This is long, but it made me cry, so bear with me.
"A couple of years ago, on the stunning Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, where the mountains march right down into the water, my companion and I were drawn by the sound of drumming. Walking north along the beach, we came to a phalanx of sambadancers, about ten people abreast and at least a block long—members of a samba school practicing for carnaval, we were told. There were people of all ages, from tots of four or five up to octogenarians, men and women, some gorgeously costumed and some in ... tank tops and shorts.... To a nineteenth-century missionary or even a twenty-first-century religious puritan, their movements might well have seemed lewd or at least suggestive. Certainly the conquest of the streets by a crowd of brown-skinned people would have been distressing in itself.
"But the samba school danced down to the sand in perfect dignity, wrapped in their own rhythm, their faces both exahusted and shining with an almost religious kind of exaltation. One thin latte-colored young man dancing just behind the musicians set the pace. What was he in real life—a bank clerk, a busboy? But here, in his brilliant feathered costume, he was a prince, a mythological figure, maybe even a god. Here, for a moment, there were no divisions among people except for the playful ones created by carnaval itself.
"As they reached the boardwalk, bystanders started falling into the rhythm too, and, without any invitation or announcements, without embarrassment or even alcohol to dissolve the normal constraints of urban life, the samba school turned into a crowd and the crowd turned into a momentary festival. There was no 'point' to it—no religious overtones, ideological message, or money to be made—just the chance, which we need more of on this crowded planet, to acknowledge the miracle of our simultaneous existence with some sort of celebration."
—Barbara Ehrenreich, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2006), 261
Not to wax sentimental, but Wordie is a place where I have been moved to feel that sense of celebration of the miracle of our shared simultaneous existence more often than any middle-aged, word-obsessed, eccentric biostatistician has a reasonable right to expect. (Are you listening, John - I hope so!)
And, of course, the best part of Wordie is that certain awesome moments in our shared Wordie history can be conjured up again in memory, deliberately or serendipitously, merely by association with certain triggering words or phrases.
All for the price of an internet connection.
Señor McGrath -- you have created a tiny, glowing, miracle. I, for one, cannot thank you enough.
I'd just be satisfied if *certain wordies* would just refrain from throwing the laundry water in the road. Next time they come to visit there'll be locusts on the menu. With a side dish of lambs's tits.