“You really need to make time for some MIRTH,” says Husband, helpfully.
“Oh?” I say, in full attack mode. “And just what is that supposed to mean? You find me uptight and humorless and dour, lately? You think I’m dying by grumpy degrees for want of a creative outlet? You’re suggesting that I need to lighten up and stop staring at my naval and worrying that our sons will still be living in the basement when they’re 40 and that I’ll die without ever having had an empty nest moment? You think I’m unhealthily obsessing about the fate of the planet and the fact that Girlfriend of Son #1 will doubtless get another goddamned Siamese fighting fish when the one living listlessly in my front room finally gives up the ghost? You think our marriage has become yet another household chore that I’m grossly neglecting? You think I’m even more strung-out and grim than usual? You think I’m doing that pathetic ‘I have wasted my whole summer’ thing again? Just what do you mean, giving me a glass of wine and suggesting that I sit and work on my mirth?”
Husband gets one of those deeply hurt but patient and understanding expressions on his face, which pushes me over the edge.
“And just what does that look mean? You think I’m just another hysterical middle-aged female raging-hormone case?”
I am, of course. I take the wine and apologize to Husband for having morphed from the fairly docile creature he married into a full-blown harpy.
And not even an up-to-date computer-graphic harpy – I fancy myself one of those awkward stop-action figures from the old film version of Jason and the Argonauts.
I mourned the recent passing of Ray Harryhausen. His army of marching skeletons terrified me when I was a nervous young babysitter trying to stay awake through the wee hours of the night. To this day, I figure Death will come trooping after me on bony skeleton feet. I’d prefer little cat ones and a nice fog, but I don’t get a vote.
The news server I frequent kindly arranges a sidebar of articles selected “just for me,” chosen by some godlike algorithm that examines what I’ve researched in the past (yeah, I know – Bigfoot, classical music, carnal relations with aliens, 18th century literature, the Guinness record for biggest fake boobs – I can stump a sophisticated mathematical formula without even trying). Sometimes it does get it right, though, trotting out the article on the death of the Dynamation man.
This morning I woke up to Goats Unleashed at Congressional Cemetery paired with Women at Wailing Wall Incite Ultra Orthodox.
It works, really. Washingtonians are wailing about weed-eating goats invading a place of their dead as if they were widows in weeds invading a place of worship. Or perhaps my personal news search engine ran “goats” and “Jewish mothers” through the system and decided they belonged together because Kosher law forbids the cooking of a young goat in its mother’s milk. Makes perfect sense, in a binary sort of way.
MIRTH at its most whimsical would be hard-pressed to top that. But MIRTH didn’t even have to try – the next two articles on the list were entitled, Panda Cam Offers Adorable Eavesdropping and Vigil Set for Boys Strangled by Python.
I’m thinking a Python Cam might be a better investment than a panda one, at least where defenseless young boys are left sleeping near killer snakes. I’m thinking that pythons need some strict food rules — no young boys, period.
I grew up eating fish every Friday. I understand that religious dietary laws are a call to holiness, a demand for minor martyrdom. You’re craving a big messy chili dog in the worst way, but your god expects you to substitute a dried-out frozen fish stick.
And why? “Because I said so.” It’s an indulgent exercise in flaunting power for power’s sake. Every parent who ever lived has lived for that line. There’s a certain thrill in intoning Thou Shalt Nots.
The Abrahamic god was clever with his Catholics. Many of them had no money for meat, anyway, so he had them make a virtue of necessity by abstaining on Fridays. He might have done better by his chosen people, though. Why not just teach them to cook their pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees and pasteurize their milk? Any god worth his salt should have some gourmet cooking expertise and be willing to share it. Think of the advantage he’d have on IRON CHEF.
Dietary laws are also a call to discipline. The ability to distinguish between what’s right & wrong, good & evil, and pure & defiled helps our species survive. Your innocent daughter is slumming in a seedy biker bar late Friday night? You want her to understand these things. Your sweet son is downtown where he shouldn’t be, propositioned by practitioners of the oldest profession? You want him to have this concept down pat.
Black and white turn to grey when we turn to questions of the sacred & profane – goats in the cemetery or women at the Wailing Wall. Jerusalem’s last extant piece of the Temple of Solomon is a fiercely contested prize. Solomon himself would laugh (or perhaps cry) at seeing his baby cut in half — or, more likely, into eighths or ninths or hundreths, with Jews and Arabs and Christians and many vicious sub-sects of each fighting each other tooth and nail for control.
We none of us like to share our toys, but most learn to do so with reluctant grace (except for my new laptop, which by Jesus no-one else will ever touch unless of course I need tech support, in which case Sons #1 and #2 will grudgingly be allowed temporary access).
Commandment #11, alas, went missing long ago: Thou Shalt Share Thy Stuff. Clear, straightforward, and free of all that confusing coveting and envying wordage that makes some of the Top 10 seem redundant.
Commandment #12 is an important one, too: Thou Shalt Not Be An Asshole.
#13 reads, Thou Shalt Be Kind. #12 by itself is not enough, you see. Not being an asshole just renders you neutral. We’re after active goodness, here.
#14 says, Thou Shalt Bite Thy Tongue. It continues, “ . . . Until It Bleedeth, If Necessary.” Ultimately, your opinion does not matter, even to God. Or perhaps especially to God. Father of Kid’s Friend has no business rocking back on his heels, Moses-like, and instructing me to kick my slacker sons out to toughen them up. He knoweth not my situation. He loveth not my sons.
The friend who advised me to flush Fish of Girlfriend of Son #1 down the toilet may, however, have a point. Everything is relative.
Imagine how smoothly the world would run, given those four simple rules! Instead of militarizing the Wailing Wall, pilgrims of every faith should learn to say “Please” and “Thank You” and “No, After You!” and visit it respectfully together.
You may say that I’m dreamer, yes? (although I never actually liked John Lennon much, a confession I know is akin to saying I don’t believe in God. Forgive me, you ardent Beatles fans. I haven’t grown horns. Really. That’s just my harpy persona).
Lost Commandment #15 is best of all, though: Thou Shalt Not Put Empty Ice Cube Trays Back In Thy Freezer.
Husband was right again (I hate that). Some wine, some MIRTH, and the earth is worth it all once more.