Friday, June 14, 2013

Gentle, the Verb

A man needs a hobby, he knew.  Especially at his age and while underemployed.  Otherwise his small well-tended garden of perversities was bound to send out tendrils – tendrils, runners and feelers.  He needed a hobby that did not require money or electricity, that could be practiced anywhere, at any time.  He did not wish to knit. 

He decided to gentle his eyes.  (How could he have forgotten that gentle can also be a verb?  What an awful thing to forget.  What an essential thing to recall.  Gentle is a verb.) 

Like many persons found to be ineffectual in both the short and long term, he had eyes like an attack dog or a prisoner starving in protest, like a poisoned dart or an embittered theater critic.  He wished to have eyes like an overcast morning, eyes to illuminate objects without even the hint of a glare.  Eyes to impart tenderness to what is seen.  To refresh and not disturb –  eyes like a small, nearly unnoticeable breeze.  Eyes entirely gentle.

After he succeeded at that – see, he was already running ahead – he thought he’d like to learn how to make small comments that were both timely and appropriate.  Other people did that -- why not him?  People who made timely and appropriate comments were invited to highly appropriate parties, where people wore clothes.

He knew this would require attention to subjects he had heretofore neglected, such as weather and sports and other people.  He was willing to try.  He wished to embark upon gentleness.
Timely and appropriate comments.  He thought about adding and helpful.  Helpful comments.  But attempting to be helpful was no doubt somewhat grandiose.  And grandiosity, he knew, was part of his problem. 

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