410. Stadium Seat Cushion

“I’m a people pleaser, you know. I hate confrontations and avoid conflicts. Like, if I get charged the wrong price at Walmart, I won’t confront the cashier. I just suck it up and get mad at myself instead of the wrong price or the cashier. What’s wrong with me?  I can’t handle hurting others’ feelings, but I can crush my own.”

“You are a stadium seat cushion.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Well, stadium seating is cheap and durable but not comfortable. So there is an after market for cushions to make the stadium experience less painful, you know, like a pillow on a park bench?”

“Yes! I get the concept. What does it have to do with me?”

“Oh, you see others in distress or discomfort and you throw yourself between their butts and their pain, like a stadium seat cushion, I mean a high quality memory foam covered dense Styrofoam cushion. Top quality with a nice logo like Penn State or the Steelers. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.”

“So I’m a butt buffer for others am I?”

“Yep. And a very good one, consensus Hall of Famer first ballot.”

“You have a way of pissing me off and making me laugh at the same time, damn it!”

“It’s a gift.”

“Seriously, I do throw myself in between people and their pain. All the out reach programs I am involved with… somehow I want to alleviate others’ suffering. But why? I’ll make myself miserable to make others happy.”

“Well, let’s see. Did anyone do this for you when you were struggling?”

“No, not really. I felt abandoned and neglected, which are awful feelings. I wondered why no one would come to my rescue, not even God. I figured I was too damaged, not worth their efforts. Shame silenced me. I  did not want to ask anyone else for help so that I did not attract more attention to my  pitiful state. Eventually I learned to do things by myself, with a vengeance. Don’t ever tell me I can’t do something. You’ll regret it. I’ll prove you wrong.”

“Sounds like you do good things for not so good reasons.”

“What?  I help single moms put clothes on their babies. I help hungry people find affordable food. I…”

“I know what you do. That’s the front end of the statement. The back end is the kicker, though. Why do you do these things? ”

“I told you: to alleviate the suffering of innocent, helpless people.”

“And yet it seems like you are trying to alleviate your own childhood and adolescent suffering, as if your good deeds today could somehow cross over time and assuage the aching heart of your eight year old self.”

[TEARS and HUFFING] “No, you are wrong. I can’t stand by and let others suffer or charge them a fee to alleviate their pain like you do.”

“Ouch! So now I’m the psychic predator who preys on helpless folks with insurance.”

“I didn’t mean that. It’s just that I can’t walk away from needy folks who need so much….”

“Because there is some boundary issue?”

“Well, they get under my skin and in my head. I can barely sleep when I do help out.”

“So you will work harder to solve others’ problems than the actual owners of the problems work?”

“Sometimes, maybe, okay. I have once or a dozen times. What’s wrong with caring excessively?”

“The excess part. When caring turns into indulging the other, you are not helping. Cradle to grave welfare becomes slavery not help.”

“So your answer is to dispose of the people, just let them go cold or hungry…”

“Please, just a moment without nuclear defenses. You know the old saying ‘Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime’?”

Image result for man and boy with a fish picture

“Yes, it’s lame. Not everyone eats fish.”

“I don’t. Allergic reaction to fish oil. Ever hear  this one, ‘But man does not live on bread alone.’ ?”

“Oh, no, you’re gonna go all religious on me now.”

“No, in completely secular terms, if you feed and clothe and house everyone you meet on the street, many of them will be back in days if not hours, because they need more than bread, clothes, or shelter. They need hope, meaning and purpose.”Image result for homeless folks picture

“Now you’re gonna play the God card.”

“No, I’m playing the human nature card. We can leave the Divine out of this discussion for the moment. Humans struggle to maintain their environment, even if that is a lean to under a bridge. Swooping in to put that homeless guy in a shelter may not work. Bringing canned meat and vegetables to a chronic alcoholic will likely be met with contempt.  Do some of your kids clothes shoppers complain about colors or styles?”

“Yeah, and that really pisses me off.”

“Why? Humans want what they want; not necessarily what you are graciously offering them.”

“Ingrates are thankless selfish takers.”

“Yep, they don’t see the big picture as they move from cradle to grave on someone else’s nickel.”

“Sometimes I just want to kick them in the ass and tell them to get out… but I do it for the kids. They appreciate the clothes or toys or food even if their stupid parents don’t.”

“Gratitude is powerful stuff.”Image result for gratitude images

“What do you mean?”

“I mean if you focus on what you have and savor it, treasure it even, then you won’t be envying what others have that is newer or shinier or costlier.”

“Okaaaay. Is there some cosmic lesson in this? I feel like you are trying to give me an epiphany or something Greek.”

“Epiphanies are kinder than enemas, Grasshoppa. What I’m so subtly suggesting is that if you seize upon your current blessings and just bathe in them here and now, you will not feel so compelled to fix others. Your, ready for this one?, existential constipation will diminish, and you will laugh, smile and joke more.”

“That’s it? No secret word?”

“Well, I do have one secret word.”

“And that would be….?”

“PRAY.”

“I knew it!!! Back to God!!!”

“Sort of hard to keep Him hidden, dontcha think?”

“Duh!”

 

 

 

 

210. Lost

The only news story on any network is the missing Malaysian plane with 239 human beings on board and the mysteries involved thereto. Could it be terrorism or mechanical failure or a kidnapping by…well, who knows? Or could it be the beginning of a new reality t.v. show? Where are the creators of Lost and Survivor? J.J. Abrams and Mark Burnett.  Where are they and have they been interrogated, or, God forbid, kidnapped and forced to write scripts that real life perpetrators are orchestrating in real time? And what about Gilligan’s Island? Instead of a boat, we now have a plane. Still there’s a captain and a first mate. Likely there was at least one millionaire and his wife on board. A professor? Sure. A movie star?  My burritospecial sources are checking. And Mary Ann. Not there yet. Anderson Cooper has his staff researching this as well as Asian equivalents of Mary Ann and Maryanne and Marianne. I do hope that these folks come home, though it seems quite unlikely after a week has passed. This is not about the victims, may they rest in peace. Rather, I’m struck by the media frenzy and what has become the endless perseverating on hot topics in the 24 hour news era.

I don’t remember when it all started, the endless looping of video with dramatic voice overs. I’m thinking the Challenger disaster was an early example in 1986. Everyone over age 20 has the 9/11 imagery burned into their brains now. We were remotely traumatized.  Since then there was the tsunami, the Haitian earthquake, Katrina, Stormageddon, the Arab spring, the Boston bombers, and on and on and on it drones. Newsworthy? Sure, but worthy of being forever tattooed on millions of brains against our wills? No.

In the 19th century Karl Marx claimed that religion was the opiate of the masses. Karl, news flash:  It’s the news junkies who are the opiates of the masses nowadays. Each talking head seems to be strung out on speculation heroin that just isn’t strong enough to get that old 9/11 or Iraq War buzz. So they jack up both dosage and frequency, further and further dramatizing fairly simple news stories….

“Anderson, I’m talking with the bus driver who might remember picking up the bombers about six or seven years ago in Watertown on their way to middle school. Walter Hunsecker of Waltham is the driver’s name. Here’s what he said yesterday.”

[“Yeah, I’m sure it was them. They had the same backpacks on. I’m sure of it.”]

“But Anderson, later when the police interviewed Mr. Hunsecker, he identified an age reduced photo of Amelia Earhart as the older brother and in another photo gallery picked out Steven Tyler of Aerosmith in his high school yearbook picture as the younger brother, leading some to speculate that it was a cleverly perpetrated ruse by Islamic separatists in Chechneya trying to throw the Boston police off the scent. Mr. Hunsecker also claimed to be the Boston Strangler before he was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a mental exam.”

“Uh, uh, thank you, Trudy Warped, for that incredibly disturbing and possibly crucial puzzle piece in this ginormous mystery unfolding between commercials. We’ve got it covered, across the country and around the globe here at CNN. Um, where’s that James Earl Jones voice over? I miss that.

Off camera(“THIS IS CNN” in God’s voice.)

Thanks, guys. I love that bass. It’s right up there with Barry White. Uh, so, when we come back after a break, I will be interviewing Bill Murray, who as you might recall was one of the original Ghostbusters, about his insights into that green blob on Malaysian radar screens. Some say it’s a cloud, but we’ll drill down on this conundrum with one of last century’s iconic comic geniuses who has not molested any children yet, after this.”

{COMMERCIALS…5 minutes of COMMERCIALS because we have to pay for the endless stream of nauseating guests in panels of four and five, their make up and hair, their expenses, and their books, which all seem to be hawking, and the on site reporting from Micronesia to the Antarctic.}

“So, Bill, um, it seems eerily similar to the original Ghostbusters plot that some green protoplasm just suddenly shows up on Malaysian radar screens and then a fully loaded Boeing 777 goes missing without a trace.”

“Anderson, it’s sad. But if you recall in Caddyshack–‘

“I’m sorry, Bill, we have breaking news coming in from Kuala Lumpur… it’s Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, what’s it like on the ground there? I hear all sorts of popping and crackling. What’s going on? Is this some sort of Malaysian Islamic uprising?”

“Anderson, no, we are all safe. A big shout out to Bill Murray. Bill, as you know, I’m a big fan of your work, especially What About Bob? I thought you nailed that character.”

“Thanks, Wolf. I have always appreciated your keen assessment of both foreign crises and domestic talent.”

“Anderson, this entire scenario of multiple scenarios is reminiscent of Bill’s Groundhog Day.”

“Yeah, Wolf, I’m seeing the parallels all over the place. Do you think I can get any royalties, cuz this is life imitating art, so to speak. If you recall, I was a disheartened t.v. weatherman stuck in an endless time loop where every day was a repeat of itself… until I learned my exit strategy and swallowed the wisdom pill as my last resort, as Phil Connors, that is.”

“Yes, Bill, brilliant analysis as usual. And, Bill, if I might add– though I’m one of the few news junkies who is not a former attorney, I think you have a good case for royalties here. Also, I think it’s uncanny how we have repeated the same news loop for seven freakin’ days now. Remember in the movie Speed, where the authorities looped the bus video to fool the hijacker?”

“Yes, that was Sandra Bullock’s breakout movie, where she was forced to drive the bus? Wolf, are you suggesting another tie in here?  Or should I say Thai inn? Like Bangkok, yuk, yuk.”

“Bill, you’ve still got it.”

“Well, fellas, it’s time for another break before we break for more breaking news. Right back atcha! I’ll be talking with Jimmy Fallon about his thoughts on Bill Murray’s theories about Flight 370.”