Sunday, December 13, 2009

Having Troubles, Bubbles?

Dec. 12

I want to be the seventh.

Carol and I were having tea at Panera's up in the Heights on Saturday, and I was having a moment of feeling old, creaky, sluggish. When I remembered a catchphrase from my past. "Having troubles, bubbles?" I think I adopted it from my sister, maybe as far back as 1958, and I suspect it was meant to be used ironically, maybe one level nicer on the kind-cruel continuum than "tough tamales." I mean, it could be almost caring, but in a playful way, with the objective of jollying the recipient out of a funk. The point is, no one says it anymore. It went the way of "Mercy buttercups" (for thank you) or "Agatha, agatha!" (for agony, agony). Maybe that's a good thing, but it made me laugh to think of it again, which is good, too. I could see saying it to someone, sincerely.

I couldn't help comparing it to the catchphrase of the moment, which I think has to be, "It is what it is." I've been hearing it everywhere lately. Friends, receptionists, barristas... And I can understand the currency, how well it suits the grim matter-of-factness of the laid-off landscape. I use it myself. And I don't doubt that it would rate higher on the weary comfort scale than "Having troubles, bubbles?" would, which suggests the spunky empathy of Doris Day in blushing Technicolor. So where am I going with this?

Simply that I Googled "IIWII", not even sure if It Is What It Is rates an acronym, but sure enough: 123,000 references, starting with the Urban Dictionary, who pronounce it "ee-we." And then I Googled "Having troubles, bubbles?" with the quotation marks to keep it intact. And--six. That's it! Six hits. So I'm entering this tag (plus of course it's my advent revelation du jour) and I want to be the seventh.

Dec. 13

That would be Sunday, which now is actually yesterday, and only because I don't want to fall back another day on my advent tally (so much easier to have those little surprises pre-chosen). Today's is a time. Open the little window and the square underneath will say: 4:12. Not a chapter/verse notation. It's the sturdy minute that bows but will not break. On December 3, the time of the sunset earlied out at 4:12 p.m. It has held fast to that number for ten days and counting. And it's only because the sunrise stubbornly persists in getting later that the days are still getting shorter. But we're talking by under a minute shorter since 12/7. This is the glissade into winter, folks. 56 seconds on the 8th...52...48...44...40...36...and on the 21st, two seconds shorter. Then, on the 22nd, ready? One beautiful second longer!

But not yet. The point is, take 4:12 to heart. It will hold the line. It will get us there. It is what it is, in a good way.

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