The problem is that there’s nothing out there that is screaming, write about me, write about me. I suppose I could write about the current crop of Presidential contenders, but let’s face it, that’s like making fun of the mentally retarded. First, it’s cruel, and second, their supporters won’t get it. Most people don’t get irony in the first place, or they only get it when you’re sticking someone else with a red-hot irony; poke someone or something they hold near and dear and they’ll get very defensive very quickly. Watch what happens whenever anyone takes a humorous potshot at the junior Senator from New York’s presidential aspirations and you’ll see what I mean.
So politics is out. Then I thought of doing a piece about how squirrels are a lot more aggressive now than when I was a boy. I’m not sure why the squirrels are more aggressive; it may be a generational thing or maybe there’s something new in the water here in our happy little burg; the possibilities are endless. But I do know that squirrels, which used to be a fairly docile, even timid, species, have gone stark raving bonkers in recent years. I don’t think that anyone, whatever their political views or philosophy of life, would disagree that a non-flying, non-animated squirrel bombarding my car with gallnuts in the absence of an animated none too bright moose is engaging in atypical squirrel behavior. Even if you could explain this behavior away, how to explain the sudden need of many young squirrels to go charging in front of moving automobiles? I fear that no good will come of this sudden need for extreme thrill seeking, but frankly, I couldn’t think of a way to maximize anyone’s interest in suicidal squirrels. So that put an end to that topic in a hurry.
That was about a week ago and since then I have been getting desperate for a subject, any subject. Politics isn’t interesting at the moment, no one cares about squirrels—it’s not like hitting a squirrel is like hitting a deer or, even worse, a moose, beasts that will put your car in the shop for a week if you give them half a chance—and arguing about religion is annoying, to say the least. There is no way to prove scientifically or mathematically whether or not God exists; it’s all really a matter of faith; so why argue about it? The universe has existed for ten billion years, the Earth for five or so billion, give or take a billion here and there, and the average life span of a human being in the West is somewhere between 75 and 80 years of age. In short, you’ll be finding empirical evidence for the existence or nonexistence of the Deity soon enough. Enjoy your stay in the sunlight while you’re here because you won’t be here for very long.
This, of course, doesn’t bring up the ongoing commercialization of Thanksgiving at my brother’s house at all. I realize that this is always a touchy subject for a good many people around the old home fire, but I think that having to pay my brother for my Thanksgiving dinner violates the whole spirit of the day. What I find especially galling is that he wanted fifteen dollars for cooking the side dishes, whereas my mother, who actually cooked the turkey—a bird I paid for, just to set the record straight here—did not receive any remuneration from my brother for her major role in the whole enterprise. The fifteen dollars, in and of itself, is nothing; I blow more than that on baloney sandwiches every week; but hitting up the guests at a Thanksgiving dinner is, in my opinion, the lowest of low-rent behavior, if you more or less exclude just about everything you see on Jerry Springer and the rest of daytime television.
Imagine, if you will, a world where this sort of thing is utterly commonplace. Should we start charging children for their birthday parties or demanding a cut of whatever the tooth fairy leaves under their pillows? When over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go, do we turn around and leave in a huff because Grandmother, bless every silver hair on her sweet head, charges us for parking? Will high school students have to leave a fifteen to twenty percent tip every day for the ladies in the cafeteria for yet another nutritious serving of the lunchtime mystery meat, and just where is the French teacher’s cat nowadays, anyhow?
It is clear from these examples, I think, that the ongoing commercialization of American holidays will lead to a situation where no one will want to celebrate anything except Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Fourth of July. In the first two cases, people will be too drunk to care how much money they’re shelling out to bartenders, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, sons, daughters, lap dancers, and the occasional Jehovah’s Witness, and in the case of the Fourth, you can always get out of going somewhere with your family. The fifth of July is not a holiday, after all; you have to get back to work.
So in the end, I didn’t really have anything to write about this week, or last week either, for that matter. Writer’s block is a terrible affliction, but as you may know, the television and movie writers are on currently on strike, so instead of regarding my block as the ongoing pain in the wazoo it actually is, I am choosing to regard my recent inactivity as a sympathy strike in solidarity with my fellow word slingers. This has the benefit of making a virtue of necessity and makes me feel better about not writing and takes my mind off the existence of God, why squirrels are conducting bombing missions against my car, the presidential campaign, and why my brother is charging me for my Thanksgiving dinner without ever rolling out the dessert cart. I paid him, yes, I did, but you can be damn sure he didn’t get a tip.