Periscope Depth

wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave

Some day, thirty or more years from now, you’ll come visit me in my dingy home. I’ll bustle around and play host, offering you a drink or pulling down old yearbooks to show you. You’ll see me bump into coffee tables or misplaced chairs. “I worry about the Professor,” you’ll whisper to your friends. “He seems so clumsy.”

Don’t worry. That happens to me all the time.

At least once a day, on average, I will careen into a stationary object like a drunk in a Buick. I’ll bump my hips into the corner of a desk or smack a banister with the back of my hand. When vacuuming my apartment three weeks ago, I dragged a coffee table onto my bare left toe, creating a nasty scrape that just recently healed.

I am a clumsy giant. I can’t keep track of all parts of my body at once. I have as much say over what happens to my extremities as Marcus Aurelius did over the far corners of the Empire. Part of it comes from my height, doubtless, but part also comes from my tendency to focus more on my thoughts than my surroundings. I play with sentence structure and random ideas on the drafting table of my head, all while kicking over trash cans and elbowing vases.

Save this note for my future caretakers. If I’m bad in my old age, I’m no worse than I ever was.

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