Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"It's not the end of the world" - Is that meant as consolation?

Of my numerous and multifarious skills, talents, gifts, and boastable abilities, earning a steady living is not among these. It might be said of me that I am a financially fallow fellow -- who enjoys fennel and flan. Which would make me a financially fallow fennel-and-flan-o-phile. I am garlic bread in the City of Melba Toast. I am the friend of fairweather friends. Prodigal son of endless prodding. No New Age platitude will unravel my age old condition of werkhorrer, the sense one experiences while on the job that one is fast losing his soul.

In my first year of high school, I played on the freshman basketball team. By that year my high school had won the city championship five years running. My team's season ended in the quarter finals. The "razzing" and condemnation of previous years' players upon our heads was bad enough, but one phrase I heard over and over -- spoken as consolation -- was like a beartrap around the testicles: "It's not the end of the world." Hearing that said, maybe one or two hundred times that horrid week, I realized just how much I wished the final buzzer of that meaningless basketball game had signaled the Apocalypse. It seemed fitting that the world should fold its final hand on such an arbitrary, anti-climactic, non-violent note.

Because I think there is a need in every human soul for a great shifting from the ordinary. A need to fill sandbags, boil water, say the rosary, or scream "Medic!" Particularly when one's days are spent in boxer shorts, sitting, writing in a room with the window blocked by an ill-fitting piece of cardboard.

My father gave me a ride to school on Black Monday, October 1987, when the stock market crashed heroically. The crash didn't mean much to me then, news buff though I was and its effects didn't impact my life in any material way I could sense. However, I did understand, on some level, that it was a catastrophic event. I recall my father saying in his wise, dismissive way, "It's all just on paper."

I'm off to turn a bowl of Kellogg's "Just Right" into a bowl of "Fucking Right" by simply adding chocolate milk. Kitchen alchemy. Boxer short hocus pocus. And ne'ery a dime to be made at it.

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