The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

RUTS IN THE ROAD OF LIFE: There are two kinds of umpire in baseball, beyond the obvious divide between the younger umpires, who look as though they know what a gym is for and, if hard pressed, could actually spell the word, and those older umps who look as though they supplement their off-season incomes by touring Japan as the comic relief on the Triple AAA all you can eat sumo circuit. This is an important division, make no mistake about it, but the true difference between umps is philosophical in nature, and lies between those umpires who adhere single-mindedly to the rule book and call a balk every time the pitcher’s knee vibrates slightly, and those umpires who understand that the modern understanding of the balk is, generally speaking, as nonsensical an idea as campaign finance reform, radical feminism, and the idea that you can somehow improve the taste of a French fry by putting mayonnaise on the thing, and so do not call the balk at all unless the pitcher is so blatant about committing this breach of baseball etiquette that he practically forces the umpire’s hand. Not every pitcher, however, gets such an understanding soul behind home plate and it’s probably better that way, now that I think about it.

Now, the mindless obsession with blindly following rules no matter how inane they are is something we can all agree is not at all a good thing, unless it gets you a bigger refund on your income taxes, where such persnicketyness becomes a positive boon for the poor sod who gets the check, but I think even the most die-hard anarchist would agree that there must be some small modicum of legislation if society is to function at all. It is with this basic agreement to the social contract that makes civilization as we know and understand it possible, and therefore I am sure that I can safely say that no matter how what system of government we live under, no one in a position of authority will permit my cousin Mickey to indulge his taste for blasting holes in Coca-Cola vending machine with a shotgun.

I am not at all certain why Mickey feels such animosity towards the Coca-Cola Company; he is not now nor has he ever been an employee of that organization and they’ve never done anything to him, at least that I am aware of, that would trigger such a powerful loathing. And loathe them he does; his prejudice against Coca-Cola borders on the unexplainably paranoid these days and you have to wonder why anyone would invest the time and energy in hating a soft-drink company when such time could be more profitably spent hating Jews, blacks, homosexuals, and pointy-headed flag-burning pinko intellectuals, but Mickey has always marched to a different drummer than the rest of the family and has always managed to find his way home, despite my aunt and uncle’s best efforts to keep him away from the rest of us. Frankly, Mickey is something of a family embarrassment nowadays, to say the least, and given the nature of his crimes, every gendarme in a twenty-five mile radius knows where to go just as soon as the word goes around that yet another Coca-Cola vending machine has sprung a major buckshot induced leak. It’s not like there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people committing this particular crime every day of the week. Maybe if he’d start shooting Pepsi machines as well, the sudden change in modus operandi would throw the constabulary off for long enough for him to get some professional help. I don’t think he will do it, though; as a serial offender, Mickey is in a rut. I think he likes it that way.

There’s nothing wrong with being in a rut per se; for some people ruts are a good thing both personally and professionally. No one, for example, wants his or her accountant to think outside the fiduciary rut, lest he pull a Gauguin one fine day and retire to Tahiti with the money you were going to invest in rechargeable electric eel breeding ranches in Costa Rica, or deal with a librarian who organizes the fiction collection in alphabetical order according to the author’s maternal great-grandmother’s maiden name. So some ruts are altogether to the good; others do no harm, and yet others are largely unexplainable while remaining benign, as with the just concluded annual meeting of the local anti-piracy league. Our happy little burg’s anti-piracy league is an ancient institution in this neck of the woods. Local merchants founded the league in 1705—they even have a royal charter signed by Queen Anne's deputy assistant private sectetary and witnessed by Her Majesty's transvestite cousin, the royal governor—to protect ships going up and down the river from the gangs of greedy economically deprived sociopaths who preyed on the river traffic. In the eighteenth century, and indeed well into the first decades of the nineteenth century, it was not at all uncommon to see on of the anti-piracy league’s patrol boats come back from an expedition down the river with two or three of those aquatic miscreants and the occasional life insurance salesman hanging like unwilling Christmas ornaments from the yardarm. In the years since then, however, the problem of river piracy has shrunk to well past the point of nonexistence, and yet the anti-piracy league goes on; I even got one of their annual membership drive letters in the mail yesterday morning. It still exists, even though there is no point to its existence, which is true of a great many things these days, I think. The anti-piracy league goes on meeting because they’ve gotten into the habit of meeting, and the members regard continuing the meetings as less of a psychic burden than admitting that they are now merely a group performing largely meaningless rituals or to transform themselves into a society dedicated to extirpating some more contemporary form of crime like horse theft or cattle rustling. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them thar varmints strung up, nope, I reckon I wouldn’t mind that at all.

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  • At 9:58 AM, Anonymous gardenbuzzy said…

    I just wanted to say that I so enjoy reading your blog. It is a breath of crisp, clean, fresh air blowing through my sometimes dusty and cobweb-incrusted mind. Thank you for being there.


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