We applaud many things delivered by the Ancients, which are in themselves but ordinary, and come short of our own conceptions. — Sir Thomas Browne
It has so happened in the past few weeks, that the author of these delicate Amblers, has moved from his crumbling and dilapidated apartment near the bar district to a cozy haven amongst quaint houses and an even quainter downtown, titled “The Ole Midshipman.” That crumbling and dilapidated apartment near the bar district of my past caused me no small vexation—daily was I holed up in my lodging, confined to a small bedroom and a humming fan, all in an effort to drown out the constant racket of a TV produced from the adjoining room. Crumbs littered the shelf and counters and floors; ketchup was caked on the table as if a man had been slaughtered the night before, his blood already cemented and crying out for justice; bottles and glasses and plates appeared from thin air over night and grew over the week—with the rapidity of modern buildings, so erected only to be surely crumbled and crashed to pieces at the slightest touch of a feather; noise, constant noise till the early morning hours of the gun shots and violence, bellowing forth from the grim darkness and poor lighting; and I—to escape the leaning towers, the blood-stained tables, the noise—that ceaseless noise!—took such refuge in my small room with a whirring fan. Just as Captain Cuttle fond himself imprisoned on cleaning day from the dreadful MacStinger, so I found comfort in the cell of my own room. But anyone who has read Dombey and Son knows that Captain Cuttle eventually flees to the Wooden Midshipman, and so I have fled to the Ole Midshipman, so named after that glorious, yet not financially viable, shop.
My new place is humble enough, and though it is unfortunately not very wooden, it is very old, older, indeed, than my bones after a long amble under the summer sun. The flat was originally a house—made in those days when man still had taste—and upon entering the complex and firmly closing the door, one listens with mirth as a faint creaking is heard ascending the door, as if the entire building is on its last leg. Contrary to my old place—which makes no sound of its own—the building is not crumbling and dilapidated, but crisp and durable. It is like any common old man—brittle on the outside but full of life within.
But it is not youthful because of its youth but because it embraces the youth of Mother Earth. Indeed, the world has grown very old and adapted silly new gadgets with which we humor ourselves to no end. It is a very old man who must be kept alive with drugs; to whom mere presence among nature is not enough to remind him he is living. But in the youth of our world, these electronics were not around, and it is thus a silly thought that anyone is ever labeled “old fashioned” for wanting to return to the youth of the world. It is a very old person, indeed, who cannot see that progressivism is only leading the world to its own dusty death—and as we creep closer we pay less attention to it like an old codger unable to keep his eyes open for twenty seconds at what used to be his favorite stories. I will not drone on about modern drones, however, but continue on with my description of the Ole Midshipman.
As the dutiful skipper of my flat, I have, as stated above, adorned it in youth, and I have done so by way of minimalism, for minimalism means me and minimalism means quiet—like the world in its youthfulness. No T.V. will ever enter the Ole Midshipman. The internet—that vile destroyer of souls—will not impede. Indeed, not counting a dead laptop yet to be opened, no computer has penetrated the walls. No radio sits on the nightstand. No Ipod or Iphone has scaled the walls: Surrey is forever banished. As I sit and pen this the only noise I hear as I shut my eyes is the monotonous humming of a necessary window AC unit (which sounds like cascading waves if one has an imagination) and the ticking of an analogy clock, shaped as a shipman’s wheel, resting above my desk. This clock is one of two in the flat. Indeed, time at the Ole Midshipman moves in similar fashion as the old wooden ships of yore. The petty pace of time is not taken up by modern motors of entertainment as are other apartments. Perhaps the most technologically advanced instrument is Little Nell, the manual typewriter that from time to time sits atop my desk as the rightful queen of the Ole Midshipman, dictating to all lesser items that she alone rules and reigns.
“But what,” say my detractors, “does one do for fun? How do you ever pass the time?”
I must say, time is a very fickle thing. It moves not when we are wanting it to and does not stop when we press against it with all our might. But it is only a silly soul who consciously asks what one does with the time. It is only the person, so bored with life, who wishes it away. I say, time in the Ole Midshipman does not move slow enough. When one wants to be entertained at the Ole Midshipman, he reads from any number of volumes on the shelf; or we writes something witty; or he invites a physical friend over and plays cribbage; or chats between sips of ale or tea; or he merely stares out the window; or he opens the side door, and upon stepping out on the plank, sets down his smoking chair (a good housewarming gift from a physical friend) and smokes a bowl of tobacco and sits and thinks; or stares at the lovely garden; or he could eat food, type on the typewriter to a distant (though physical) friend; or, if artistic, draw a picture, but if not artistic, read another book.
“But what,” say my detractors, “does he do when in need of information?”
Well, say I, it should be noted that the author of these loquacious Amblers holds that Google is a terrible giant and the only knowledge required to steer the Ole Midshipman is that which proceeds from a common dictionary. And so, when faced with an unfamiliar word, one opens up that beautiful device and can discover the meaning to virtually anything. It is proper and good that a young man read a dictionary. For, with the constant sexualization of our crumbling and dilapidated culture, nigh every verb will one day refer to that sacred, matrimonial act, and every noun will be so contorted to be a Phallic symbol.* It should further be noted that when that young man finds his way to the Fs, he may just realize that a dictionary is not dry or dull, and that the nature of words are nigh fantastic or even farcical.
Thus, after less than a week of freedom at the Ole Midshipman, I alighted onto that plank at dusk one evening and beheld my small plot of land. I opened a book and lit my pipe as my good neighbors did their own lighting, sending explosions into the air till the dusk was overcome with darkness. I mused to myself—grateful that I resided in a county that still allowed for man to dangerously shoot fire into the skies so that it exploded. Of all the really spiritual things man does, fireworks may remind us more often that the engine of the soul runs on faith. Like the masts of some fast-moving Clipper careening through the seas are pushed by an unseen wind, so man moves from day to day by faith in the metaphysical. So while my neighbors celebrated a nation that has slowly allowed its own prosperity to eat the parent, religion, I rested easy, knowing that man cannot destroy the soul and smoked that pipe in honor of my independence.
*Upon entering my car one fine evening, I described the situation to a dear friend as “torque” by body. To my dread, I discovered that due to certain foolish knaves who roam around this planet, that lovely word is now off limits as it sounds like “twerk,” and I merely wish to lament this slow sexualization of our language which will soon include every word in its grasp.