds and oranges, but had indeed already shed their leaves! What does this have to do with pie? I love autumn, and one of the very many things I love about it is a childhood memory of driving up the Great River Road to look at the leaves turning color along the bluffs, go apple picking and top off the day at some dank catfish shack accessible only by ferry. We would pick so many apples we’d run out of things to do with them. We’d try to give them away, but our neighbors were in a similar predicament. Everyone knew to turn off the lights and hide behind the curtains if a neighbor bearing gifts of apples was spotted walking toward your house. By November the very aroma of apples made me nauseous… Well, we ate lots of pies.
I’m also thinking of pie because I am thinking of blueberries. And blueberry pie is my favorite pie. My aunts used to pick wild blueberries and bring them to my grandmother’s house, where she and I would make such delicious pie that I actually pity your existence, having gone without tasting my grandmother’s blueberry pie. My job was to cut the dough for the lattice. Now she’s dead and my mother is dead and I was too engrossed in latticework to pay attention to anything else so who even knows how she made such wonderful pies? Those pies are nothing but mythology now.
Anyway, why am I thinking about blueberries? A little diner/cafe just opened below my apartment. And they serve blueberry pancakes. I haven’t tried them yet, so I might be obsessing about nothing. They could very well be the kinds of evil that are regular pancakes with a topping of gelatinous blueberry-flavored goo. As a friend of mine likes to say, Them’s not pancakes we can believe in. But what if they are genuine blueberry pancakes, with the berries baked inside of the batter? Then we have a problem … I’m going to again share faaaar too much information. But is this not a blog? When said new blueberry pancake joint opened, my first thought was “Oh no! Why wasn’t this open when I was dating S–?” Because you do not even know how many times I lay there, famished, so hungry and exhausted I could no longer think clearly, and S– would say something intelligent like, “We need to eat. What do you want?” I’d whimper, “blueberry pancakes…” But the nearest blueberry pancake place was far away, which required a lot of walking, and it was all I could manage to walk across the room to the phone to order in. He’d say, “Come on. Be serious. What else do you want?” “Blueberry pancakes…” And this would go on for an hour until I fainted from low blood sugar and he ordered Thai food. This relationship was always off and on, and has been off most recently. There is just no way it could possibly work in the long term. But as sure as a blueberry pancake joint opens on the corner below my building, he calls. He left a message. Something about Happy birthday. Something about life being short and let’s just have coffee or something. And just having coffee or something always ends up with me famished, demanding blueberry pancakes. So – an ethical dilemma. You see?
This post will be read by strangers and achieve immortality through the magical powers of Google. Therefore I’d like to qualify any remotely unethical implications of that confession with this: I think I am running a fever. It may be swine flu. Or not. At any rate, some microscopic nuisance is attacking my body and rendering me temporally mentally incompetent. As proof, I submit to you that I’ve been reading about Ayn Rand all day. Oh sweet Jesus – Ayn Rand! There’s no gun pointed to my head, so it must be brain fever. Those are the only two explanations for why I would be reading extensively about Ayn Rand. It was interesting to read the “left” commentary on her. They blame her reactionary ideology on the Bolsheviks. Well, if there is anything the American left and right can agree on, it’s that Commies are bad. When they aren’t redistributing wealth, they’re creating Ayn Rands. Oh, there was also some grief that the ideology of a Russian had come to represent American values. The horror.
… As if reading about Ayn Rand were not enough for my blood pressure, someone sent me an Anne Applebaum article this morning. Anne !*&#&%#&* Applebaum. A hint to my future torturers: hours on end of this and I might confess to anything. A hint to my thoughtful friends: Anne Applebaum is no good for you and you should stop reading that drivel! Actually, read whatever you like. It’s a free country, as Anne will be quick to assure you. But if you absolutely must read it, I don’t want to know about it.
Speaking of objectivists and neocons and other lowlife dealers of capitalism (It will put you in control! It will make you look great!) … I was recently trying to explain to someone how the American political system worked. I thought, well, it’s pretty straightforward, actually. Just about anyone may run for office. To do so they will need some money, an up-front investment, to pay for their venture, I mean campaign. Then they need to get the public to buy what they’re selling, I mean vote for them. Then, if they are successful, they need to give their shareholders a return on their investment. I mean their contributors. And the consumers, rather, their constituency have to want to keep buying, I mean voting for them. The invisible hand of Democracy will magically ensure that only the most quality candidates succeed.
Then a chill ran down my spine. Or maybe that was just the flu… Back in Moscow in the years of shock, Volodya (not that one – the one I lived with) asked me, “Tashetchka, milaya, how are democracy and capitalism reconciled in America? It seems to me that one would undermine the other. But you Americans do it? How?” I regretted that I had to confirm his suspicions. While he was relieved to be correct in his assessment, a darkness descended across his face. Oh yes, Volodya: you’ve been played, suckahs. You can have democracy. Or you can have capitalism. Pick one. … But now, having had my fever-induced revelation, it seems there is nothing contradictory between democracy and capitalism. In fact, it’s really the same system, with votes and ideologies as commodities. The real conflict is not between democracy and capitalism, but between the beautiful idea and the ugly reality. Too bad there’s no controlling for the human variable. I’d like to see one of these beautiful ideas actually work one day.
And it’s too bad I don’t have my grandmother’s blueberry pie recipe. I could really go for a piece right now.