The beautiful lull, the dangerous tug

I have this theory that people who prefer The Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby also prefer The Bends to OK Computer with high probability, and vice versa (preferring Achtung implies preferring OK Computer). What do you think?

Saw Idlewild Tuesday night at Slim’s. The opening acts were pretty terrible (The French Kicks were marginally entertaining only because they were such obvious Strokes wannabes, right down to the scruffy pseudo-formal clothes and the half-knotted tie — as if being the Strokes is something to strive for, anyway) but we got close to the stage for Idlewild and they delivered. I haven’t been to a good, solid rock show in a couple of months, and it felt good.

My sickeningly good mood continues. I think my friends are perplexed by this :). I had office hours today, and I was in too good a mood to discuss the latest problem set, so I kept interrupting the students while they tried to figure out the problems: “What other classes are you taking?” “Are you guys going to go to grad school or become code monkeys?” “Where are you from?” “I like Radiohead.” I think they were annoyed but I was too happy to care :).

This despite the oppressive amount of work I have this weekend: a big problem set, section next week, and, oh yeah, a 90 minute presentation on Monday on papers I haven’t even read yet. Oops. That’s gonna kill me. But who cares? heh.

One problem with IHouse is that you never see any children or animals. Dude, since I’m in such a good mood, I’m going to tell you how much I love kids, even if it dispels the last shred of manliness from my already epicene image. Hmm, maybe just two memories instead. A couple of weeks ago I was waiting at the Durant Food Court for a friend, chilling on a bench, and this little kid, maybe two years old, came up to me. Ridiculously cute. He was holding this big piece of bread in one hand, and with his other hand he took mine. I just sat there grinning like an idiot, as I always do when there are children around. We looked at each other, me smiling from ear to ear, he probably fascinated by my lunacy, his perfect hand against my rough, ungainly one, for maybe half a minute. Finally his mom called to him from the sidewalk; he let go and started to walk towards her. After a couple of steps, though, he slowed down in contemplation. Arriving at some kind of decision, he turned around and walked back towards me, proffering a piece of his bread. Jeez, my heart just melted right there. I took the morsel and thanked him profusely and he, mission accomplished, walked off to his mom and they left together. I sat there for a moment, struck by my immense good fortune — that single gift went further than a thousand loaded adult “thank you”s towards changing my views about human nature — before putting the bread in my mouth. It was, of course, delicious.

The other story is pretty similar. I was taking the shuttle up to the Quad one night in college, and this father and his little baby girl got on. He sat two seats over and placed her between us. She was tiny — so tiny that her feet barely reached over the seat. Again, my lunatic grin manifested itself, and I must have looked like the Cheshire Cat when her miniature hand reached out to me. Actually, her hand was so small that she couldn’t grasp mine; instead she wrapped her fingers around my pinky. We rode the rest of the way to the Quad just like that, and I think for the first time in my life since I learned what “cynicism” meant I felt none at all.

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7 Responses to The beautiful lull, the dangerous tug

  1. awu says:


    Babies huh?

    Since you’re on the topic of musical tastes and babies

  2. wittlebc says:

    kids make me SO happy…i was on the subway the other day when i spotted this precocious little toddler who just couldn’t keep still. He had the chubbiest cheeks…the kind that sag just a wittle bit b/c they’re so chubby and cute…so, in response to his chubby cheeks, i puffed out my cheeks…he, sensing a challenge and unwilling to be outdone by this asian girl sitting across the way, puffed out his cheeks in return. we were in a heated battle until i had to give up b/c i had arrived at my stop. and as i stepped off the train, i heard this wee, litte bye that kept me warm and fuzzy all day long…:)

    • aj says:


      that’s cute! Reminds me of when I was flying out to California last fall, and one leg of my trip was on a small plane, with two rows of two seats separated by an aisle.

      I was sitting in the window seat of one, with no one next to me, and across the aisle was a mother and her baby. The baby was, of course, unbearably cute. I made a face at him, and he responded with one in turn. This went back and forth a couple of times until the mother noticed, gave me a suspicious look, and shifted the baby away. A minute or two later, though, he was peering back at me and the game resumed. It got funnier, naturally, because I was pretending to look straight ahead while surreptitiously glancing over every now and then with a new face. The baby responded wonderfully!

      This went on for ten minutes, at least. I felt self-conscious — I’m an adult, after all, and pretty much alf the plane could see me. But I couldn’t resist. Then the mom noticed again, got annoyed, and turned the baby around for good. Did I look that scary?

  3. joyousx says:

    sweet story, aj…
    as for your theory: i think i prefer achtung and the bends to joshua tree and ok computer. is that odd?

  4. kejordan says:

    yup, i fit it

    prefer joshua tree and the bends to achtung baby and ok computer :)

    and i work with babies…hehe. you all should be jealous :) my favorite that i met today was this little 2-year-old who wouldn’t answer any questions we posed to her, but instead just repeated them back to us with the biggest smile ever…we’d ask, “I don’t know who this is. What’s her name?” pointing to a Minnie Mouse, and she’d grin and say quietly, “I don’t know who this is. What’s her name?” We also had a 2-year-old boy who was fascinated with everything he saw in/near our building that we take for granted…the stairs, the water fountain, the parking meters and gate in the parking lot, etc. He couldn’t say “Thank you” so he said “Ah choo” every time we gave him something. Very cute :)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi AJ, this is Q. I just discovered your journal a few days ago–it’s very entertaining.

    Children certainly are fascinating critters. As for your theory, I definitely prefer OK Computer to The Bends and usually prefer Achtung Baby to The Joshua Tree.