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What We Keep

Digital immortality of the worst kind

 

Puck distributes your latest tweet.

(Honor C. Appleton, 1879–1951)

 

These days when anyone may accidentally turn themselves into a cat on Zoom or leave embarrassing objects on the shelves behind their heads, I've been thinking about the usefulness, nay necessity of squelching one's capacity for embarrassment, especially since these things now have a half-life of the existence of the internet.

 

Thus I have been channeling my male forebears, specifically my father and grandfather, both of whom were excellent men but cared very little for certain appearances when practicality was involved. My father was the bane of my teenage years because he kept his raincoat (for the rare California rains) in a zippered plastic pocket in the car, and wore the zippered pocket as a hat when the raincoat was deployed. He also mowed the lawn in an umbrella hat.

 

My grandfather, who was a judge, tended to put on his winter wear with the shortest garment on the outside, sweater over jacket over overcoat. He once appeared at my aunt's apartment in New York in this outfit, plus a deerstalker hat. When my aunt said, "Dad! Did you come here in that?" he replied, "No one noticed. I ran all the way."

 

In these days when that picture of you with Something Awful in the background may as Puck said, put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes, it's as well to remember what politicians voluntarily put on Facebook and then have to take down again (alas, screen shots live forever) and that the one with your bra hanging from the doorknob is probably small potatoes. Sweep the room for embarrassing trinkets and gin bottles, and hope for the best.

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