A Good Lesson To Learn

There was this town where they had a monster that was causing the people a lot of worry. It’s not that the monster was doing very much, but the people worried about it a lot. The people of the village had the average IQ of a zucchini, so they put an ad in the paper that they needed a hero to come slay the terrible monster.

After the ad runs for a couple of Sundays this hero shows up, brass cojones and all. He heads off to slay the monster, cojones going clackity-clack. The hero rounds the corner and sees a watermelon patch. He looks all over, but he can’t see any monster, so he clackity-clacks back to the village square and says something like, “Uhhh, where’s da monster?”

MonsterThe villagers take him back to the watermelon patch and show him a truly huge, vicious-looking watermelon. “There’s the monster,” they say.

The hero looks at the people and says, “You yo-yos! That’s not a monster, it’s just a big watermelon!” Whereupon the people pick up rocks and sticks and beat the hell out of the hero.

The ad runs again, and lo and behold, another hero shows up. This one’s smarter than the first, so when he sees what the people are talking about, he backs up and says, “Wow! That’s a mean one, but I’ve dealt with these things before.” So he rounds the people up and distributes nets and knives and clubs, and off they go. At the end of the fight, the score is villagers one, watermelon nothing. They pay off the hero with a sack of gold and many slaps on the back and he wanders off to find a bar in some other village.

Take away whatever you want from this story, but remember the bottom line: if people don’t want to know about something, be careful how you tell them. If all they do is grab the closest rock, your message won’t accomplish much.

[After an old Hindu teaching]


Fear And Loathing In The Elevator

I’m not really in favor of this getting old stuff. I’ve no reason to doubt that it beats the alternative by a mile — at least for now — but apart from a certain bemused perspective on things that formerly seemed much more important, I’d gladly trade the mature philosophy for the steel trap memory of my callow youth.

We used to live in an apartment building that sported an elevator lined with mirrors. It was the only elevator in the building, so it was also the one everyone used for moving things in and out of the three upper floors. The previous Formica lining, far and away more durable than mirrors, was pretty well beaten up after a couple of years. One need not speculate for long to discern the eventual outcome for the mirrors.

Shel bikini JP Park ca. 1978-79
Herself, back in the day…

While we reflected on the pending optical disaster we had the privilege of observing our increasingly decrepit corporal selves in halogen-lit starkness twice a day or so. You must understand that there was a time when I — and most assuredly my ex-model wife — had no fear of mirrors, and were in fact known to frequently seek them out. In my case, at least, that’s no longer true. I don’t exactly shy from them as if threatened with a sharpened stake but, on the other hand, that business of having no reflection in mirrors must comfort an aging vamp along about the third millennium or so.

In my case, I still half expect to see the 18-year-old who used to swim two or three miles every now and then just because he could — the same sonofabitch who could walk into Sears, buy anything off the rack, and walk out looking like an ad in Esquire. The reality isn’t actually all that bad, it’s just not who’s supposed to be there.

My wife (clearly a much healthier person than I emotionally) just adjusted her blouse and checked her makeup. I tried to ignore the old guy standing next to her, handsome and distinguished though he may have been.

Callow youth beats distinguished in a fair fight every time.

P.S. At least she is still beautiful.


Poop Like A Caveman and other bathroom wisdom

Of all the rooms in my house, my favorite is the bathroom. Bedrooms and kitchens have their charms, sure, but neither approaches the bathroom’s blend of solitude and comfort. The bathroom is where magazines are read and ideas are generated; where a modicum of privacy and a moment of respite is possible. A good bathroom break is like a small-scale spa visit—a few minutes of self-care that can make the rest of the day a little more bearable.

For month two of my self-bettering experiment, I’m going to overhaul my bathroom—testing products, speaking to experts, and adopting the latest methods to make the most of my morning ablutions. What kind of toothbrush should I be using? How should I shower? Which brand of toilet paper is best? My goal is to make my bathroom as comfortable as possible—a luxurious Shangri-La retreat that will leave me coddled and rejuvenated.  MORE…