The Hunchfoot Of Notre Dame

To continue the story I began the other day, after securing provisions to help us hole up in our hovel during the bitterly unforgiving winter, my wife Jina and I went to withdraw some cash from an ATM, then retired to the warmth of a bookstore.  There I picked up a book entitled Subliminal:  How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, by Leonard Mlodinow (pronounced “Me-lah-DIH-nov,” according to the author).  I’d seen it before when it was in hardcover a few weeks ago, and was pleased to find it had made the transition to paperback (would that we human beings could lose weight so easily).  There was a stack of several copies of the book about ten deep.  Right next to it was another stack of a paperback by Jonathan Haidt entitled The Righteous Mind.  I read the description on the back cover and some of the blurbs and was tempted to buy it, as it was about how otherwise reasonable people often disagree strongly about politics and religion.  

Something compelled me to get the Mlodinow book instead; I wasn’t sure what it was, unless the Helvetica font reminded me of Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, Life After God, and Hey, Nostradamus!  The latter is one of his finest works, IMHO, and its cover also makes use of the Helvetica font.

It wasn’t until I got home and started reading the book that I noticed a subliminal message written next to the title that read:  “Pssst. . . Hey There.  Yes:  You, Sexy.  Buy This Book Now.  You Know You Want It.”  I had to chuckle at my own obtuseness for falling for the trap, then wondered whether such a marketing technique was even legal.  On the back I could see was written the exhortation:  “Buy!  Buy!  Buy!” and even found the same command, minus the exclamation mark, written on the spine.

Now at least if I’m too scatter-brained or lazy to finish it, the author will have already proven his point at the outset.

In one of her unspoken quests she’s wont to embark on, Jina dragged me to a shoe store after we left the bookstore, even though I had to use the toilet.  For the past seven years, I’ve had a growth on the right side of my left foot that protrudes from the ball, just at the base of the big toe.  It’s gotten bigger and more painful over time.  Several years ago Jina bought me a pair of shoes online that were too small, so I sold them to a co-worker at a reduced price.

Even though I warned her that buying shoes online was not a winning strategy, she ignored my admonition and bought me a new pair of dress shoes recently to wear to work, asking that the shoemaker ensure that the left member of the pair was wider.  When the shoes arrived, we found that the dingbat had widened the right shoe instead.  I was too much of a lame-ass to send them back, so I’ve been wearing them most days of the week despite their torturous tightness, sometimes soaking my foot when I get home, or sleeping with a hot pad draped over it, not that it seems to help much.

So anyway, Jina wanted to buy me some sneakers, even though I have rheumatoid arthritis in my knees and can’t run anymore anyway.  She relentlessly demands I lose weight (even though she’s putting on the pounds these days too; the weather has been so cold, the thought of spending any more time outside than is necessary smacks of extravagant masochism).

(To be continued shortly. . .)  


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