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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms: more Cooperstown maxims

Eminently Tasteless Illustration: A little boy, age 3, at a baseball game. Somehow I thought it suited today's Cooperstown aphorisms. Courtesy of and photographer Jessie Boudiette of Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Ah, Cooperstown!

There are many things about Cooperstown that are quite magical, and there are many worth laughing about--better to laugh than to steam! These aphorisms are a mix of the silly and the satiric, and they mark the end of the "fat people & tourists" series. You'll find mostly tourists.

Next up: poetry.

no. 19

Maxim for my house:
No matter how old a house grows, it will never metamorphose into a museum without sprouting signage, parking, and other appurtenances.

no. 20

Another maxim for my house:
A certain percentage of tourists appears wholly incapable of differentiating a house from a museum, and is dumbfounded by the wondrous entrances and exits of human beings.

no. 21

Another maxim for my house:
At the hour of 2:00 a.m., female tourists are irresistibly drawn to my lawn and streetlamp, where they scour the black depths of purses and rid themselves of assorted trash.


Proposed 'pick'-related signage:
Do not picnic on my lawn.
Do not pick my dadgum flowers.
Do not pick on your fellow family members or settle your family troubles under the shelter of my porch.
Do not pick my streetlamp for the illumination it may shed on the private examination of the contents of your possessions after midnight.
Do not pick my drive for your turn-around. If you do breath this rule, make sure that you miss hitting any children my considerally more than a hair's breadth (or even a hair's breath or a hare's breath. Please; just miss, okay?)
Do not open my front door and come inside.

What a lot of signs!

My children wax wrathful when certain things happen--flower-picking, particularly, and are always suggesting that I "put up a sign." All of the above have been suggested, in some version or other.

no. 22

Cooperstown maxim, apologies to Wallace Stevens:
A herd of panicked buffalo and a thundering gang of boys set loose from a baseball camp are one.

no. 23

Aphorism for the BHF:
A tourist, upon receiving the blue hand-brand of The Baseball Hall of Fame, immediately is seized by primal desire to claim territory and looks around for something to mark with fresh ink.

(At the moment, the favorite thing to destroy appears to be Ms. Jane Clark’s on-loan cow sculpture, insufficiently defended by the gentle restraints of stanchions and velvet ropes.)

no. 24

Maxim for Lakefront Park:
A fat man is an almighty enemy to the folding chair.

no. 25

Maxim learned over the years of gardening:
Black irises simply cannot survive the predations of tourist children.

no. 26

Aphorism for the Baseball Hall of Fame:
A small boy tourist with a miniature souvenir baseball bat from The Baseball Hall of Fame will always look for an exhibit worth pounding on.

no. 27

Aphorism for Dale Petroskey, who keeps his sense of humor:
It is surprising to us all how much damage a miniature baseball bat can do.

no. 28

Aphorism for Main Street:
The addition of a Brooklyn or Jersey accent to a run-of-the-mill shout fest from a tourist family lends a curious piquancy to the local scene.

no. 29

Writers all:
The Baseball Hall of Fame tourists tend to be the kind of storytellers who mediate their own reality by narrating it, play by play, into a cell phone. Whether this is Borg-ian or Borges-ian, nobody knows.

no. 30

Jailbird frolics:
Cooperstown is the only small town in America where a man can feel comfortable, easy, and accepted by general sidewalk society while wearing head-to-toe black and white stripes with a number on his back.



  1. Marly, you're a novella/novel writer. I love your expansive voice. I don't see how you're managing to squeeze yourself into the aphoristic form. Isn't all of this giving you a headache?

  2. Hah. You didn't even mention my bad taste!

    Hope it doesn't sound like I'm getting one... Just wait till I start fooling around with poetry.

    Eh, revision for me is often all about cutting. I've turned novels into novellas, novellas into stories, stories into shorter stories. Many a poem has been revised out of existence.

    Not that I claim to know what I'm doing here! But I do think that writers ought to do things they haven't done--ought to stretch and compact themselves in new ways.

  3. My Roses kept getting picked as soon as they would bloom and I was getting vexed!

    I kept telling Mike I was going to put up a sign to the effect of : "Garden now under Video Surveillance"

    Of course it was just a big ol lie! but it turns out it has been the deer! I guess I can sacrifice my brightly colored roses for bambi. Apparently they don't like the white ones.

  4. If you have white roses that deer won't eat, your fortune is made!

    I've had a dozen deer within fifty yards of my house. So far the garden is safe, though I do grow a lot of things deer don't particularly care for (of course, they will eat anything when they get hungry enough) like black cohosh, rudbeckia, jacks, gingers, bleeding heart, asters, blue lobelia, creeping phlox, monarda, etc.

  5. I love the sound the pick, picnic, pick. do not pick, pick made in my head. I also like the imagery of the deck chair.

    I know a lot of houses that are museums, and once I strode into a house which I thought was a museum - but that was in a place where houses and museums look exactly the same. It was embarrassing though.

  6. Pickpickpick is due to the influence of the chickens.

    Ah, well, if even Clare Dudman can make that mistake, I'll have to be forgiving. The last one who came in our house was a mere tot. Cooperstown is a bit that way also--we have a museum that is a faux farm village.

  7. I've been enjoying the aphorisims, especially those of the house (I'd like the garden salad with the house aphorism, please... ;-))

    Taking a different tack, how would village locals (long-time residents) treat recent arrivals setting up house in town? How welcoming would they be?

    Elizabeth Cox (a good southern writer/teacher) said once about moving to New England with her husband, Michael Curtis, that she expected the neighbors to welcome them to the block with casseroles and homemade pies. When none arrived, Michael said 'Honey, there will be no pies.' So, Elizabeth made her own, invited the neighbors and they all had a wonderful time.

    In Cooperstown, would there be pies?

  8. Hmm, interesting question.

    The clique is alive and astonishingly well in Cooperstown, and it can trickle all the way down to children. However, there is much else as well.

    In the past week I have gone to a neighborhood dinner, thrown by my neighbors, for a family moving in across the street. They are already "Cooperstown" people and have had a family home here forever.

    If one is ill, somebody will definitely bring dinner. When my husband was in the hospital for a week, my neighbors on the other side brought a dinner for the unfortunate suddenly-single-mom-of-three.

    I'd say that the difference between living here and Chapel Hill, say, is that here I know or recognize practically all the locals but don't have friends who call me on a daily basis and tell me everything, as I did there. On the other hand, I'm horribly busy, between my three children and my writing. Not to mention the millstone of house-drudgery!

    The most pressing difference between the two, however, is the weather.

    So: no rallying-round with pies; considerable societal hierarchy; general friendliness nonetheless.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.