Mr. Cope's Cave: Things Americans Don't Spend Much Time Thinking About


Hope you're having a happy new year so far, and you'll notice I didn't capitalize "happy new year" like you'd normally see it. That's because it's the second day of January today. If this were yesterday, I'd probably have written it "Happy New Year." Might even have put a big old exclamation point on the end. "Happy New Year!" And maybe a smiley face.

But that was January 1st stuff. And of course, the night before. By now, though, it's all just part of what we'll be looking at for the next 363 days or so. As far as I'm concerned, it already doesn't deserve any special treatment, like capitalization or exclamation points. Come about Sunday—Monday for sure—we'll be done saying it at all. It's like one of those colorful, glittered-up balloons you may have been knocking around Wednesday night, and now most, if not all, of the air's gone out of it and it's laying like a limp, wrinkled prophylactic under somebody's car, still sitting on the upper deck of a downtown parking garage because the doofus who drove it there lost his keys during the potato drop and doesn't have the money to get a locksmith to come out and open the damn thing so he can get to the spare key, which may, or may not, be in the jockey box, because he went overboard with the plastic last month and won't be above water again until sometime around Memorial Day—and that's only if he gives up smoking, going out on weekends, lottery tickets and ice cream, like he resolved to do sometime between the eighth and ninth pomegranate martini.

But now, on to new business.

What I'm doing here is initiating a new series. You know how much I love series. In fact, my first thought for today was to add another entry to the longest-running series on this blog. That would be the "Unbelievably Stupid Things Gun Nuts Do" series that has proved so popular among the area's NRA goons. Something happened Tuesday that certainly deserves to be part of any chronicle of how sickly insane our culture of guns has become, and I bet you heard about it, as it happened right here in Idaho. It made national news, it was so sickly and sadly insane. God knows how may lives, not even counting the one that was lost, will be scarred and twisted for at least a generation because of it. And all because some idiot thought she'd be safer with a goddamn gun in her purse.

But, upon further reflection, I decided against writing about that one. There really is such a thing as "too soon," and this incident fits that bill.

Besides, about the same time that tragedy happened in Hayden, another tragedy was unfolding in south Asia. The plane-going-down tragedy. By new year's eve (note how dull and lifeless it sounds when it's not capitalized), it seems they had narrowed the likely places the airliner might be to a relatively shallow part of the 70 percent of the Earth's surface that is covered with water. According to the last news I heard, they expect to find Flight 1501 in 150 feet or so of aqua unfirma.

Which still sounds like a lot of water, doesn't it? Half a football field of water ain't nuttin' to sneeze at. But compared to where it could have gone down, it's like the plane's in the shallow end of the pool, the deep end of which is, like, seven miles to the bottom.

All of which got me to thinking about the Earth's oceans, which in turn gave me the idea for this new series. I'm calling it "Things Americans Don't Spend Much Time Thinking About" because... well, because I think there are a lot of things Americans don't spend much, if any, time thinking about. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that if more Americans spent more time thinking about certain things—the Earth's oceans, for just one example—we would be a different country, and a different people, than we are now.

And look, I don't mean to say that the folks in all the other countries spend any more time than Americans do thinking about things—the Earth's oceans, or anything else. But America is where I live and where my concerns lie the heaviest. It's also where I do all of my writing. So it wouldn't make much sense for me to start a series called "Things the Dutch Don't Spend Much Time Thinking About," would it? Or "Things Waziristanis Don't Spend Much Time Thinking About."

No. That wouldn't make much sense at all.

However, I just checked my word count, and it seems I've already run off at the fingers more than I intended. So, I shall begin this series properly next time we meet. Monday. It will be titled "Things Americans Don't Spend Much Time Thinking About: The Dew on the Marble," And I'll tell you right now it's going to be about the Earth's oceans, just in case you aren't interested in the Earth's oceans and don't want to waste any of your precious time thinking about them—which, of course, is exactly the reason I'm starting this series.

Until then...