From Hope to Nope

An editorial in the New York Times this morning calling the Republican party “The Party of Nope” tickled my funny bone. 

It reminded me of the story of the little girl in Arizona who prayed for snow for her birthday.  Her parents, afraid the child may lose her faith in God, asked her how she felt about God not answering her prayer.   “He did answer my prayer,” she said.  “He said no.”

God has answered the prayers of more than half the country by sending us a representative to just say no to an administration that has come to believe it is now sitting in God’s seat.   Wrong assumption.

Back to the Future: The Grownup Club

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in — Deepak Chopra

When I was a child I thought grownups knew everything, they just weren’t telling. I also thought that when I grew up, I too would know everything. For that reason I looked forward to someday belonging to the Grownup Club. Then I would know what the grownups meant when they gave each other those strange looks that I judged to be a secret code, especially when I asked such important questions as: What are we all doing here (on Planet Earth)? Isn’t there someplace else we could go? Are we stuck here?

My mother said we were here because God had made us and put us here, that He also made the Earth to be our home. When I asked why this place and not some other, where things might make more sense, she looked off into the distance and shook her head. Since I knew my mother was already a member of the Grownup Club and that I would someday become a member too–growing up being the only requirement for membership, I assumed–I realized she was thinking up a fairy tale to tell me, which is the only way kids were allowed to learn important things. Since I already knew I’d be let in on the secrets once I was old enough to become a member of the Club, I told her to forget it (in my mind that is, otherwise I might be punished for sassing) and pretended to lose interest. I could see she was relieved.

That was okay because by the time I was sixteen, I knew much more than my mother. As a young adult I found out the Grownup Club, or at least the one my mother belonged to, had not kept up with the times–or else my mother’s membership had expired. The only way to learn anything now was to find the experts, so that’s what I decided to do. However, since none of them lived in our old neighborhood, I was forced to turn to books. Although most of the books by experts were written by the Old Farts who lived long ago, thankfully their language had improved a bit since biblical times.

(Of course my mother had a book by the biblical experts, called the Bible, which she said was written by God, but she admitted that although all the words in it came from God, men had actually penned it. On trying to read it I couldn’t help but wonder if they hadn’t gotten God’s words wrong. But since my mother said it was blasphemy to question the Bible, I realized this was yet another question I was not supposed to ask).

I found the experts hard going as they tended to answer questions I wasn’t asking and didn’t answer the questions I did ask. But my real problem came after I married and had my first child. I got a book by Dr. Spock on raising children as he was the known expert on the subject. Then I made a mistake of buying a book by another childcare expert (I don’t remember his name). The second book disagreed with everything in the first book and I ended up throwing both of them out. If the experts couldn’t agree, then how was I to know whom to believe?

What did other mothers do? I consulted some in the neighborhood but that also fell through when I learned there was an early potty-training trend going on. Mothers were potty-training their babies at the age of six months by running to put them on the potty when their little faces turned red. Then they gathered for coffee and bragged about their successes in potty-training their babies before they learned to walk (some were carrying them to the potty even earlier than six months old, implying their babies were geniuses).

This didn’t make sense to me because I figured a child should at least be able to walk to the potty before s/he was trained. All these mothers were doing was hurrying to catch the do-do. Which, of course, did save on diapers.

But my disillusionment had truly begun. I finally realized I couldn’t depend on other people to guide me and every time I found an expert about anything, another expert came along to disagree with the first one. It came to me that, as much trouble as it would turn out to be, I had no choice but to try to figure things out for myself. And hang the experts.

Now I know why my mother kept quiet. Who wants to admit to a kid there are things even the grownups don’t know. And that even when so-called grownups gain a bit of knowledge they just fight with each other over who’s right, and confuse people like me who are trying to understand.

At my age I know people expect me to act like a senior member of the Grownup Club, but by now I’ve entered my second childhood. I would not even join the Club if they asked me. In fact, when I see the long sad face of a Grownup, my first inclination is to whistle Dixie and thank God for my escape.

Appalachian Rhapsody–God’s Comic Intervention

Out of the void of darkness came the Big Boom and another mountaintop in Appalachia tumbled down the mountainside, buried a graveyard, filled up a stream and killed a fish. The fish asked why but nobody answered. A small boy heard and looked up at the old man sitting on a cloud, coughing and waving away the coal dust. “Gee whiz, God,” said the boy, “Whatcha letting them do that for?”

And God laughed. “T’ain’t funny,” said the boy.

“Oh, yes it is,” said God, slapping his knee, almost choking on his laughter, “you’ll see.”

The boy grew up and became a man. He went to Detroit to work in the car factory. He sent money home to his maw to help care for the other youngins, and one of them even became a mining engineer and told the mountaintop removers where to set the charges. More Big Booms, more mountaintops crashing down into the valleys. Huge machines now did the work requiring fewer and fewer workers. While the valleys filled up with all this debris more and more people left the wrecked mountains and moved to the cities.

There they married people whose ancestors had left the mountains over the past two hundred years, generations that had mingled and merged with others throughout these United States. Whose genes had  grown weaker and weaker the further they had strayed from their source. Weak brains had become rampant in the populace, and it was the ones with weak brains who had plundered Mother Earth and destroyed the mountains. Others of the weak brain had stood by and watched the plight of the mountaineers with disinterest, even prejudice.

But with the new infusion of the blood of the mountain people who were forced to move to the cities, a new race was born. They came to be called the Neomelungeons.

“So you see,” said God to the boy who had become a man and was now a very old man. “By letting the weak-minded destroy the mountains, I brought forth a new race. The blood of your ancestors was kept sacrosanct behind your mountain walls, where they retired after your Revolution. In their blood lives on the history of America, forgotten by many whose blood has been diluted this past two hundred years. The mountain blood is that of the mixed races of all people, come together for a divine purpose: to help mankind evolve to the next stage of your journey on your return to the One True Reality. Your place of origin at my side.”

The old man said: “Well, pon my soul and honor!”

A Message From RFK: Fear Not the Path of Truth

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. — Robert F. Kennedy, June 8, 1964

A thought keeps running through my mind like a moving line across the bottom of a television screen: we are all doing the best we can. I recognize enough truth in it not to yell delete! as I’m told my eldest brother always did when he had a thought he didn’t like, or to say erase! which I tend to do. It must be a family trait–I wonder what word my mother used? Probably balderdash! as she loved drama.

Yes, you did, Mom, I say over my right shoulder, and your wife told me so I say over the left. I know this is bizarre but every time I attribute something to one of them I feel they are complaining behind my back. Just one more proof that I’m crazy. However, I think I always suspect that people on the other side are listening when I talk about them because Mom always told me never to speak ill of the dead. If they couldn’t hear me, why would she think I should worry about it? Or was it just one of those what if things, like what if her deceased sister-in-law could hear her say what a bitch she was? Would she have enough pull in Heaven to get Mom thrown out? I’m sorry. I know that’s ridiculous. I really do have some wierd thoughts, but consider the source. Balderdash! That was mom.

Anyway, I really have tried to refrain from speaking ill of the dead, as I don’t want to offend them, but it’s getting to where too many people I know have passed on, which means I’m running out of ones I can speak ill of and muteness does not come natural to me. As for my mom and brother, I wasn’t actually saying anything bad about them, I was just commenting. You mean I can’t even comment? Jeez!

Well, back to the subject. The first reponse I had to the thought we are all doing the best we can is well, yeah, that’s true if you take into consideration their blah, blah, blahs–listing the perceived faults or handicaps of people I know who are still living. But at this I did yell erase!, knowing that is not what was meant at all.

Because that’s when it finally came to me that I’ve received another love message from the Universe; this one is meant for all the people out there who keep worrying about what’s going to happen to our country, and why things are in such an awful mess. The message is that we’ve just got to play out the hand we were dealt, and quit blaming ourselves for every rotten card that came out of the deck with the devil’s pawprint on it. Maybe someone stacked the deck, and heck, John Wayne could’ve found a way out of it. But since he’s not here we are all doing the best that we can, on Super Tuesday and every other day of the week.

Another message, this one from Bobby, runs across the bottom of my screen. It’s from his last speech on the night he was assassinated. Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it.

I’m trying, Bobby, but we sure do miss you.




The Human Condition: Poop Has Always Been With Us

Woe am I, the haunted, beset by fates unkind; blessed with a royal demeanor and cursed with a common behind – the human complaint

Not long after my first husband and I were married we found we both liked to read in bed. One night he was reading a history about ancient Rome and I was reading the latest Perry Mason mystery, which he had ridiculed as low-brow. Upon discovering a new word, something he enjoyed immensely, he stopped to tell it to me; tepidarium, he said, was a Roman word for bathhouse. 

Immediately, I picked up a notebook and pen from the nightstand, suddenly inspired to write a poem. Although at that time attempts at poetry was not my normal thing, the verses came flying out of the stratosphere (or scatological sphere?) so fast I had to hurry to get them down before they left again:

“If all men joined together on this earth in dreams of royal origin in their births, then each must blush for shame at his delirium when nature prompts him to the tepidarium.

“I wonder too, if kings join in the mirth when they bare their royal backsides to the earth, or do they dignify and grace their lonely station as they join the common herd in defecation.”

Now I don’t know where the words came from but there they were, and as far as I can tell, were original. However, later when I looked up tepidarium in the dictionary to see the definition for myself, I realized the poem had a fatal flaw. According to Websters Unabridged a tepidarium was described thus: “in the ancient Roman baths, the warm room, situated between the steam room and the cooling room.”

I had equated a Roman bathhouse with a modern day bathroom, which has both a bathtub and a toilet. But in Rome, bathhouses and latrines, where the defecating was done, were separate. And latrine does not rhyme with delirium. If you can think of an appropriate word that does, please let me know as it will make the poem salvageable. Although I doubt that anyone will ever want to publish it.

Actually, Rome was more like my early Appalachian home, the bathhouse being situated in a washtub that hung behind the kitchen stove and the latrine at the end of a path leading away from the house. An interesting difference though, was that the Romans, instead of using pages from a Sears catalogue as we did, since they didn’t have them, used a communal sponge on a stick–rinsing it out after each use.  Duh!

But it surprises me still that my intellectual husband, upon hearing the recitation of my poem, just stared at me without a comment, his mouth gaping open. Were he behaving normally, I would’ve expected him to show off his superior knowledge about bathhouses and latrines. I think my poem flushed the word tepidarium right out of his mind though. Or else he quickly decided, to paraphrase Aeschylus, that even if one is wise, he may sometimes deem it profitable to appear to be foolish.