Outside my window right now, nothing seems terribly out of place — holly, oak, elm, hydrangea. House finch, cardinal, robin, squirrel. Buddhist, biker, sky-blue-sky.
Mostly things are just how you’d expect them to be.
With only scraps of news media exposure and subsisting on a diet of country music, work and as many honest good times as I am able to muster, I’ve lately avoided the realities of global cataclysm with totally manageable levels of guilt.
Not surprisingly, though, the nagging suspicion that things are irreparably weird and truly fucked up is difficult to shake. You can try to stick your head in the sand for a moment of self-preservational quiet, but the stuff follows you wherever you go and does not relent.
The news that does sneak in bangs around in my little mind-brain completely unchecked like bumper cars on Meth Day, and the results are predictable. The prelude to the nightmare is bucolic and even soothing:
I walk out the front door in my bathrobe, coffee in hand, to collect my copies of Mad magazine, “Swamp Thing” and The Daily Planet as delivered by the woman from the original St. Pauli Girl label who winks at me playfully. I pause for a moment to be thankful and listen to the songbirds. Somewhere in the distance, Dean Martin’s “Volare” is heard.
Just then, I’m set upon by midget versions of Sarah Palin, Kim Jong Il and Rand Paul, who tip over barrels of crude on the front steps and bite my ankles ferociously. I tumble down the stairs, landing directly on my coccyx. The resultant chakra-bending explosion of pain forces my gaze skyward just in time to witness the Mossad and Whitney Houston choppering in with dead pelicans under their arms. Massey Coal explodes a mountain somewhere in the distance, the ground splits open, and I’m swallowed whole in a lava-filled crevasse. The last thing I see is Carl Jung jumping around and cackling like Gollum, “Vaht did you ekschpect, you schtoopid bum?”
Friends, the survey says we’re screwing ourselves out of a place to live, and while it may be a little self-serving, I thought I’d take the opportunity to record a few more invaluable, if slightly oblique, observations from my short 33 years for the sake of posterity.
I figure the religious stuff is pretty well taken care of, and those survival books that teach you how to make a savory broth from grub worms will be clogging the gutters, too, so I’ve concentrated on ideas that fall just short of being actually practical or spiritually relevant.
My hope is that a few thousand years from now, the freakish Hominid/Pill-Bug hybrids who are next in line will have established a culture much like our own in which promising intelligence and opportunity have incrementally receded into placid comfort and stylized indifference and, as such, will be perfectly positioned to benefit from these unique axioms just before their own civilization self-destructs.
I don’t want to speak for everybody, so please record some life lessons of your own. We’ll all get together and bury them at the chemical weapons storage facility in the South End so no one will disturb our time capsules in the coming millennia. This is my message for the future.
•You are going to lose your pocketknife and your sunglasses soon. It’ll be easier if you just accept it now.
•Beauty is happening, everywhere. You’ll find it.
•On the whole, representative democracy is neither representative nor democratic. Try rock-scissor-paper, it’s quicker.
•Old ladies really do love having the door held open for them even if you look like an ex-convict.
•Discretion is in fact the better half of valor, but recklessness is usually more fun.
•Cats appear to be watching us. They may be working together.
•If you play only the black keys on a piano, you can’t go wrong. People will mistakenly think you know what you’re doing and will be impressed.
•Short of having actual self-confidence, a well-fitting pair of trousers will suffice.
•A good dictionary is invaluable. Two is even better. Any more than that, and you’re just showing off.
•Saying please and thank you is not only polite, it’s an important linguistic code that informs others you don’t intend to immediately attack them.
With this short set of maxims, one can comfortably navigate a culture where nothing is terribly out of place, if not now, then someday.