Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time keeps slipping

I went to 74's birthday dinner tonight. Of course, his wife Zaftig was there, as was the Friar and Palfrey, and Zaftig's friend the Kraut and his wife. I got roundly congratulated on my job appointment. Everyone has heard of Prestigious and wants their kids to get in.

Palfrey is always a source of amusing public school anecdotes (she teaches in a largely Hispanic public school in a poor area). Today she told how some of her kids who get the free lunch were laughing at a child who brings money to buy lunch. In their eyes, they were the standard, and it was the kid buying the lunch who was abnormal, and therefore fair game for mockery. Something wrong there...

On Tuesday the first grade at Brown is going to a play. We have one kid who's a Jehovah's Witness and so can't see a play about fairies (they don't approve of fairies, of the supernatural or lifestyle varieties). One of the teachers was moaning about what we'd have to end up doing with this kid, and I half jokingly said, "Oh, all right, I'll miss the play to stay at school with him." The teachers all turned on me and said quite seriously, "Oh no you won't!" Misery loves company, and we're all getting on that goddamn bus together, whether we like it or not.

Man, kids these days are enormous. Not just fat (though they seem to be that), but tall. Kindergarteners shouldn't be four and a half feet tall, should they? Less wealthy children live on a cheap, calorie rich diet fortified with vitamins, antibiotics and an unnatural cocktail of hormones. This diet, from formula to McDonald's, seems to generate huge kids. I have no hard evidence, but observation at private schools seems to indicate the kids are shorter and slighter in comparison: that is, they have normal, healthy diets, and are kept more active.

Indeed, a faint hypnopædic prejudice in favour of size was universal. Hence the laughter of the women to whom he made proposals, the practical joking of his equals among the men. The mockery made him feel an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him and intensified the contempt and hostility aroused by his physical defects. Which in turn increased his sense of being alien and alone. A chronic fear of being slighted made him avoid his equals, made him stand, where his inferiors were concerned, self-consciously on his dignity.
--- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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