[Summer heat is fading away. Although this last of my short summer posts has run before, it seems a good way to end.]

Our cat Sasha pushes back the slightly open door of our bedroom in the early morning, arrives at my side of the bed, miaows once to announce her presence, and waits for me to peer over the side at her. She is beautiful. She has a large round head, piercing lemon-yellow eyes and a slight silver sheen to her bluish grey fur.

She thinks she needs an invitation.  I inch back towards Bill and pat the mattress.  “Hi Sasha.  Hi sweetheart.  Come on.  Come on up, Sosh.”  I use my talking-to-a-young-child voice, perfectly serviceable in another context forty-odd years later.

She considers.  She might still decide to make for the litter box in the adjoining bathroom; get a drink or a snack from one of the bowls against the wall; head for the set of chairs tied together to make a bench by the double window, where she can look out under the light-proof shade to the leafy street.

But no.  This time it’s me and my obliging right hand she wants.  Up she jumps into the waiting space, turns around once, twice — sometimes three times — and collapses against me, at just the right spot for me to stroke her silky forehead, deeply furred cheeks, velvet ears, and whole delicious length all the way to the thick tail extended against my cheek.

Then she gives a half-turn for my hand to do her belly, a paradise of angora down.  Claws in, her paws manipulate me. She knows exactly where she wants it — up, down, between the spread legs, not quite there, a little higher.  I obey, a lover wishing only to please. All of her vibrates with a low rumbling purr.  She’s happy.

I’m happy, too.  I lie on my back, eyes closed — right hand on her, left hand clasped in Bill’s — enveloped in creaturely security. I feel his even breathing along one side of me, hers along the other—our three hearts beating steadily.

I want it to last forever.  (Don’t say anything.  I know, I know.) And sometimes it does last — if not forever, at least for a couple of hours.  Sasha falls asleep, my hand stills, imperceptibly Bill and I doze off, in the comfort of a time-suspended dream.

(Reblogged from November 18, 2013)


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

This is the forty-ninth piece in the series: My summer of writing short is nearing its close. What did I learn in the seven weeks since the first one? I discovered that I’d been wrong about everything except that I would stick it out. (If there’s one thing I do know about myself, it’s that I don’t give up easy.)

I thought I’d be freeing up time. I found myself bound to an inexorable daily duty of finding something potentially “short” and then cutting it down to size. This double task consumed more of each day than I could have imagined or care to admit even now.

It was clear that “short” needed a word limit, to keep each piece from metastasizing. I settled on 400 words as the maximum that might qualify, but had to subtract 21 words for the repeated introduction that held all the posts together. What can you say in 379 words that’s moderately interesting to at least a few people? And then how do you pare away what you’ve written, word by word, unessential sentence by unessential sentence, till you’re nearly there – and then rephrase, still more tightly, to come in under the wire? I must have revisited each finished piece three or four times before hitting “publish,” and then went on diddling with some after they’d gone into the world.

I did cheat by including four pieces written before this summer. (The last comes tomorrow.) But the other forty-six taught me that in writing, form doesn’t necessarily follow function. Here it was almost always the reverse. There’s so much you can’t do in 379 words — memoir, detailed narrative, a substantive think piece – that the form begins to dictate what you can say and how you say it. It would be hubris to compare it to sonnet writing (eight lines, six lines, and out – all in iambic pentameter) but except for  experiments with dialogue, a letter and quoting a poem, it was something like that.

These days readers seem to like “short.” Easy on the eye, on the mind, on how you spend your time. This summer I’ve persuaded myself there’s also much to be said for “longer.” It may take longer to read; it stays with you longer.  Isn’t that what we’re writing for?


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

Here’s an interesting subject: The deep-down feelings we don’t talk about — not ever, not to anyone.

It’s a no-brainer at work. “Keep your mouth shut” should be a mantra for anyone who wants to stay employed and get ahead. That doesn’t mean, of course, that one ought not offer carefully phrased, constructive suggestions for improvement of the workplace when asked, as long as one holds tight to “carefully phrased” and “constructive.” Deep-down feelings are never the first, almost never the second.

Relationships outside the office? Consciously or not, we’re all doing cost/benefit analyses all the time. Is it better to suck it up? Or spit it out? Saying “I’m sorry” afterwards doesn’t cut it. Bitter, hateful words are like winds flying from an opened bag, never again to be recaptured in the interests of negotiated calm.

And the Other? (If there is an Other.) I used to dream of transparent honesty coexisting with a lifetime of unquestioned love. I go on dreaming, but longer believe. There may be couples still so entranced with their idea of one another that they’ll declare I’m wrong. I suspect they permit themselves to see and hear the Other selectively, safely burying disruptive perceptions, then hiding the key to the vault. The rest of us shut up and make do, if it’s at all do-able, and sometimes go take a walk till the feelings pass.

What’s the alternative? Appearances to the contrary, nobody has it all. And after a while life itself begins to wind down. Then we count ourselves lucky someone’s still at our side, so we don’t face the eternal dark silence alone.


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

For some mothers, the hard part is never over.

A high-functioning daughter is on the phone. Such a nice surprise.  “We’ve just rented a beach house for next August,” she says. “You’ll have to come for a weekend. The kids will be back from day camp then. Bob and I will both have off.”

It’s only October. What closely scheduled lives. But the mother knows she can’t say that. “Oh, lovely,” she replies. “Something to look forward to.”

Christmas and New Year’s come and go. Easter rolls round. The mother thinks about summer. She hardly ever sees these young grandchildren now all three are in school and then rushing to after-school sports, music lessons, playdates. At least those are the excuses.

“Which weekend should I plan on?” she asks carefully at a dinner given by her son-in-law’s mother.  The daughter’s face assumes a familiar unpleasant expression. “No weekend, actually. We owe such a lot of people. We’ve invited too many as it is.”

Did the daughter forget the invitation? Or had it become inconvenient?  “I thought it was a big house,” says the mother, not having learned from experience. “I could also come during the week.” She hates herself for having to beg.

The daughter is decisive. “Not such a big house. And we need the weekdays to recover from the guests.”  She offers a tight smile, as if what she’d said was amusing.

The mother perseveres. “So does that mean I won’t be seeing you this summer?”

“You” could be taken as plural. But the mother really means singular “you” — the “you” who used to be her difficult, brilliant, much loved baby girl.  “Looks like it,” says the daughter.  “Maybe we can find  time in the fall. I’ll check with Bob.”

Why be surprised? For a long time, the mother’s been on tenterhooks with this daughter. Should she have nailed down her August weekend with a confirming email last October? Who does such things with family? It’s been explained by others (counselor, doctor, childless friend) that with this disorder, the daughter can’t know how it makes the mother feel. She shouldn’t take it personally.

The mother nods. Easy for them to say.

It’s not their daughter, she thinks. Not their heart that hurts.

[Reblogged from June 23, 2015]


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

A charming Hungarian once told me that men and women grow more alike as they get old. I was in therapy with him at the time and the transference was positive, so I never thought to question him. It didn’t seem relevant anyway, as he was forty-six when he said it and I was thirty-five.

In any event, he was never able personally to verify his observation. He died of a massive stroke at the age of 71 while walking vigorously along the shore at Clearwater Beach, Florida, to which he had retired about eighteen months before. When I met with his small wren of a widow fifteen years later, she declared him a fine figure of a man to the end, still virile and erect as he strode over the sand, nodding at attractive passing ladies.

Bill and I now both qualify as “old.” Have we grown more alike since the salad days before we met? Well, yes. I tell him all the time we would have been entirely incompatible had we come across each other thirty, forty, or fifty years earlier – when he was always thinking nooky, wherever he might find it, whereas I was always thinking nest-building and settling on the nest. I would have called him a swine; he would (eventually) have called me a bore.

On the other hand, the hunky Hungarian was perhaps not quite right. The body’s fires, whether wandering or domestic, may indeed be banking after eighty — bringing both sexes to the living-room couch after dinner, two versions of the same generic old person, slightly different in appearance thanks to bone structure and haircut, but who both hold hands (or not) while surfing channels till it’s okay to go to sleep.

However, our minds remain differently hard-wired. No matter how impossible a favorable outcome, even philosophical old men still covertly eye hot young things who flaunt their this and that, the urge to propagate their genes undying. Even bookish old women still secretly covet well-muscled bodies of shirtless young men seen ripping up streets with the brute physical strength required to protect a nest against marauders.

I bet you think I’m making all this up. Give it some time. Getting old doesn’t happen overnight. Sooner or later, you’ll see.


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

Amos Humiston was a soldier who fought in the Civil War.  He died at Gettysburg in July 1863, clutching an ambrotype of his three children, through which he was later identified.

An ambrotype is an early type of photograph, made by placing a glass negative against a dark background.  It was only in use for about five years.  Its name comes from the Greek ambro(tos), which means “immortal.”

We don’t have Amos’s ambrotype anymore.  It wasn’t immortal. But we do still have his letters from the war. This is what Amos wrote to his wife Philinda on January 2, 1863, six months before he died:

“If I ever live to get home you will not complain of being lonesome again or of sleeping cold, for I will lay as close to you as the bark to a tree.”


[Reblogged from December 11, 2013]


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

Piano lessons have begun again, after thirteen years of none. “How much time a day were you thinking of giving it?” asks the new teacher.

“An hour?” I venture. “At least for starters? That’s about how long my back will hold out.”

I pause, not mentioning daily blogging. She waits.

“When I’m further along, perhaps more.” That’s apparently acceptable. She nods.

So practicing begins again too. Some of what was lost returns, slowly — including all the bad habits. The dropped wrists, thanks to a series of low piano benches. The downward-from-the-knuckle fingers, thanks to fatherly Mr. Fisherman, who came to the house between 1938 and 1940. (“Shoot, Ninochka, shoot!”) The impatience. (More scales?) The despair. (My Bach doesn’t sound like Andras Schiff’s!) Not to mention inabilities — also rooted in the distant past – to sight-read, to memorize.

I’ve had the current piano bench since 1978.  Yamaha must have thought it the right height for someone. Not for me, it seems. I sit on one cushion, then two, while Bill photographs the relationship between my elbow and the keyboard. (They should be level, or elbow slightly higher, to keep wrists aligned with fingers.) Then I order a 14” x 30” tie-on corded pad built up to a height of three inches — cheaper than buying a new adjustable bench.  (Will this undo a near-lifetime of muscle strain?)

I devote five daily minutes, as instructed, to raising and then dropping my now level forearms from the elbow, one at a time — striking the keys with the pads of my second and third fingers, alternately. (Will this eventually seep into my unconscious and replace the Fisherman tip-of-finger approach to piano playing?)

I sight-read from a children’s book: four-bar simple songs. Only three tries for each – and no stopping to correct wrong notes, no looking at my hands. I’m not good at it. I tense up, like a little girl taking a test.

Then comes the daily Bach – an easy C major one. Hands apart, then together, no pedal, go slow, don’t hold notes over rests, don’t get mad about stupid mistakes.

Why am I doing this to myself? Not really to channel Socrates.* As Browning said: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” I read “man” as “person.” A person like me.

*See Writing Short: 23/50.


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

Living with two house cats is instructive. Our condo is their universe. They know in intimate detail the three upstairs rooms and two bathrooms, the laundry room, closets and linen closets. Downstairs is a long open space, from kitchen and family room through dining room to living room and front door. They’ve commandeered all of it – counters, tables, chairs, sofas, cat tree – plus the utility room and guest bathroom.

They also enjoy the open porch off the kitchen, one flight up from the ground, with birds at the feeders, and bugs, and the occasional squirrel. They can explore the garage, the furnished basement and, more rarely, the unfinished storage section next to the finished part of the basement.

But that’s it. That’s all Sophie, the younger, knows of the world. When the weather and my schedule permit, Sasha, the older, has sometimes been outside on a leash. So she knows there’s also a heaven beyond the front door, carpeted with grass, orchestrated with birdsong, and decorated with fragrant bushes and trees. We’ve never crossed the street though, and she regards the occasional quiet car moving slowly through our residential neighborhood with grave suspicion. Moreover, getting to heaven always requires me.

Jokes about cats letting us live in their houses are ubiquitous among cat owners, and I’m no exception. But joking aside, our cats live at our pleasure. They’re here because we want them here; we could wipe out their known universe by giving them away. That will also occur to a lesser degree when Bill and I move elsewhere as we grow still older. And given our respective ages, one or both of our relatively young cats may well outlive us. Then life as they know it would end when we die.

I’ve set aside money in my will for their care, and stated the hope they can stay together. But such concerns are mine, not theirs. They lack knowledge of a greater universe, a different tomorrow. They have no fears, except of loud noises. They simply enjoy what’s now: treats, smells, washing themselves, petting.

Even though we’re more aware of what’s across the street, foresee some of what’s coming, we might learn from our cats. It’s a wise human who, like a cat, can simply enjoy what’s now.


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

I was going to McCaffrey’s again. It’s the anchor supermarket in the Princeton Shopping Center. To keep afloat with a Whole Foods in the neighborhood, McCaffrey’s gives a token nod to contemporary concepts like organic (two shelves in the produce section), some eggs from cage-free chickens (but not from pasture-raised ones) and some meat from animals raised without antibiotics (but not from grass-fed ones). Otherwise, it’s your standard American supermarket, only a little classier and pricier.  [The rock-bottom prices are in Montgomery and West Windsor.]  I shop McCaffrey’s for paper towels, toilet paper, paper napkins, baggies and baby wipes (easy on aging behinds) when I have no time to make expeditions to adjoining towns. Why are we always running out of paper towels?

“Would you bring me an O’Henry bar?” asked Bill plaintively.

Bill used to be the Great Vegan health guru; when I met him, he was surviving on oatmeal; green salads with chopped vegetables, olive oil and vinegar; and the occasional bowl of whole wheat pasta, very lightly salted. Candy of any kind, even so-called “healthy” candy, was not on the menu. His dietary principles have evolved since then — they would have had to, if he wanted to live with me. But this sudden yearning for a boyhood memory?  It must have been a function of increasing age.

There was no O’Henry in the whole McCaffrey candy aisle of American crap.  Phased out. Butterfinger and Almond Joy were still around. And Milky Way and M&M’s.  After much thought, I chose Snickers as a near O’Henry facsimile — in the “Save One for Later” double package containing 48 grams of added sugar. (20 grams is the current suggested daily limit.)

“I love Snickers!” declared the checkout youth. “It’s my favorite. I could live on them!”

But for how long?  The label said Bill would be eating (in addition to chocolate and peanuts) — and just this once, I hope — added lactose, milk fat, corn syrup, palm oil, artificially hydrogenated soybean oil, artificial flavor, more lactose, salt, more artificial flavor. He tore open the package without reading any of that. He said I was a sweetheart.

Does love mean giving them what they want, or talking them out of it? One more thing I don’t know.



[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

There aren’t many fat people in Princeton – upscale home to Whole Foods, Whole Earth, innumerable gyms and physical trainers. You don’t see many in New York, either. People tend to walk more there. (And maybe food is more expensive.) Elsewhere in the United States, it’s often different. I was in Philadelphia last week to have some genetic testing done at the U. Penn hospital and arrived early. The waiting room had a glass wall overlooking a large atrium inside the front entrance. One expects, in a hospital, to see wheelchairs, walkers, canes. I didn’t expect to see so many still on their own two feet but visibly crippled in their slow, awkward movements by sometimes massive accumulations of fat.

Summer clothes emphasized the epidemic proportions of this affliction. It was hard to spot a man not part of the medical staff and also not preceded by a round heavy burden of solid fat beneath his clinging tee shirt. For the women — most of whom looked as if they wished they were anywhere else, but as that wasn’t possible, were at least invisible — I had particular sympathy. I remember what it was like during the couple of summers in the miserable nadir of my life when I carried nearly fifty extra pounds around with me and had to show up at work each day in business suit, blouse, and pantyhose.

I tried to make the fifty pounds less unsightly under high-priced size l6Ws from Saks. However, Saks didn’t keep my heavy upper thighs from sweating and rubbing together as I walked from the subway to the air-conditioned office. There I was able to somewhat hold my legs apart under the aproned desk. But going home, sweat and friction invariably tore holes in the pantyhose; the frayed nylon edges then rubbed the skin beneath them raw. Every step massaged salty sweat into open flesh. Once home, I would tear off my damp clothes and lie naked on the bed hating myself – with bloody inner thighs spread wide, so they might heal a little before tomorrow.

In time I managed to pull myself together, lose the extra pounds. But that Philadelphia trip brought back the memory. So many of us in America seem doomed to sink in misery under our own weight.


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

I’ve always thought conversation was supposed to involve dialogue. One person says something, the other responds – agreeing or not, as the case may be. Doesn’t the prefix “con-“ mean “with?”

Many women, although not all, understand this. Most men I’ve met, although not all, don’t. It’s probably not a generational thing either, common only among those my age. I’ve sat listening to quite a few forty- and fifty-somethings go on and on about themselves, their children, friends, travels, politics, plans, employment (unless that’s so important and confidential it’s a no-no secret). If they pause for breath, your role is to ask a question that gets them going again. Useless to inject a comment or opinion. The torrent of monologue will roll right over it.

And when it’s time for them to leave or hang up, expressing pleasure at the visit or chat, you may realize afterwards that there’s been no expressed interest whatsoever in you and how you’re doing, beyond the pro forma preliminary “How are things?” – to which no answer beyond “Good, and how are you?” or its equivalent is required.

I no longer try to understand why this is. (Talk therapy too expensive?) What I now do is make efforts to watch it whenever I open my mouth, lest I turn into one of those old folks in need of company who go on talking about themselves and the good old days till they drive everyone away.


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

In grade school, we memorized poems. Memorization was hard for me (it still is), but I did my best to remember the assigned passages at least long enough to recite them out loud, palms sweating, if called on. I think this practice was supposed to saturate us with uplifting and ennobling literature that would provide comfort in the tough times ahead when we became adults.

I’ve been an adult for many years now, some of them quite tough. All I could ever recall of those elementary school efforts were two lines: “By the shores of Gitchee-Goomee” (Longfellow) and “Into the valley of death rode the four hundred…” (Tennyson). Neither was particularly sustaining when encountering life’s challenges.

What did stick with me was the idea that memorizing was an approved endeavor for classy young ladies. When at the age of twelve and a half I fell in love with Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), I therefore had to memorize some of his verse – if only to show his spirit (surely hovering over my bedroom in Queens, New York) that I cared. For some reason I chose “Ozymandias.” Because it was only fourteen lines? I have no idea. But I memorized with such diligence I remembered it long after I’d traded in Shelley for Leonard Bernstein as my love object.

Did “Ozymandias” help in getting through life? Not really. Not until recently, when I took another look with adult eyes:

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear —

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Think of the many hot shits in the world you can’t stand. For all their self-importance, nothing of them will remain. They’ll be nada. Buried in bare, boundless sand.

Feel better?


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

A well-known Boston law firm shattered, and its various rain-making partners took their business and legal staff elsewhere. One of those partners came to the firm where I was an associate. He needed more lawyers to work on his cases; I was drafted. That’s how I met Attorney S., a former full partner at the now-defunct firm, only a “contract” partner without equity at this one. She was fashionable, hard-working, judgmental and cold. A superb trial lawyer, she had absolutely no mentoring skills. The other associates called her “The Ice Queen.”

However, there was a certain unspoken camaraderie at that firm among its few women lawyers. Not that anyone would have laid her job on the line for you. But when my mother died and I went to tell Attorney S. I’d be away for five days, she came out from behind her majestic partner desk and put her arms around me. When I informed her, among others, that I’d been given a year’s notice, she was the only one who actually gave me names of contacts with whom to begin my job search. And long after the partners decided to rehire me to practice in another department and she herself had left to join a new boutique firm as a full equity partner, she sporadically stayed in touch. Then she offered me a better job.

Of course, I was grateful. But at the boutique firm, was she now any friendlier?  She occasionally invited me to one of her parties, if the guest list was short. We might have lunch, if she found herself free. But on weekends she never had time. That’s when she shopped, and socialized with more important people. After moving to Princeton, I now and then sent emails;  she always answered, never wrote first. From a distance I pitied her: no children, no close family, no longer young. So year after year I also sent birthday greetings.  And each time she replied she was so happy I remembered — yet never sent greetings to me.

At last, I gave up. As they used to say, it takes two to tango. Whatever she felt and couldn’t express, who needs that kind of friend?


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

The August air outside today is thick, steamy and hard to breathe. An online weather advisory for Mercer County, New Jersey, where I live, announces that air quality in the region has reached or exceeded unhealthy levels. Exceeded unhealthy levels.

In my air-conditioned car, I drive to an air-conditioned market for refrigerated mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, an avocado, lemons, a quarter of a watermelon and vanilla ice cream. I pass no other old people on my way, and very few other people. I see no young with earphones jogging the streets.

What did folks do before air-conditioning? If they could afford to get to a beach, the children frolicked in the water and the old sat with their feet in it. If they couldn’t, they darkened their rooms, fanned themselves, drank lemonade and waited for a breeze. Some of the old ones died. Few lived as long as me.

I’m not kidding. Philadelphia, which is near Mercer County (although in Pennsylvania) and shares its climate, was the capital of the new United States for the nation’s first ten years. Everyone in government went back where they came from every summer because the hot, soupy weather was deadly. Year after year, thousands upon thousands of Philadelphians died of yellow fever (carried by mosquitos), and sometimes malaria, if not respiratory insufficiency.

We may call ourselves lucky to live now, not then. But although electric power is a public utility, the price of which is somewhat controlled by policy concerns, it still isn’t cheap. Not everyone can afford to run air-conditioning twenty-four/seven. And when the demand is high, power can fail. You might also consider how long our present sources of power may last and the environmental risks connected with developing alternative sources.

A day like today reminds us how tenuous and fragile human life really is. As a wise reader recently observed, the natural world is a brutal place – from which we distract ourselves with ephemeral diversions and the comfort of friends.

Give thanks for diversions, friends, cold lemonade. And let’s hope for better weather tomorrow.


[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

An idea I first encountered in a senior college course called “The Individual in History” has remained with me as useful for considering many questions:  Throughout recorded time human beings haven’t been able to survive as individuals, and have always required the support of some kind of community. But as soon as there are such communities, whether familial, tribal, municipal, or national, they have needed rules, regulations, ordinances, laws – to keep the competing interests of the various individuals within them in balance.  That means an individual’s own needs or desires may sometimes (often?) conflict with what the community decides it needs.

What is the individual to do in such an instance? Under what circumstances is it permissible to disregard what the community has determined is right?

If you’re late for an important meeting, is it okay to park by a hydrant now because you can pay the ticket later?

If you’re in a hurry to get home at two a.m., is it okay to run a red light on a deserted street because no cop is likely to catch you?

If you’re under-withheld on your taxes, is it okay to fudge deductions because the Internal Revenue Service may not spot it?

If you meet an attractive new person, is it okay to cheat on your husband/wife/lover/partner because you may not be discovered?

Is it okay to stop paying child support for your first set of children because there isn’t enough left over from supporting your second set and if you can’t be found, the state will support them instead?

If you’re a genial, generous boss with terrible cash flow problems (as in my last piece), is it okay to violate federal securities law governing employee tax-deferred retirement accounts to make payroll, because it’s just for a while and you fully intend to make good later?

Is it okay for pharmaceutical, insurance and other major corporations (considered artificial “persons” under the law) to curry legislative favor with secret, impermissible gifts and cash because if the gifts and cash are discovered, it will be the legislators and not the corporate artificial “persons” who’ll suffer?

There’s no end of places your mind can go with a good college education. You’ll never be bored.