Saturday, April 9, 2016

♫ Tender is the Steak ♪♫

One of the subjects on which I often muse when walking Katie—officially Canis lupus familiaris, in pop language “dog” or “beagle”—is the pure fact that, in this avowedly materialistic age we live so intensely inside vast structures of purely mental character in which the physical, material, is almost entirely invisible. Just imagine a picture of a commodities market, say trading in Corn Futures. The Internet will display, first and foremost, forbiddingly complex statistical tables or people working two phones and three screens while frantically waving what look like third arms. But after the trading is done (selling things not even planted), months and month later, machines will harvest and store actual kernels of corn with all the “real” action far in the past—but frantic trading still embracing what has not yet been put into the ground—and may not be if the future’s prices are too low.

Yes. The steak may well be tender if the cattle eat aggressively-priced corn. But what about that popular 1983 song—“Tender is the Night”? How can the night be tender? And what is a pretender? Is a pretender “hard”? Well, hard work will give us some insight. Tender comes from tendere in Latin, meaning “to stretch.” The pretender is a person who stretches out before he manages to touch some object. He is a “before-stretcher.” And if he is a wanna-be king, thus one reaching for kingship before any legitimate reasons for that action have been firmly established, he is a Pretender to the Throne.

So the steak has been stretched; fibers have been severed; therefore it is softer, easier to chew. A tender night, presumably, has been stretched out too. Consequently short summer nights do not qualify but December nights are tender indeed. Or am I just whistling Dixie?

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