(Beware! --- below begins some mildly bawdy banter. Those of a delicate sensibility will wish to avert their eyes. Trail runners, on the other hand, will be puzzled and unable to see what could possibly give offense. And do not assume that the author of this page is who it appears to be; forgery is trivial in a Wiki, as it is elsewhere on the 'Net ...)

Turning to the reverse (or, more precisely, obverse) side of the coin scrutinized in RearAdmiralLowerHalf (1 July 2003):

Keith Laumer has long been one of my favorite science fiction writers (R.I.P. --- he passed away a decade ago) because in addition to imagination and heroic verve he often adds a sauce of humor to his stories --- ranging from sheer slapstick to biting, irreverent, iconoclastic wit. (Ron Goulart's comic sf stories come close to Laumerian levels, but tend to cross the line into outright crudity a bit too often for my taste.) For an archetypal example, witness Laumer's report (in The Castle of Light) of an exchange between a couple of humans and a cold-blooded alien observer:

"You mammals are all alike," the Groaci whispered. "But it's pointless to flaunt those ugly udders at me, my girl . . ." Two more Groaci had followed the first, who signaled. "To make fast its arms," he snapped. "Mind its talons ---"

Miss Braswell jumped up and swung an open-handed slap that sent the flimsy alien reeling back; Retief stepped quickly behind the other two, cracked their heads together sharply, thrust them aside and chopped a hand across the leader's neck.

"Time to go," he breathed. At the window, he glanced out, then swung a leg over the sill. ...

... followed a few paragraphs later, as the Earthlings pause to catch their breath during their escape:

"Mr. Retief," she said from above, "do you think I flaunt my ah . . ."

"Certainly not, Miss Braswell. They flaunt themselves."

Precisely. From an objective viewpoint, what could be more outlandish than the reactions of (approximately) half of humanity to the distribution of adipose tissue and modified sweat glands of the other (approximately) half? And yet, for varied evolutionary and/or divinely decreed reasons, those reactions exist.

(An aside, especially for any who may feel underendowed or who have lost appurtances to age or tragic illness: size doesn't matter. Nor does shape. To quote mathematician Paul Erdös in a tangentially related context, "It's what they stand for." And, to a sufficiently enlightened perception, "they" don't even have to be there in order to represent something lovely. Trust me --- it's a ^zen thing.)

When dog-tired out-of-breath joggers meet one another on the trail, any positive distraction is a blessing. I occasionally imagine that my old bald pate and soggy gray beard might offer some slight encouragement to passers-by who encounter me in the throes of my exhaustion. "If he can slog along in his piteous state, maybe I can too," they could say to themselves.

A fast, effortless strider can prove even more heartening to see. "I could be like that, in a few more years," one might fantasize. But to really raise the spirit, witness an oncoming runner with a beautiful, well-developed upper body.

The "prow" of a boat is the structure that juts out front, the bow of the vessel. Append the common feminine linguistic suffix "-ess", and you get the marvelously apropos word prowess to name what's on display. Delightful, inspirational, uplifting prowess. Not flaunted. Simply there --- by the grace of nature.

Or should the term perchance be "prowesses"? ...

(when finished groaning, see also MemorySupport (31 Oct 2002), RearAdmiralLowerHalf (1 Jul 2003), ...)

TopicHumor - TopicLiterature - TopicRunning - TopicLanguage - TopicRecreation - 2003-07-17

(correlates: ArsenalVersusManchesterUnited, TornToeTendonRepair, SemiAstrophysicist, ...)