Sunday, March 18, 2012

Asimov PP 1/1990: "Hot, Cold and Con Fusion"

I'm going through Isaac Asimov's F&SF essays in reverse order by date to share the Personal Paragraphs with which he invariably opened each essay.
My dear wife, Janet, is, for some reason, incredibly solicitous over my well-being. If there's a single cloud in the sky, it's umbrella time. If a mist has faintly bedewed the streets, I must slip into my rubbers. If the temperature drops below seventy, on goes my fur hat. I won't even mention the close watch kept on my diet, the inquisitional cros-examination at the slightest cough, and so on.

You may suppose that I am very grateful for all this care. I put it up to any husband in similar straits. "Are you grateful?"

I thought not.

In fact, I complain a great deal about the matter, and I can be very eloquent, too, when I feel aggrieved. And do I get sympathy?

I do not.

To all my complaints, all my friends and acquaintances look at me coldly and say, "But that's because she loves you."

You have no idea how irritating that is.

So one time recently I was in a limousine being ferried a moderate distance to give a talk. The driver was a foreigner of some sort, who drove with perfect accuracy, and who was clearly intelligent, but he had only a sketchy command of English. Being aware of this, he took the trouble to practice his English on me and I answered carefully and with good enunciation so that he might learn.

At one point, he looked at the smiling sunshine, felt the mild breeze, enjoyed the sight of a nearby park, and said, "It - is-vair byootiful - day."

At this, my sense of grievance rose high and I said, in my normal manner of speaking, "Yes, it is. And so why did my wife make me take an umbrella?" And I raised the offending instrument and waived it.

Whereupon the driver, choosing his words carefully, said, "But your -wife-she lahv you."

And I sank back defeated. The conspiracy was cross-cultural.

Which, believe it or not, brings me to the subject of the present essay.

Asimvo then goes on to talk about - eventually - cold fusion.

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