The Boulder Art of
One of the advantages of publishing your own book is you can name the sections whatever you want. Since I wrote this section after writing everything else, I decided to call it the afterword. But as it explains some of the stuff previously written, I thought it should appear at the beginning.
I was born an only child, according to my three sisters. The fact that I accepted that should give you an inkling of the unusual perception I possess of the, pardon the expression, real world. (Having three sisters is also the model for my verbosity.)
The origin for this collection took place in music school. Our English class required a presentation of some sort of project. I chose to do a book of original poetry modeled after my professor’s favorite poet, e e cummings. The book was a great success (an A minus, I recall), and three or four of the one-liners are included herein, as is the poem Peter’s Pepper.
Peter’s Pepper was written under the influence. Of a migraine. That was being treated with Darvon painkiller.
The Darvon Medical Information insert, carefully written in 2-point type in a font called “Hypochondria,” states that one percent of patients react with euphoria. Considering how small the Darvon market was, I can only assume I was that one percent. One capsule wasn’t enough to stop the headache; it took two. (Hence, as I was known then as “Don,” I was also nicknamed “Double-Dose-Darvon-Don.”) The painkiller didn’t actually stop the pain; what it did was to relocate the headache about ten inches to the left of my head. I could turn and look to my left, see the full-blown migraine over my shoulder, and laugh because I knew it couldn’t hurt me anymore. (As I matured, I have since learned how to do that without any medication. It has been suggested that I might want to resume some sort of medication, as it would make my newfound abilities more sociably acceptable.)
It was during such an experience one evening at 2AM in the dorm of the Peabody Conservatory of Music that I fluidly wrote Peter’s Pepper. I then went to the dorm rooms and awoke my soon-to-be ex-friends so I could read it to them.
There are similar stories about each item in this book, but I’ll spare you, as I’m not a storyteller; I’m a writer.
By the way, most of the stuff in here is probably not original, but is probably stuff I’ve heard from time to time and thought was funny. We must be ever mindful of the old Floridian adage “There is nothing nude under the sun.”
This has to be the stupidest section of any book. Others did not write this book; I did. No one else published it; I did. So, why the heck should I acknowledge others? So what if my parents read it and made comments about it? They make comments about anything, and all the time at that. It’s their job. I don’t care if it was a big help. I’m not even going to mention their name here; Mel and Bettie are just going to have to get used to being unsung and unrecognized for all their help.
Same holds true for lots of other so-called friends, just trying to hog the limelight. So sister Janet, friends Shenoah, Pete, Nancy, Elizabeth, Molly and all you folks at the UU in Boulder, you can just forget it. You’ll just have to look elsewhere to find your names mentioned in a publication you may have contributed to but did not write.
So here: I acknowledge myself for conceiving, writing, and publishing this book.
P.S. I don’t acknowledge them for this page, either.
There are four types of memory: long term, middle term, short term, and no term.
There are three types of memory: long term and middle term.
The other day a complete stranger walked up to me and asked if I was still taking that stuff he gave me to help my memory.
They say as one grows older memory gives way to wisdom. Regrettably, I have yet to forget anything.
They say as one grows older memory gives way to wisdom. I’m pleased to say I now have lots of wisdom to share. Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of it.
Bravery is stupidity that doesn’t result in folly.
I would have died sooner but I was running late.
People in general dislike stereotyping.
The incidence of vertigo has reached new heights.
The only difference between baby talk and incessant babbling is chronology, the age of the perpetrator.
I wonder if dolphins have dry dreams.
Why linger regarding those halfway measures? Always fill the glass all the way. I prefer not to debate the issues.
Do you suppose that waves in the ocean are at sea level?
I may be getting too dependent on my glasses. I wear them while sleeping so my dreams are in focus.
Car accidents aren’t really all they’re cracked up to be.
There is but one great sin, the sin of gifts ungiven.
There are but two great gifts, the gift given and the gift accepted.
How about a tablecloth with the dishes and silverware already printed on it?
I’m an idiot savant—I just forgot the savant part. The other day someone called me an idiot; I guess he forgot, too.
Some people are careful about what they say because of moral scruples; to ensure myself complete freedom of speech, I’ve chosen not to have any. Therefore I say what I will, I will what I say, and what I say, I will say well.
Three modern oxymorons: rap music, compassionate conservative, and airline schedule.
Racism does not discriminate.
An adult without an imagination is but a child without a mind.
Black is beautiful. Why do you think the ancient Greeks named her “Aphrodite?”
A perfect stranger walked up to me the other day and said “That goes without saying,” and walked away.
Woman, once made equal to
Stop Gays At The Source:
There is one nice thing to say about living in Miami: if you ever want to go on vacation, you aren’t ever more than two hours away from Florida.
Over the years I’ve accumulated rules from various sources. I have not included the better-known ones. While many may seem obvious to many, we must remember that rules come into existence only because there’s someone somewhere who may or may not have seen, but obviously didn’t observe the obvious. You may observe that, in light of the foregoing, there are larger numbers in front of the men’s rules.
Men’s Rule #413: If you must floss, do so before washing your moustache.
Women’s Rule #17: Use mouthwash only as directed.
Men’s Rule #37: Do not give flowers on the first date. If you’re successful, it can get expensive later on.
Women’s Rule #4: Puce is not an acceptable makeup color.
Men’s Rule #843: A woman’s idea of a “blind date” does not include duck hunting by hiding in back of a bunch of reeds.
Women’s Rule #85: Sandals do not go with formal wear, regardless of the color of socks.
Men’s Rule #332: Thermal underwear is not sexy.
Women’s Rule #68: Thermal underwear may be sexy.
Men’s Rule #73: In the realm of dating, the noun “groom” becomes a verb.
Women’s Rule#7: Perfume is an enhancement, not a replacement.
I’m not new to New Age. I had a conversation with a stock car racer. He said something like I had STP, mental apathy. For the first time in my life I Called Psychotic hotline. They asked me if I was still taking that stuff they gave me to help my memory.
I once had a near life experience. I saw a black light at the end of a tunnel. It was making a Jimmy Hendrix kissing Madonna poster glow. A small voice said “go to work, go to work,” but I knew I wasn’t ready and managed to ignore it.
I was Italian in a pasta life.
I have never believed in reincarnation, not in this lifetime or in any previous lifetime.
I’m still suffering from post-traumatic birth syndrome.
Did you hear the joke about déjà vu? Did you hear the joke about déjà vu?
Just last week I got real philosophic. I thought about feathers as a metaphor for life.
I recently flunked my existentialism exam. Well, actually, my teacher made me fail.
If you’re a Jewish male, life’s a briss, and then you die.
If God had meant for us to be naked, He wouldn’t have invented clothes.
We may have a better chance at attaining Peace if we are willing to acknowledge, however shocking it might be, that underneath our clothes each and every one of us is stark naked.
A syllogism consists of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.
Orfeo's Humor Conundrum:
Every joke, no matter how good it might be, will always offend someone somewhere sometime.
Orfeo's Humor Conundrum Reversal:
Every joke, no matter how bad it might be, will always appear funny to someone somewhere sometime.
A humorist is one who successfully earns a living off the former; a comedian is one who successfully earns a living off the latter.
A Unitarian is one who discusses the theological implications of the above.
1 Jesus came unto me as in a dream and said, Is not this a thing of beauty? Truly has this Tree's natural beauty been enhanced.
2 And I beamed with joy and happiness for I thought I now truly understood the meaning of Christmas. But He then said,
3 But what shall you do with the Tree after celebrating My birth?
4 And I answered to him, The ornaments shall be saved until next year.
5 And He said, But what shall be done with the Tree itself?
6 And I said, The tree has done its service; it shall be thrown away.
7 And lo, a Tear crept down upon His Cheek, and He wept and said, Behold, this Tree was a thing of Life and shall be no longer.
8 As I died to bring forth Life to your Souls, all Life Lives to beget new Life, and it tears Me asunder to know that this Life has been destroyed in My name. Bring forth not a severed tree within thy House, but bring forth a live Tree which thou canst plant in My name after Christmas. Thus will Life be sanctified in My name, so it will be fulfilled as the Prophets said that Thou has made known to me the ways of Life, Thou shalt fill me with joy with Thy countenance.
9 And I awoke from my dream, and had not yet severed a Tree from Life. Therefore I went forth and found a young Tree only recently brought forth from seed and took It within my dwelling together with its roots and its soil and decorated it and felt exceeding joy and gladness. And It too shall be returned to the Earth to provide yet another thread in the cushion of God's Footstool [Matt. 5:35].
1 In the beginning was the Tree. And the Tree brought forth the Heavens and made of Itself the dust of the Universe and with Its roots, made the dust into form, and this form was named Earth. And the Tree multiplied and planted Itself throughout the Universe and throughout the Earth. And it was the Beginning.
2 The Tree made the Earth turn, and the Sun marked the days. As the Earth turned, the Tree placed in the Heavens a part of Earth named Moon to reflect the day's past. And it was the first Day.
3 The Tree produced new Offspring to share the task of uniting the Earth, and new Offspring to be masters of the sea and of the air. And the Tree provided shade, food, and shelter to all Earth's inhabitants. And it was the second Day.
4 The Tree made Humans and provided Them means of building shelter, gathering food, and sharing ease and comfort. And it was the third Day.
5 On the fourth Day, the Tree said to Humans and to all Earth's Inhabitants, You shall never have a Day of Rest, for I am All Powerful and need no rest, and I have created You in My Image. You must go forth, and keep righteousness in the World, so I may keep righteousness within the Universe.
6 The World is Thy church, and all the Life therein. Bless It with Thy Works, and keep It holy with Understanding.
7 This is My Word and My Work. They who heed My Word shall live in harmony with the World, and upon death shall become as of the Trees and live forever. But they who shun My Work shall die and be as of the Rock, forever servants to the Trees and to all Their Creations.
1 Once upon a time, in a past not so very far from our future, One searched for an Understanding, but was confounded with many setbacks. Undaunted, One searched harder, not just in spite of One's trials, but because of them, For One shared the force of the Sun, the Moon-And-Stars, and of the Rose.
2 One day, One came upon an aging Tree. The Tree spoke and said “I am of the Universe, as are you.”
3 “Behold the many smiles within my branches, and hear: for it is the Smile that holds the key to the Universe and the key to One's Heart. The Heart is Magic; use It, listen to It, and trust It.” And thus spoke the Tree to One.
4 So at the Tree's bidding One took good care of One's Heart. One nurtured It, fed It, and cleaned It regularly.
5 One day One decided to buff and polish One's Heart, and as One rubbed, lo, a genie appeared, wearing the Smile of the Universe. “Who are You,” One asked the Smile.
6 The Smile replied, “I am the Sun, the Moon-And-Stars, and I am the Rose. The Sadness you see in Me is the Sadness of the Universe, but the Joy, which overgrows the Sadness one-hundred-fold, is the Joy of Life and Living. Who are You, kind One, who seeks and sees the Truth within the beauty of my Smile?”
7 “I am descended from the Tree,” One replied; “and the Tree is of the Universe. The Tree is Your Sadness; the Tree is Your Joy, and the Tree is Your Smile, for the Tree is also Life. I am descended from the Tree and the Tree and your Smile are One.”
8 “Therefore which flower or bush or blade of grass shall I see and not see You? Where shall I go to hide myself from Radiance emeralded with celebration of being? You, sweet Smile, shall haunt me so long as I shall live, for even as I return to the Tree, all which I see or dream will be of the Universe and will be of You.”
From Tenniel’s famous illustration
There’s one thing I regret about loving you so much: it can’t be measured.
I made love with myself for so long, that now when I make love with my wife, I feel like I’m cheating on myself.
Relationships are like Credit Cards: you can’t afford to have them until you no longer need them.
Truth, like sex, is no stranger to friction.
Abstinence makes the hard go flounder.
Labor of love, or love of labor?
If she likes garlic, doesn’t think cars are sexy, and has never kissed a Republican (or at least has successfully recovered from it), then I have a chance.
*From Tomkins’ Indian Sign Language, Dover Publications, Inc., © 1969
Writing music is like working a jigsaw puzzle. The big difference is, in a jigsaw puzzle you already have the pieces. When you write music, first you have to create the pieces then figure where they go.
Silence is very hard to hear;
[NOTE: This is a generic boilerplate review that applies to any avant garde musical performance. Simply substitute the work’s name, the composer, performing group, date, etc.]
Last night we heard the world premiere of Alfred Dipthong’s “Rhapsodie for Ten Carnauba Wax Candles,” performed by the Zehr Ars Nova Instrumental Ensemble at the Taylor Whitney Condominium Performance Hall.
The work opened with a uniquely suspenseful staccato discord that immediately gave way to a single soft tone, thus setting the theme for the entire work. Gradually other instruments joined in, first in unison, then gradually moving away from the tone, increasing in intensity to a climax that released tension by suddenly breaking into one of the extended silences so powerfully characteristic of Dipthong’s work. The silence is unexpectedly interrupted by an innovative, previously unheard of effect: a pounding of a lone percussion instrument, a wood block, starts slowly, then speeds up, then slows down again, creating an almost unbearable suspense, as a prelude to the reentry of different instruments playing fragments of the original discord.
Then comes the slow section. Slow single tones gradually slide up and down, dancing around each other, now in unison, now generating dissonant pulses that drive the suspense to an extreme. Excellent effect is attained by the non-traditional percussive use of the instruments.
As if not to be outdone by itself, the music again swells to be cut off by silence, and does it yet again! A final scramble of fragments of the original discord leads to the final chord, a repeat of the opening chord.
Truly one of Dipthong’s better works. In the avant garde realm, it is truly gold.
[an actual dialogue]
The necessity of invention is a real mother.
I always thought that “Freudian slips” were what transvestites wore.
If it isn’t one thing, it’s me.
Stop calling me “paranoid.” All of you!
It is only my excess of humility that keeps me from attaining perfection.
I finally perfected my humility.
One good thing about having bachelorhood is you learn to separate colors. Green vegetables in the left refrigerator drawer; yellow in the right. When doing laundry, I place the darks in the left side of the washer, and the lights in the right side. I didn’t always have pink underwear.
Call someone at his or her work; when the receptionist answers and asks “May I tell her who’s calling?” answer “Sure, Go ahead.”
When the grocery store clerk asks, “Do you want a bag?” answer, “No, you can do it.”
When the grocery store clerk asks, “Do you want a box for that?” answer, “No, I don’t even wanna wrestle you for it.”
When the waiter asks “How would you like your steak cooked?” answer, “Sure; Cooked will be fine.” (Works great for eggs, too!)
Go into a health food store and ask a clerk if they have “organic panacea.” They’ll act puzzled, scratch their head and say something like “It sounds familiar, but I’m not sure; what’s it good for?” Tell them “It’s good for everything!”
When you give someone a phone number add an extra digit at the end. When they point out it’s too many numbers, tell them they can drop the last digit if they want to.
Go into a grocery store and ask if they have a Natural Foods section. When they point it out to you, ask them “If that’s the Natural Foods section, what’s in the rest of the store?
Once upon many a time, there was a Student of Life, who wanted to know what Life was really all about. Stories had been told and heard, about wise sages who had transcended the physical, and had entered into a complete understanding of Life. And so a search was implemented by the Student to attain this understanding.
It began simply and innocently, with an exploration of the Church. After all, billions of people consider Jesus to be one of those who know what Life really is. The Student was conscientiously pious, and prayed when awaking, before and after meals, before going to sleep, and, of course, in church on Sundays and all the holidays. Revivals were attended, and the momentary feelings of ecstasy were experienced. But something seemed peculiar. Why would Life have to have motivation? Why could it not just be, on its own merit? And to make it worse, the Church dictated that one must be good out of fear of retribution and not just because Life is its own reward for being good. So the Student, dissatisfied with the doctrines, the patriarchal rituals and the hypocrisy, decided to seek an understanding of Life elsewhere.
The Student explored other religions. In the Asian continent, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism were experienced. Philosophies ancient, exotic and esoteric were studied, but none seemed to hold the concise meaning of Life that the Student sought.
So the Student tried disciplines more commonly associated with the Physical realm: jogging, aerobics classes, a home in the suburbs. It was fascinating, thought the Student, how each of these things seems to possess a glimmer of what Life is all about, but does not really fulfill the urge to fully understand Life. So the Student sought out a Teacher.
The Student’s first Teacher was a Channel, someone who would communicate with an ethereal spirit on behalf of the Student, would actually “become” the spirit when in session with the Student. Much was learned from the Channel: how and when to laugh, to cry, to work, to play. But all this still did not complete the understanding of Life.
Something was Missing.
The Student realized the need to become at one with the Universe in order to understand Life. So the lessons of abstinence, isolation, and celibacy began. Periods of years of chanting were intermingled with years of silence and meditation. Much wisdom was acquired, and oneness with the Universe was actually finally experienced! But even that experience did not fully answer: What is Life about?
One day, word came to the Student that a Sage lived high in the mountains, and had the answer so long sought for. The Student made the pilgrimage and approached the Sage with the question.
The Sage sat upon a well-worn rock in a full lotus position, dressed in simple white, the grayed hair flowing beyond the shoulders.
The Sage asked, “What have you done thus far to seek an understanding of Life?”
The Student answered, “I have committed my life to finding the answer. I have been within churches, synagogues, and mosques. I have studied the philosophies of the East and of the West. I have followed teachers and acquired enough Wisdom to be comfortable with how little I know. I have deprived my physical self for many years, and have even become one with the Universe. And yet, though I am now old and grayed, and though I could continue without necessarily having to know the answer, I would like to know what Life really is.”
The Sage looked at the Student long and hard. After a time, the Sage said words that stung like a knife in the Student’s heart, “Life is that which you have forsaken in order to understand it.” The Sage continued, “But do not be disheartened by this, for so long as you are still within its realm, it is not too late to take it back. Go forth into the world, and become a part of the Life therein, for its meaning is found fully only in its experience.”
The Student, after a remarkable length of time, asked the Sage, “But if what you say is true, then why do you sit up here, isolated from the world, from Life?”
The Sage replied, “Just as you spent much time attaining Wisdom, now I, who have enjoyed and experienced Life fully, choose to rest and attain Wisdom.
“Is it not possible,” the Student asked, “to do both?”
The Sage thought but a moment, gave a little smile, and replied, “Yep, you’re right; come on; lets go.” And the Sage got up and stood next to the Student.
The Student was astounded. “You mean to say, you learned something from me?”
The Sage laughed, and said, “A Teacher is not one who teaches, but is one who shares what is learned. Thus when one stops learning, one ceases to be a teacher. Come now, my fellow Teacher, and let us party, let us understand what Life is.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Well,” I said, “I hope you liked this little biography I wrote about you.”
“Yes, very much,” you said, “but you know, I really didn’t try being celibate for very long.”
“I know,” I said, “and I’m very thankful, because sharing that with you, for me, is truly one of Life’s great Mysteries.”
“And so are you,” you said.
“And you,” I said.
It was with renewed vigor that the student sought out the teacher. It was said the teacher would be wise enough to teach an understanding of the essence of God. So the student presented this remarkable request to the teacher.
The teacher asked, “Why do you wish to understand the essence of God?” The student replied, “I have studied many philosophies and teachings for many years, and realize none of them sufficiently explain good and bad, holy and evil. The more I studied, the more it became apparent that the only way I would fully understand these things would be if I could fully understand the essence of God. Is it possible you could teach this to me?”
The teacher thought several moments, then said, “Yes, perhaps I can provide you with the insight you need. But I have one requirement. I may be asking you to do tasks which seem formidable, but you must not question the reasons behind them. Is that acceptable to you?”
The student agreed to honor the requirement.
The teacher signaled the student to follow, and they went into the teacher’s kitchen.
The teacher took five onions out of a bag in a cupboard and placed them on a platter. The teacher, using a sharp knife, cut each onion in half, each half in half, and again each half in half, making each onion into eight sections. The teacher separated the rings in each section, then mixed up the separate pieces on the platter.
The teacher handed the student the platter of onions and said, “Just as if it were a puzzle, put the pieces back together to reconstruct the onions.”
The student was too astounded to speak, but remembering the teacher’s request, was at the moment thankful for that astonishment! For what could the reassembling of onions have to do with understanding the essence of God?
The student took the platter of onion pieces home, and set to work. It took the student one year and a day to reassemble the onions. This provided substantial opportunities for contemplation of life, meaning, God, and so many of those unspeakable insights we all enjoy from time to time. But there was no sense of that which the student sought.
When the task was completed, the student took the assembled onions to the teacher, and proudly presented them.
The teacher asked, “Do you now understand the essence of God?” “No,” said the student. “Succinctly and accurately stated,” said the teacher; “Are you ready for the next task?” “Yes,” said the student, “but I really don’t see—.” “Not so succinct,” said the teacher, stopping the student’s response with the wave of a hand. “‘Yes’ will suffice for now.”
And with that, the teacher signaled the student to follow, and they went into the teacher’s kitchen.
The teacher took five onions out of a bag in a cupboard and placed them on a platter. The teacher, using a sharp knife, cut each onion in half, each half in half, and again each half in half, making each onion into eight sections. The teacher separated the rings in each section, then mixed up the separate pieces on the platter. The platter was then placed in the oven, and the pieces were cooked until soft. The teacher again mixed up the separate pieces on the platter.
The teacher handed the student the platter of onions and said, “Just as if it were a puzzle, put the pieces back together to reconstruct the onions.”
The student’s original astonishment was but a pittance compared to the angst experienced in anticipation of the impending task.
But the student took the platter of cooked onion pieces home, and set to work. It took the student ten years and a day to reassemble the onions. This provided an overabundance of substantial opportunities for contemplation of life, meaning, God, and so many of those unspeakable insights we all enjoy from time to time. But this time, there was a beginning of a sense of that which the student sought.
When the task was completed, the student took the assembled onions to the teacher, and presented them, but not as proudly as after the first task.
The teacher asked, “Do you now understand the essence of God?” “Perhaps,” said the student, “I seem to be getting a sense of what it’s all about.” “Good,” said the teacher; “Are you ready for the next task?” “I think so,” the student said with more than a hint of reluctance.” “Patience,” said the teacher, stopping further response from the student with the wave of a hand. “‘Yes’ will suffice for now.”
And with that, the teacher signaled the student to follow, and they went into the teacher’s kitchen.
The teacher took five onions out of a bag in a cupboard and placed them on a platter. The teacher, using a sharp knife, cut each onion in half, each half in half, and again each half in half, making each onion into eight sections. The teacher separated the rings in each section, then mixed up the separate pieces on the platter. The platter was then placed in the oven, and the pieces were cooked until soft. The teacher again mixed up the separate pieces on the platter, placed them in a blender, and reduced the cooked onions to a mush before carefully pouring every drop of the onion puree back on the platter.
The teacher handed the student the platter of onions and said, “Just as if it were a puzzle, put the pieces back together to reconstruct the onions.”
The student’s original astonishment was but drop of emotion in the sudden macrocosm of despair the student now experienced. “For eleven years I acted in silence. I will be silent no more. Although the first task seemed meaningless, the second seemed to hint at the essence of God. Now you give me a more than impossible task, and as I confront it, I deeply fear that I will never attain what I seek, that I will never gain an understanding of the essence of God!”
“Aha!” said the teacher.
I’ve recently become aware of a direct correlation between my weaning from chauvinism and my sensibility to toilet seat etiquette. Now I realize that toilet seat etiquette is not a frequently discussed topic, and yet it affects, or more properly, should affect, everyone. I’ve noticed that even on the web, the few sites that have touched upon the subject simply are no longer. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the subject, you are advised to have your children and friends listen in.
I was spoiled as a child. Not like the misfortune that can strike an otherwise good Brie, mind you, but — well, come to think of it, that may be a good comparison for a rotten child, after all. As the only son of the first-born son in a Jewish family, I had an excess of privileges whether I wanted them or not. My three sisters certainly didn’t want me to have them. You must understand that Judaism is one of the original chauvinistic religions: in Orthodox Judaism, only the man can read the Torah; the woman’s role is to maintain the household so the man is free to study God’s word. If you give birth to a boy, it’s a true “mitzvah,” a blessing; if you give birth to a girl, well, that’s nice too. Badly oversimplified, but poignant enough to give you the idea. My parents, my father especially, made sure I was thoroughly and inappropriately pampered long after I was weaned from diapers.
As an un-pampered, spoiled child, it didn’t make sense to lower the seat afterward. I was already appalled at the idea of having to lift it up in the first place. But even that wasn’t a satisfactory compromise. I had this idea that if it had to be lifted, I should get one of my sisters to lift it for me!
Part of my male child ego liked to think there was hidden power with the seat up, and I went through a short phase with seat-up-sitting. Please keep in mind that five year olds have little sense of hygiene. But they do have a sense of ergonomics and comfort. It was a very short phase. But it also introduced me to what is technically referred to as the “splatter factor.” As you’ll see, if I haven’t lost you already, the “splatter factor,” albeit perceived in childhood as an inconvenience, played a significant role in my most recent maturation.
Through my teen years and most of my twenties, I understood that the current wisdom was to lower the seat after standing. I didn’t understand the wisdom in back of this rule, and for that reason, I carefully left the seat up upon exiting, if I felt confident I wouldn’t be caught. No one seemed able or even willing to explain the subtleties of toilet seat etiquette. As my mother and father lacked the moxie to educate me on the severest of adolescent curiosities, my hormonal inquiries were satisfied via different personages and venues other than parents and home. So I certainly expected them to avoid approaching at all costs a subject that has somehow maintained a level of taboo even greater than sex. My parents did not disappoint me. Although they were quick to point out what to do, they would not (or could not) tell me why to do it.
It was not until my mid-thirties that I incorporated resignation to the seat-lowering rule with my rapidly eroding tradition of chauvinism. The toilet seat rule stood when I did. It even made sense to me. But there still was no concise answer to “why.”
It was not until this year, during my final encroachment upon the milestone of half a century of existence, that I understood the “why” of the rule. It is the re-emergence of awareness of the aforementioned “splatter factor.” It is bad enough that the prevalent societal norm is that it is the woman who has to clean the toilet. Even if that were not the case, it is inappropriate to expose those not responsible for misappropriated ceramic discoloration to endure its contemplation.
So now we have the truth. When someone asks, you can tell them the why that goes with the what. But be grown up about it: don’t be wishy-washy. Be uplifting. Be fully open. Take a stand.
It is good to get this out. I’m flushed with excitement.
If Women Ruled the World…
(from http://uk.download.yahoo.com/ne/fu/attachments/world.doc May 21, 2004)
An Atlanta Memoir Best Forgotten
It was a dark and stormy night.
No writer would dare embark upon a tale however sinister with an opening so cliché except within the immurement of two possible conditions: either the writer is a poor writer, or, it was in fact a dark and stormy night. To minimize the risk of being summarily judged as guilty of the former, I assure you it indeed was a dark and stormy night.
The doctor waved his friend over to sit in the chair beside the bed. “I’m glad you could come, Father Quinn.”
“You know I’m always glad to see you, Izzy.” The priest took the doctor’s hand.
“As you know,” the doctor continued, it’s been very progressive, and I suspect I may not last the night.” The priest showed no surprise in his expression, only continuing compassion. “I called you here, because, as my friend, I wish to tell you something. Something I have to say before I go. A confession of sorts.”
“A confession?” the priest asked.
“Well, yes, a confession. It’s a confession.”
Now the priest showed a bit of surprise. “I’m a bit surprised,” the priest said, not surprisingly. “Why would you want to confess to me? It seems more likely you’d want to talk to your rabbi.”
Dr. Strasburg laughed, his laughter cut short by another knife-like burst of pain. “I suppose I could make that old joke about why would I want to bother the rabbi on a night like this (the priest laughs), but it’s quite sincere. I want to tell you because I know you’ll properly tell the story to the real world.”
“Now, you know that as a priest, I cannot disclose confessions that are given—”
“You’re not here as my priest,” the doctor interrupted, “but as my friend. My rabbi, bless his little meshugah soul, is a storyteller. Before I’m dead, he’ll have created an international incident with my simple story. I know I can trust you to keep to the truth.”
“Well, I’m flattered, and if that’s your wish, I’ll do the best I can.”
“Good, I knew I could entrust you. You see, last year I murdered two men.”
“What?” Now the priest really showed surprise as he let go of the doctor’s hand.
“You remember Charley?”
“Charley, we played poker with? The guy who died in that accident?”
“The same. I killed him. In cold blood.”
The priest’s expression transformed into incredulity. “But that’s nonsense. You were with me that day when we were in Europe.”
“Maybe so. But I did it all the same.”
“Look,” the priest started, “I’m trying to sort out what your current—”
Again the doctor interrupted. “Hear me out. Just let me tell you what I did, how I did it. That’s why I asked you here. OK?”
The priest tried to think of the proper, priestly thing to say, thought of how to say it, and how to say it appropriately and diplomatically. He couldn’t think of anything, so he instead responded with what was probably the most appropriate and diplomatic response possible: “Well, OK.”
“Good. I first met Charley a couple of years before I met you.”
“That would have been some fourteen years ago.”
“Umm, yes. He’d come in for a physical to see if he could get out of the army. He’d joined originally to go to college, but quickly got fed up with it.”
“Yes, we’d all heard the story.”
“Well, as you know, I couldn’t help him then; he was fit as a horse. But that broken arm a couple of weeks later did the trick.”
The priest smiled, nodded.
The doctor continued, “Hit by one of his own Company’s munitions trucks! I seriously don’t think he planned it; I think he would have told me if he had.
“Anyway, we’d become friends since then—well, I wouldn’t say ‘friends.’ Close acquaintances, maybe. We’d play poker, as you know, but nothing like you and me.
“Three years ago he got a weird ticket. He turned left on Courtland from Tenth and moved across the four lanes to turn right on Ninth, and was pulled over. Seems the cop charged him with switching lanes within 200 feet of an intersection. Well, Charley’s no dummy. He looked it up, Georgia being a statutory state.”
“What’s that mean?” asked the priest.
“A statutory state,” explained the doctor, “is a state whose laws are passed by the state legislature. Meaning, if it’s not written down, it’s not a law.”
“But all states have written laws,” objected the priest.
“Yes, but some states will enforce law only if it is written. The courts aren’t supposed to make up new rules when they pass judgments.”
“It’s things like this that make me glad I became a priest.”
“Look, if Georgia passes a law that says you can’t spit on Tuesday, the court can’t convict someone who spits on Wednesday. At least, not until the state updates the law.”
“So you’re telling me that that’s what happened to Charley. The idea that you can’t switch lanes within what—how many?”
“Two hundred feet.”
“Two hundred feet of an intersection—that’s absurd. Then no one could switch lanes in Atlanta!”
The doctor smiled. “That’s right. And Charley found out there was in fact no such law. He challenged the judge, but guess what? The judge showed him two different laws. The first said you had to signal at least two hundred feet before switching lanes. The second said you couldn’t switch lanes when making a turn. He then combined the two laws into an unwritten, a non-statutory law that said you couldn’t switch lanes within two hundred feet of an intersection! Boom. Charley was found guilty and fined, his perfect driving record disappeared, and his insurance rates jumped up.”
“Knowing Charley,” the priest said, “I’ll bet he was royally—he must have been really angry over this. He always took such pride in his driving.”
“When he told me about it, he told me a wonderful mixed metaphor, that it was the ‘last straw that broke the camel’s back.’ His father was screwed by the military during the Viet Nam days when he was denied his conscientious objector deferment, then his own disillusionment with his days in law school, no room for idealism, and then this traffic ticket. He even ran an ad in the paper to see if others were being charged with this lane-switching thing, and he got several responses. He also discovered that any appeal was very expensive, to the state supreme court, and nobody had ever challenged the misinterpretation of those statutes, of the laws. He told me he wanted revenge. Revenge on the system, and on the officer and the judge.”
“Wow. What’d he do?”
“That’s the problem. He did what I suggested.”
“What did you suggest?”
“It was just a joke, but he took it seriously. I told him, if they’re typical drivers, and you’re so good, you can probably get in an accident with them where they’re at fault.”
“That seems stupid enough that he shouldn’t have taken it seriously.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“No, I mean, it seems like good enough satire.”
“Sure, to you and me, but I failed as his doctor to realize how obsessed he was with revenge. You know, like a suppressed road rage.”
“Come on, you can’t blame yourself for that.” The priest paused a moment. “So what happened?”
“A few weeks later I received a call from the emergency room. They wanted to make sure Charley didn’t need any special medications or have any head injury history. I saw him in the office the next day; he was only slightly shaken up, a scrape on his chin, nothing serious. He was actually elated. ‘I did it,’ he said, ‘just like you suggested.’ ‘Like I suggested?’ I asked. He then told me that he found where Officer Tribble lived, followed him for a few days to find his route to work, saw the way he always cut the corner when turning at Cheshire Bridge Road, practiced the timing, then did it.”
“What you think he did. He knew exactly where Tribble would cross into the other lane and made sure he was there first and blindsided to Tribble. Boom! Tribble gets the ticket, and Charley gets the money.”
“But that’s not the worst of it. Charley shows all this pain and stuff, classic cervical sprain, whiplash to you, and I bought it. As soon as the insurance paid off, he was suddenly well. Made me look like a first class medical idiot.”
“Wait, there’s more. He collected the insurance to repair his car, but instead goes out and buys paint and a dent repair kit, patches it himself, and pockets the rest of the insurance money. It’s an old car, so he doesn’t care if it’s not perfect. Then a few weeks later he comes in again.”
“The judge. I tell him I’m not falling for it again. He tells me I am, so he doesn’t have to embarrass me. Besides, he says as long as no one’s seriously hurt, he’s making others into better drivers, he’ll cut me in on the deal. I ask him what he means by others. He tells me he makes so much more doing this that he’s quitting his regular job so he can do this full time. What can I do? Here I am a respectable doctor being framed into exaggerating injuries. So he keeps repairing his car, getting hit, collecting the insurance, then repairing his car all over again. It’s a miracle no one got seriously hurt through all this; it’s just that he was so concise in his planning that it was all but foolproof. We both made quite a bit of money doing this.”
“But when he had his accident you weren’t really an accessory, or even an enabler. It was his doing, not yours You couldn’t have caused it.”
“Couldn’t I? After about a year of this and about twelve accidents later, I couldn’t stand doing this. I came up with a plan to stop this craziness. I figured he couldn’t be the only one doing this. There have been all kinds of reports of insurance scams, so it made sense to me that someone else out there would be doing the same thing. So I started searching the traffic courts for a similar pattern. Charley had quickly learned that he’d have to have no more than two or three accidents in each county, or the courts, the judges, would become suspicious. So searching for a pattern wasn’t that easy. I had to go to the different county court houses to look for names.”
“About a year later I finally found the guy. He was doing the exact same thing Charley was, and probably making a good living at it, too. I hired an out of state private eye to figure out his routine; that way any news would be less likely to stir up trouble. I found out the intersection he was checking out—”
“The one where Charley was killed?”
“You guessed it. I told Charley what to look for and when. Two guys with the same idea, both perfect drivers—it was like matter meeting anti-matter: kaboom! I didn’t want anybody killed; I just wanted Charley to realize it was more dangerous than he’d allow. But I killed them. Sure as I’m dying here, I killed them there.”
The two sat for some time in silence, the doctor’s intractable pain tracted as much as a cleared conscience can lessen intractable pain, the priest’s prior concerns of appropriateness and diplomacy shot to hell. The priest was the first to break the silence with little pearls of wisdom:
“I really don’t know what to say.”
The doctor responded completely tritely, “You don’t need to say anything. You listened; that’s what’s important.”
Another pause. This time the priest came through:
“I know that my faith’s absolution means nothing to you, but for what it’s worth, I forgive you. You’re a good person, Izzy, and I’m going to miss you.”
Izzy smiled. “Easy there; warm and friendlies like that can tempt a person like me into faith!”
“Tell it to your rabbi. One more hand?”
Poems and/or Poetry
Young Peter Marlow had great wealth from living ‘lone and free.
Meanwhile Peter bought a bird that cost him one week’s pay.
One day, Peter, deep in thought, resolved his major fix:
Meanwhile, Pepper smelled the trunk, and knew what she would find:
The gravesite had a grassy look, well kept, and likewise trimmed;
Orange-winged Parrot (Amazona amazonica)
(Each column to be read simultaneously with the others)
A Prayer of Peace for the Descendents of Abraham
(Each column to be read simultaneously with the others)
when i touch You i touch the Sky
i can feel the Clouds and gentle Breeze
the Birds flutter within my heart as your Warmth envelops me
the Stars abound, even in daylight, as i look into your Eyes
and the Moon, ah the Moon! always full, no matter which season
you nod your head and the comet’s Wisps encroach one moment,
and super-novas brighten and enlighten with every kiss
i do believe in the theory of the Big Bang
no greater Joy than this, the exploration of my Universe
Winter arises, the flowers fade.
No wintry plants to entice:
Then without warning, without expectation,
In wintry radiant splendor,
Joe was tickled by the feat;
The boy was young (he was but three);
He watched him more and thought aloud
He said “Perhaps my fish is seeking proof
“Perhaps my fish can better think
A look of anguish gnashed his face;
Image found on the Internet
Words cannot expr
How does one merge time?
Although these, my thoughts, may seem to wander,
So let us merge time.
Together we’ll cross the borders of eons,
We’ll visit new and ancient dwellings,
We’ll master languages never ever spoken then or now.
And how do I merge time?
The Subject and the Predicate
They took their case to court that day
The Participle leant support
The Noun and Adjective teamed up
Meanwhile, the Adverb and Article
The courtroom was in quite a stir,
“Silence, silence, in the court!,”
“Yes, indeed,” the Conjunction said;
“For either can be safely first
“You’ve fought and fought in disarray,
T’was Mr. Magoulas who taught me to sneeze;
We studied the structures and bones of the nose,
We then practiced our wheezing and sniffing and snorting
And even the technique and words one should say
But the most valuable thing that he taught me to do
So I offer my praise as I mop up my knees
Let’s play post office!
It arrived Special Delivery, Insured.
It may have been slightly worn from all the jostling,
I especially liked the parts about “this side up,”
The contents were sweet, oh, so sweet!
I also kept the packaging.
The florist in spring
So entranced by the moment
Lost count of syllables
chocolate dark, light, nutted, soft centered
savored, melting, trickling down the throat
forever remembered, cherished
even if never tasted again
I was told to listen to Spirit.
I sat by the flowing water,
I moved to an open field of clover and listened.
I sat by a stand of daisies in the woods.
Why do you not talk to me, Spirit?
I went outside the building.
The hummingbird paused a moment,
I’ve been advised that it is not good to do deprecatory humor. I’ve never had to worry about that; I’m just not good enough to do it.
Among My Life’s Failures:
Three weeks ago I bought a lottery ticket; only one of the six numbers matched. So I figured that next time to get the other five numbers I needed to buy five additional tickets, which I did last week. I still didn’t win. I didn’t win this week either. Of course, I didn’t buy a ticket, but I did notice the trend.
I knew I was having a bad week, when I went to the bank and got in line—you know those ropes they set up? I got lost.
Last birthday I got a glimmer of hope, and invested in having my astrology chart done. It didn’t help; I’m still an Aries.
I once went on a blind date; turned out she was Venetian.
I live in a terrible, dysfunctional household. Terrible, terrible. All that yelling, screaming, throwing things. It’s all I can stand. Years of therapy, no good. At least the therapist had one good thought about it: thank goodness, there’s no one else there living with me.
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