I'm gazing out at the 13-er that sits outside the shop window, pondering the arbitrariness of the 14-er mystique. I have a desire to climb the 13-er, because it is not the 14-er. Because I'd like to go where fewer people have gone. Because I'd like to contest the -est part of the 14-er mindset.
Transient Gadfly has been musing on similar questions regarding the superlative, and in that case how cream might rise to the top in a vat of pasteurized milk in which the cream is in fact largely vegetable oil puffed up by the capitalist milk establishment to appear as cream, while the real cream is ignored on the shelf by self-described health-conscious, low-fat worshipers.
I heart butter.
If we all keep churning in a milieu of mediocrity, as evidenced by my hour-long stint watching CNN's Situation Room yesterday while rowing at the local gym, and if the cream is not cream but hailed as cream by the milk-lowfat lobby and advertised in hip commercials touting "I can't believe it's not" in-between the repeated, mediocre questions of the Sotomayor hearing, then perhaps we need to change the way we identify, mark, and package the superlative. (Or perhaps it should not be packaged.)
We need to find the fabulous in the 13er, enjoy the butter inadvertently churned in my mixer as I overshot whipping the cream, acknowledge the genius in a book with a print-run of 400, and know that good music and great music alike spread the love in the world. All you need is to produce that one shiver of goosebumps, that one moment of yum, that feeling of a thing well done. Call that success, and people will begin to identify the real cream rising, they'll drink it in their coffee every morning, and be happier, healthier folk. Redefine the -est.