Bryn Mawr Trots

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Stories / Others’ /
@ K. 2006 07 13

Temporal Correspondences, Temporal Symmetries, Mismatches

A July 11 MSNBC story reminds me of a story from the 1950s.
A South Carolina woman and her sister are reported going to the hospital after a bartender mistakenly dipped their martini glasses in cleaning detergent instead of sugar.

(Why would the bartender dip their glasses in sugar or detergent?)

But never mind: back in the ’50s my mother’s suitor, a pediatrician who liked to tell aberrant health stories, claimed that a mystery at Bryn Mawr College had been solved. The bulk of girls who dined at the cafeteria were suffering from diarrhea. The cafeteria was meticulously inspected, the staff interviewed.

Everything seemed to be done according to the book and the book seemed to be wise: the best ingredients were used, the best nutrition recommendations followed. The help washed their hands, wore hair nets, passed every health inspection. What could be wrong? The investigators examined the situation, turned it over and examined it again. The girls were still trotting to the john (Bryn Mawr really was BM College).

Bryn Mawr
thanx commons

The investigators triple checked every move from the moment the cafeteria began its activities before dawn till well after dusk when the last employee locked up. No clue. Then they looked at the juncture between dusk and dawn.

Sure enough: it was easy. The night crew left the coffee urn soaking in detergent; the breakfast crew thought, Oh how nice, the night crew has already filled the coffee urn with water: and proceeded to brew with the detergent water.

Night and day uncoordinated, see?

I love stories of institutional incompetence. Once upon a time people were mortal, people knew they were mortal. People were irrational, selfish, everyone knew it, it was no mystery. But then reason got recommended, this and that coercive kleptocracy promised reform, pretty soon media (such as churches, schools, magazines) were reporting that the reforms had been achieved! We were moral, civilized, good. The more bombs we dropped the more Christian we were. And the coercive kleptocracy will jail you if you don’t consume your quota of misinformation. And god forbid you should choke on the misinformation: no, no: pretend it’s your mother’s milk, and your girl friend’s precious body.

I also by the way love Bryn Mawr, the Philly Main Line, that string of faux-gothic campuses. My wife was Bryn Mawr (as well as Barnard), our son was Haverford (a block or two away), my best friend’s wife was Bryn Mawr.

Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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