This is a blog, so I feel oblogated to write something. Problem is, I just did a bunch of yard work, which requires drinking a lot of beer afterwards, so now I can't remember what I wanted to say. I shoved some pizza on top of the beer...actually, what I did was use the beer to wash the pizza down and ended up slack-jawed in front of the TV. "Vegging out" I think they call it. I might have drooled a little. (It wasn't the first time today. Earlier I went to the dentist and got stuck with needles so the hygienist could root around in my roots without hurting me too much. I came home kind of slack-lipped and sat in front of the TV awhile drooling, chewing on my tongue and sipping liquids through a straw.)
Anyway, I'm in front of the TV with one hand on a bottle of the good stuff and the other one feeling empty because the wife's got the remote and she ain't sharing. She had us on some documentary about people who say they have fibers growing out of their skin. It's called Morgellon's disease, and if you think you have this malady there are maybe one or two doctors in the country who will take you seriously. The rest offer a condescending smirk and a referral to the nearest shrink. But some guy did examine the fibers under a microscope and said they don't originate from anything on earth he's familiar with. So it remains officially a medical mystery, though the diagnosis seemed obvious to me: alien infestation. If it ain't from here it's from out there. They didn't follow up on it though. Didn't even mention it. Go ahead; follow those dead ends; see if I care.
The next segment was about people who want to have a limb amputated. No, there's nothing wrong with the limb; they just want it off. One gal with a formerly great set of legs knows exactly how many centimeters from the hip she wants them cut, and the two sides don't match. Since doctors don't do this kind of surgery on request, she stuck her legs in dry ice to force necrosis and a consequent amputation, but couldn't take the pain. One leg did get sufficiently infected that they finally took it off for her. Another guy could take the pain and was successfully relieved of both legs. He was later treated for depression (prozac played some part) and now wonders, "What the hell was I thinking?" - from his wheelchair. The people interviewed didn't seem depressed, and most were highly educated. They don't mind legs on you, but they can't stand them on themselves. Sometimes the wages of sin seem worse than death.
"Hey," I said to my wife, "any chance you could flip us over to something normal?"
So she hits the button for a news channel and there's that Nasrallah guy talking in his hazy, emotionless monotone. Dead man talking. He reminds me of the maharishi guru types who hung out in the ashrams of India and the countryside of Oregon, and of their fat, middle-aged hippie imitators in the ramshackle old houses of the student ghetto back in the 60's and 70's, outwardly possessed of a holy placidity while inwardly their brains cranked out schemes for getting everybody undressed after first getting the money out of their pockets. Yessir, if I were a young warrior looking for a cause to fight for, I'd be ready to follow this guy to the nearest sit-in in praise of free love and pesticide-free produce. As it is, though, he gets them to fire unguided missiles into Israel with "Jewish women and children" written on the nosecone. And they do this from Christian neighborhoods in Lebanon. If, as I've been informed, Hezbo is a creation of Iran, I'm trying to figure out the Persian beef with Israel. I thought the Persians took the Jews into captivity once upon a time. In fact, Persia used to rule over most of western Asia, including Israel. Wasn't once enough? I guess they want it back. They don't want to take captives anymore. They want to exterminate them. Anyway, I was trying to figure out the Nazrallah allure. I tried the same thing with Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Gone and got nowhere with them, either. I've heard of the banality of evil, but this is the boredom of evil. If I had to listen to that guy talk nonstop for a couple of hours, I'd want to kill someone too.
"Could you get that mental pathogen off our screen, please?" I asked. So she punches a button and damned if we aren't on another medical documentary about a 5 year old girl who can only come out at night because she's allergic to light. Makes her bleed or something. It's called erythropoietic porphyria. Great. Suffering children.
"Please," I begged. Wait, she said, she wanted to see this. So we sat through the whole segment. She was a sweet kid. The little girl, I mean. Then another on some obsessive-compulsive disorder about people who can't throw anything away. The insides of their houses look like the inside of Nasrallah's brain.
Eventually she clicked back to the medical mysteries channel. "You've got a one-track mind, don't you?" But this segment was about sexsomnia, so it got my attention. Turns out that some people walk in their sleep, others have sex in it. One woman would awake now and then - be torn from a dead sleep, actually - to find herself being relieved of her pj's by the disorder's "victim", a determined human male known under normal circumstances as her husband, who was trying to, you know, get it on. Well, I said aloud, whatever the wages of sin, I figure that if I have to be afflicted with some strange malady, this is the one for me. She gave me one of those looks. Then, after it became clear that some of these cases bore a closer than comfortable resemblance to rape, she gave me that other look, the one that causes the cajones to draw up. Rape aside, it's not been my experience that women like being woken from deep REM for this particular activity. Oh, you've tried it, Mr. Luse? How many times? Fair question, but that's twixt me and my therapist.
So I gave up on the TV and came back here to stare at the screen and try to think of something to write about. Oh, I did see a movie recently. End of the Spear. It's a true story. Allright, based on a true story. It's about some missionaries in the Amazonian jungle. It has the look of something made by Christians for Christians because the native women walk around with their breasts covered, but I didn't let that stop me from watching. The screenplay's not bad (most of the time) and the acting's pretty good (most of the time), and the fact that none of the actors and actresses were recognizable was refreshing. I think actors and actresses ought to have term limits. Two films to your credit, no matter how execrable, and then it's back to private life so that we commoners don't have to listen to your public utterances, watch your egos inflate, and your marriages fall apart. Anyway, I was wondering what most of you women would do if your missionary husbands got killed in the jungle. Choose one:
1. Catch the next available piper cub back to Miami...
2. Call George Bush to see if he'd form a coalition of the willing to spread democracy in the Amazon (Operation Defoliation)...
3. Go live with the murdering savages and carry on your dead spouse's work.
While Ebe was home we also watched Deliverance again, because she'd never seen it, and naturally she loved the Dueling Banjos, and was a bit shocked by the turn of events. I told her she might not want to watch all of the scene in which Ned Beatty gets sodomized by a scrofular hillbilly. My problem with the story has always been that I'd have started it near the end and the river trip would come in flashbacks, because the moral dilemma's not about self-defense but about the burden of living with the lie created by a buried truth. James Dickey shows up near that end as the sheriff, and it was good to see him again because last time I saw him he was still alive. I met him at a Florida Writer's conference back in the mid-seventies and he went out drinking with us one night. He had known Flannery O'Connor so I asked him, never having seen the woman's picture, if she was attractive, for I liked my favorite writers, especially the women, as attractive as I could get them, and he said, "Hell no. Not in this life." Now that I'm mostly all grown up, I don't care anymore.
Speaking of disorders, here's a woman who's undergoing IVF but doesn't like it very much but is going through with it anyway.
I don't think I told you that one evening I was standing on the front porch watching the world go by when along came this fellow walking two dogs, and one of them was rather large and striking in appearance. I asked him what it was and he said an Irish Wolfhound, which was a new one on me. He was a big old placid fellow and let me pet him as much as I wanted. His owner had rescued him from some desperate circumstance of human cruelty, the details of which I don't remember, but in the course of our discussion I find out that he used to be a breeder of dogs but is now...hang on...a dog massage therapist. I kept a straight face, especially after I found out that veterinarians seek out his services. Does your dog have arthritis? This guy can help him out. I told him about my love for my daughter's chihuahua, how she'd left town with him and I wanted to sue for custody, and he told me a chihuahua's a big dog in a little dog's body (absolutely true). He turned out to be an encyclopedia of dog information. A dog massage therapist. Everyone's got his niche.
Speaking of chihuahuas, perhaps you thought only big handsome shepherds could sniff out bombs and drugs. Well, it ain't so.
And in case any of you are still skeptical of my thesis that dogs go to heaven, here's one who saved a toddler from a rooftop exploration (though the greatest cause for bewilderment will be the question of parental oversight), and another who saved his master by dialing 911. Master's a diabetic, and the dog can sniff out his low blood sugar.
Speaking of Islam, a poll on some news show revealed that 86% of Muslims in Britain consider themselves Muslim first, British subjects second. The figures in France are more evenly split. I wonder how many of you, if asked, would say that you are Catholic (or Christian) first, American second. Or is the question falsely put? Or does the actual content of the religion matter, such that the British example is cause for alarm, while the American is not?
Oh, speaking of Cedar, Bern got out of the shower the other day to find him staring at the treat she'd left him on the floor. She looked closer and saw that a baby roach was nibbling on his treat, and he was just lying there with his ears laid back and watching.
"He didn't kill the roach?" I asked.
"No," she said. "I had to do it. What a baby."
Big dog in a little dog's body. Oh, and he finally got his playmate. Bern was at a store somewhere and the Humane Society had a booth set up where she found a kitten. She took it home. I asked her if Cedar had eaten it yet. She said no. In fact, at night, Cedar curls up in bed against Bern, and the kitten curls up against Cedar. Well, at least he'll still charge any dog he sees. But during thunderstorms he starts whining and yapping and jumps into Bern's lap for protection.
Finally, (I knew you were waiting for that word), an old friend from those good old days back in the 70's, of grad school and writing programs, left a comment in my meme post (2 down the page), trying to figure out if I was the guy he'd once known, and also mentioning that he'd tried to get an article on Madison Jones published with Touchstone. Well, it turns out that he'd already published something with Touchstone back in 2002, back when I was just trying out this blogging game and before I'd even started reading the magazine. It's called "What Little Girls Teach About Being", and it's a fine piece, my own partiality to girls aside. According to a mutual friend, Mr. Barnett hails from some place in the fields of Georgia where two roads intersect, and now lives up there in Paul Cella's town, what he calls this "Yankee-bought town of Atlanta," and in 1995 he and his wife came into the Catholic Church. Considering the crowd we used to hang out with, I can't tell you what astounding and rewarding news this is. There is still some of that kind out there. God bless him. And her.
Well, look at that. I got something writ down after all. But let me tell you, it wasn't easy.