Careers in Science: Clinology

The clinologist sits down on a chair in the room he’s trying to declutter and says, out loud, “wow”.

Thirty years, you can collect a lot of stuff. The twenty-two years before that he just lost stuff, I guess.

Stacks and stacks of printed matter. Manuscripts.

Tom Waits’ voice says, “A lock of his daughter’s hair in an envelope,” like a line from “What’s he building in there?”

“A giant beetle preserved in a glass box.”

Love letters from his girls when they were little.

A two foot stack of journals in which half the entries say how tired he is, and the other half how depressed he is.

Pictures, in which he looks depressed or tired or apologetic for living.

“Wow,” he says again, realizing what a drag that must have been for those around him.

All those years.

Was it worth it?

Fighting his way out of that tar pit by himself?

Was it worth it? wonders the clinologist.

He made it out. Now here he is.

All covered in tar. Getting tar all over everything as he tries to tidy up the room, to decide what to throw away and what to keep.

How could he not have noticed all that tar before?


Greece has been in the news off and on pretty steadily lately, more or less, due to the various economic and financial pecadillos and hijinks hereabouts. The German word for Greece is Griechenland which I sometimes misread as Gretchenland, (fair enough, as they’re both in italics) triggering images of a country homogenously populated by blonde girls similar to a girl who got on the schoolbus at the same busstop as I did when I was a boy, whose name was Gretchen. The girl’s name was Gretchen, that is, of course, not “when I was a boy whose name was Gretchen,” although now when I read the word Griechenland it will trigger an implanted false memory of how I was once a boy whose name was Gretchen. (How do you do?!)

The economist and the monitor lizard

You know, says the economist, to be honest, I have to say the finance pages made my eyes glaze over. I was never interested in all that. All those rows and rows of figures. Maybe I studied the wrong thing.

The monitor lizard shifts a little, there in his sunny spot on the big slate tiles. So you were actually relieved when economics was eliminated?

The economist nods. It’s totally awesome now that we can just borrow what we need and not give it back.

You used to do that already anyway, says the monitor lizard.

Ah, but not to this extent. Now I can drive a KTM X-Bow to work when I want. Or, at least I could, until someone else borrowed it from me. To be honest, it was freaking me out anyway. Who needs all that horsepower in a little gokart like that?

The train’s okay, though, says the monitor lizard.

I don’t mind the train, says the economist.

The sun’s warm, says the monitor lizard.

Sure is, says the economist.

Fourth rule is, eat kosher salamis

The SWAT crisis negotiator stands out on the balcony having a smoke, thinking, someday somebody’s going to figure things out and replace me with a 14 year old girl.

He imagines a situation, fouled-up robbery, perps holding a couple dozen sobbing hostages inside a bank, surrounded by marksmen, talking tough until the 14 year old girl shows up. Then they’re all, Johnny, dey brought the goil! And Johnny’s all, not dat fast, Eddie, dey wouldn’t do dat. Not da kid! And Eddie’s all, sure looks like dat goil Slugger was tellin me about in da joint. And Johnny’s all, close the goddamn blinds, Eddie! Let me think!

And out front, someone hands the girl a megaphone and she’s all, Do you know who this is? Come out with your hands up! And my allowance is way too low and no way am I cleaning my room today, god, don’t be so old and boring, I’ll do it some other time! Would you like some pizza? I sure would. How about you call out for some?

Eventually they surrender, like always.

That’s what the SWAT negotiator imagines.

The SWAT negotiator is feeling pretty good, all in all, now that the hot weather is over. Boy, was it hot. Also, he now takes the back way into work, and home again. Windy little streets through wooded hills, so it won’t work in winter, but for now, it’s funner, and faster, than the freeway. No traffic jams, although there are a lot of cyclists you sometimes get stuck behind.

Life throws you a cookie now and then, he thinks.