I suppose we all have secret fears.
Some people I've known have confessed to me that they're scared to death of clowns.
One or two folks of the female gender have actually confessed to me that they're terrified of butterflies.
Once I even saw a painting some guy had made of a vagina with teeth. Apparently his secret fear was that someday a woman's genitalia was going to chew off his penis.
My secret fear isn't quite that bizarre, but it is, I think, even more disturbing in its own way. At least to me, anyway. Which I guess is why it's my secret fear, huh?
Anyway, my secret fear is this: The Chinese are bombarding us with caramelized microwaves, or poisoning us with juicy cadmium, or otherwise slowly but steadily turning our great big huge American brains into pureed neuron sauce.
It just seems to me that too many people are acting way too stupid for it to be a coincidence.
I mean, really - Sarah Palin? For PRESIDENT? I'm thinking it takes a huge amount of microwaves, cadmium, and maybe a ton or two of cyber LSD disseminated by Twitter to prompt huge crowds of people to gather and cheer on THAT possibility.
A rather more mundane confirmation of my hypothesis that all our noodles are being secretly cooked al dente came today when I invited a woman into my house and she quoted me an outrageous price for a service I'm embarrassed to admit I asked her to perform.
Yes, I'm talking upholstery here.
Wanton reupholstery, to be exact.
To explain as briefly as possible: My in-laws died this summer. Among the many items I ended up with as a result are a pair of smallish wingback chairs that I tried to sell at an estate sale for $25 each. NO takers. I mean to say, I sold all sorts of outright shit for more money than that (including 3 silly little fountain pens for $50!), but these babies couldn't be given away. So I thought, what the hell - maybe I'll keep them. After all, they keep my butt from hitting the floor when I go to sit down just as effectively as expensive newborn chairs from my local furniture farm. (Or wherever it is that new furniture comes from. It's been so long since I've got any, I'm afraid I don't quite remember the details. In vitro pillowization...?)
Ok, so... just out of curiosity, I invited a local upholstery person of the female gender into my house today to tell me how much it might cost to recover these chairs so that it might actually be obvious when a cat has decided to puke on them. I made it clear that I was willing to pay good money for this service as well as any other that might relieve me of the need to sniff out the site of the accident (or act of revenge, or private little joke, or mad experiment in alternate eating habits - it's never easy to tell with a cat, is it?).
Who knew that one small woman's definition of "good money" could be soooooo different than mine?
I was thinking maybe $50 a chair, plus tax and postage.
She quoted me a figure of $1100.
As the minutes passed and she didn't join me in laughing and rolling around on the floor, it slowly dawned on me that she was serious.
As politely as possible, I told her that I would think about it, then escorted her to the door before dropping to the floor and resuming my laughing and rolling around.
On the bright side, I didn't inadvertently encounter any cat puke while I was down there.
On the not-so-bright-side.... $1100. Yikes! Only Chinese microwaves, cadmium, and maybe a ton or two of cyber LSD disseminated via Twitter could explain a figure that out of touch with reality.
Or maybe - just maybe - my own brain has been so thoroughly cooked by those microwaves, it actually mistook an $1100 bargain for a brutal mugging.
Some new stuffing was promised, after all.
And the stubby little wooden legs were going to be given a right good polishing....
I guess the bottom line is, either Upholstery Lady is mad mad MAD for seriously tossing out a figure like that (especially in the morning, when I like my women the same way I like my coffee - i.e., NOT talking about upholstery) - or I'm mad mad MAD for expecting a much lower one.
It's all just one more sign (in a long list of them) that there's a terrible disconnect between the World Out There and the World Inside My Head.
To paraphrase something I once read from T.S. Eliot (maybe in a letter to his power company), "I really hope I'm the problem, because if I'm not, it means that the problem is the universe itself."
Except I don't hope that at all.
And my secret fear is that the problem is the universe itself.
Or at least those damned Chinese!