Saturday, September 03, 2005

A Matter of Class

There are people who have class and there are people who don't. (Or perhaps more accurately, there are high class people and there are low class people.) I am a person without class, or maybe, a person with so little class that it doesn't even count. Part of my pre-pubescent chores was milking our old Jersey by hand. I sometimes did that just before going to church on Sunday evenings for our second dose of the day of why-you-are a bad-person. Naturally, I would be wearing my church shoes and they would get splattered with milk. It never occurred to me to clean the milk splatters off until Effie Ellison, a kindly neighbor lady in her 80s, who used to hire my brother and me to come pick up sticks in her yard, suggested that she would help me get the milk stains off my shoes.

All this by way of background to explain why my travelogue may be a little more high-minded this trip than the ones to Paris and Korea. Before I went to Paris, I went to Walgreen's and bought a 79-cent spiral-bound notebook. It was not the cheapest one I could buy either, it was thick and had three sections, with manilla section dividers with pockets into which I could stuff receipts, subway tickets and notes. I used the same notebook for our Korea trip and had it in my briefcase, ready to take along to Switzerland.

Then I had a birthday. I am of that certain age where I do not like to be reminded that I am getting closer and closer to oblivion, so I had given strict orders to my wife, not to spring a party, cake nor presents upon me. She is from a birthday-remembering family, however, and her conscience would not let her simply ignore my birthday. (Unlike my family, where my mother would remark some weeks after my birthday, "Oh, didn't you just have a birthday?" It's hard keeping track of nine children, let alone remember all their birthdays.) When I went to the kitchen to make my breakfast several weeks ago, there, wrapped up nicely on the counter was a present for me. My wife, diplomatically, said "It's not a birthday present, it's just a little something to take along on our trip."

The little-something-to-take-along-on-our trip turned out to be a leather-bound, gilt edged journal, with a maroon silk place marker, with a $17.89 price sticker still on the back. My wife wanted me to use that to record my thoughts about the trip instead of the now-ratty looking spiral-bound notebook.

I will admit that it is certainly classier to use a $17.89 leather-bound, gilt-edged journal with a maroon silk place marker than a 79-cent spiral notebook to record my musings. It is much like cleaning the milk spots off my dress shoes. But, I could write anything in the cheap spiral notebook. I would record overheard conversations, jot down ideas for later development, keep track of expenditures, write down directions for the subway, besides writing my daily report that I emailed to family and friends. When I was done with a page, I would rip it out and throw it away, sometimes, cleaning out the little paper tags in the spirals, and sometimes not bothering.

I won't be ripping any pages out of my $17.89 leather bound, gilt-edged journal with the maroon silk place marker. I won't be writing down anything that I do not want preserved for posterity. I'm sure that my writing will be more high-minded. Whether it gives me any more class remains to be seen.

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