Travels with Jim: A melodrama in two acts

Act One, Sister Act, semi-rural SE Pennsylvania, late afternoon in the middle of April:

Picking the twins up from after-school organized running at John Beck Elementary School, Jim returned with them in the back seat. Lily, histrionically distraught, began declaiming about “feeling,” holding forth about the universality of it.

“Everything has feeling,” she said, her voice on a higher level than usual. Rose declined to endorse this assertion. They have no brains, she said, her voice on a much lower level.

This got to Lily in a big way. Raising her sound level even further, waxing yet more distraught, hearing Rose several times aver the lack of feeling in ants due to their lack of a brain, she turned up the volume: “You have no feeling!” she cried, raising several notches the level of over-all intensity.

Rose, who had demonstrated the falsity of this assertion in ways too numerous to count over her and Lily’s almost nine years of life as we know it, continued inexorably to deny feelings to ants and other minute subhuman creatures, including inanimate ones.

She did something else, several times injecting into the exchange her observation, offered in the same calm, steady tone: “You’re smiling.”

After each of these injections, Lily upped the histrionic ante. Neither missed a beat. The grandfather in the front seat might not have even been there. The twins had their routine. It was their (good) idea of a good time.

The 15–minute ride back home over, they got out and picked up with their pre-dinner activities.

(to be continued)

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