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)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Strange as this may seem, I actually do have something to put here other than this attempt to explain why the thing I have to put here isn't actually here at the moment. Things have been very busy hereabouts in the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my daily bread--the boss is retiring--and I haven't had the time to type the piece up and to upload it. Mis apologias, and no, I don't know why I am saying that in Spanish, unless it is to ingratiate myself to the soon to be new owners of this our Great Republic. In any case, I will attend to the matter of uploading the newest screed as soon as I have the time, which should be sometime this week, God willing and the river don't rise, as John Wayne used to say.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Domini Canes, sugar canes, or just canes

For those of you who pay no attention to The Passing Parade on any more than an intermittent basis, I am a gimp.  Or rather, I was a gimp; now I am merely gimpish.  What I mean by this is that for the past year and a half I have been using a cane to get from Point A to Point B, which is not a very interesting trip nowadays. This is because there are too many tourists at Point B now and they are ruining the atmosphere and scenery that made Point B an interesting place to go to in the first place.  It’s always like that, isn’t it?  You find a little place that you can enjoy with the family and before you know it the place gets a big write-up in The New York Times and then everyone wants to go there for a visit, or worse, they want to move to Point B. If they were only tourists I don’t think I would mind them so much; they would come on the weekends and by Sunday afternoon they’d head for the train station and go away, and Point B would be a reasonably habitable place until the next weekend. But the new arrivals are just a royal pain in the gluteus maximus.  They just love the way everything is, right up to the point where they want to change the way it is.  And then they don’t understand why the locals object; after all, they just want to make their new homes better by making the place like the places they just left.  Here’s a tip for you geniuses: we like the way things are here. If you don’t like the way things are here, then why don’t you consider moving back there?  It must be God’s country, after all; I know this because you keep telling everyone how wonderful everything is there[i].  

In any case, as I was saying, I am a gimp, sideways sort of.  For the past almost two years or so, I have had to walk using a cane because of various health issues that are too dreary to bring up in either mixed or unmixed company. Even I find talking about the subject annoying, which is odd given how much everyone in my family loves talking about our collective illnesses. When the family gets together, a rare event that usually occurs at funerals, strangely enough, everyone loves to talk about how bad they are feeling and what new doctor they had to see and the outrageous price of prescription medications these days. You would think that all of this talk of bad health would be in very poor taste, given the circumstances, but hypochondria runs in the family[ii] and I am sure if the deceased were alive he or she would be complaining about their poor health as well; we will not allow any one person’s stretching of ill health to its logical conclusion to stop everyone else’s right to enjoy a fine whine with their dinner. So, back to the cane. I’ve been using one for a while now and in the past few months I have taken the necessary steps to get rid of the problems that led to my having to use the damn thing in the first place. In short, I have new hips, the old ones having fallen victim to years of steady abuse brought on by a constant overconsumption of chocolate, and it pleases me now to announce that I am thinking of going on the carnival freak show circuit as Akaky, the man with three cracks in his backside[iii]. It also pleases me to announce that I am on the verge of not needing the cane anymore and as soon as this happy state of affairs occurs, I intend to toss my canes into the river, the environmentalists be damned[iv]

Of course, I will miss the canes in a strange sort of way. Here in our happy little burg, ignoring the traffic laws is a municipal sport of sorts, and one of the laws ignored the most is the one where pedestrians get the right of way in the crosswalks.  But the visibly lame always get a pass. No matter how bad the traffic, motorists will stop for people in wheelchairs or using a walker or walking with a cane, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who stopped and let me get across the street in one piece.  I would like to think that this automotive benevolence is because the motorists hereabouts are filled with the milk of human kindness, or the empathy-saturated beverage of their choice, but I strongly suspect that not explaining why they ran down a person who visibly couldn’t get out of their way to the cops, the judge, and the insurance company has a little bit more to do with the matter than anyone around here would care to admit. Admitting that you ran down a little old lady in the crosswalk because you were going to be late picking up the kids at cheerleader practice is a conversation most sane people will choose to avoid if at all possible.  There is no way to come out of this conversation looking good and so it is best to stop for the old lady and not worry about having the conversation in the first place.  Your little princess-cheerleader will simply have to wait, no matter how many times she rolls her eyes about your being late.

The canes are also good for tripping little children.  You may not think that this is fun, but when you have very little else to do you have to take your laughs where you can get them.  The younger the child the better, as small children are not apt to figure out that you tripped them on purpose, and it is easier to convince them that their falling was their own silly fault. My beard helps me in this, as people usually will not ascribe malevolent motives to a lame man who looks vaguely like Santa Claus[v]. So I have been having a hell of a good time knocking over little children left, right, and center, and then laughing benevolently at the poor child gets up off the ground. I chat with the parents as they get up; it allays their suspicions. I was thinking of bringing some candy with me to bribe the horrible little monsters in silence, but on second thought I don’t think I will.  If I don’t share, it means more candy for me[vi]. 

[i] Not you in the sense of you personally, whoever you are. I mean a generic you, any you who happens to be reading this particular screed at this particular time.
[ii] As Mortimer Brewster says of insanity in his family in Arsenic and Old Lace, hypochondria fairly gallops in mine.
[iii] They are not literally cracks, except, of course, for the one crack we all share. The others are scars at this point, but there was a time, and not so distant a time at that, when both of these scars were bona fide cracks in my bottom.
[iv] To be taken literally. If I want to throw the canes in the river, I’m going to throw the canes into the river. There are PCBs in the river and a layer of bottles a couple of feet thick off of West Point, and there are people peeing in it every day during the summer. Two canes aren’t going to hurt.
[v] In an offhand sort of way, and if you aren’t looking too closely.
[vi] Socialism is a terrible thing. It’s best that kids learn this early on in life. It will prevent disappointments later.

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