It’s 8:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, the middle of a long weekend and the end of another balmy summer day. I can barely recall what I did since I awoke this morning. It seems so very long ago. That’s becoming an increasingly common failing of mine, instantaneous memory recall. I prefer to think of it more as a reflection of the inconsequence of what I do rather than a signal of my mental declension. Probably a bit of both I reckon. This aging business is as incremental as it is irreversible.
I do however call to mind that I suffered consternation about the computer of my new car. I discovered that the Driver Information Centre (DIC) – that collection of computer graphics where the speedometer used to be – no longer showed the radio volume going up or down. And it indicated that my iPhone was not connected though the Infotainment screen over the centre console showed that it was connected. I then found that the button on the steering wheel used to operate the voice commands (such as placing a telephone call or changing a radio station) was inert. In a state of accelerating panic I drove into a vacant shopping mall where I stopped the car to fiddle with the controls. But my aimless pursuit was without success. I then opted for the standard reboot option. I turned off the engine and removed myself from the car, locked it, re-opened it and started it up again. Still nothing. I gave up. Instead I stewed about the problem sufficiently to exasperate myself even further. There were echoes of the all too familiar curse that these gadgets are inevitably doomed to failure. It of course annoyed me to the core that the car was only three days old. That too is more common than I cared to admit.
When I later parked the car in front of my mother’s retirement residence I fussed momentarily with the controls but again the effort was for naught. I shut the thing down and left it in a huff. When I returned, after having spent a distracted hour with my mother answering her comparatively insipid questions about investments and general family matters, I was joyed to find that the system had restored itself to functionality. His Lordship later observed in reply to my account of the affair that the computer was probably doing some kind of background update. I have no idea. Naturally I racked my brain to recall what I may have done initially to precipitate the malfunction but that too proved fruitless.
It is I confess a personal embarrassment that I derive so much gratification from the proper operation of the vehicle and that I completely lack the philosophic depth to shoulder even the slightest blip. In retrospect the troubles are always easily trivialized. But in the moment they are insupportable.
We rallied at the apartment around 3:30 p.m. then pushed off to the City for an early supper of Dim Sum at a place on Merivale Road that we have found to be superb. Once again we were not disappointed. The restaurant is clean and efficient; the food is beyond compare (and we can say this as we have tried quite a number of other local Asian food restaurants many of which are also excellent). Afterwards we capitalized upon the late afternoon heat and the red ball of the setting sun to prompt us to get some ice cream for dessert. My not abnormal passion for sweets also kicked in and I bought a minuscule portion of Peanut Butter Explosion fudge.
When I recall the many other sins in which I have indulged over the years, this indiscretion must be palatable even to one such as Normal Rockwell. Life is simply too short to miss the opportunity to punctuate these halcyon days.
Speaking of indulgences, lately I have been immersed in the tribulations of several others whose alcoholic habits are unquestionably getting the better of them. It shouldn’t of course surprise me to encounter this demographic at my age. It does after all take years for bad habits to take hold and to show their effect. As wont as I am to contribute what I may to the possible solution of the problem, I keep coming up empty-handed, bound by the maxim that – especially when it comes to drinking – there is nobody but the culprit who can remedy the defect. As glamorous as it may be to characterize the alcoholic struggle between spouses as a variation on “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?”; or the over-indulgence of an intellect as the warranted resort of a relentless thinker, neither portrays the decidedly addlepated result of the affliction.
It is a one-way downward journey. Sometimes the afflicted soul has only himself to concern; other times, he pulls family and friends with him into the abyss.