In which Jim imagines being rescued from a bad mood

Oh, pardon me. Here I am, sprawled and spread out over this entire bench. Let me … Wait a moment … There now: sit, sit.


Thank you. I am pooped. Nearly wrecked. Foundering.


Sightseeing in New York City can do that to a person.


Sightseeing? Never in life.


Again, I apologize. I took you for a tourist, like myself.


Call me a wayfarer, if you must. I deplore words that terminate in “-ist.” An abominable suffix, second only to its cousin “-ism.” Much worse than the admittedly unfortunate “-ize.”


You are something of a purist, then, concerning the English language.


Have you never heard the expression, “he that would make a pun would pick a pocket”? No, think instead of “colonialist” or “imperialist.” Are these happy words? For that matter, a tightrope walker may be a decent fellow. But does he rise to the height of “funambulist”?


I think not. And the antirealist? What shall we call him?


Imbecilic, surely. But perhaps in my current condition I am being unfair. For you are to consider that a certain melancholy and often a certain irascibility accompany advancing age: indeed it might be said that advancing age equals ill-temper. On reaching the middle years a man perceives that he is no longer able to do certain things, that what looks he may have had are deserting him, that he has a ponderous great belly, and that however much he may yet burn he is no longer attractive; and he rebels. Fortitude, resignation and philosophy are the only remedies.


Philosophy, eh? So the antirealist is not beyond the pale.


Maybe he is though, if he does not admit that life is a long disease with only one termination, its last years appalling: weak, racked by the stone, rheumatismal pains, senses going, friends, family, occupation gone, a man must pray for imbecility or a heart of stone. All under sentence of death, often ignominious, frequently agonizing: and then the unspeakable levity with which the faint chance of happiness is thrown away for some jealousy, tiff, sullenness, private vanity, or mistaken sense of honor.


I know of a better remedy for your malady than mere resignation. Shall we continue our conversation over a cold beer at this nearby establishment?


With all my heart. Lead on, brother.


(With apology to the late, great Patrick O’Brian)


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