Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Rule of Bad Grapes (Ideas Had While Reading The New Yorker and Eating a Bowl of Grapes)

You have a bowl full of green grapes. Some are dazzling, spotless, glistening. Others are okay, though a bit brown in places. And others are just awful, hideous. Shriveled, deeply scarred, moldy.

(One of them is the best-selling grape of all time.)

You start eating, and you’re only going after the good grapes. But every now and then, you pick up an okay grape. It has a slight bruise near the stem. Maybe you sniff it to see if it is indeed okay. It’s not bad; you pop it in.

(One man you've never heard of is trying to change all this.)

After eating the not-so-bad grape, you find a couple more good ones and eat them lustily, relishing their untarnished grapeness. As the amount of good grapes decreases, the amount of the “other” grapes rises by comparison: it seems as though you can’t find anything but okay and hideous grapes.

(But one of these grapes is Norah Jones.)

The really good grapes are a distant memory, and now you’re restricting yourself to the not-so-bad ones. You’ve already had a couple while you were eating the good grapes, and really they’re not so awful. From time to time, you pick up a disgusting grape. But, somehow, you’re not as disgusted by it as you were a couple minutes ago, when you were only eating pristine, fleshy specimens. Maybe, hesitantly, after several sniffs and holding it up to your desk lamp, you decide to throw caution to the wind and eat something that is damn near a raisin: brown, baggy, wizened, a dry white fuzz at the tip. It tastes a bit fermented, like it has booze in it.

(That’s why wine makes you bone ugly chicks.)

Perhaps, you know how this story ends. No, you do not stop and chuck the bad grapes in the compost heap. You keep eating, your standards diminishing in direct correlation to some mathematic rule of bad grapes that Malcolm Gladwell will read about in an obscure mathematics journal somewhere and package into a few thousand semi-thought-provoking words: "The Rule of Bad Grapes: How Human Standards Change to Fit Environmental Pressures: And What That Means for Big Business: By, me, Malcolm Gladwell."

You finish the bowl of grapes and the Gladwell article. (Something about predicting hit movies.)

You wake up the next morning with worms growing in between your teeth.

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