Freedom and Development

At dinner Saturday (it seems we are always going to dinnner; we are; we're yuppies, I've said to L; no, he said, we're not Y; oh, then I said, we're nyuppies--NOT-young urban professionals) T and J were talking about Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom, and I was glad because there were four of us who knew one another well, and then T, who didn't know any of us that well, and there he was talking in such a spritely, involved fashion with J, a fellow reader of the New York Review of Books; they were having an Exchange of Ideas. Among the five of us there were three subscribers of the Review (I'm the third). J, I know for sure, both reads it and remembers what he reads. He has lots of time on planes to read, but even if I had his time, I wouldn't necessarily have his memory of articles not long past. What I am drawn to in the Review is the easy, familiar stuff--biographies and Holocaust and Alison Lurie on children's lit. I also like the foreign policy critiques that reinforce my own attitudes. But I digress. I was happy and all to be with intellectual friends talking about a Nobel-prize-winning economist, about whose work I must have skipped myriad articles, but what I really wanted to talk about was my scalp. Why, did people think, did I still have stubble? Logically, if all my hair was falling out, the stubble should be falling out, too. Another friend had given me an explanation a week before about hair growth and regrowth but hadn't made sense; I couldn't follow. One explanation that's logical is that longer hair puts more weight on the hair root and thus leads to more rapid hair-falling. But still, when I ran my hand across my head, no hair came out, and wouldn't that friction against it equal the pull of long strands? We had talked about the vagaries of my hair and scalp a little bit before dinner, but I thought the subject could stand a more thorough and nuanced analysis, preceeded by a summary of the earlier conversation. J's wife V (the local, not the V from the train) had already remarked that it seemed I had male-pattern baldness because the stubble was darker and thicker on the sides and back, and there was less hair in the middle, where the Mohawk had been. We hadn't discussed this for at least an hour, and I thought there would be many more insights people could offer. But no one at dinner saw fit to re-discuss my hairs, and conversation turned to other matters. Such as this story from T:

Army recruiters are apparently scouting the parking lots of Jewel supermarkets and the like, aiming to capture young people leaving their minimum-wage jobs for the day. T's nephew works at a suburban Jewel, and a recruiter approached him in the parking lot and started his pitch. The nephew listened and gave him his phone number. The nephew has no intention of joining up. He's a senior in high school bound for college in the fall. The Jewel isn't the end of the line for him; he works there because his family has a strong work ethic. This is what surprised me: He didn't feign interest in order to be mean or to be a prankster. It was instead part of a thought-out effort to protect the recruiter. The kid was afraid that the man would be sent to Iraq if he didn't provide enough names of live prospects and he wanted to delay the recruiter's deployment. He wanted to keep him safe.

He also had Caller I.D. so he could avoid the man's phone calls.

Where there is hope, there is life.

We ate at Caliente. I had the chicken in mole de chile rojo and L had the enchiladas del mar. The chemo nurse, by chance, was at the next table. She didn't talk about my hair either.