You and Gravity

HOWARD HAYES has worked on newspapers in Detroit and Paris and now lives in New York. He is a frequent contributor to the Atlantic.

THE popular magazines and the radio are always running little informative sketches called “You and ——"You and Your Heart,” “You and Your Dog,” “You and the Russians,” “You and Your Kitchen Sink,” and so forth.

This seemed like a good vehicle for any writer, so I began to look around for some subjects. All you had to do was take a subject, put “You and” before it, and then spill whatever odds and ends of information or opinion came into your head. I could see myself knocking out these “You and” pieces by the dozen and raking in the money.

Yes, this was fine, except for one thing — some other clever fellows had already grabbed all the “You and” subjects I could think of.

They had already done “You and” on every last one of our innards. There wasn’t a gland or an organ in the body from scalp to heels that hadn’t been “You and ”-ed. There wasn’t anything around home either that hadn’t been treated.

Then of course there were whole series on “You and” every possible aspect of success, whether commercial, social, or amatory.

My wife and I one day sat down and tried to draw up a list of things that hadn’t been “You and”-ed either on the radio or in magazines, newspapers, or books. We got exactly nowhere.

And then a strange thing happened. My wife brought me a glass of tomato juice and set it on the corner of my desk. Accidentally I knocked it over. As the juice spread over the rug a great light suddenly lighted in my brain.

“Gravity!” I yelled at my wife. “‘You and Gravity!’ Has anybody done that one?”

She didn’t think so and I didn’t think so, so I went to work instantly.

You and Gravity

Do you know that gravity is one of Nature’s greatest forces? Do you know that it is around you and even inside you every minute of the day? Do you know that gravity is pulling at you, tugging at you, trying to drag you down, from the moment you awake in the morning till you tumble into bed at night?

Gravity is Nature’s way of bringing the apples down out of the trees. Sir Isaac Newton found out about that, didn’t he? Gravity also makes the snowballs roll downhill, and it holds your loose change to the bottom of your pocket. You couldn’t play baseball without gravity to pull the ball down out of the sky and land it in the fielder’s glove. You couldn’t play tennis or golf, or even ping-pong.

You and gravity are so close, so inseparable, so hopelessly intertwined and interdependent, that you couldn’t even get down to the office in the morning without gravity to help you.

[I particularly like that note about “getting down to the office.” Every “You and” piece has something in it about “getting down to the office.”]

You couldn’t run your kitchen as you do and cook those delightful meals for all the family if it weren’t for the law of gravity. The potatoes wouldn’t stay in the pot, and the pot wouldn’t stay on the fire; in fact, you yourself couldn’t even stay in the kitchen if it weren’t for that good old law of gravity.

[That is the other side from “getting down to the office.” Never neglect the home and its problems. Remember the women do more reading and spend more of the nation’s income than the men.]

I’ve got about two more pages of this, all stuff that you’d never think of by yourself. My wife is handing me suggestions on slips of paper — the way news bulletins are handed to radio announcers who are on the air. “You and Gravity” is going to knock your hat off, if ever it gels published.