For the second time in as many hot summer days I have gone to get ice from the refrigerator and found four empty ice cube trays stacked atop an empty ice bin.
Now, there are always degrees of sin — at least in my shades-of-gray world. It’s bad enough to empty the ice bin without refilling it with the dozens of frozen cubes waiting there in readiness beside it. It’s worse to take all the ice from a frozen tray and put that tray back into the freezer, empty. It’s even worse to use up cubes from the tray beneath that one and then put them both back in empty, and so on. Clearly, there must be an especially hot and thirsty circle of hell for those who stand in front of the freezer and take the time to examine four individual empty ice cube trays before stacking them back neatly atop each other on an empty ice bin and then going on with their lives.
I resent this.
I also resent no longer being able to say “shades of gray” without quickly qualifying that I’m not alluding to S&M Lite for Bored Middle-Aged Housewives, who, if interested in such things, really ought to be reading the Marquis de Sade or The Story of O rather than tepid trendy topical adaptations. It’s all been done before, and been done better.
If I examined my life, I’d probably admit resenting the fact that I didn’t come up with the “50 Shades” idea myself and rake in easy millions. Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But I find that the unexamined life is a lot easier, since it avoids tough questions and having to take personal responsibility for the answers.
Simon Parkes, a 53-year-old driving instructor from North Yorkshire, faced tough questions from his wife this week after admitting to an extramarital affair. “That caused a few problems,” he revealed in a televised interview. “But it is not on a human level, so I don’t see it as wrong.”
Mr. Parkes’ partner in infidelity is an alien, you see. She gets him off the earth and into an orbiting spacecraft for extra-terrestrial sex several times a year, if she’s lucky.
Such a forceful resourceful female might have her way with any creature in the universe, yet she has chosen a pot-bellied balding British driving coach. He must examine his own life enough to wonder about that, too. Simon says, “the reason why extra-terrestrials are interested in me is not because of my physical body but what’s inside – my soul.”
If Simon is considering his soul, he had best beware the Sin of Onan. Onan was a nice Jewish boy who disobeyed God’s wish that he impregnate his dead brother’s wife. Who knows? Maybe she looked like an alien. Maybe Onan wanted her heirless lands more than he wanted her hairy person. In any case, God summarily smote him down, and that was that.
Except it wasn’t. Early Christian Church Fathers planted the seed that Onan spilled and harvested baleful injunctions against any and all sexual activity, save the solely-for-procreation married missionary sort.
I often wonder how the course of history might have changed had those angry sexually-frustrated repressed resentful old farts but gotten lucky a few times. All that institutionalized misogyny probably has roots in early raging hormones and adolescent heartbreak and the concomitant need for revenge.
If I were Onan, I might just resent having become a catch-all caption for all sorts of sinful pursuits I myself never pursued.
Then again, if I were Onan, I’d be dead, and beyond resenting anything. And I have empty ice cube trays to resent. We won’t get into empty toilet paper holders and empty milk cartons.
Consorting with an alien is certainly bound to raise divine eyebrows, unless of course we’re talking Zeus, who’d consort with anything. Technically, Simon Parkes parks his seed in outer space rather than upon the earth, so a good lawyer might be able to get him off. He can probably find a good lawyer in a circle of hell near the ice-cube tray transgressors.
Since sin is sin, we must therefore in good faith condemn the masturbating fetuses referenced by Texas Rep. Michael Burgess this week. Burgess said, on the Congressional record, that male fetuses at 15 weeks of development consciously touch their tiny fetal penises to give themselves pleasure.
Fie upon them! Burgess was arguing against abortion, but this is an affront to God! Even in the womb, man is a shameless sinner! A good lawyer might argue that 15-week-old fetuses are not casting their seed upon the ground, since they’ve not yet set foot upon the earth. But God sees through such semantics, or ought be able to.
Sometimes, I wonder.
Semantics are sinful, too. Tennis great Serene Williams, responding to formal interview comments she made blaming the 16-year-old Steubenville, OH, rape victim for her own rape, has just said, “I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.”
It’s important to note that Williams did not apologize, nor did she deny saying what she supposedly said. It’s brilliant. She blames “what was written” for a PR disaster that might just threaten her multi-million dollar endorsement deals with brands like Nike. And she wouldn’t even have issued that non-apology had there not been a biting backlash from her on-line followers, all potential Nike customers. She doesn’t deny saying what she said, she just regrets what was written.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. God has no regrets about what was written.
Williams’ words are not especially ambiguous: “She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position . . .”
It’s so easy for an adult to say what an adolescent should be thinking — or for a god to say what a mortal should be thinking. But adolescents are in many ways like 15-week-old fetuses – there are big undeveloped holes in their brains. It’s not always fair to hold them to adult standards. It’s not always fair to try them in an adult court, even with a good lawyer.
So when I complain to the residents of the non-profit O’Brien boarding house about the empty ice cube trays, perhaps I am being unfair. Perhaps I really am the only one here capable of emptying frozen cubes of water into the ice bin, and then refilling those trays with liquid water. It’s alchemy. Magic. Godlike, in its way — and this is the solstice, after all. If a tennis player merits godlike public adoration, then perhaps I might strive for it, too.