I was lucky enough to work at the Crest Theater in Sacramento,
California recently. I talked to a woman who described herself as a,
“full time activist.” I felt tired just thinking about it. It seems so
active. I’m so glad I’m a stand-up comic. I travel a lot, but I mostly
just have to sit on a plane. I don’t have to flap. I learn a lot from
everyone that I meet, although I think I’m still behind, overall,
because I didn’t apply myself in high school.
I asked the crowd one night, as I sometimes do, if anyone
bisected angles in their work. A gentlemen about halfway up the left
side of the audience said that he did. He was a structural engineer,
although he didn’t seem to know it right away. His wife, or girlfriend
seemed to be coaching him, I figured out. At first, when I would ask
him a question, her voice would come back to me from the darkness. It
was jarring, given the publicity surrounding the Chaz Bono story, a
man whose courage I very much admire, by the way. Upon further
questioning, the structural engineer told me that his work involved
floor joists. Despite all of my travel, and use of many floors along
the way, I had never heard of floor joists. I sleep on the floor, but
it never occurred to me that there might be joists somewhere beneath
my exhausted frame. That same night, while packing, I came across a
Public Television documentary about the San Francisco earthquake that
collapsed the Bay Bridge. One of the fire fighters, who went back into
a building, while people on the outside told him not to, in order to
rescue a woman just before the building collapsed, mentioned the
“floor joist” in his description of the ordeal. Had it not been for my
job, I would have gotten the broad strokes of the documentary, but
missed the technical details. I can’t help wondering how many times
that has happened.
I’m a proud Atheist, but when this sort of thing happens, one
does get an eerie feeling that there is some sort of a plan.
Last winter, for example, I came across the word “balaclava” in a
book I was reading aloud to my son. Using the text around the word, I
guessed that it was a hat of some sort. I then looked it up, in order
to set a good example for my son, and, bingo, it’s a warm hat with a
face mask. The next day we heard an NPR piece about the the band
Vampire Weekend, and in one of their songs that they played, there
again was the word “balaclava.” Are you getting tingly? There’s more.
The next day we were shopping at REI for our snowy adventure
backpacking trip, and found an entire rack of what I at one time
thought to simply be warm hats, but were in fact labeled “balaclavas.”
Is that a freakish coincidence or what? We bought two.