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OtterSummer 8.23-Reading

I’m no more than averagely perceptive; I watch and I sometimes even learn. Watching The Grand Otter thumb-peck away at her handheld—that pecking involves a lot of reading, I know, but not the kind of reading that counts. The words aren’t printed and held, but projected onto a surrogate screen which imparts neither the touch nor the feel of anything even vaguely reminiscent of a book. Books matter, that hand-held crap doesn’t.

Today, I tried again to rouse The Otter at a decent hour, receiving a decent screech in response; enough of a screech that I was fairly certain she’d gained consciousness. An hour later, trying again yielded a similar response. Much later, after spending a rather lonely morning fussing over some draft ordinance our city council seems determined to foist on the citizenry, I finally managed to make contact. It was afternoon by then and the day was slipping by.

”What would you like to do today?” I asked.

”What are the choices?”

I said we could go out, but it was threatening rain. Her water soluable dye job made that option unattractive. “You could write,” I continued, “or read, but before that, grab your clothes out of the drier, fold ‘em and put ‘em away.”


Later, she came into the room carrying three library books and set to reading the one she’d said she’d been dying to read. Somehow, the urgency of her handheld communications had distracted her from enjoying this title. She was soon engrossed, giggling quietly and contentedly to herself, idly scratching the sleeping cat. I was reading, too, and while we both knew we were inhabiting separate spaces—me somewhere off the Somali coast and her up to her eyebrows in some teen page-turner—this might have been the first time this Otter Summer that we were inhabiting the same space. No electronic distractions allowed.

I set my book down for a minute to check my email messages, and she asked me if I was thinking about the book, and I knew she’d caught me out. No, I was just checking my messages, perhaps fleeing from the first bit of sacred shared space we’d experienced. Ashamed of myself, I set down my damned iPhone and the cat rolled over on top of it.

We live in a world of shiny cars.
A world that values fame and fortune more than wishing stars.
In this world, the lunches don’t come free;
It’s dog eat dog and pup eat puppy no matter what you need.
And the print’s too fine to find the line where satisfaction’s guaranteed.

I don’t believe a word of that long-ago lyric. The print’s way too fine on my handheld electronic projection screen, but the font and the weight and the feel are just the right size in the book I’m plowing my way through this afternoon. From the look of it, the same story’s unfolding before The Otter’s eyes, too.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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