“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
From my old online journal The Daily Epiphany – Wednesday, February 12, 1997
Cold, hard, rain
Rain. Cold Rain. H2O, Dihydrogen Monoxide. Two little spheres stuck on a big one, not on opposite sides, but in a V shape, lopsided. Untold numbers of little tiny 3D Mickey Mouse heads, only Avogadro knows how many. Mickey and his two little ears, sharing electrons. The uneven charge, the Mickeys want to stick together in crystalline order and sure enough, lumps of ice are falling, mixed in.
The clouds disgorge their burden, called up from where? Where did this water pick up its heat? Its half a thousand or so calories for every little gram, leaving the warm languid sea to travel on the tradewinds. Cuba? The Caymans? Key West? The water vapor rising from the tropical ocean, born aloft in Barnard cells of air, driven by the sun’s starry furnace. Riding north only to meet a frigid army of the north. Air chilled in Minnesota, maybe in Fargo, moving south. The two clash over Texas, right over my head, and the tropical steam gives its borrowed heat back to the icy northern air. The moisture congeals and falls, falls and falls.
The streets are full, flowing rivers of muddy water. To my left there’s a waterfall, a torrent of muck flooding out of a lumberyard. The sky is gray, the mud is gray, all color sucked out, washed away, flowing downstream. The water is stealing the colors, it’ll all flow down the Trinity, down to Louisiana where it’ll slink between the cypress knees, between the mangrove roots out into the gulf, back to the tropics, where the colors will be traded for warmth, for heat, for another trip on the convection express.
Leaving work, I carry my possessions protected from the deluge in a plastic bag. Two and a half boxes of Girl Scout cookies and a quart of tequila. In school I remember napping on my cot on a male section of the dormitory. “Bill, get up!” someone cried, “Go buy some Girl Scout cookies.”
“Don’t ask why, go downstairs and buy some.”
I stumbled down the stairs to the lobby, only to find a long, snaking line of male undergraduates. At the head of the line was the oldest, most developed Girl Scout I’d ever seen, stuffed into a uniform about three sizes too small. She was selling a lot of cookies.
Nowadays, of course, I buy them from coworkers, hawking stuff for their kids. A couple days ago a fellow chemist announced he had to go see a customer in Harlingen. “Hop over the border and get me some tequila”, I joked. Days later he came back and said, “Got your tequila!” I didn’t think he’d really do it, but five bucks for a quart of Jose Cuervo Oro, I won’t complain. So I leave work with a bottle and two and a half boxes of cookies. Why two and a half? I have no willpower.
The family goes out for dinner. We run from the van through the icy deluge. Cars dart around the dark parking lot, no safe place for a little one so Lee rides on my shoulders. “I’ll keep you dry, daddy,” he says, and cradles my head in his firm little arms, covering me up, protecting me from the wet and the cold. and the darkness.