Preachy Orange Little Men • 9 April 2008

My adviser loves the yes in me—yes to consulting gigs that walk the line of politicized research, yes to whatever small country’s labor history she suggests I learn, yes to upscale dinners with whatever intellectual heroes when they come to campus. She is the most passionate scholar I know, more excitable at 55 than the most supercharged undergrad, but also able to turn out a fine dense book in 9 months at the Sage Foundation, able to dive deep on a dime. Avidity and abundant good intentions, my provider and champion in this old boys’ patronage system: so when she sets a spread on her dining room table at 8 on a Tuesday, of course all I even want to say is yes.

Yes, in this case, to Brentwood’s idea of middle eastern cuisine: hello, garlic. Salad, grains and legumes and vegetables, cheese, dessert, tea. I didn’t even push away from the table until after my bedtime.

Something to be said for the force of habit. I was on the mat, doubled over, looking for something like my lower obliques with ujjayi as a flashlight before it hit me: what the hell am I doing here? According to ritual, my first move this morning is pasasana? Yeah. There was no fire to be found under all that baba ganouj… and there’s no way out of this sentence without using the ugly word bloat. I accepted the fact of the Oompa-Loompa practice ahead. Oompa loompa dum-pa-de-dum, I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you… What do you get when you guzzle down sweets…?

Somewhere in standing, an old teacher of mine walked in, set up across the way, and gently launched into a long programme. Nobody could have been a better support or loving witness to the reality of the Oompa-Loompa… the barely-conscious memory of all the times we’ve done this before underlined the force of habit and I went with it. We rolled those preachy orange little men into the canal.