That’s one of my all-time favorite movie lines from one of my all-time favorite movies. The Untouchables. Their friends have been murdered, they’ve given up, defeated, they have no further recourse, evil is winning, and the world is in chaos. Ness’s wife calls and asks if he cares what color she paints the kitchen.
This is how you know your life is good. You are not under threat, you are not afraid, forces beyond your control are not in control of you, you feel safe– if you still care what color the kitchen is.
Now is the summer of our discontent. Not the first. Surely not the last. People have been murdered; we don’t know if there is a place to go next; evil is winning; the world is in chaos. Yet in some part of the world, the part of the world where people feel untouched and untouchable by the evil and chaos, there are those who still care what color the kitchen is. Whether or not the pool has enough chlorine. If the man is coming today to mow the lawn. (And there are those for whom the evil and chaos are constant, and it’s no surprise. Do I have the money to buy enough gas to get to work? How will I pay for my mother’s insulin? Will someone break in while I’m asleep? Will my son be killed by the police today? Those people don’t care what color the kitchen is either, but they’re not stunned by it. It’s just what “normal” is.)
Since the first time I saw the Untouchables, years ago, I have remembered that line, and it occurs to me frequently: when I’m trying to decide what color I should paint the kitchen, or I’m tired and don’t want to pull weeds. When I’m angered because dandelion seeds from the neighbors’ yards are blowing into ours. I whine about those on my blog, and then at night, when I lay awake, I remember that those are the very things that let me know my life is good. That I’m safe. Evil and chaos are somewhere else, not here.
Today I’m not caring what color the kitchen is. Evil and chaos are at the door. I am sad and tired and the world is making me sick. I don’t want to open the door.