Much Ado About Noth­ing

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Have you ever been asked, “What are you think­ing about?” and have you ever an­swered, “Noth­ing”? Just think about it, is it re­ally pos­si­ble to think about noth­ing? I mean, even if you are not ac­tively con­sid­er­ing some­thing, ad­mir­ing some­thing, de­cry­ing some­thing, or iden­ti­fy­ing or solv­ing a prob­lem, some­thing must be go­ing on up there, mustn't it? Even co­matose pa­tients, as un­con­scious as they ap­pear to be, might, de­spite the ap­par­ent lack of ac­tiv­ity in their brains, hold on to a sin­gle thought, even an emo­tion, in a des­per­ate, rigid, frozen at­tempt to hang on to life. Even do­ing noth­ing is a doubt­ful state of non-an­i­ma­tion. Even if you are ap­par­ently at rest, noth­ing mov­ing, noth­ing do­ing, you are still breath­ing, still di­gest­ing; the or­gans of your body are still beaver­ing away, busily see­ing to the business of sur­vival.

Even when a blank stare elic­its an angry en­quiry – What the heck are YOU look­ing at? – made by some­one sin­gled out by your ap­par­ent at­ten­tion, and you re­spond with “Noth­ing” it is bla­tantly un­true, if your eyes were open at the time, though I sup­pose you could quib­ble over the mean­ings of ‘look­ing at' and ‘see­ing'.

Which brings me to a lovely tale I heard the other day: Cathy, my St. Lu­cian daugh­terin-law, whom I love to bits, re­lated it the other day scream­ing with laugh­ter – Cathy al­ways sees the funny side of things even when the joke is on her. Cathy has a prob­lem with cars – not be­cause she is a bad driver, which she might well be in a Euro­pean sense, but not in a St. Lu­cian con­text – but be­cause things hap­pen to Cathy when she is driv­ing, things that don't usu­ally hap­pen to other peo­ple.

A while back, she was at­tacked while driv­ing by a Ro­ma­nian woman who seem­ingly stepped in front of her car, fell down and claimed Cathy had run her down. Her male com­pan­ion de­manded money for an air­line ticket back to Ro­ma­nia. Cool headed, Cathy called the po­lice who quickly calmed her fears: the cou­ple had, in a very short time, built a rep­u­ta­tion for them­selves as con artists, and the po­lice ad­vised Cathy to drive on and let them deal with the ‘in­jured par­ties'.

Just re­cently, Cathy, as has hap­pened to many of us in our trav­els, was ‘taken short' and had to pee no mat­ter what, in an area where pee­ing was sim­ply not an op­tion. I'll leave it to Cathy to tell that tale – she does it so well – but suf­fice to say, she man­aged to re­verse her ve­hi­cle into another car in the process, thus ex­tend­ing her pe­riod of pre-pee­ing agony whilst ar­gu­ing with the in­no­cent driver in her rear, if you'll par­don the ex­pres­sion.

A cou­ple of weeks back, whilst driv­ing on the mo­tor­way, some­thing jumped up from the sur­face of the road and smashed into her un­der­car­riage – the car's, not Cathy's – which re­sulted in a se­ri­ous leak­age of fluid – from the car, not Cathy – which even­tu­ally im­mo­bi­lized the car un­til it could be towed to the garage for re­pair.

The other day, in her mag­nif­i­cent new ve­hi­cle that ac­cord­ing to the ad­verts was equipped with self-seal­ing tyres that could not be punc­tured, she suf­fered, yes, a flat tyre, which she dis­cov­ered when she left a restau­rant after lunch­ing with two vis­it­ing St. Lu­cian friends after pick­ing them up from the air­port. For­tu­nately, the restau­rant was just op­po­site her of­fice so she was able to pop in, ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion, and bor­row the key to a col­league's car to take her friends home to her house where they were stay­ing.

So fi­nally – thank you for your pa­tience – we ar­rive at the point of the story. Cathy and her friends took the lug­gage from her car and loaded it into the bor­rowed one. Once inside the car, Cathy tried to force the key into the ignition, which some­how she fi­nally suc­ceeded in do­ing – and be­lieve me, if you have never heard Cathy curse, you have never heard real curs­ing – but she could still not get the key to turn to start the damned car. All the while, a lit­tle white haired old lady had been stand­ing watch­ing the scene un­fold be­fore her very eyes. Cathy is pretty flu­ent in Swedish by now, and she screamed at the hap­less old lady, “What the hell are you star­ing at?” who mouthed back, “Noth­ing” but con­tin­ued to stare. Cathy, in a rage, stamped out of the car and re­peated, “Why the hell are you star­ing then?” to which the lit­tle old lady replied, apolo­get­i­cally, in a very small voice, “But it's my car you are in.”

Of course, Cathy apol­o­gized pro­fusely for try­ing to ‘bor­row' the wrong car, and the lit­tle old lady ex­cused her with a sim­ple, “Don't worry. It was noth­ing.”

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