Gentleman of Leisure: Gentleman of Leisure

Martin Marks


Gentleman of Leisure is writer, erstwhile lecturer and notionally overeducated Martin Marks's PAPERMAG column on the things he likes and why. 

I want to tell you about an object or service or good of questionable importance and presumably little market value -- though I personally believe the object or service or good is pretty nifty, and think you should know about it -- but will first make you endure a 300 to 400 word introduction, all the while employing sentences that are too long and divided by too many parenthetical phrases -- all part of my attempt to get to some sort of point about the object or good or service in question. This introduction will more than likely include an anecdote of questionable relevance and/or taste, causing you to lose sight of the object or service or good in question -- even though, as I said, I think it's pretty nifty -- thereby rendering its importance all the more marginal, thus even further reducing its already limited market value.  

During this introduction, I will overuse certain phrases, invent new words as I see fit (e.g., wordinventitudiness), over think my prepositions (especially when I'm tired), and have more thoughts about the object or service or good than I know what to do with. I will end sentences with prepositions (see last sentence), and have very Victorian notions regarding comma usage. Indeed, I care about an Oxford comma, for fear that through lack of commatic clarity, the New York Times style guide may one day accidentally start a war. I think it a low-down, dirty trick to use the word commatic (see last sentence; surprisingly, an un-invented word, and thus not a manifestation of my wordinventitudiness), and will suffer from a whole host of other problems -- wrist-ache, head-ache, back-ache, and other things -- and fears -- that I have lost you, that the object in question has dropped even more in value since I started, and about the parallelism of this construction -- while writing. 


And even though this introduction is long, trust me, I have more to say on the subject, and this has been the shortest course to the object/service/good-in-question that I could muster. But enough about me talking about me talking about the object-in-question; we have now reached the 350th word of the introduction, and must proceed directly onto the object-in-question itself: the object-in-question. 

I dance like an idiot. I don't like my feet, don't think anybody should like their feet, and quietly judge those who do. I can more or less successfully argue that Contact and Practical Magic are the two greatest American movies ever made, but it would take a half hour to explain, and you'd probably have to buy me a drink first. I've watched the Ken Burns Civil War series too many times for it to be considered healthy. I once spent a semester pretending I had a reading knowledge of German when, in fact, I didn't. I probably didn't sleep well last night. Sometimes, I'll take off my glasses while walking down the street just so I don't run the risk of bumping into somebody I know. I hope the recent slate of 3D IMAX movies is just a passing fad. I'm fairly convinced that one day I will fall victim to a champagne de-corking accident. I run about a half hour late for most appointments, especially when they're before 7 p.m. I developed a case of self-induced psychosomatic lactose intolerance after a bad experience with a flavor-of-the-day at Tasti D-Lite. I avoid Russian novels because I'm easily confused by the character names. I don't think I've done anything that would be termed "new" since about 2007. I bite my nails. I cried the first time I saw this commercial. I'm more outdoorsy than I seem. I create impossible lists for myself. I consider cleaning and rearranging furniture to be my two favorite hobbies. I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a paragraph break for a while, so I'll do that now.  

I blame the Internet -- and episodes of Hoarders, Judge Judy, Lost, not to even mention the aforementioned Ken Burns Civil War series, my re-watching of Contact and Practical Magic, the laundry that needs to be done, the shower I haven't taken, the faulty Internet connection leading to slow research, software upgrades, and other things -- though perhaps I shouldn't.

We have now reached the 700th word, signifying that I must start to transition into the end-matter -- or, cross your fingers, at least think about a transition into the end-matter -- through the use of even more words. This will invariably lead to a back-up in thought because I'll have just remembered something that I wanted to include earlier.  

Words are things that we use to describe objects-in-question. Each word carries a weight that can be measured. The space between words has a distance that can also be measured. Like angels, you can fit 1,000 words and spaces-between-words on the head of a pin. I used to write 1,000 words a day. Now, I write closer to 250 words a day, but don't beat myself up over the change. In large part, words have been replaced by ringtones. 

A blog is a thing of the casual word. I have great difficulty with casual words, but take solace in the fact that most people who were any good at them died during the American Civil War - -a clumsily held belief, mentioned only in passing, so that I may end on the 900th word with a really zingy joke about the Ken Burns Civil War series.

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