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.
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.”