Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu

America Has Talent



Summer is here and there are kids tumbling and leaping over carpets and sofas. Outside at the sugar-water bird feeder, the hummingbirds rumble. At the seed feeder, the golden finches are in a serious dispute with an insane squirrel.

A paperback edition of The Wizard of Oz lies open on the bed. It was published the same year as Huckleberry Finn. Like Mark Twain, Frank Baum had to do all kinds of things for a living before he wrote the book that made him famous.

Dave Brinks says that he was reading a bedtime story to his daughter, Mina, who stopped him to ask, "What's a forehead?" Dave explained. Mina thought about it, then said, "Daddy you don't have four heads!" Concluded Brinks: "I needed that!"

Sure enough. We all do. It's summer, and it's time to remember that you don't have four heads. In fact, you don't even have one. What you have is a gas balloon filled with vague thoughts -- and a few things you don't feel like doing. Hanging the hammock. Picking up the book. Turning off the TV. Chasing away the squirrel. In the winter, when you had four heads, you could do all those things and more, but those heads fell off one by one, as winter turned into spring and spring into summer. You'll grow another head in the fall, when school starts. It will be small at first, then it will swell with all kinds of important ideas. It will notice the state of the world. It will want to do something. It will watch the news.

Laura was walking on a deserted Chartres Street in the French Quarter when she saw a man with a baseball cap pick up a baby from a stroller to stop it from fussing. It was Brad Pitt. The summer heat that wraps the Quarter in liquid sleep made everything shimmery. After that, we saw Angelina Jolie on TV telling Jon Stewart that she wants to adopt a million babies. Where do these people get their energy? It's summer. Maybe the people you see in the movies and on TV and sometimes on the street have only one season: work. Or winter. Maybe people on TV don't have summer because they work like ants all year so that grasshoppers like us can have summer.

I'm only saying these things because it's Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday, and I'm going to pretend that it's Sunday. I'm going to do that all summer. I really have to do something about that squirrel; it's gone way past fighting for seeds, it's become sadistic. Here is a nice rock.

Andrei Codrescu's latest book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City (Algonquin Books).

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