So my wife is an open water swimmer. You know, one of those nutbars who swims in the open ocean. Not so crazy a thing as all that until you realize we live in San Francisco and the water’s around 55 degrees on a good day and she swims routinely in from Alcatraz and along the Golden Gate Bridge from the southwest tower in to the northeast Coast Guard station and she’s always in her top three for her age group and that lunatic swims without a wetsuit.
All sorts of armchair psychiatry you can get into there, but the reason I point this out is that’s what she does for fun. She was on a business trip and she called me in-between meetings and she was telling me the difference between high tide and low tide and that’s the tidal range and the currents between ebb and flood currents are the slack tide and open water isn’t like swimming laps in a pool and all I could think was I’m glad you know the difference, you loon, but also of that scene in Next Gen between O’Brien and Troi about quantum string and cosmic filament and O’Brien just sighing and saying “That’s a completely different phenomenon.” The regular folks aren’t going to make that distinction, even though it’s a chasm of difference to enthusiasts and students of the form.
As I said, the missus is on a business trip, so my young man and I are bachelors, taking showers and brushing teeth maybe only 80% of the time we should be; we’re running things a little loose here, but we’re taking our vitamins and doing our homework, nobody’s saying different. Maybe I have to explain a couple of late-night network TV innuendoes on when bingeing Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the young man before he would have encountered them in middle school, and maybe we stay up too late watching “The Omega Glory” on a school night because they did a unit on Betsy Ross in his class and I wanted to show him what the American flag means to people who believe in old-school America.
But as I’m making him dinner, he hits me with, “Daddy? You say both when you’re cooking. What’s the difference between a skillet and a frying pan?” and I realize I don’t know. My Grandparents had a diner and they used both words, interchangeably. Quick google, and it turns out there is no difference. The skillet has sloped sides, and is also called a frying pan. It’s the saute pan that has vertical sides, and is the difference.
But that launched this great conversation about Mommy’s spring tides and neap tides and slack tides and skillets and saute pans and how the reason for all these different terminologies and definitions is because the world is a subtle and ephemeral as well as permanent and unyielding place.
“Is that why you can’t re-subscribe to the CBS app, Daddy?”
“I dunno, Little Dude. I’m either doing something wrong, or this interface is crap. Might be the difference between a frying pan and a skillet. We gotta wait until Mommy gets back from her business trip to sort this out for us.”
I was going to try to give you some thoughts on Short Treks, waiting for the season two premiere, but that app is nuts. See you Friday afternoon. Talking about what passes for Star Trek now in 2019 for me is like my wife open-water swimming without a wet suit. What a crazy bunch of shit; but that’s what I do for fun.