THE BABBITT MENDS IN A LITTLE FILL
“I almost wish I had not gone down that rabbit hole – and yet – and yet – it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life”
L. Carroll “The Rabbit sends in a Little Bill”
The Babbitt Mends in a Little Fill
During the raucous caucus (or mucus ruckus if that phrase pleases you more) Alex exited, stage left, to allow his brains to unscramble. He decided that meetings were a waste of time. Now he knew why some people referred to meetings as “group gropes.” Each person in the group would grope for his own needs and ignore (possibly even be unaware) of others needs. The loudest ones usually got their way whether they roared like lions or cried like banshees. Either way the loudest got their way and the logical got nothing. Meetings usually ended with an erroneous group decision that was made with parallel thinking.
Alex was taking one of his long-shortcuts when he met an alchemist. “What are you doing?” asked Alex.
“Making gold from lead” was the alchemist’s answer.
Alex was sure that the alchemist would trip over his own shoes. They were soft slippers with long toes that curled up and backward towards his ankles. Little bells decorated the tips of the toes and jingled with every step.
“Is it possible to make gold from lead?” asked Alex.
“Not yet” answered the alchemist, “but I am very close.”
Alex was impressed with the alchemist. Not because he might solve a historical problem but he had a goal. Alex’s goals remained elusive.
The alchemist’s trousers were as fancy as his shoes. They were dyed a heliotrope color and sported loops of sequins. But most interesting was the way they bloomed out and were bloused; tightly at the ankles.
After a few hours of watching the alchemist at work Alex realized that there were new tools at hand.
“Can I help you?” asked Alex.
“Yes” answered the alchemist “but only if you sign the apprentice contract.”
“What is an apprentice?” Alex inquired.
“An apprentice is like a slave who does whatever the master wishes” responded the alchemist.
“You must be nuts” answered Alex.
“No. Not nuts. Just want to establish the power structure” said the alchemist.
“What’s in it for me?” questioned Alex.
“Knowledge; for one. Membership in a cabal; for two. A personal introduction to a genie; for three. And fourth; you may even meet the Prince of Persia” said the alchemist proudly.
Alex was not sure if the alchemist spoke with pride, hubris, ego, vanity, conceit, or self-centeredness. “Maybe” Alex thought, “it is just that the alchemist is vainglorious, pompous and arrogant. I can work around that.”
Following on with his brilliant questions Alex asked “What’s this thing about an apprentice contract?”
“Very straightforward” responded the alchemist. “You simply agree to; 1) obey my every command, 2) never engage in gambling, and 3)above all, avoid fornication.”
“Whoa, hold up there Mr. Manners” blurted out Alex, “I can abide by numbers one and two but number three is asking a bit much.”
“I guess I can look the other way once in a while” said the alchemist in a conciliatory tone.
“Where do I sign?” responded Alex eagerly.
And so the relationship between the apprentice and master grew and weathered for the full four years.
Alex learned about fire, bellows and crucibles. He even made improvements to the bellows and crucibles. Fire had been perfected by someone else so Alex accepted that fact. You would think that the alchemist would also respect fire but that was not so. There were several instances when his turban caught on fire and Alex had to throw a bucket of water on it.
By the end of his apprenticeship Alex knew that the alchemist would never turn lead into gold. He also learned that the automobile industry could not properly mate revolving parts. This was due to voids in the mating metal surfaces. These mismatches caused the gasoline engines to fail prematurely. Alex took one of the alchemist’s failures, babbitt, and turned that into a golden opportunity.
The babbitt was sent in as a little fill.It was a wonderland.