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Tom Sawyer gave himself too much credit: painting a fence can be enormously satisfying. Once the semiotics of whitewashing are brought to bear, of course, such joys become less simple, but they are agnostic to the color of the paint. No child balks at a brush and an open can.

My stepfather once wrote that it’s easy to stay pure so long as one rides a bike. I think such purity is cosmetic, but no less valuable for that; I’ll take my absolution where I can get it. Sometimes that’s in the downhill breeze, and sometimes the eggshell coat it kisses.