Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Placid thy name is Obama*

Talk about tangents...and I haven't even started yet.

I had an interesting day. Not like the (purported) Chinese curse. A good-interesting day. Lots of yellow trees to photograph. A DUMBO garden's design to continue. A meeting with a (possible) new client in Brooklyn Heights; a visit to the Union Square Farmers' Market, and a phone call from an architect who knows me from previous work for a client of theirs.

A proposal that I put together months ago for a project of theirs was showing signs of life, and he wanted to set up a meeting for me with the client, whom I have not yet met. He turns out to be very well known, the client, and the architect said he just wanted to warn me, so that I didn't get a "shock" when we met. I laughed and said that I'm good at acting and that even if I am having a fit of the hiccups on the inside, the outside remains unruffled. That sort of thing doesn't matter too much to you, he said. No, I said, not really. That's one of the reasons we like you, he said.

Which made me think.

P l a c i d.

My mom knows the word. Someone once described my mother as placid. My mother has not forgotten. Every time she remembers one sees evidence of how inaccurate the description was. The sea on a nice day, hisses my mother, is placid. Cows are placid. I am not PLACID!

I winced when, years and years later someone called me, in my dining room in the old apartment on Flatbush Avenue, placid. In fact, Marie, you are so placid! If she could have read my mind at that moment she would have fled, shrieking.

Placid. Huh.

Then today, I read this, and I quote, of Barack Obama: [read it here in its proper context, in the New York Times, or Timezzzzzz as my friend John Allison called it today in an email].

It is often said in politics that a candidate’s strength is also his weakness. Obama’s greatest asset as a candidate, the trait that has enabled him to overcome both a thin résumé and the resistance of his own party’s establishment, is his placidity. Even more than through his ability to give a rousing speech (plenty of other candidates, from Ted Kennedy to Howard Dean, could do that), Obama has differentiated himself from recent Democrats by conveying a sense of inner security that is highly unusual in a business of people who have chosen to spend every day asking people to love them. He does not seem like a candidate who’s going to switch to earth tones in his middle age or who’s going to start dressing up in camouflage to rediscover his inner Rambo. Obama is content to meet the world on his terms, and something about that inspires confidence.

Inner security? Meeting the world on his own terms? Mommy!? It's great to be placid! Placid rocks.

Yet another reason to love this man.

So that's actually what I wanted to say. After a combined 25 year odd of simmering about placid, we're fine with it. The fact that the writer, Matt Bai, is not redefining the word but ascribing motive to the outward characteristic, notwithsanding.

Of course anyone who knows the two of us really well, will be snickering like mad right now. Placid, snorts Vincent...who has seen many explosions. Placid, yelps my cat, who has been nailed by thrown pillows at a hundred paces. Placid, blinks my father who, well...he knows.

*Nevermind all that. I still think the Candidate is more like the little red and yellow numbers up top.


  1. Marie? Maureen? Placid? Nooooooo!

  2. hahahha.... yeh...and don't forget...still waters run pretty deep....


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