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Really good.

Man passes through phases in his brief time on this stage (according to Shakespeare, who] was original only because he was the first to say it). Many things distinguish one phase from another--firmness of the flesh, flexibility of limbs, energy and what one does with it--but what most differentiates the stages of human experience on earth is what a man considers really good at each age. Not what he thinks is just good or even better than good, but what he thinks is better than anything. REALLY good.

If a newborn baby could take part in a conversation with men of varying ages, he would listen patiently to their opinions on the best things in life and at the end say, "Uh, what's really good is Mom."

A more mature baby would disagree immediately.

"What's really good is Dad."

After a certain age, choosing the best in life becomes more difficult. Childhood, for example, is a garden of delights. How to compare a well-thrown top or the voluptuous feel of a marble between your fingers--one of those good ones--or the smell of damp earth or of a new notebook?

Then there are the exotic pleasures: "What's really good is the smell of Vick's VapoRub."

But I think that aside from the opinions of a half dozen normal pre-adolescent Brazilians, the inevitable conclusion you come to is that in this phase, what's really good, better than anything, even better than peeing in the pool, is putting a pass-kick right where you want it.

At the beginning of puberty there is yet another type of indecision. A guy has to pretend to believe that what's really good is a woman (or whatever comes close the first time) but underneath, you have a secret conviction that what's really good is having a fever on Monday morning and not having to go to school. After, yes, comes the phase when there's no discussion about it, "What's really good is sex!"

For many people, this phase lasts until death. Even when sex isn't first on their list of preferences, ("For me sex is first and detective novels are a distant second") it serves as a point of reference. From then on, whenever someone says that something other than sex is "really good," he is probably being admirably hones or disconcertingly different.

"You know what's really good? Fig paste with cheese."

"Better than sex?"

"Well . . . Everything in its time."

There are those who announce what they REALLY prefer like someone making an overdue confession. They bare their hearts and souls and they don't care if people think they are not interested in sex anymore.

"Think what you like. For me, what's really good is listening to a Bahian sermon."

Then there are the pathetic cases. There's a cronica by Paulo Mendes Campos in which he talks about a friend who suffered from high blood pressure and had to follow a strict diet. Once, in the middle of an animated discussion during which he had maintained a glum silence, he heaved a deep sigh and said, "You keep on talking about how great women are. What's really good is salt!"

At a so-called mature age, the consensus still exists that nothing equals the pleasure, not even hypothetically, of sex, though the desire for comfort and small pleasures in practical things does begin to take over.

"My boy, I know that being so full of life and enthusiasm you can't understand this, but remember what I'm about to tell you because one day you'll agree with me: what's really good are escalators."

And so the changing course of life and man's pleasures on earth, from mothers's lap, which it seemed he would never trade, to the final discovery--that a reclining easy chair is, if not equal to it, then at least similar. And that what's good, REALLY good, is not having to go anywhere, even if you don't have a fever.

Luis Fernando Verissimo is a widely published satirist whose syndicated column appears in a variety of Brazilian publications.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Organization of American States
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:the best things in life
Author:Verissimo, Luis Fernando; Allen, Nicola
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:column
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:671
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