Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones

. . . Now hear the word of the Lord.

Pope Frances dusted off the bones of Saint Peter just lately and hauled them out for public veneration in a cloud of incense, which probably made them smell better.

Now, this woman has pluck!
Now, this woman has pluck!

With a similar gesture, Husband just threw applewood chips on the grill beneath our Thanksgiving turkey.  The pungent smoke is billowing through the neighborhood, blessing the bones of that turkey and anyone lucky enough to catch a whiff.

Yes, I know.  Thanksgiving was Thursday.  But Sons #1 and #2 and Girlfriend of Son #1 all work thankless night jobs and were unavailable for celebration then.  Fish of Girlfriend of Son #1 was free to join us, but it seemed rather pointless to cook an 18-pound turkey for him.  I cleaned his bowl, instead, pretending to be thankful for his presence in my living room.  Faking thankfulness is what Thanksgiving is all about, after all – mouth a few platitudes of gratitude, stuff yourself with turkey, and then rush out to fight frail old ladies tooth and nail for sale prices at the big box stores.

A third of Fish of Girlfriend of Son #1’s water had evaporated, the rest of it was cloudy, and there were dead fruit flies floating on the top.  That fish was in a bad way.  Today, he’s vibrant and happy, frisking around like a teenager.

If only a change of water worked like that for me.

We won’t think about the long-term implications of the quality of this fish’s care as regards my future grandchildren or myself, when I’m old and dependent and stuck in the basement needing a diaper change.  Lucky for me, Girlfriend of Son #1 is working on a nursing degree.  I am occasionally kind to her old betta with hope that she in turn will prove occasionally kind to old me.

There was nothing left but the dried bleached bones of their former friend.
Blanch carcass from Thanksgiving turkey.
Spray paint gold, turn upside down and use as a sleigh to hold Christmas Cards.

It is interesting to opt out of a national holiday.  We ate spicy Thai noodle bowls Thursday night and thought about the hundreds of thousands of naked turkey carcasses exposed on kitchen counters across the country in various degrees of desiccation.  Think of the piles and piles of dried bleached bones!

And so I thought of the bones of Saint Peter. Yes, that Saint Peter, the rock upon which the Catholic god built his church.  God’s very own peter, if you will.

Don’t roll your eyes.  Ancient graffiti is what alerted archaeologists to the possible significance of the relics:  PETROS ENI was found scrawled near the excavated tomb.  A literal translation reads, “Peter is here.”  But we’ve all seen graffiti — isn’t it far more likely that the peter referred to belonged to whoever was holding the can of spray paint?  “Hey, baby, I got something for you right here – check this out!”

Did graffiti artists use chisels back then?  That surely made for slow tagging.

what a turkeyCuriosity pricked by this ancient peter, archaeologist Margherita Guarducci ran tests on the surviving boners (bare with me, if you will:  When Son #2 was little, he referred to the opposite sex as “girlers.”  We still call them that, and have taken to adding an “er” to the end of various objects now and then).

I should probably apologize for taking you from mounds of turkey bones to erections of other sorts.  I should probably apologize for hinting that St. Peter even had a penis.  I’ll hasten to add that he used it only to further the glory of god, and to take the occasional leak.

I like the idea of leaky saints.  It humanizes them.  I like a saint who has doubts and second-thoughts and misgivings.  You can feel fond of someone caught in a difficult situation who gives it his best shot while knowing the whole thing is probably pointless.

Sainthood typically calls to mind some humorless fanatic grimly martyring himself for some impossible ideal and to make some nebulous point, thereby (to his great satisfaction) publicly proving himself better than everyone else.   Dead, mind you, but better.  And of course the whole thing is predicated on belief in a sadistic god who gets off watching the religious equivalent of snuff films, who might (if you’re obedient) reward you later for entertaining him with your death throes.  Kind and loving, my ass.

Please, Sir, may I have another?
Please, Sir, may I have another?

Even on Thanksgiving I don’t have thanks to offer God.  I offer him a piece of my mind, instead.  He can stick it in a reliquary where the sun don’t shine (God knows I refer, here, to a catacomb).

I’d like God a lot better if he were passionate – the raging Jehovah of the Old Testament or the theatrical Zeus or the bloodthirsty Quetzalcoatl.  Those guys rolled up their sleeves and took an active interest.  They were involved.  You knew exactly where you stood with them.

God these days just shrugs.  At his best, he’s utterly indifferent.  At his worst, he’s a heartless little boy torturing an ant colony or pulling the wings off flies and the legs off spiders.

God is indifferent to controversy – even the one raging over pieces of what’s purported to be part of his Peter.  You’d think he might step in and settle the question, as a token of thanks.  “Who?” asks God.  “Which one was that?”

“The one who insisted upon being crucified upside down,” you say.  “Peter, who decided he didn’t deserve to die in the same way you arranged for your son to die.  Remember your son?”

“Whatever,” texts god.  “That is sooo 1st century.”

But I digress (“ . . . and how much don’t you like it?” says my father, who art part of me).

The excited archeologist ran tests on the bones they dug up under Peter’s old shrine. They were not those of a turkey.  She claimed they belonged to a robust man who died in the first century at the age of 60 or so, and was buried in a purple, gold-threaded cloth.  That was evidence enough for Paul VI, who declared in 1968 that Peter’s bones had been identified “in a convincing manner.”

Who are we to argue with infallibility?

Why, though, did she feel it necessary to emphasize that god chose a “robust” man to be his chief clerk?  Isn’t it far more likely that Peter was a nerd?  God would need someone bookish and officious and a bit prissy to codify his new religion.  Robust men of action have little patience with writing stuff down.  And they don’t follow rules – they make their own.

I have a holy bone to pick.

Furthermore, a bone is a bone.  Whether it be from a man or from a turkey, it is beyond caring.  There is nothing remotely robust about a bone.

“Faith, the people of God, have always believed these to be the relics of the apostle Peter, and we continue to venerate them in this way,” said Rino Fisichella, head of the pontifical council for evangelization.

That, my dears, is the statement of a clerk:  “We do it this way because we’ve always done it this way.”

Only a real turkey resists change.  I dare you to defy God.  I dare you to stop making that soggy Thanksgiving casserole every year – the canned-mushroom-soup-with-canned-green-beans-and-canned-fried-onions-on-top one.  I dare you to steam harticorts verts instead, and serve them with sliced almonds and lemon butter.

You can eat that can of French’s fried onions later, selfishly and secretly and full of thanksgiving, hiding in the pantry and licking your fingers.  God won’t care.

Thanks for visiting!  Missy
Thanks for visiting!

Stand By Your Boob

tammy 3

Give him two arms to cling to

And something warm to come to

When nights are cold and lonely

In other words, offer him “plenty to eat at home.”  The first lady of Toronto stood stoically by her man on Friday, after Mayor Rob Ford managed to shock a jaded world by spitting out a colloquial term for cunnilingus on live TV.  He is Jabba the Hutt in a sweaty ill-fitting suit.

renata ford
Let me count the ways.

But if you love him,

Oh, be proud of him, 

‘Cause after all he’s just a man.

Thank you, Canada!  We are not worthy – but you have taken the world’s eye from our own public embarrassments.  You, our refined, restrained and gracious neighbor, have taken one for the global team.

Stand by your man

And tell the world you love him

Keep givin’ all the love you can

Ford’s people called a hasty press conference for (yet another) mayoral apology and carted out his reclusive wife for some heartwarming solidarity shots, on sale for the price of personal degradation.  We can only hope that she kept her eye on the prize during this debasing spectacle – a lucrative divorce settlement and a big book deal, for starters.

Standing by your man does grim things to you, though:  Both Tammy and Renata, here, refuse to meet the camera’s eye.  Their painted mouths are downturned, and deep creases reflect years of gritted teeth and tightened lips.  Fluffy blond hair can’t offset those expressions of disappointment and loss.  You can almost see the thought bubbles:  “How in hell did I ever end up saddled with this boob?”

“What kind of music do you usually have here?”
“Oh, we got both kinds. We got country *and* western.”

And just how did “boob” become a derogatory term for a big fool who makes stupid embarrassing mistakes?  (I did try to research this for you, but met with difficulty.  You kids at home, don’t run a Google search on “boob,” especially at work.)

From what I hear, God doesn’t make embarrassing mistakes.  He sculpted primeval clay into right nice boobs to plant atop Adam’s extra rib.

We can only assume that Eve had right nice boobs, since God made them—even if they weren’t in His own anatomical image.  They were not, at least, the fevered fantasies of a 14-year-old boy, unless we choose to revise the assumed age of our Father.  Perhaps that is why the Trinity includes the Son and the Holy Ghost — we have the old man, beyond good and evil, and the testosterone-tortured teen, with the Holy Spirit around to act as guilty conscience:  one complete human package.

"I know I'm not dumb, and I know I'm not a blond."
“I know I’m not dumb,
and I know I’m not a blond.”

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home. 

If I can take issue with God, I can take issue with Wordsworth, here, who gets all it wrong.  We walk with feet of clay, but lead with boobs of glory.  Gentlemen, you, too, have frontal appendages that lead you about on a merry dance.  You don’t trail your glories, either (at least until that hot blond at the bar withers you with a glance).

Boobs lifted me from a mirthless slough of despond last week (set these words to that old chestnut hymn, “Love Lifted Me”). The dreary gray beginnings of winter never sit well with me, and this year seemed even more weary, stale, flat and unprofitable than ever.

Ten years ago, a bunch of women from my family got together in Portland, ME, to surprise my cousin on her 35th birthday.  My aunt, a rabid dog enthusiast, told my cousin that she was bringing her a very special present with lots of titties, which yapped a lot.  My poor cousin thought she was getting a puppy.  Cousin did not want a puppy, but couldn’t bring herself to tell her mother so.  She drove long hours down from Bar Harbor filled with dread, expecting to be saddled with an unwanted pet, only to find us all waiting to jump out of the hotel shrubbery.

Don’t you be misunderestimating us.

We henceforth became the Yapping Tittie Sisterhood (YTS, to the uninitiated).  We all gather in the Old Port every November for a long weekend of laughing and, yes, yapping.  Presents and brew-pubs are always involved; the career waitress at Gritty’s actually remembers us and watches for us every fall; she even knows which Tittie is late in arriving.  We figure it’s because we’re so swell, but it probably has more to do with the fact that we tip well and make a modest spectacle of ourselves.

The spectacle isn’t always modest.  My sister wanted to do something special to commemorate our tenth anniversary.  She’s been laid up with a broken ankle, and so had time and (arguably misdirected) energy on her hands.  Sister decided, since the Shriners have fancy hats and the Knights of Columbus have fancy swords and the Masons have fancy aprons, that the Sisterhood should have some fancy boobies.  She made eight lush sets of them out of pink felt, discreetly stuffed, embellished with nipples of darker fabric and, for the woman who sports a tattoo, an embroidered rose.  These boobs will henceforth be worn ceremoniously around the neck during meetings of the Yapping Tittie sorority.

My Bosom Buddies

I am forbidden by the rules of the Order  (and, more importantly, by my mother) to share the video taken as we unwrapped and modeled our bolt-on boobies.  I may only offer this staid group photo and invite you to use your imagination, adding that we laughed so hard and so long that our ribs hurt the next morning.

And I was cured of my melancholy.  There is much mirth left to make  – even with the person of the vile slug who’s the mayor of Toronto.  A month ago, that boob in his ceremonial necklace would have cast me into despair over humanity.  Now, I can put on my own ceremonial necklace and laugh as he declares that he is indeed, a fine role model for Canada’s children.

Thanks for reading through! Missy
Thanks for reading through!


Admit it – have you read anything else lately that quoted Tammy Wynette, Shakespeare, the Blues Brothers  and Wordsworth?   Life is indeed a tapestry of rich and royal hue (and now you can add Carole King to that list).