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Elliot: Meeting Borges

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JANUARY 22, 2013 6:30 AM

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Apparently, the new normal now is having a fake girlfriend.

One whom (to employ a nearly archaic word carelessly snatched by my overtaxed brain — damn government — from the medieval depths of the 19th century) you never stand next to or sit next to or … not to give you too much information next to.

(I was thinking of sharing popcorn at 1 in the morning, speaking of next to. I don’t know where your mind was going, next to.)

This is the kind of girlfriend whom you only meet on the phone, if you can call that “meeting,” which apparently some people do. Or whom you only “meet” by texting. That’s why they call those devices smart phones.

Quite a century we’ve got going here, even if it has relegated “whom” to the trash bin of history.

Of course, the previous new normal from two weeks ago is now the old new normal, which means that the new new normal will be the ancient new normal by Feb. 11. (To pick a date out of thin air, which is much better than that obese air that seems to be going around like the flu.)

Then again, the Patriots played as if they all had fake girlfriends.

(Which isn’t all bad, come to think of it; I believe many of the Patriots are married, and we all know how well girlfriends work in a marriage. If you happen not to know, because of some genetic-based disability, which seems to be going around these days like the flu, you could always ask Tiger Woods about girlfriends, wife, nine iron.)

OK, OK. I don’t really know if it was a nine iron. I mean, I wasn’t there. I’m not there a lot of places.

(Which I think goes for most of us, including Gertrude Stein, who came up with the concept, back in the days when people casually used the word “whom.”)

And besides, my entire knowledge of golf would not fill the cup, or whatever they call it, on the green. I wouldn’t know a nine iron from a wedge. Or a wedgie, for that matter. (A “wedgie,” the American Heritage Dictionary cheerfully tells us, is “A shoe having a wedge-shaped heel joined to a half sole so as to form a continuous undersurface.” I don’t know where your mind was going next to.)

None of this is meant to make fun of All-Everything Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and his imaginary (though not to him, to give him the benefit of the doubt) girlfriend who died. Except, of course, she didn’t die, because she wasn’t real. Kind of like Lance Armstrong’s entire cycling career. (Which brings up the question — no, it doesn’t beg the question, because that means something else, Aristotle — if Lance Armstrong’s cycling career isn’t real, will it ever die? These are the kind of questions your mind sits next to when you’ve read too much Borges at a young age.)

There’s been enough fun made of Te’o — when the story broke, the various wags started, well, wagging. You might say Te’o entered the Hall of Phone.

You might say. I, of course, never would.

I would be wandering through a Borgesian labyrinth of nowhere that’s not here (to steal a line from Greg Brown) every time I hear the phrases “debt-ceiling debate” and “runaway federal spending.” Not to enter the real world or anything.

But as Kevin Drum has pointed out, there is no runaway federal spending — federal spending as a percentage of the GDP is less today, even with the stimulus money, than the percentage during the Reagan administration.

Yep. Reality bites, Republicans.

Of course, I prefer the world of imaginary girlfriends. Occasionally, you get to meet Borges.


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