• Richard Scrimger

wilful stupidity, bated breath


Today is the day. Will the very cheap but no doubt legitimately proffered computers I ordered from Craigslist arrive? if so, will they be in good shape? (I had a talk with my brother the lawyer, who informed me about something called wilful ignorance. According to this doctrine, if I am pretty darn sure the ordered computers are -- say -- hot, I am part of the criminal transaction. Since the internet is open to the public -- I mean, I am writing this to amuse and instruct my dozens and dozens of fans -- I want to get my innocence on record. ) I know, then, that the deal is legitimate because I asked my man Bill why he was selling the computers so cheaply. I don't need 'em, he replied.


Sounds legit to me. I mean, if you don't need something you might as well sell it at a ridiculously low price, right? Right? Still, I can't help feeling a thrill of slightly illicit excitement. Reminds me of how it felt to order something from the back pages of a comic book. Remember those X-ray glasses? See right thru your friends the ads said, with a provocative picture of a girl undressing. A cheap con with mild sleaziness fit my mind perfectly back then, and it seems I haven't changed that much. I think I waited beside the mail box with bated breath for two weeks.


Speaking of bated breath, the term is something of a cliche. It comes (I checked) from the word abate, which makes sense -- the breath is withheld while you are waiting for the exciting event to unfold. But did you know that bated breath can also mean moderated breathing -- that is, lung power turned down slightly. You could bate your breath to avoid wheezing, say. A different picture, no? I read plenty of trashy novels, so I expect to come across the term again. When I do, I shall have to wonder if the author means that the protagonist is in a state of breathtaking (literally) tension, or controlled calm. Perhaps context will help.


Sorry for getting sidetracked. I have to get back to the zombies for a couple of hours, and then I have another interview to give. (Promotion for the Ravine book.) London calling, this time. Yesterday it was Oshawa, where I had an illuminating talk with my host Kasia. She'd done her research on me, and the first question she asked was: Can you really get Guitar Hero on Craiglist for eleven dollars?

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada