I had put some oil on the stove to heat, in order to make a nice little fritatta for breakfast, and I was writing about hymns in preparation for a class I’m teaching on the subject, beginning on Wednesday. I was engrossed in my research, working up some points on African American spirituals compared with the heaven songs of the Great Depression, when I suddenly noticed that the pan had caught on fire.
I was engrossed, as I say. Still, you’d think that I would have noticed something before the flames began shooting up three feet out of the pan. If you have ever wondered whether turning off the burner and covering the pan actually works, I can now tell you confidently that it does. And I am wide awake now, too.
That wasn’t what I was planning on talking with you about today, though.
A while back I remarked scornfully that Southern Living had shown a house with its books all on the shelves with their spines toward the wall. The following month (that is, this month) they actually recommended doing this — I mean, as a decorating tip. Have the pages of the books out, they said, and have just a few spines showing here and there as a color accent.
This was too much. I emailed them and took them to task for it, saying that people who read their books wouldn’t be able to find the ones they needed, and people who didn’t read their books should give said books to someone who would. They should put bibelots on their shelves, I said.
I don’t do this sort of thing. Really I don’t. I recognize that, when people write things for publication, they will already have thought of just about any point I am likely to make and made up their own minds and they do not need me to tell them they are wrong.
I also don’t generally believe in wasting my time on pointless communication, but only convey these things to people if I have some actual goal. In this case, I do not anticipate that Southern Living will post a retraction, saying, “Merciful heavens! We hadn’t thought about how y’all wouldn’t be able to find your books! Don’t do what we said you should do. We must have been out of our minds, and we are really sorry!”
This is what’s wrong with email. If I had had to go to the trouble of actually finding an envelope and a stamp, no way would I have sent them that letter.
Anyway, they have now responded to me several times, assuring me that they have received my query and that they are forwarding it hither and yon throughout their organization, seeking the right person to deal with it, and they truly appreciate my having brought it up, and they will attend to my query as soon as possible. These are long, long computer-generated emails they are sending me.
It is possible that they are making fun of me.
#1 daughter got the job at the weight-loss clinic. #2 daughter is still waiting to hear. My car is still not working, and my husband had to work today, so I cannot do my usual round of Saturday errands until someone wakes up and drives me. This coming week I have something every night but Friday, plus of course my usual commute and a Saturday cooking show, and now all the drivers in the house have school or work all day, all with different schedules and in different areas, so I am not sure what I will be doing about that.
Perhaps there is a hymn on the subject.