Cults and cultures

For years, I’ve done a very bad job of getting to the haircutter on time, but since moving here, I seem to be able to make and keep appointments at intervals so regular that I maintain a steady state appearance instead of yo-yo-ing from shaggy to clipped-with-face-tan-line-showing. A goodly part of that is that I am flat out fascinated by the subcultures in the huge salon: the chic young women getting beautiful to match their long-toed pumps and their long powdered noses; the fellows who appear to be middle aged businessmen who are completely at ease in the shampoo room; the glossy magazines in the waiting area that provide advice on furnishing your log cabin while making a wild game banquet for 30; and, of course, the television.

This morning I got to take in–not really watch since I was without my glasses in these moments–something called “Clean Sweep,” where “experts” enter contestants’ lives and challenge them to get rid of their accumulated junk. Today’s episode would have made Bob swoon: one poor woman was being ridiculed out of her very tidy boxes of books. A teacher, she had them stored according to “texts for classes,” “pleasure reading,” etc. The host (?) wouldn’t let her retain anything she admitted to having already read.

From there, I went to the somewhat upscale coffee shop at Bishop’s Landing, where, on a midday Saturday, there was an unexpected crowd of students. The only table left was right next to the five of them, so I became more privy to their studies than was comfortable. They are clearly pursuing some medical arts degree and were quizzing each other on how they would respond to a surgeon calling for information in a variety of situations. They were tossing around diseases, conditions, and body parts with alacrity, but the nerve wracking part was that a surgeon would call one of these people up in mid-operation to query about how to respond to an encountered problem.

On to the post office to retrieve the package that the carrier left notification concerning yesterday. And, indeed, it was the clothing I’d mail ordered only Monday, bringing that company up to the high standards of prompt delivery, in spite of customs, that only Macmillan‘s wonderful Talia Ross and Booklist‘s equally wonderful Stephie Zvirin have been able to achieve heretofore.

I’ve been reading Asimov’s Robot books–with feeling. Like Baley, everything I think I know is almost always being challenged, but so agreeably.


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