Has a thief ever accused you of stealing from them?
You are not alone. They do this to everyone they know.
The biggest thief I ever knew accused me of stealing from him so often that I began to question myself. The woman who cheated on me more than any other would, accused me of cheating on her so often that I spent most of our relationship defending myself. The individuals who lied to me more than others were often quick to accuse me of lying. They put me on the defensive to prevent me from seeing what they were, because they feared examination. Were these deflections intentional, or were they the result of such an ingrained mentality that they became a fundamental part of their interactions?
Those of us that have had experience dealing with such people, often think that their methods win more than they lose, but anyone that has had long-term, intimate experience with someone that has a thief’s mentality knows that sooner a later a truth ends up rearing its beautiful head, and it destroys them.
There’s nothing wrong with a person that decides to shave their head in such a manner, and it’s on the observer to accept a mohawk wearer for who he or she is as a person. The import of that latter provides a subtext that suggests that the observer might discover the limits of their preconceived notions, or conventional thoughts, of a person by finding out that a person with a thin strip on their head is actually a beautiful person. He Used to Have a Mohawk combines these modes of thought from the perspective of an individual that used to have a Mohawk.
How many of us participate in events? Most of us sit on the sidelines watching those that do. How many of us attempt to rewrite the tale of those events in such a manner as to redefine our actual involvement for listeners that were not there? I witnessed a young child attempt such a crossover at his mother’s wedding. While watching the kid, I discovered the first chapter of my life and how it characterized so much of what followed. This led me to wonder about the fruits of active participation versus the role of observer.
How does the average person deal with those that experience greater challenges in life? What if the subject before us descended from a plane higher than we could ever imagine to an inexplicable depth? How would we explain it? How would we deal with it?
Everyone in The Family Liquor Store knew the story of a man of excessive talent that went crazy “Like That!” they would say with a snap of their fingers. The Family Liquor Store rested on the corners of despair and failure, and David Hauser was their effigy, but no one knew how a man could fall as far as he did. We did have an answer, and it made us all feel better about ourselves to know it.
The adult baby could not exist if not for his enablers, but his species might not exist if he saw the purpose of his involvement. These two elements result in the carrier finding comfort in mental adolescence. Yet, he finds ways to establish value and importance, even when it affects those around him.
Todd had no discernible value in the dating world, as far as I could tell, yet his stature among the ladies was unquestionably better than mine was. Todd was a member of our ‘not ugly’ club, but unlike the rest of our members he was not clever. Prior to Todd, I thought clever humor was the key to success for ‘not ugly’ people in the dating world. What made Todd’s unparalleled success so frustrating and inexplicable was that Todd was an oaf. As a nineteen-year-old young man, Todd had yet to learn how to tie his own shoes, and he feared cotton balls, but he somehow managed to date the most beautiful women in the establishment we worked in together. What was his secret? I am sure Todd was as confounded as we all were.
Those of us that have watched an episode of Shark Week –or one of the other, all too numerous home movie, reality-oriented clip shows that appear on just about every network now– have witnessed what happens when animals attack humans. Those of us that have watched enough of these videos know the formula. We know that the victims will discover that the one consistent truth about nature is that there are no consistent truths. There are methods to handling animals that those more accustomed to handling animals will relay to an audience to lessen the risk, but even the most experienced handler will state that there are no steadfast rules if a person hopes they can use rules to prevent a wild animal from ever attacking. Those of us that watch these videos often enough also know to expect the survivor state that they have no hard feelings for the beast that attacked them in the testimonials they offer at the conclusion of animal attack videos.
The field we now know as psychology was not Sigmund Freud’s first choice as a career choice. He chose to search for what, at the time, was considered the holy grail of scientific discovery the testicles of the eel. He failed to find what other premier scientists of his day could not find either, and Don’t go Chasing Eel Testicles asks the question if this failure defined the rest of Freud’s career in a manner I’ve never heard historians ask before.
I remember what a shock it was to hear that the Sesame Street characters, Ernie and Bert, were gay. I remember thinking that the statement, whether true or not, was provocative, insurgent, and hilarious. I don’t remember the first person to say it, but I remember thinking that that person was on the cusp of something new, insidious, and transcendent. I remember thinking that this person was part of an insurgent generation that revolted against civil authority, through pop culture, in a manner that was not belligerent. I remember wanting to be at the forefront of that which didn’t just break down societal barriers, but left a wasteland in its wake. I remember being unconcerned with collateral damage. Children be damned, I thought. I wanted to be one of those that shook this whole two-liter bottle up, and I considered Ernie and Bert a good start. I remember wanting to convince the world, through repetition, that Mr. Snuffleupagus was stoned on the set of Sesame Street. I remember wanting to inform anyone that would listen that the Bradys were all stoned, gay, and involved in incest and anything else we might be able to come up with, to poke holes in the wholesomeness that led my fellow, broken home brethren to feel estranged. We were suffering on the other side of the tube, in our reality, and we found it disgusting that 60’s and 70’s TV should portray an idyllic image of a family that left the rest of feeling ostracized. I remember wanting to join these fights, until Hollywood vindicated us with a pot-smoking, lesbian enriched Brady Bunch movie that dealt with the realities we purported to be our existence.
I asked a professor of mine a detailed question regarding whether it was better to view humanity from an optimistic worldview or a cynical one. The professor told me that it didn’t matter how I viewed them, or if I was structurally prepared for their malfeasances, or deviance. He said that they don’t prepare for the manner in which we might view them, because they don’t notice us half as much as we think they do, because they don’t give a crap about us.
11) BusyBody Nation
It should have been an uneventful walk in the park on an otherwise uneventful Thursday, but a couple of begrudged busybodies interrupted my otherwise uneventful day. They could not permit my dog to chase a couple of ducks into the lake without making wild threats against me. I decided that the rest of us should push back against the tide of busybodies attempting to restore their definition of order by exposing them for who they really are.
Make a general assessment about a noun (a person, place, or thing) in our culture today, and the assessor is bound to encounter a wonderful defense of that noun. The wonderful defense centers around the idea that all assessments are generalities. My counter to this ever-present defense is that all generalities are based on general rules, and while it is true that there are exceptions to general rules, the exceptions do not nullify the idea behind a general rule. If a speaker makes the claim that an individual engaged in freakish behavior 99.8% of the time is a freak, wonderful people will often focus on .2% anecdotal information regarding the fact that that freak is an exception to the general rule the speaker espouses.
“There are no absolute truths,” is a defense the wonderful employ.
“That’s a wonderful sentiment,” the speaker will reply, “but if it’s true 50.001% of the time, that’s good enough for me to accept it as general rule.”
There’s a reason that the “No Fear” ad campaign worked as well as it did. We are empowered women and manly men that believe fear is a sign of weakness. We have precedent for the unexpected anomalies that might buckle our peers. The idea that fear is a warning message sent from the brain for self-protection is to be ignored and fought, because fear is fiction, and fear is propaganda to the well-traveled and experienced individuals that have lived in other locales far more tumultuous than the silly city you two now live in, and no silly weather anomaly can compare to what their cosmopolitan metropolis offered. This message is brought to you by those that had no fear, and it ended up resulting in their demise.
Is there anything we can learn from a psychopath? Is it possible to live a life without fear? How often do fears, large and small, regulate our thought process and govern our lives? A psychopath might admit that living a life without fear has resulted in their incarceration, but when they look out at the rest of us, and how we’re unable to accomplish the simplest task without fear altering it some manner, they think they have probably received an unhealthy dose of an otherwise good thing.
15) The Unfunny
I’m not funny, and I’m not ugly. I was also not dating, and I knew plenty of not funny and not ugly fellas that were dating, and some of them, like Todd, managed to date some beautiful women. I was not happy. I decided to explore clever. Clever does not necessarily translate to humor or intelligence, but it relies heavily on ingenuity and originality. Some might argue that those two words are synonyms, but I was an original personality that didn’t apply it well or often. “Oh, you’re original,” some of my closest friends have said in various ways over the years, “I’m not sure if that always works in your favor, but you are original.” The ingenuity occurred in the application process. I knew girls would not claw each other’s eyes out for clever, for that was an activity reserved for handsome, funny men, but years of experience with women whittled me out of that group. The question was how could I incorporate my unusual nature, that bordered on the obnoxious, with my irritating personality that some considered idiotic. I used the comedic stylings of Andy Kaufman as my template.
We dedicate this piece to the unfunny that think they’re funny. We know comedy is relative, but we’ve always been able to make our brother and dad laugh, and we say odd things that our grandparents delight in. At some point, truly funny people learn to branch out beyond immediate familiarity to universal material. When we, the unfunny, took our humorous anecdotes out into the world, we ran into a wall. No one knew what we’re talking about, and we wanted to be funny. People like funny. Everyone wants to know what a funny person is going to say next. They enjoy funny analysis of people, places and things. Some of us have never been able to locate this universal definition of familiarity, and some of us don’t care. We dedicate this piece to us.
Walking through an art gallery, the ubiquity of the anti-consumer theme struck me. How can every piece that focuses on the same theme be considered bold, daring, and a tour-de-force? One would think that an aspiring young rebel would acknowledge this ubiquitous theme by sticking a middle finger up in the parody that the theme has become by producing an anti-anti-consumer theme. Doing so, however, might land the piece the artist works so hard in the dreaded land of pro-consumer and pro-corporate.
A friend provided us an excellent restaurant recommendation. She became our go-to-gal, for restaurant recommendations. We developed a bond with her, and it went to her head. She went from a fellow foodie to a foodist. She began to regard those who didn’t put enough thought in their diet as inferior beings. She detailed for us her preferences and made two things quite clear. She put a lot of thought into it, perhaps too much, and that thought led to her to begin branding people. She branded people wearing inferior clothing, those than drank an inferior coffee bean, and those that didn’t know the difference. She knew that most people prefer McDonald’s coffee, but she found comfort in the idea that those people were probably Americans, and they were probably truckers from Iowa. She led me to wonder if her progression was natural, or something endemic in the human need to feel superior about something.
Why is a dining experience at a Thai restaurant superior to one at Chucky Cheese? This piece is not about the quality of food at either locale, it’s about the superiority one feels informing another that they ate exotic food at a particular locale. Why is a wine from an exotic, foreign country considered a superior drinking experience when compared to an evening spent drinking a supermarket wine? It’s an experience the informed consumer must have and, and, detail for their friends. Coffee is another experience that people must indulge in for all the fruits of life. As I detail in the piece, blind taste tests judge McDonald’s coffee to be on par with some of the finer coffees available to the public, but it has no value at the water cooler at work the next day, not when compared to the refined, exotic Kopi Luwak bean. Drink that, and more importantly pay the exorbitant price tag for a drink of that, and the crowd at the water cooler will be hanging on your every word. The key word of this piece, just to give a tease, is the word expectation.
How much money, effort, and time do we spend to have others consider us attractive? How many deodorants, scented shampoos, perfumes, colognes, and body washes do we purchase to mask the natural scent of our body and smell attractive? There are five scent-masking agents listed here, and the reader could probably think up three or four that we missed. How many hours do we spend spraying, brushing, scrubbing, applying, lathering, and repeating if necessary? Recent surveys have reported that scent factors very low on our list of things we seek in a mate. So, why do we do it? Why do we spend do so much money and effort trying to give the illusion that we don’t smell?
19) Esoteric Man
It was difficult for me to evaluate an advertising executive that was trying to sell my wife on radio ad space, because he dressed like every guy I hated in high school. I knew I was being unfair, but “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Certain aspects of the way things are, are complicated by the way things were in our lives, and we cannot escape that fact.
The guy’s checkered pants reminded me of one of my many arch rivals in high school. The checkers were multi-colored, of course, but some of those colors were pink, and my arch rivals wore pink. I hated this ad exec. I hated him in the same manner I hated my arch rivals. The ad exec wore sensible shoes, chic eyeglasses, and he wore his hair in a coif. He was also a people person that knew how to relate to the folks, and I hated him before he said twenty words.
Seinfeld might be my favorite show of all time. I found the character’s peculiar demands for hygienic excellence hilarious, until I witnessed two grown men discuss their superiority on the matter and form a friendship on that basis. They both agreed that the common habits of their fellow man were gross, they both agreed that one particular person, that all three of us knew, was gross, and they agreed that our employer’s bathroom was an absolute cesspool of germs. I laughed in the middle of this discussion, in the same manner I laughed at the Seinfeld character’s obsessive quirks, but these two men weren’t laughing. They had smiles, but they were beaming smiles, the kind of smiles that one gives in recognition of finding a like-minded soul at long last.
“Do you know what’s in that?” a friend of mine asked me, as I approached our table with a strawberry shake in hand.
Those of us that have heard this line, in reference to what we are about to consume, know where this conversation is headed. When we hear that our hygienic standards are subpar, that our homes are just teeming with pathogens and microbes, that the automobile we’ve chosen has some substandard emission that is harmful to the environment, we know that we can’t just run away. We put up with it, all of it, because the alternative means conceding to the idea that there’s too much knowledge out there.
Getting children to show appreciation for food is a time-honored concern that dates back to the cavemen. When the first children stated that they were sick of eating Mammoth, their mother probably felt compelled to remind her children of the sacrifice, and danger, their father faced to provide them with their meal of the day. Those days of acquiring food were much more perilous, and we can assume the kids knew that, but we can also assume that the kids still didn’t care. Later in the timeline, parents informed their children of the lack of preservation techniques available for their food, and how the children would have to eat up all their food, or it would go bad. Modern technology has provided safer and easier access to food, and it’s provided preservation techniques that have become so common, for so many generations of Americans, that even most parents have taken food for granted for the whole of their lives. We’ve never been hungry … not in the sense that others have known hunger.
What do you think of that guy in high school that loved Wham and Genesis? Do you still think less of him? Our particular, individualistic taste in music defines us, and it provides our peers definition. Some of us still view those that listen to Led Zeppelin as superior. Why have we arrived at that particular notion is an interesting question, but how we arrived at it might be a far more interesting one. In high school, our favorite music artists changed by the day, dictated to us by the prevailing winds of “cool”. We might believe that at some point in our lives, we leave that mercurial teenage mindset behind us, as our high school years become smaller and smaller in our rear view mirror, but some social scholars have stated that we never leave high school.
“Find your own truth,” was the advice author Ray Bradbury provided an aspiring, young writer on a radio call-in show.
Most people loathe vague advice. We want answers, we want that perfect answer the helps us over the bridge, and a super-secret part of us wants those answers to be easy, but another part of us knows that a person gets what you pay for in that regard. When we listen to a radio show guesting a master craftsman, however, we want some nugget of information that will explain to us how that man happened to carve out a niche in the overpopulated world of his craft. We want tidbits, words of wisdom about design, and/or habits that we can imitate and emulate, until we reach a point where we don’t have to feel so alone in our structure. Vague advice, and vague platitudes, feels like a waste of our time. Especially when that advice comes so close to a personal core and stops.
“You’ll figure it out,” Rodney Dangerfield informed a young, aspiring comedian that sought his counsel on how to succeed in their shared craft.
The first thought that comes to mind when one reads the Dangerfield quote, is that the respected comedian was being dismissive. We can guess that aspiring comedians have asked Rodney various forms of this question so many times that he’s grown tired of it. Thus, when this comedian approached Rodney, Rodney said whatever was necessary to have this comedian leave him alone. Either that, or Dangerfield found the answer to that question to be so loaded with variables, and so time-consuming, that he didn’t want to go down that road again with, yet, another aspiring comedian. Dangerfield might have even viewed the young comedian’s act, and decided that it was so bad that he didn’t know how to fix it.
26) Know Thyself
Philosophers, bothered by the pesky complaints of philosophy fans wanting them to be more direct in their philosophies, believed that the Ancient Greeks granted them a gift in the form of a maxim. Among the many things, the Ancient Greeks offered the world was a simple inscription found at the forecourt of the Ancient Greek’s Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and reported to the world by a writer named Pausanias.
It was what modern day philosophers might call the ancient philosophers’ “Holy Stuff!” moment, and what a previous generation would call a “Eureka!” moment, and to all philosophers since, the foundation for all philosophical thought. For modern readers, the discovery may appear vague, and it was, but it was vague in a comprehensive manner from which to build the science of philosophy. It was a discovery that provided the student of philosophy a Rosetta stone for the human mind and human involvement, and the Ancient Greeks achieved it with two simple words:
Perhaps a modern translation, or update, of the Ancient Greek maxim know thyself may be necessary. Perhaps, ‘keep track of yourself’ might be a better interpretation for those modern readers blessed, or cursed, with so many modern distractions, that keeping track of who they really are has become much more difficult.