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)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

ON STANDING UP, AND OTHER MARVELS OF THE MODERN WORLD: Verticality is a trait common to most bipedal species, except, of course, on Saint Patrick’s Day, when many a young biped finds horizontality a bit more congenial, especially if said horizontality occurs somewhere near an unoccupied porcelain receptacle. Verticality is also a trait most bipeds do not appreciate until they cannot exercise it for a prolonged period of time, a position, I trust, that you will never find yourself in.

There are few things in life as annoying as finding yourself in a position you do not want to be in. Consider, for example, the case of an infantryman on a battlefield. He is clearly in a position he does not want to be in and yet he stays where he is. A sense of duty binds him to his position, as does patriotism, loyalty to his comrades, fear of having his comrades think him a coward, and, in a sufficiently obnoxious army, fear of the firing squad. Without any of these regulating factors, our young infantryman may decide for himself that the position he is in is simply ridiculous; he is young, after all, and has better things to do with his time than dying violently to advance the pretensions of politicians; and so he may quit and take the first bus home.

Similarly, many a clerk at the DMV stays at the window long after any rational human being, a semi-mythical creature like the Sasquatch but with a less effective public relations staff, would have moved on to the tax assessor’s office or to some agency that regulates the number of rat hairs allowed in a bottle of ketchup [for those of you interested in such arcana, the answer is 1 rat hair per 100 grams of ketchup. Really.] Our DMV troll may have all sorts of reasons for remaining in the Siberia of local American bureaucracy: they like lording their pathetic bit of power over a perpetually angry public, they find spiritual contentment in telling people who’ve been waiting patiently to get to their window for an hour and a half that this is the wrong line or that these poor people’s documents are not in order, or that our troll simply enjoys having an irate yet powerless motoring public scream at them for several hours a day; but all of these reasons leave the casual observer thinking that our DMV clerk is more than a little nuts, a condition common to DMV clerks in this country and I suppose other countries as well. What distinguishes our two hypothetical sufferers from our next example is that they could abandon or avoid the situation they find themselves in; they choose, however, not to.

Now, for the purposes of comparison, consider the case of one A. IRL, a poor schnook who makes his living leeching off of the taxpayers. Arthritis recently struck this poor doofus down—I should point out here, simply for the sake of information and the general edification of the readers, that this is a disease whose complete and utter suckiness, assuming that suckiness is a word, the readers must experience for themselves in order to appreciate fully. Our not so young bureaucratic drone recently spent the better part of three months flat on his back whining pathetically and wishing someone else was dead as he learned to appreciate the awesome suckiness of this loathsome malady, a situation which, like our two hypothetical sufferers, he did not want to be in and could not get out off without the schadenfreudenous assistance of his family, most of whom did not want to help at all, the lousy bastards [Mom’s been a real trouper, though.] Yes indeed, bipedalism is a wonderful thing, and something your average bipedal does not appreciate until neither of his pedals work.

This pathetic dolt illustrates this great truth perfectly. A. IRL was an avid flaneur in his day, before the ravages of disease caught up with him, a man who thought nothing of walking five miles a day, seven days a week through the admittedly not very great length and breadth of our happy little burg. On more than one occasion he even thought of walking the six or so miles between Grand Central Terminal and 475 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn just to see if he could do it, but he never did. That he never made the journey to Brooklyn shows the power of the Williamsburg Bridge to bring out the cringing acrophobic in any cringing acrophobic, and there are few people in the world who cringe as acrophobically as A. IRL, a true master of the art form. That he never tried is unfortunate, because nowadays A. IRL regards walking the six or seven yards between his bedroom and the bathroom as a great accomplishment, and to do so without peeing on himself as a milestone in humanity’s ongoing fight with chronic disease.

In a related vein, I should point out that there hasn’t been nearly enough research done on discovering why some people’s need to relieve themselves increases exponentially the nearer they get to a bathroom. There seems to be no logical biological reason for this, except in the case of women needing to use a public restroom, where, given that most architects are men, the phenomenon is explainable as indicative of the usual male’s loutish insensitivity to the personal needs of women. But the phenomenon exists, architecture or not, and it seems to me someone ought to study just why it occurs. You know, I’m not really sure how I got here from where I started; this rant was about verticality not too long ago—I remember this because I had to look up verticality in the dictionary to make sure I was spelling it right. Well, it’s been a long day’s journey into the bathroom, and a very odd journey, I think, no matter how you choose to look at it.

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