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June 17th, 2013
Look…Up In The Sky…
by Bruce |
I will probably not bother with the new Superman flick. I only watched one of the recent Batman movies because of Keith Ledger’s stunning Joker. Mark Hamill does an equally good voice characterization for the cartoon series (go find the YouTube where a fan asks Hamill to do his Joker saying that “Why so serious?” line and the crowd goes wild.)
It’s that Batman cartoon series that’s clarifying for me. It works because its setting is a Gotham City that stylistically could be both today and yesterday. That 1930s-ish styling makes it work and that’s because that’s the period that character emerged from in the comics. These characters, Superman, Batman, and so forth, belong in the timeframe they were created in. That is where they make the most sense. Notice how modern film makers (and comic book producers) struggle with updating their costumes. Those costumes reflected those of circus strongmen and trapeze artists, and were instantly recognizable and believable to the readers of that time. Nowadays they just seem…weird.
Instead of updating the old superheroes we should set their stories in the times they were born, and create new ones for our own. Were I to do a Superman series I would start with his being found by a childless couple in rural Smallville, sometime in the 1920s, when the information highway was the daily newspaper and the vacuum tube radio in the living room. You wouldn’t have to make him a god to make him believable as an awe inspiring figure in a world that didn’t know what we know about time and space. He was a child from a lost world raised on Earth to be one of us. But he was different, he could fly, he had x-ray vision, he could bend steel in his bare hands, bullets just bounced off him. That was amazing back then and I believe there are still lots of good stories, relevant stories, you could tell about that character without having to make him more than he was to fit into a 21st century he really does not belong to.
June 16th, 2013
New Soylant Emerald, With The Taste Of Real People
by Bruce |
“Early this morning I wanted to cook some Maggie mee, and I found that this egg looks like the kind of fake eggs I saw in videos from China.
“Is the fake egg scam in Singapore now?”
The fake potato chip, cheese and lemonade scams have been here in the U.S. for decades now. Fake chocolate coming soon so I hear.
When Mr. Fixit Is Done With You, You’re Done
by Bruce |
I learn some lessons the hard way, usually by way of stubbornness. I hate the idea of just throwing things that break away, even if the cost of buying it in the first place was cheap. But I have spent too much money and time trying to fix a bunch of cheap solar lawn ornaments only to find that despite my best efforts none of them were fixable.
First came the solar powered tiki lamps…
I immediately fell in love with the idea of having backyard lights that ran off solar. Whimsical decoration seemed wasteful to be running off the electrical grid, especially in the summer months when the city grid is already stressed. And I wanted my little alleyway backyard to be lively. The moment I laid eyes on these at the hardware store I had to have them.
At first they really did the trick. But after several rains the first generation of Casa del Garrett solar tiki lamps started to fail. When the first one did I examined its construction, opened it up and poked at it with a multi-meter and determined that the little CDS photocell that switched the circuit from Charge The Battery to Shine The Lights had gone bad and I actually went to a Radio Shack (amazingly the chain still sells parts) and bought replacements and soldered them in. Worked for a while but then something else failed in the tiny circuit board and that was that. But, typical Bruce, instead of just tossing the bad ones I saved them for parts. Next year I bought new ones and discovered they’d changed the design and now they didn’t use CDS cells to switch on the lights, they apparently figured out when nighttime came from the voltage coming off the solar cell. Okay, thinks I, that’s a better design and maybe I can use those spare CDS cells I have now for some other future project. This is how hoarding nightmares begin I guess.
Next year I bought some more solar ornaments. The makers were getting creative and I kept seeing things I wanted for the backyard…
These all failed eventually too, either due to rainwater getting inside and corroding the electronics or from overheating in the direct sunlight. (who’d have thought solar powered lawn ornaments would be exposed to direct sunlight…right?). This year when I began waking up the backyard from its winter slumber, most of my solar ornaments were dead. Stubbornly I resolved to fix everything rather then trash what stopped working and buy new. But despite my best efforts at reviving them most would not light anymore, or hold a charge for very long and some things died tragically on the operating table. The tiki lamps were the worst, but everything I tried to fix this year ended up dead. It seems while this stuff is sold for outdoor use, it is not made for outdoor use.
Meanwhile I had spent lots of money on parts, acrylic paint because these things also fade drastically in the sunlight (who’d have thought solar powered lawn ornaments would be exposed to direct sunlight?) and a new soldering gun for cutting into the hot glue gobs that hold these things together.
But the worst of it was all the time I spent trying to fix these things. Hours and hours and hours of poking and cutting and soldering and repainting things that I eventually had to throw away anyway because I could not get them working again. Wires that were too tiny to suffer more than factory assembly would come apart in my hands. Batteries would simply stop recharging because the circuit boards had suffered too much water damage, or were failing due to heat buildup from sitting outside all day long in the direct sun (who’d have thought solar powered lawn ornaments would be exposed to direct sunlight?). And now I’m kicking myself for having spent too many hours of my life this summer trying to fix junk when I had so many other projects around the house that needed my attention too.
I bought this stuff because I liked they way it decorated my backyard. Instead of some dark city rowhouse alleyway yard I had something that livened up the place and looked nice to the eye.
It’s hard to admit defeat but I tell myself that throwing plastic junk away these days isn’t so bad since the city has a recycling program. Maybe some of this stuff will come back as something more useful and long lasting. Plastic trash cans maybe.
I still want light and fun in my backyard, so now I’m looking around for things that run off the same sort of low voltage wiring that path lights use. I have two lighted water fountains out back now that run off the grid. I had to repaint one of those before deploying it this season but that’s not so bad a task. The solar stuff is junk. If you go with that then expect to have to replace it every season and don’t be surprised if some of it doesn’t even make it to the end of the summer you bought it. The idea of this stuff running off solar is nice but a carbon foot print is not greatly reduced by products that only last one or two seasons and then they have to be thrown away or recycled.
June 15th, 2013
Staff…That’s What I Am…Staff…
by Bruce |
They say cats don’t have owners, they have staff, and the same might be said of little Baltimore rowhouses…like on days like today when the sky is blue and the air is clear and clean and crisp and your car says Come with me and see what we can see and your cameras say Oh, Oh, Take Us, Take Us Too! and the house says Not On Your Life You Don’t you have grass to mow and railings to paint and concrete to patch and seal!
by Bruce |
“The Mercedes-Benz diesel-powered mid-size sedan is as durable a notion as you’ll find in autodom. Mercedes created the world’s first production diesel-powered passenger car in 1935 and began putting oil burners in its mid-sizers (a.k.a. Pontons) in 1955. The very words “Mercedes diesel” conjure all kinds of associations, from college professors who have forsaken their Peugeots, to wiry German mechanics, to cab drivers in Kabul. It’s an archetype; a 911 Turbo for meerschaum-smoking squares, a Shelby Mustang for people who got beat up in high school…” -Eddie Alterman, Car and Driver.
“One thing I feel most passionately about: love of invention will never die.” –Karl Benz
“The best or nothing.” -Gottlieb Daimler
“When you get into the car and time stands still for a second – that’s my dream car.” -unknown
…still in it.
June 11th, 2013
A Wee Pride Month Reminder
by Bruce |
…and you are beautiful. Just sayin’.
June 9th, 2013
by Bruce |
…still in it.
Something I try to do to Spirit once a month is clean and condition its vinyl and leather upholstery and the rubber gaskets around the doors, hood and trunk. The steering wheel is wrapped in a nice soft leather but the rest of the car is the legendary MB Tex upholstery which a lot of Mercedes affectionados will recommend over the leather because it lasts longer and is easier to clean. But something in my body oils dries up and hardens vinyl severely.
I discovered this effect back when I was a teenager, on the Koss Pro 4AA headphones I happened to love the sound of. I was always having to buy new ones every a couple years because of what my skin oils did to the ear pads. Those really nice soft vinyl ear pads would become rock hard and useless after a couple years just from contact with my skin and you couldn’t just buy new ear pads. Eventually even the cable connecting the headphones to the stereo would harden and start coming apart wherever my fingers touched it and then the headphones were finished and I would have to buy new ones.
So, decades later and two years after I bought it, the driver’s seat on my ‘C’ class, Traveler, began to harden and crack where my bare legs touched it in the summer while wearing cutoffs and when I took it in for repair my dealer said he’d never seen that happen to MB Tex before, and I remembered what my skin oils did to all the Koss headphones I used to own.
So now that I have Spirit, my ‘E’ class Dream Come True car, I do a careful cleaning and conditioning of my driver’s seat and while I’m at it I do the rest of the car too. I have it down to a routine now.
I Can Fix It!
by Bruce |
Today’s backyard task is getting the water fountains running and mow the expansive Casa del Garrett lawn. I have two small illuminated water fountains for the backyard, one shaped to look like a small polished ball of granite with a section cut out of the top where the water percolates. It’s actually made of plastic…a real granite one would have been too heavy and too expensive. But it looks very convincing. Before putting it all away last winter I hosed it down and discovered to my dismay that the paint was flaking off. So one task today is to repaint those areas, matching the original simulated granite coloring.
So all that time spent in the 1980s as an architectural model maker, making realistic models of buildings and lobbies to be made from various materials from the samples I was given, is still paying off. Or maybe it’s the years before that I spent painting imaginary landscapes. Anyway, I am not buying another water fountain just because the paint flaked off this one when I washed it down last year.
Last year I bought a small planter shaped and painted to look like a rock, and this spring when I began waking up the backyard garden I saw that it had started coming apart, probably because even though they sold it here in Maryland, it wasn’t made to take below freezing temperatures. The plaster it was made of was cracking and coming apart and when I got done removing all the loose plaster about half the outside of it was a mess. So I bought some plaster of Paris and reshaped it. But then I cheated and bought some Rustoleum rock textured spray paint because so much of it was gone I really didn’t need to match much that was still there.
I still have several outdoor solar light things I need to fix. There’s a solar turtle whose shell lights up at night…it’s lamp is apparently broken and, surprise, surprise, the only way I have of replacing it is cutting a hole in the bottom of the turtle. They just glue everything together now and expect you to throw it away when it breaks. Also, I have a statue of a boy with a jar of lightning bugs that I’ve had for a few years now. His jar lights up at night but the batteries inside are not holding much of a charge anymore and, surprise, surprise, there is no way to replace them other then I somehow melt off the hot glue holding his on off button panel and get inside. Plus, years of summer sun have faded his paint and now he is looking a bit anemic. So I need to repaint him and put in a fresh battery. I have no idea what I’m going to find when I get inside there, and I’m still not sure how I’m going to open up the turtle; the plastic they cast it out of is pretty thick.
I suppose you could say I’m wasting the precious minutes of my life fixing things I could just as easily buy new, but I can’t bring myself to throw something away that I can fix. I could spend the money but money is also time out of my life in the sense that I had to work for it, and I’ve already spent money on these things so throwing them away when I could fix them would amount to wasting a part of my life too. But deep down inside I just can’t stand the idea of throwing things away that can be fixed.
June 8th, 2013
by Bruce |
It’s Saturday Morning and I’m sitting in front of my home office computer working on a software project for my place of work because just as I was getting out of bed I thought of a code change I needed to implement. As I said to a friend recently, I don’t have a good work ethic, I have an obsessive compulsive disorder.
June 7th, 2013
by Bruce |
Renewed my Disney World annual pass the other day with no hesitation. Going back next month for a week of de-stressing. Here’s a blog post from Mad Magazine artist Tom Richmond about why he keeps going back with his family. Pay attention to point number 3 because that’s the critical difference. Disney is preternaturally good at hiring exactly their sort of person and it makes all the difference.
(Richmond, who has a severely handicapped daughter, also has a post worth reading about how some well-to-do people are hiring handicapped people to get them ahead of everyone else in the lines…)
Before I started going I thought all that relentless Have A Magical Day pixie dust they keep sprinkling on guests would get seriously on my nerves and it is just the opposite. Once you get inside it isn’t long before you realize that part of what the “Cast Members” are doing is keeping the stresses and troubles of the world outside the parks off your back while you are inside. And they’re not faking it, it’s the sort of people they are: cheerful, friendly, Disney people. So I actually didn’t get all the ostentatious forced cheerfulness I was afraid of getting soaked in. The sentimentality was genuine. But this was true of Walt Disney too.
You really begin to appreciate it very much. And then suddenly you are use to it and all the other tourist parks and recreation zones just don’t measure up. Yes you can have a good time in them, but not a Disney time.
There is a bar in Hollywood Studios, the Tune-In Lounge next to the 50s Prime Time Cafe’, I make a point of ending my day as often as practical in while I’m there. I could wish there was one of these here in Baltimore, but of course it wouldn’t be the same because Baltimore is definitely not Disney World. The sort of coarse rowdy drunken asshole you are likely to meet in most city bars don’t come to Disney World because they can’t stand all that Mickey Mouse stuff and so the bar is full of Disney people and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and cheerful and I love it.
There are other places I go to have a good time and de-stress. Key West being the other top destination on my list. But mostly all those other places are places I go to be alone. Walt Disney World is one of a very Very few places I go to be with other people. Other people who still believe somewhere deep down inside despite it all, that there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day. I know I can find them there.
May 12th, 2013
A Wee Mother’s Day Story
by Bruce |
Once upon a time there was a boy whose mom had to raise him herself. But he had a happy boyhood all the same, and never knew until he was older that he was actually supposed to be unhappy and destined for a life of booze, drugs, crime and jail. He never knew or even suspected that has was disadvantaged in any way. He was happy.
His mom couldn’t give him every toy he wanted but he got practically every book he asked for. He wore a lot of second hand clothes but he never went to bed hungry or out the door in dirty clothes. His mom set a good example, taught him to read before he entered grade school, and all through his growing up years encouraged him to pursue his interests in art, photography and electronics. And one day after he was all grown up he made her very proud when he told her about the job he got working for the Hubble Space Telescope program.
All the time she was raising him a lot of people said he would never amount to much because boys raised by single mothers never did. She lived to see her boy prove them wrong. But really…she was the one who proved them wrong. You see, parents matter. Not how many or which gender. Not whether there is a biological link from parent to child. It’s the person they are that counts. That’s everything. I made it against a lot of odds, but looking back on it all I can very clearly see now that I had a good start on it, because I had one good parent…a good mother.
Thanks mom. Wish you could see what your boy is into now.
May 6th, 2013
You Know The Race That Matters When You Loose It
by Bruce |
It was the autumn of 1973. I’d graduated from high school the previous June, come out to myself two Decembers before, and that summer I’d just discovered my first crush had moved away without telling me his family was going anywhere. But also that summer I’d also somehow attracted the notice of a cuteling at a coffee house a friend and I frequented, who took an interest in me. He was beautiful and I was dazzled and unlike my first crush, he was perfectly willing to let my camera give him some love. Looking at it in retrospect, I think I might have even been his first crush.
One day he invited me to go with him to watch the quarter mile fuelers run at a drag strip somewhere in southern Maryland. He bought the tickets and even bought us both pit passes. I drove us both in the car I had just bought with money from my first good job at Industrial Photo. It was the first time I got to see the fuelers up close. I love high energy smoke and belching fire stuff like that, and it was a thrill to see them up close like that.
But it was the time of the first oil embargo and I was young and a tad too self absorbed for my own good. As the races went on into the night I got scared the gas stations would close before the races ended and we would be stranded. He noticed and asked me if I wanted to leave early and I said yes. Just as we left the track he remarked wistfully that one of his favorite racers was probably making his last run just then. I was too busy calculating how far we could get on what was still in the gas tank and didn’t notice.
I saw him again the next night at a city park we both used to rendezvous at. It was usually packed with other teens and young adults on the weekends and that night was no exception. I can still see the sad, dejected look on his face before he saw me approach. He gave me a smile and I noticed then how there had always been a little something extra in that smile before because it wasn’t there then. We chatted for a bit and then somehow we both wandered off with other friends. A few months later he had pretty much stopped seeing me altogether. I was still in a knot over the sudden disappearance of my first crush that summer and wasn’t really paying attention to what was right in front of me, and I let it slide.
I’ve been kicking myself over this memory ever since. If I hadn’t been quite so self absorbed back then I might have figured that getting stranded for the night would have been a good thing. Maybe even the best thing ever.
That memory has been nagging at me a lot recently for some reason, so yesterday I decided to see if I could find that drag strip and try to refresh my recollections of the place. I’d heard it had closed ages ago, but thought I could find where it used to me and perhaps scope out the surrounding area and put some of my memories of that night to rest…or at least give them some clarity. I’d thought the strip was somewhere near La Plata, so I drove down Highway 5 to 301 but didn’t see anything I recognized. So I wandered for a bit and then gave in and went home and started Googling. Eventually I found some links and a few images of the drag strip as it is today. Loneliness and regret are like the two pale horses of my love life. This photo could almost be the path I took through it…
But no…it’s what’s left of the Aquasco Speedway. They say some of the most famous names in quarter mile racing raced there. It may have been where I lost the only race that ever mattered.
If you’re out there reading this now…I’m sorry I was a jerk. I hope you’ve won your race.
April 17th, 2013
Things That Don’t Work In My Dreams
by Bruce |
The dream world can be an amazing, lovely place to spend some time. But it has its drawbacks. Some of the following is obvious, some not so much, at least to me…
The Part Of My Brain That Can Read. I am completely illiterate in my dreams. Whenever I come across a book or sign or anything I need to read, I just can’t. I can see the text, I just can’t make sense of it. This is interesting in a somewhat disturbing way: in real life I am a voracious reader, but I’ve read that others experience this same effect in dreams. I assume it’s because that part of your brain is…well…sleeping. Sometimes, but very very seldomly, I remember the text well enough that when I wake up I can then read it. And as you would expect, it’s pretty odd, random and meaningless. Like the title to the book I found on a pile of trash in a bookstore that I was so frustrated I could not read the frustration woke me up and I remembered it and it was “Old Book”
The Part Of My Brain That Sees Color. This is also something I’ve read that others experience. My dreams are almost exclusively in black & white, though lately I’ve experienced the occasional color moment.
Light Switches. Lately in my dreams, whenever I find myself entering a dark room or house and I try to turn on the lights, nothing works. This is usually a prelude to the dream going bad on me, but sometimes it’s just frustrating. I’m writing this post just now because last night it happened again…I was walking into a house to find something, and it was dark inside and I tried various light switches and nothing would come on, and I remember in my dream getting really irritated that I was having “that damn light problem” again so I pulled open some window shades and let light in that way. At least the sun still works in my dreams.
Bullets. While being pursued by thugs or monsters in my dreams, reliably when I reach for a gun the gun works just fine but the bullets have no effect. I don’t get the click, click, it’s EMPTY, effect other friends of mine do. My gun is loaded and I can shoot just fine, but nothing I hit seems to care. It’s gotten to the point now that I usually just start beating the damn things over the head with the gun rather than bothering to pull the trigger.
Toilets. This is usually my dream telling me that I need to wake up and go to the bathroom. When in a dream I get the urge to go, and I start looking around for a bathroom, inevitably in every bathroom I check the toilet is missing. The hole in the floor where it connects is there alright, but the toilet is gone.
Automobiles. This isn’t something that does not work, so much as one very odd thing I almost never do in my dreams, that I would expect after having lived to the threshold of old age to have done at least once. In real life I absolutely love driving. In my dreams I am nearly always walking. Which is also something I like doing, don’t get me wrong. When the weather is nice I am always out for a walk, and I bought my house where I did specifically so I would be close enough to work I would walk it. I grew up in a household without a car, so maybe this is part of it. But I have owned a car since I was old enough to drive and I love to drive too and it’s just odd that in my dreams I never seem to even think to drive anywhere. And what is more, there are almost never any cars in my dreams, even parked nearby. Trains yes. Lots of trains for some odd reason. Train tracks and trains show up in the strangest places in my dreams. But the one and only time I can remember ever dreaming about driving somewhere, it was This Horrible Dream that still creeps me out.
April 12th, 2013
A Wee Vacation
by Bruce |
I’m just back from a brief, ad-hoc Disney World trip. This week was going to be a stay-at-home vacation. I’m helping finance a place to live for my niece for her last semester at college, so until July I have no money for big vacation trips. But pity me not. I have no kids of my own so it isn’t like I’m mortgaging the house to put any through school. I’m just helping out. So this was going to be a staycation but I made the fatal mistake of checking the weather in Florida and then I was off. Spring was darn cold here in Charm City.
I had to do it on the cheap. But I had some advantages. First, I have an annual pass. So I didn’t need to have spare cash for tickets into the parks. Then, passholders get discount offers. So I hit the Disney web site and looked in the passholder’s section to see if there were any specials. There were. I got a really nice price on one of their “value hotels” for three nights. Then I had just over a hundred bucks worth of reward points on my Disney card, which paid for half my eats and drinks in the parks for two and a half days. Then I had accumulated enough Holiday Inn reward points for one free night, so that helped out with motel charges on the trip down and back.
And then…there is my Mercedes diesel. Here’s a few notes from my trip computer, plus fuel chits. This was from Baltimore City to Walt Disney World and back.
Hours (actually driving the car): 32.34
MPH (average): 61
MPG (average): 40.1
That’s a tad over forty miles per gallon in a mid-sized German luxury sedan, and this trip my trip computer registered the best mileage ever, on the stretch from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia: 44.9. Once I got on the higher speed limit stretches of I-95 my mileage went down a tad. But still. Forty miles per gallon in a car as big and nice as a Mercedes-Benz ‘E’ class is not bad.
Total cost of diesel fuel: $195.57. That’s the highway trip plus farting around in Disney World. The annual pass gets you free parking at all the parks, so having the car with me means I can go when and where I want and it’s not an extra expense. I started out from Baltimore on a full tank. Just over the South Carolina border is Dillon. In Dillon they have the best prices on diesel on I-95 between Baltimore and Key West. Half a tank gets me from Baltimore to Dillon. Another 2/3 tank gets me to Disney World. There are reasonably priced Hess stations in the park, one of which (the one on the way out of Magic Kingdom) sells diesel. So I fill up before coming back, hit Dillon again, and that gets me home.
Even though you don’t have to stop as often for fuel, when it’s bug season you still have to pull up to the pumps just as often to clean off your windshield. But that’s fine because it’s good to take a break. I have a Flying-J loyalty card that gets me breaks on coffee and snacks. So whenever I have to make a Clean The Glass stop I refill my coffee mug and hit the bathrooms, which are usually cleaner at the Flying-J travel plazas than the highway rest stops are.
So a short trip to Walt Disney World was do-able. And now that I’m back and all the housework I’d been planning to do with my stay-at-home vacation is still staring me in the face it was worth it. Sometime later this summer, after my niece graduates, I’ll do a longer stay at a nicer in park hotel. It’ll be dead of summer then…just right for fun in the water parks.
April 3rd, 2013
Without Shame What Good Is Marriage?
by Bruce |
Via Andrew Sullivan…Mark Oppenheimer, who thinks same-sex marriage might just pass muster as long as we still get to stigmatize someone…if not the homosexuals…
So here’s my question to Douthat, Maggie Gallagher, Ross Douthat Brian Brown, the world of conservative evaneglical preachers, and others who are so concerned about same-sex marriage: What does it do your perception of Ronald Reagan that he was a divorcé—and in being the first divorced president certainly helped remove any last shreds of stigma? Would you have voted against him for that reason—as many would have in 1952? Would you discourage people from listening to radio hosts who have divorces in their past (Limbaugh, Dennis Prager), or voting for divorcés like John McCain? If our goal is to work our way back to 1950 Marriage, how are we going to re-stigmatize divorce for wealthy white people? How are we going to make their divorces seem unseemly? In 1950, when a divorced woman moved into the neighborhood, people whispered about her. Are we prepared to whisper again?
As they used to say back in the day…matter of fact as some of my elementary school teachers used to say to my face…I’m the product of a broken home. Oddly, I would not have known my home was “broken” had it not been for so many helpful adults back in the day. Kids hear those whispers too Oppenheimer. But that’s part of the fun isn’t it?
Here’s my problem with shaming divorcees..
That’s my dad under that sheet. Mom divorced him when I was two and raised me herself. And but for the fact that mine was a household with a single divorced women at the head of it, you might even say that I was raised in a good Baptist home. But for that one fact. I remember how mom was treated back in those days. I remember how she raised me by setting an example. Never mind church. Yes I got taken to church. She never cheated anyone, never took advantage, never said anything about anyone in my presence she wouldn’t have said to their face, never drank or uttered a curse word in my presence, paid her bills, lived frugally (well…we had to…) kept her promises and when she passed away people in the town she retired to would come up to me on the street and tell me what a ray of sunshine she always was. But no…it was a shameful thing being a divorced woman. The head of my household growing up should have been the crook. Why, I might not be homosexual if my father had been there. A boy needs a father, and better to grow up learning how to rob people of their savings than to be a homosexual. Provided of course I share some of the loot with a few conservative think tanks.
Dad, let it be said, was always nice to me, and nice to mom. To other people…not so much. And mom loved him until the day she died. But she knew better than to let me be raised by him. Let me tell you a brief little story about that. When I was a teenager dad was earning a semi-honest living driving trucks and cargo around the country. More about that “semi-honest” part in a bit. One summer mom felt comfortable enough letting dad take me with him on one of his cross-country runs and one afternoon we stopped somewhere to eat and rest up a bit. I chowed down in the restaurant and Dad went into the bar next door. He came back, sat across the table from me and with a cheerful smile pushed some papers and a pen across the table at me and asked me to make a mark on the dotted line. I must have raised an eyebrow. Just make a mark there, he said. You want me to sign it, I asked? No…just scribble something. So I’m the obedient son and I did it, and he took the pen and papers back, folded them up and put them in his jacket pocket and smiled warmly at me and said, “You just made your dad five-hundred bucks.”
Aw gee Dad…
So I have this…hunch…that if he had remained the God Ordained Head Of The Household like he was God Ordained supposed to be I probably would not be the sort of person I am now, capable of passing the background check I could so I could be doing the work I do now at Space Telescope. Still, he was my dad and I loved him all the same and I feel these bitter little smiles come out of me whenever I hear some jackass homophobe saying that you can love people without sanctioning their behavior. You don’t say? Know something about that do you? And one day when my brother and I discovered he had no stone for his grave I bought him one, and my brother paid to have it placed, and it reads “Beloved Father” because sometimes you do things not because of what was, but because of what ought to have been.
I have never regretted mom’s divorce. Regretted dad couldn’t have been a better dad, but I suppose he actually did the best he could, the best that was within him to do, and he loved his sons and his wives (he married again…and…divorced again…) as much as it was within him to love anyone. But without a doubt was absolutely for the best for both mom and me that I was not raised by him. And piss on you Oppenheimer, if you think whispering shame at divorcees is a good thing. Never dawns on the likes of you that divorce might actually be a good thing does it? Never dawns on the likes of you that the shame you throw at single mothers is felt by their children does it? We’re just collateral damage in your little culture war aren’t we?
Here’s the problem with jackass social conservatives like him…they seem not to be able to function socially without a bunch of arbitrary rules that can never be questioned lest they get utterly lost in the human relationship thicket. They have no idea what the rules are for, other than they’re there to prop up some sort of civilized behavior, the reason for which they have no clue whatsoever. Homosexuality is shameful because it’s against the rules. Divorce is shameful because it is against the rules. The rules are Very Important because without them we wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to behave toward our neighbors.
I have a wee suggestion. Instead of shaming divorce, how about we shame spouse abuse. How about we shame cheating. How about we shame not setting a good example for children. How about we shame not taking care of children. Ah…but spouse abuse was never one of the rules…was it? Women having to submit gracefully and all. And children…the only thing they’re good for is a reason why same-sex couples can’t get married and women can’t own their own bodies. It’s not like we give a good goddamn about their health or feeding or educating them.
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com