There is one force no writer dares put in this books: Stupidity.
And yet, at times I think it’s like duct tape: it has a light and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
Recently, in the middle of clearing up the boxes that had never been open in my office, I found a picture of my husband and I on the day we met: his eighteenth birthday.
Now, it must serve as an excuse that we were eighteen. But I think I fell in love — in crush, it’s hard to tell when you’re eighteen — with his picture on his mother’s living room wall, two weeks before I met him, at his eighteenth birthday party.
In the picture we look mortally embarrassed. You see, his mom had … well, bullied us, so I briefly sat on his knee. There is a picture of that, but this picture was taken right after.
After that his sister took both of us — who btw, I don’t think had ever voluntarily watched any game of anything (well, I watched the games my brother played in, but that was different.) to a football game. Make that another instance of “uh?”
During that game I convinced him I knew way more math than I did. And he convinced me he knew more about sf/f and philosophy than he did. And–
And it took us four years and dating other people, before we actually talked about it. And that talk was through a concatenation of circumstances that would get any author fired for inventing them.
Why didn’t we get together earlier? Well, I wanted to talk to him, but either I was interrupted or I backed out. Same on his side.
You know what they call that? Idiot plot. The writer is keeping the characters apart.
In the same way I have recently been re-reading Agatha Christie, and one of the recurring things is the rationing and food shortages of WWII.
Of course, there were food shortages, because there was rationing. In fact the food shortages persisted well after WWII, while the rationing persisted. Once rationing disappeared so did the shortages.
Even by WWII this was not an unknown law of nature: insert the government in the middle of the food supply or any other essential business and watch the essential thing disappear.
Who said that if you put the government in charge of rationing sand in the Sahara they’d run out of sand?
Whoever it was is not wrong. That is human experience, always. Put a third party in the supply line, who decides how much must be made available and how much will be consumed. Hunger and destruction are guaranteed.
So, what did we do, over a pandemic, which affects mostly the very old? (Yes the young can catch it too, and as with the flu there is a freakish chance one will die, though so far deaths under fifty with no co-morbidities of the terminal cancer kind, are almost unheard of. Rare as hens teeth, which as we all know also DO happen. Just vanishingly rarely .) We not only didn’t take care of the aged and the most vulnerable, by concentrating all our care and attention on them, but we shut the entire fricking country and are now demanding that school children wear masks. Even though they’re at greater risk for vindictive meteors lurking in alleys to hit them as they pass by.
What do we do as the numbers fall, right on time as they do everywhere in the world? Oh, we make mask mandates, and the governor of California is placing is whole state under house arrest again.
Oh, and of course, the governor, a man who never worked at anything productive, ever, and his fellow governors, ditto, decide which businesses are essential and what people REALLY need.
Because that’s worked so well every time in the past. Let’s do it once more.
I said at the beginning of this that I was having trouble writing. I’m not having trouble anymore, though time is really scant, as we are still laying down floor in the house, which, yes, I understand is another idiot plot. I mean, seriously. I’m a writer, Jim, not a carpenter. So, why am I laying down wood floor?
Well, we don’t have a ton of money on hand. We’d have more, if I were writing, of course, but I have to lay this floor.
Idiot plots. That’s why I was having trouble writing. We’re supposed to reflect reality to some extent, right?
And yet life is full of the screamingly irrationally stupid. And we can’t do anything for that. Because if we did, every reader and reviewer would lose his or her mind about the idiot plot and things only happening because the writer said so.
I mean perhaps it’s the same in our world, but son has forbidden me from glowering skyward and screaming “You need a critique group.” He says it scares the mail carrier and causes talk.
And so we build our worlds without stupidity. Which is means it’s more likely the stupidity in every day life will go unnoticed, since people don’t have a concept to put to it.
Perhaps that’s why it feels like it’s metastasizing, infecting everything, writhing through our lives, private and public, and well… holding the universe together.
Like duct tape.