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Welcome to “Over Easy,” a guide to eggs and the chickens that hatch them.
Just kidding. Although in the past I’ve written about our chickens and the response has always been positive, I vowed there would not be any chicken jokes or anecdotes with my name attached.
Moving right along, I’m here to introduce “Over Easy,” a guide to eggs and – oh, I did that.
People have asked me what my column is about. The truth is, I don’t know. Writing is something you do because you are somehow compelled to do it, to turn chaos into order. It begins with a sense of wonder and curiosity helped along by that old nemesis: Boredom. Sitting around with nothing to do, the mind wanders as it wonders about seemingly common questions that need to be asked:
• If it is so dangerous sticking a cotton swab into your ear canal, why is a cotton swab built to be the perfect size for that activity?
• Will a federal agent arrest me in my own home if I tear the tag off my new couch? The tag that says “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Federal Law.”
• Is there a Mrs. Bagel?
• Why are “easy opening” packages not?
Many years ago, when both major and minor population centers had at least two daily newspapers, there were columnists like Russell Baker, Art Buchwald and E.B. White, who developed a national audience for a kind of writing that came to be known as the personal essay.
One of those writers was Sydney J. Harris, who wrote like no other, whose words somehow lifted you on a magic carpet to reveal upon closer examination what you thought you knew was not totally correct.
Harris’ essay on friendship and how it is similar to a fine diamond is full of surprise and delight. A diamond reveals itself slowly under light, he wrote, each carat surfaces only after some time has passed. Diamonds and friends discover within each other a seed that grows into a lifelong relationship. In other words, both friendships and diamonds reveal themselves slowly and thrive with the proper illumination.
You can dig out some priceless examples of Harris’ writing skill on Wikipedia and other sources. Here’s a typical example: “Terrorism is what we call the violence of the weak, and we condemn it; war is what we call the violence of the strong, and we glorify it.” Or this: “Happiness is a direction, not a place.”
So that’s the nucleus of what to expect from a biweekly column called “Over Easy,” a guide to eggs and – oh, not again.
I hope your expectations are proved wrong, at least some of the time. Better to be surprised in this life rather than the next one. There will be nothing to save, nothing to take with you from reading this. I suggest we observe together and wonder alike at the world around us.
And that includes the chickens.
Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at email@example.com.