Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Up There and Down There

Back last summer during the NBC broadcasts from the Beijing Olympic Games, they sometimes took time off from sports to try to give viewers a little insight on the host country. That's not easy because China is so vast and complex, but a few of the little visits to the outlying areas were, I thought, interesting.

One of these spots was about the panda bear farm, where dedicated employees worked to increase production of a rare Chinese export to the rest of the world - pandas themselves. I don't recall when this little enterprise was started, but no doubt early on someone concluded that the production of little pandas depended in large part on at least one male willing to frequently share his, ah, affections with the females.

Once they settled on the identity of this lucky father, it was up to everyone to treat the big boar like some kind of rock star. Nothing but the best for Big Daddy (not his real name of course). Special diet, lots of attention from the staff, and a personal intern assigned to keep repeating to him over and over the words "You da man!"

Has it worked? Well, they've had a setback or two, notably a tragic earthquake a couple of years ago, but the spot contained one shot of a dozen or so employees sitting in a row with two impossibly cute panda cubs each on their laps. The Big Guy is doing his part.

Now, on a completely unrelated matter, I had a dream the other nioght. This one featured the difference in post-mortality conditions between two places we coulf refer to as "Up There" and "Down There". If it's possible for a dream to be a "wake-up call" then this was it. I'm a changed dude even if the cause of the dream was from an overuse of barbeque sauce.
Up There it's partly cloudy, with temps in the sixties and seventies unless you plan to go swimming, when it goes to about eighty five. Winds are always light, the grass is green and growing, but lawnmowers make no noise. Down There it's just below forty on a good day. Blustery winds and a lack of sunlight mean that the piles of grungy, dirt-covered snow shoveled from parking lots never seem to disappear.
Up There the people are friendly and fun to be around. You meet ex-professors who have learned to not take themselves too seriously, along with musicians, painters, sculptors, and the occaisional former famous person willing to tell you the real truth about anything they had been involved in of a productive, society-aiding nature. Down There, you are matched with people unlike yourself: self-centered teenagers, chainsmoking bullying bosses, former TV evangelists who demand better treatment (but, of course, don't get it), and math geniuses who swear they can forecast the stock market and insist on showing you their formulae, which seem to be gibberish.
Up There the meals are satisfying without requiring long elaborate recipes, and international dishes are plentiful. Down There, you have to eat what you have hunted or fished for, and cooking involves lots of unsolicited advice from extended family members from the Old Country.
Up There a tennis court is available whenever you need one, and the racquets and strings are perfect. People move around the court with ease since they have no more physical problems, and they are generous in giving you the benefit on line calls. Down There, you can play once a year based on a performance review, and your foursome includes spin shot artists, lobbers and blatant cheaters. Your court is pockmarked cement, and your raquet is made of wood with a tiny sweet spot. You play under bleak skies in the gusty wind and struggle just to work up a sweat.
Up There there are plenty of interesting channels, all in high def and stereo sound. Vin Scully and Harry Cary do all the baseball games, and Red Barber does color commentary. It goes without saying that all talk radio is liberal, but without being preachy. Down There, you only get one channel, which sometimes goes fuzzy without an explanation. Every day it's Spanish-speaking soap operas all day, NASCAR races with lots of commercials, thick southern accented commentary (shouted, of course, due to all the other noise) every night, followed by Saturday only programming from PBS, The Best of Rush and capped off with comedies about smart, thin women who turn their idiotic, fat husbands into sobbing hulks of goo with just a word. The children all agree with the moms. Dad is a loser.
I awoke from this dream in a cold sweat, finding my blankets tangled and my bare feet sticking out the bottom of the bed. Then I remembered and breathed a sigh of relief. It's April Fools Day.


Blogger allison said...


12:32 PM  

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