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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

There comes a time in the life of every commentator when choosing a topic to comment on must be shared with a spouse. For Andrei Codrescu, that time has come.

ANDREI CODRESCU: I've got to say something, I said to Laura. What should I say?

How should I know, she said.

I said, Something that will interest a lot of people, not just us. Maybe I should write about global warming, I proclaimed.

Maybe you should write about bulb dimming, she said.

W: Bulbs have been dimming, and I'm not talking about flower bulbs. It's more like time has been going around putting out lights. When you're 20, you think the future's so bright, it's like that song: You're immortal, and you need sunglasses. When you're 30, you look to make a living, maybe establish a family, and it's a mellow light out there, full of summertime possibilities.

And when you're 40, you're squinting a bit because you're not making enough money, you can't pay for your kids' school, your family isn't all that you were hoping for, you're commuting on a dingy highway instead of drinking martinis on the beach.

At 50, you might be content to watch TV in the chiaroscuro if you're reasonably certain the kids aren't OD'ing and your wife is really at the hairdresser's. Or you might be managing a motel on the interstate for room and board and writing your memoirs, blaming your parents for everything.

At 60, you're looking forward to retiring and getting to that martini beach or, if you just got fired, drinking from a paper bag under a streetlight. In any case, whether you've climbed into that neon sunset or are watching the changing traffic lights from under a bridge, the light's gotten a lot dimmer since you first saw the sunrise at 20 after staying up all night. Plus, your kids never call, and your parents can't remember who you are.

And how is this dim scenario going to interest anybody, said Laura. Don't you think everybody has been feeling dim all on their own, thank you very much?

Well, that's the point, I brightened for a minute. Everybody talks about global warming, but what they really worry about is bulb dimming.

You have something there, she said, flipping the channel.

SIEGEL: Andrei Codrescu is the editor of Exquisite Corpse, a literary journal online at corpse.org.

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