DAILY BRIEFING
A Token of My Imbalance

Dec. 5 - I haven't been keeping track, but I should have been. It's been at least two weeks since I've actually seen the sun—if in fact such a thing still exists—big yellow thing in the sky?

Anyone?

I'm serious. I think it's been as long as three weeks, maybe four, and I'm starting to lose it. Not in the classic Hollywood way—I never do things the classic Hollywood way because I can't help doing unHollywood things like running errands, going to the bathroom, or bumping into furniture (but never simultaneously). So when I say I'm losing it I don't mean I'm talking to myself or smashing mirrors or dressing up as my mother and sitting in a rocker by the window. I'm just a little off, as they say.

And I've been a little off for a while.

Just about ten days ago, for example, I had to run into town for a meeting at a company I'm freelancing for. On my way out the door I grabbed the usual handful of necessities from the drawer I shove all my goddam necessities in... wallet, train card, a handful of kroner, and the little plastic peanut thing that I have to wave in front of a panel and type in my password to pass through doors at the office.

So I get to the office, stand at the front door, and wave my magic plastic peanut. The panel doesn't bleep like it normally does. I wave the thing even more violently. I press it up against the panel. Nothing. Another guy's leaving the building and lets me in. Okay. I instantly forget about my problem. (Ah, the blessings of a short attention span!)

I go up a few flights of stairs, down a corridor, then I face another secure door. Same procedure. Same (lack of) results. I'm dumbfounded. Did my peanut thing go bad? Have they removed me from their access list? Or what?

Once again, I only manage to get through the door because someone else is on their way out. We chat briefly there at the door.

"Something's wrong with my pass-thing," I say. "It doesn't seem to work any more."

For illustrative purposes I hold it out in front of me as I speak.

She glances down at the pass-thing, then looks at me and laughs.

"Funny guy," she says, and she continues on her way.

I look down at the pass-thing and realize, at last, that it's not my top-secret plastic security pass-thing after all.

It's a rock.

Yes, a smooth, black, rounded rock that I took from a beach on North Zealand a few days after Trine and I got married... a stupid little memento of my first contact with Kattegat, the body of water between northern Zealand and southern Sweden.

That was ten days ago, as I said, and things are only getting worse. I keep forgetting which size coins correspond to what currency value—not such a big deal in the states, where the difference between a nickel and a quarter is pretty negligible, but pretty substantial here, where coin values range from about two cents up to $3.35 or so.

It's not just Danish coins. At our poker nights, I can't for the life of me keep track of the chip values. There are only three colors, their values don't change, and you wouldn't think it would be hard to keep them straight. White is one, red is two, black is five. Or maybe red is one and white is two. And, even more catastrophically, I got it into my head the other night that two-pair beats three of a kind. It's a testament to their friendship that they haven't just booted me from the table. (Either that or sheer delight at playing with a guy who can't help kicking extra money into the pot.)

Also, I've finally learned enough Danish to get myself into all kinds of trouble. Whereas before I heard only nonsense sounds and had no choice but to resort to English in every situation, now I speak and understand enough Danish to turn simple little encounters into exasperating episodes. Couple this development with my fragile mental balance, and you've got a sure-fire recipe for tons of fun at the supermarket, mall, or even just among friends. At the grocery store yesterday, for example, an elderly woman approached me in the produce section and said, in Danish, "Excuse me."

"Sorry," I said in Danish. "I speak not Danish, not good."

"Oh," she apologized, "sorry." She began moving away, and I was overcome with remorse. How the hell was I gonna learn Danish if I only spoke English? I rushed after her and, after apologizing for startling her, said:

"While I speak not Danish, I shall try," I said.

There was terror in her eyes, but she was backed up against the clementines and had no choice but to yield to my whim.

"Blah blah," she said nervously, pointing at her watch. "blah three, blah Thursday, blah third?"

I looked at my own watch. "The clock is eleven," I said.

She nodded vigorously. "Know I that," she said, "but blah blah three blah blah Thursday." She pointed at her watch. I scrutinized it. Her little date indicator said "3," but of course, being yesterday, it should have said "4."

"Ah!" I said, "no, today is four."

"Four?"

"Yes, yes," I said. "Today is Thursday, four."

She smiled appreciatively, nodded, and moved away. I smiled at her, enormously pleased with myself, but couldn't help noticing that she was looking over her shoulder with nervous anxiety.

I have no idea what transpired between us. I don't know what she actually wanted to know and, to tell you the truth (as opposed to the pack of lies I normally subject you to), I have no goddam idea what I actually said myself.

But apparently I'm a loaded conversational gun, and this sun-deprivation stuff has given me a hair trigger. Want to talk nonsense? I'm your guy.

Blah blah blah!

* * *

On this date in 1484, Pope Innocent VIII released a papal bull to combat the spread of witchcraft and heresy in Germany. The bull was, alas, less interested in fighting these affronts to civilization than in finding romantically-inclined heifers and was subsequently relieved of his duties.

Witchcraft and heresy therefore flourished and eventually caused Protestants.

Walt Disney was born 101 years ago today. He shares his birthday with Morgan Brittany (1951), Jim Messina (1947), Little Richard (1932), Otto Preminger (1906), George Armstrong Custer (1839), and Martin Van Buren (1782).

It's not a significant holiday anywhere today, but Sunday is Pearl Harbor Day in the United States.

Enjoy the weekend!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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