Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shiny new objects

We mammals must be wired to be drawn to the bright, the shiny, the wow or just plain new-and-improved.

Drop a crumb of coffee cake anywhere near Mr. James, and he'll abandon his beloved rawhide hoof in a heartbeat.

So prone are we to tear down old buildings and replace them with new ones that a whole set of historic preservation rules have been put in place to protect worthy relics, or at least delay the wrecking-ball's onset.

Old Jay Leno leaves, shiny Conan O'Brien steps in. Old "ER" closes down, shiny new reality show with wife-swapping cockroach-eaters debuts. Okay, maybe that's not the best example.

Even I, by any measure a boring old soul who's usually content with the tried and true -- married for 36 years, almost 30 of them lived in an 80-year-old house -- regard my shiny new kitchen with awe and wonder. Although in that case, no sane person would argue to save the hell-hole we gutted to make way for the new.

But is it always a good trade? Is "new" necessarily "improved"?

If the glint of a falling food particle causes Mr. James to turn away from a steak bone that gets picked up and disposed of in his absence, maybe not.

If my 80-year-old house were to burn to the ground and be replaced by a new one with insulated walls, an open floor plan, family room, finished basement, a second full bathroom and a walk-in closet... well, maybe. But I still think I'd miss the old crown moldings, arched doorways, original (albeit creaky) oak floors and stairs, gazillion windows and space arrangement that's inefficient, but cozy. Plus, I like my new kitchen in my old house just the way it is.

Toss the old husband for a new one? I'm not cougar material, and I really don't have the patience.

But sometimes it's not that easy to tell. Those bright new objects look fresh and enticing, and the trick is knowing whether the shine is real, or just pimped up for the cameras.

Once again, perhaps Mr. James has the answer. Three years ago, in a really bold (and, to be honest, I think witless) move, he bolted sans any identification from whoever cared for him. It's my guess he spied a passing rabbit -- to him, not just shiny, but positively luminescent -- saw an opening in a door or gate or fence and went for it. My son's girlfriend spotted him dodging cars in a busy city intersection and stopped to save him from certain squashing.

And here he is today, collared, tagged and microchipped, curled up and snoring in his little bed, well-fed, frequently walked and belly-scratched, and much, much loved.

So maybe it just all works out and isn't worth the angst. Just pick a path and move forward on it.

1 comment:

LO said...

And the answer is... I foreswore the shiny and new to stick with the tried and true. Or at least tried, the jury's still out on true.