The King of Perpetual Motion

I just had a look at my WordPress dashboard (that’s what they call the page which has all your stats, and lists your posts etc etc) and I noticed the strangest thing. The week before I wrote my most recent post, ‘The King of June’, I’d saved a half written draft with the title above. Spooky coincidence, don’t you think? When I wrote the King of June post I had completely forgotten about this draft (at least consciously), and yet I wonder if, in some bizarre way, my subconscious was injecting a distorted reference to it into the dream, since it was related to my blog. What’s even more interesting is that the dream featured some criticism of the quality of my blog, and now it occurs to me that this critic was actually me processing my own embarrassment at a number of features of this aborted post. Having said this much, I owe you a look at the half-written draft of ‘The King of Perpetual Motion’, so here it is, in italics, below…

I have a confession to make. I used to watch ‘Mad About You’. And not just occasionally, but all the time.

For those who were living under a rock in the early nineties, ‘Mad About You’ was a sitcom about an newly married couple, played by Paul Reiser (Paul) and Helen Hunt (Jamie), living in New York.

Anyway, the reason I mention the show is because in the last season, Paul and Jamie had a baby (Wikipedia tells me her name was Mabel, which I like), and I have thought often, recently, of a scene from one particular episode where they are trying to get Mabel to sleep. They have discovered that if they take her in a cab, and the cab can keep driving for three minutes or so without stopping, then she will fall asleep, and stay asleep. But if the cab stops for even a second, she will wake screaming, and the sleep stopwatch is reset. I remember them pleading with the cab driver to do everything he can to avoid stop signs, red lights, traffic, or anything else that make force the cab to a standstill.

Not being New Yorkers, Susie and I have our own car. Which means that I am often the cab driver in the sitcom that is my life with a newborn. I also have an additional comic element in most of my car trips, and that is a toddler shouting at the top of her voice, ‘I don’t like that noise!’ in response to the sleep resisting screams of her little sister. Having said that, it is in essence the same scenario. Kit Kat will stay calm and eventually fall asleep if the car is in motion, but when it stops…

As a result of this, I aspire (as a driver, at least) to be the king of perpetual motion. It’s lucky I am not a new kid on our particular block, because I’ve had to become a real back street boy on those occasions when our trip to Tilly’s daycare coincides with peak hour, and the circumstances require that Kit Kat come along. ‘Take That’, I shout at the lines of stationary vehicles, as I turn in one direction and then another on my ceaseless quest for an unimpeded route….

I gave up on this post at this point for at least a couple of reasons. The first was that I hadn’t really reconciled myself to the idea of letting people know about my love for Mad About You (I’m even getting a little prickle of shame as I write these words). The second was that I had a love/hate relationship with the last paragraph and its multiple references to boy bands. I desperately wanted to delete it, but somehow couldn’t bring myself to. So in the face of these two dilemmas, I decided to just shelve the post instead. But now, my discovery of the crazy corresponding ‘The King of…’ titles coincidence has forced my hand, and now I just have to publish it come what may.

Just so you know, I was actually going somewhere with this post. I was going to talk about the male need to feel competent as a driver, and the way my dad was a competent, but dangerously impatient and overconfident driver, and how this led me to seek an alternative way to achieve a feeling of competence behind the wheel. I was going to describe my arrival at was the idea of being the smoothest driver possible (ie gear changes that passengers didn’t even notice, an awareness of what was going on in front, beside and behind me so as to avoid the need for any sudden braking or acceleration, and the pursuit of perpetual motion in any set of traffic conditions). Nerd alert!

This was all going to lead back to the observation that this particular form of driving competence (ie being the king of perpetual motion) has served me well as the father of a child who has a tendency to wake and scream if the car stops, so it wasn’t just a worthless and somewhat transparent sublimation of my patricidal impulses after all.

Not much of a payoff for you, the reader, I know. But like I said, were it not for coincidence this post would probably never have seen the light of day.

To make it up to you here is an extended version of the opening credits to Magnum P.I. 

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4 Responses to The King of Perpetual Motion

  1. Jo says:

    I loved Mad About You. I loved the crap out of it. It ties in to my long standing lady crush on Helen Hunt which began with Girls Just Want To Have Fun, but I loved it to pieces. I loved it as much as X Files. And my boyfriend and I would religiously watch both of them.

    I really remember the episode where they’re trying to do controlled crying with Mabel and they are huddled, desperately, against the door. It was touching and poignant and beautiful.

    No shame my friend. No shame. (Think of Brene…)

  2. Jon Callow says:

    With a little editing, your boyband references can continue unabated ( albeit leaving the 90’s)

    “I was going to talk about the male need to feel competent as a driver, and the way my dad was a competent, but dangerously impatient and overconfident driver, and how this led me, moving as most males do, from boys to men, to seek an alternative way to achieve a feeling of competence behind the wheel. In my quest to constantly move in one direction, I was going to describe my arrival at was the idea of being the smoothest driver possible (ie gear changes that passengers didn’t even notice, completely in sync). Living in the West, life throws many driving challenges, where a boy’s own need to succeed is paramount.”

    here’s a driving tip – flash your lights when the traffic light is red and they will change (I’m sure this is true or a variation on it…

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