I walked the
length of the westbound Lake Shore Limited as it left Albany last
Sunday, six crowded coaches, and counted three Twitterers and a
couple of phone texters, six laptoppers (two of whom were watching
movies), four video gamers, and 27 people reading books. Books made
of paper! Turning the pages with their fingers one by one, reading
the lines left to right, just as people have done for hundreds of
years. Ain’t that something?
I didn’t lean
down for a close look at the books they were reading – I was not
brought up to do that – so perhaps bodices were being ripped and
stalkers were stalking and meteorites were heading straight for
Earth, but no matter. Books were being read!
live theater, monogamy and the bald eagle, the paper book has been
despaired over and its demise freely predicted, and yet, among people
heading west, it seems to be the diversion of choice. So Dickens
and Jane Austen and Flannery O’Connor are not dead yet.
And the bald
eagle is coming back, along with the gray wolf and the Yellowstone
grizzly – though less attractive endangered species such as the
glassy-eyed smelt and the orangefoot pimpleback mussel and various
arachnids are still in doubt – and theater seems as alluring as
ever, judging by the number of young New York waiters with large
personalities. And as for monogamy, it’s there, waiting to be rediscovered.
So let me speak
up for an endangered menu item this Fourth of July weekend and that
is homemade potato salad.
When the family
meets this weekend to hobnob and burn burgers, the family member
assigned to bring the potato salad is likely going to walk in with
a couple of gallon plastic buckets of yellowish muck bought at a
convenience store, the price stickers still on them, and set them
down on the table with no apology whatsoever.