Friday, August 8, 2014

Conversation with myself in the basement

I was down in the basement getting my clothes from the dryer when I noticed about half my shirts were 'inside out'. As I was turning them 'right side out' I realized that's what I've always called turning inside out shirts the right way--turning them 'right side out'.

Often as small children new to dressing themselves, Josh and Mimi would put on a tee-shirt 'inside out'. I'd see it and smile and say, "you need to turn your shirt 'right side out'."

But down there in our low ceiling-ed, mostly dirt floor basement with many rooms (I think I've told you before that our house was built in 1850 by a Congregationalist minister named, of all things, Bradley--there are many rooms and I've pondered whether or not he was part of the underground rail-road, though it seems runaway slaves would have stopped before Connecticut) anyway, taking clothes out of the dryer is mindless work and I suddenly realized that what you should probably say to a child or adult (I do it from time to time!) who puts a shirt on inside-out is this: "turn your shirt outside out."

Since the wrong way is 'inside out' the right way should be 'outside out', not 'right side out'.

Dumb as I now realize that is, in the moment I thought it was a brilliant insight so, when I carried my clothes upstairs I went to tell Bern, watching tennis on TV, about my 'brilliant insight'.

After I told her my pondering about what to say to someone with a tee-shirt inside out that I'd been talking to myself about in the basement, she looked at me the way she would have looked at me had I said: "I found a wombat in the basement."

Like that.

After a long silence when she must have realized what the silence was saying to me, she said, "that's interesting." Being told some profound insight you've had is 'interesting' is on the same level of reaction that you would have if someone said they found a wombat in the basement.

After another long silence and a gaze from her that seemed to indicate she was going over the nursing homes she knew in her head, she said: "I don't think there is a term for what's 'the right side' of a shirt. There's only a term for what isn't the 'right side'...'inside out'...."

Incredibly chastened, I went to go fold my underwear (or 'roll' it, since that's what I do to boxer shorts...though you probably would have been fine not knowing that fact...) and considered what she'd said. I pondered her words for a while and decided she was quite wrong. There's 'in-sync' to balance 'out of sync' and 'plumb' to balance 'not plumb' and 'in tune' to balance 'out of tune'....I thought of a couple of dozen and was about to go tell her how horribly wrong she was to think there was no value in the distinction between 'inside out' and 'outside out' when I decided I truly didn't have a dog in that fight and let it go. What would be the point, anyway....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.