(See a description of the #433rds project here.)
Sir Thomas Browne’s friend described him as “answerable to his name”. He meant his hair and complexion were brown. (Get it?) The friend in question was named—it seems worth mentioning—Mr. Whitefoot. Thomas kept warm, though he wasn’t excessive about it—Mr. Whitefoot reassures us that “he never loaded himself with such a multitude of garments, as Suetonius reports of Augustus, enough to clothe a good family.”
I might describe a friend of ours as a lincoln log cobra or maybe harder and shinier: a fluorescent sequoia. It’s a bad description. It lacks Mr. Whitefoot’s hot-under-the-collar anxiety. It’s not defensive or competitive enough by half. It evokes nothing. (Remember when you listed your friends’s mimickable behaviors while we ate banh mi? The ones you might mimic if you mimicked? You remembered the hands and the angles of their squints.)
Thomas had a good memory. He “remembered every thing that was acute and pungent” about the Latin poets, Mr. Whitefoot says.
He, Thomas, blushed uncontrollably (according to Whitefoot).
Samuel Johnson didn’t know Thomas, but he wrote his biography, and it’s affably barbed. He, Samuel, thought Thomas’ writing on things like ancient burial practices was unhelpful but self-aware: “Of the uselessness of these inquiries, Browne seems not to have been ignorant.”
Browne liked the number five.
I’ve forgotten the names of the two actresses of Broad City, but Annie blogged about their show today.
(Thanks to Samuel Johnson, I worry about blog posts:
“Some of the most pleasing performances have been produced by learning and genius exercised upon subjects of little importance … it is a perpetual triumph of fancy to expand a scanty theme, to raise glittering ideas from obscure properties, and to produce to the world an object of wonder to which nature had contributed little. To this ambition, perhaps, we owe the Frogs of Homer, the Gnat and the Bees of Virgil, the Butterfly of Spenser, the Shadow of Wowerus, and the Quincunx of Browne.”)
I introduced Annie’s Broad City post to my friends with a story about Amy Poehler told by her friend. Amy Poehler produces Broad City, which is about two friends perennially describing each other to each other. It made me think of how Tina Fey describes her friend Amy Poehler in Bossypants. Amy Poehler did something Jimmy Fallon found obnoxious. When he said he didn’t like it, she turned to him and hissed, “I don’t fucking CARE if you don’t like it.” My friend Heather remarked that it was the only really risky thing in Tina Fey’s book. She’s right. Amy Poehler’s qi lives in that description.
I’d like to think six degrees separate the Broads from the Wife of Bath, with time measured in shoes. Broad, narrow, spiked. Push harder and your white feet ache, squeezed into the cisternae.