And then along comes the Tourist Organization of Serbia.
All around Belgrade this summer, billboards and posters have sprung up. They have pictures of enticing foods, they have catchy slogans luring the idle passer by to dream about voyages to exotic places. When you look closer, you see that (Hey!) it is the food you had for lunch, and (Wait!) this is advertising for Serbia!
This means the kitchen sink, the boiler, the fuse box, the electric outlets, the washing machine, the ripped shirt, the car, the window. Anything that we touch may break or cease to function at a moment's notice, whether or not I have struck it with a sledge hammer or tried to fill it with tomato juice. At that point, there is always someone out there whose special purpose in life is to repair the damage. We call the guy.
There is a mixed blessing about staying behind in the White City during August. The streets are empty if you wish to drive your car, but often there is no one waiting for you at your destination. There are fewer people in lines in the supermarket, but much of what you need to buy will not be stocked until September.
We mourn the sad tragedy of the passing of Michael Jackson at ago 50. We celebrate the man who was a star from early childhood, an icon in the 1980s, the King of Pop, and we kindly and gently pass over the child molester, the depraved sociopath, the one who dangled his child out of a London hotel window, the one who attempted to surgically alter his skin color making him look like more like a live-action cartoon character than a human being.
I think, as a courtesy, this may have been somewhat over the top, but I am not a diplomat, I suppose.
Contrary to what you are already setting your surmisers to surmise, this is NOT going to be a litany of complaints about the fact that our already traffic-impaired City on the Danube has literally been closed down today, forcing people to either a) take extraordinary measures to come to work or b) stay home in their pyjamas and watch Oprah. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
There has long been an unwritten psychological boon which comes with this. We shop when we are feeling down. We shop when we are feeling good. We feel empowered even if we do not buy anything. The very idea that we COULD decide to exchange money for the good on display before us is a powerful notion.
As it happens, I was born on a Monday the 13th, at seven ante meridiem no less. As if I was born ready for school (or work).
Each time I brush with traditional bad luck omens, like black cats or walking under ladders or my unlucky watch (of which etc cetera), I am constantly confronting my conditioned reactions to them an assessing what they make me feel and sometimes do.
And now, we have formalized our decision by swearing him in as the forty-fourth president of the US. We got our change we think. But he has not changed much yet - except the words.
The words are important. The words of the past administration had been words about fear, security, and about threats - everywhere there were threats. The words made us feel safe at first. We thought that someone else was worried about our safety.
But then we wanted change from these words. Those words made us act out of worry. They divided us. They sullied the reputation of the country abroad.