379.Unglued

Unbelievable. My second vinyl fake wood floor is letting go of the subfloor again, and I am getting perturbed, which is a combination of per(fume) and turb(ulent), i.e., turbulent smelling, in the Australian dialect, “Crikey Mate, don’t maaahke may explaaain.” I am mystified yet again why flooring adhesive that is universally accepted by other subfloors and composite vinyl floor products refused to bond in my office hallway. It’s not in vitro fertilization here. It’s basically just a big peanut butter sandwich on the floor… but the peanut butter is mysteriously disintegrating. What?>>>??

I imagine the chipper sales guy at the big flooring store is going to have to get tough and throw down on this one. He was quite accommodating on the first floor failure, a regular Guy Smiley. “Hey, it happens now and then. Chet probably didn’t let the glue set up long enough. We all make mistakes. Sorry about the inconvenience.” I’m thinking that this time it won’t go as gently and he will have to blame the customer for crimes against plywood substrates or something just as ludicrous. He’ll probably send out his fixer dude, like the Mafia does, to clean up messes with a lot of bleach.

“Hi, Lawrenc Proctor, from CSI… ” chews audibly on spearmint gum, “Customer Service Intervention. Friends call me Larrrrry. Enemies don’t call.  Heh, heh. After  a cursorory inspection, I can see clearly that your building has excess moisture and/or vapors that seep into our very reliable products. Bottom line is this: the failure of the adhesive to bond is exclusively on your side of the equation, my man. See, my company has paid two unrelated guys to install quality flooring twice already. We can’t go three.” Demonstrates with fingers next to a menacing face.

Continues, “Makes me wonder if we don’t have Munchausen’s vinyl floor syndrome. Ever hear of it? Only known cure is full exposure to the light of truth.”

“I’m aware of Munchausen’s Disorder and Munchausen’s by proxy. Both involve the  factitious presentation of illness in order to gain unjustified attention from high status medical personnel. What on earth does that have to do with your flooring not sticking twice?”

“I think you do know what’s up, Doc. I am a doctor too, in a manner of speaking. Floor doctor.  Flooring people are drawn to my aura like moths to flame.  But the flame is hot, let me tell you.”

Whipping around dramatically with a finger in my face, “Did you spray a silicone product on your floor prior to the first installation. You installed the subfloor, right?”

“No! I mean, Yes! I did install the subfloor, but your own installer actually complimented my subflooring installation. I know in my spleen that’s not the problem. No, I did not spray anything on it. Besides, why would I sabotage my own floor for which I paid your imbecilic company $800?”

“Simple: Attention. You work alone all day. I’m sure it gets hard and lonely at times, huh Buddy? You’d like to hang out with the big dogs, right?  Maybe write your own blog. I get it… but there are healthier ways to relate to flooring professionals. You could go to the annual conference in Rochester, just for starters.”

“I can’t believe this. Don’t start patronizing me, Larry. You are welcome to inspect my subfloor after you remove your second sucky vinyl floor application. Munchausen’s!! Unbelievable!”

“Lemme tell you why that’s not going to happen. I believe you know that the silicone would have been absorbed in the first layer of vinyl and left a residue that polluted the seal of the second. You are good, Mr. Burrito. Crazy good, leaving no evidence except the faint scent of WD40, which I detected as soon as I reached the top step here. Ahh, yes, the almost perfect flooring deception. You nearly pulled it off.”

“I’m willing to grant that one of us is insane, but I’m not surrendering to that label just yet, okay? Ever hear of Lawsuit Syndrome? It happens when a jerk contractor  defrauds his customer and tries to slink away from contractual obligations and product warrantees. It’s only known cure is expensive litigation in court.”

“Now, let’s not get testy here, sir. No need to get upset. I’m sure our regional manager can help you reach resolution to your problem. He’s in our Harrisburg office, next to the state hospital, and I ‘m sure he’d be glad to meet you up there or at the coffee shop of the hospital, just off Second Street and Chestnut.”

“No. You are not going to pawn me off onto someone else who lies better than you do. What is he? A floor surgeon or a floor psychiatrist? Here’s what’s gonna happen:  You are going to replace my floor and get it right or else refund my money and I’ll have a competent floor installer do the job. Or we can do this in court over an expensive lawsuit with court costs that you will pay. This is not my first rodeo with a bad business dude.”

“Are you threatening me? You need to know that I have a permit to carry and discharge a 50,000 volt Tazer. If I were you, I’d stop resisting.”

“Okay, that’s it! I’m calling the police. And I need to warn you that I am carrying idiot spray, also known as bug and hornet foaming pesticide. I can accurately shoot a disabling jet stream within a two inch target radius from 22 feet, Larry. Draw!!”

Before the crackles and zaps of Larry Tazer even began to sputter, I had hit him with a liquid ounce of Spectracide Wasp and Hornet spray at the bridge of his nose. Predictably he began to gasp and cry that he was blinded and could not breathe. I grabbed him by his ear and he begged for mercy. “Take me to the hospital, man, for the love of God!”

I told him to take a message back to his boss– “Larry Proctor does not sleep with the fishes… yet. Don’t send fools to do a wise guy’s work.”

Baron Burrito von Munchausen

 

 

368. Porn Eyes

A provocative title, yes. Sadly it’s a common reality for many men of all races and demographics that they are porn addicts. Can’t live through a day without a mind numbing hit of deadly eye candy. Like any narcotic or other compulsive behavior, the pleasure thrill leaves early on in the unholy hajj toward the heights of heavenly bliss. The addict’s creeping eyesight is corrupted by a toxic mind that constantly hungers for another shot of porn. In psychic sand storms, beautiful naked images are mindlessly devoured like so many potato chips, peanuts, or any other junk food binge vehicle. The thrill is gone, man, so taboo themes creep in to super charge plain old sex, similar to how one spices up plain chips and dip as the taste buds retreat. You know, you can’t taste salt after your taste buds are over salinated. This is not news. It goes back beyond Sodom and Gomorrah, cuz those dudes were already good at perversion by then. That was not their first rodeo.

“You are the salt of the earth”, said Jesus. “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Overconsumption does not lead anyone to appreciation. Rather it creates the gross state of numb boredom and waste.

It’s a shame, a Great Dismal Swamp of Shame, that men who have gorgeous, sexy wives will self gratify and slowly alienate their legitimate, available, and willing love partners. Instead of growing a garden of intimate bliss and planting vines of deep sensuality, these dead-eyed men strip down vibrant sexual subjectivity into its inanimate objective parts. Their fantasized playmates have no names or personality; they only have parts… like car parts– cams, pistons, fenders, carburetors– that do not connect into one, God-made love partner. They become cyborg robots in emotional junkyards, replacing parts. All day long they replace parts. Or act like reductionist chemists who reduce a tomato into 32 lifeless components.

See, it’s easier, so much easier to exchange parts than to engage the breathing, thinking, feeling whole person in an atmosphere of patient love. Such fullness requires more work than any poker game; whereas porn is simply a broken down man hypnotically slamming a broken down slot machine expecting something different, as he pulls the handle and watches the images spin. Uh oh, you lose again… because you cannot win this or any other addiction game. Every time you use, the goal posts move farther away as your spirit deflates further.

I remember a gang of boys in high school who stole cars; parked them in nearby woods; and then stripped the wheels, tires, stereo systems and any easily removed accessory from the raped automotive carcass. Eventually they were caught and prosecuted. Turns out one of the cars they had stolen belonged to a government employee whose national security-linked computer was locked in the trunk. The Big Boys of law enforcement helped local cops bust the gang of thieves. Just like porn addicts, these gangsters did not know how valuable the whole was. They just saw replaceable parts and greedily pulled them off stolen cars like hyenas rip apart a fallen zebra.

Are you sad yet? This plague is tragic because it does not have to be. Are there more porn addicts or alcoholics? Porn by a long shot. Google Porn Addiction Statistics  and then Alcoholics Statistics and prepare to be blown away by hurricanes of disgust. God made human sexuality in all its glorious complexity; simply disgraceful men made pornography, which is the corruption of beauty and love. The root word of pornography is Greek, porne, which meant prostitute. Graphy still means writing, but nowadays it means documenting with video. Likewise, Porn still conjures up the viral spirit of prostitution.

Porn is easy to find but hard to lose. Graphic carnal knowledge and ecstatic imagery is a mouse click away today, my friends. In my youth it was magazines in the woods that had been smuggled out of some kid’s father’s stash. You had to work hard to see the forbidden fruit in those patinated days. Expropriated magazines radiated more than plutonium in trash bags hidden in a hole covered by leaves. If a porno Geiger counter were available, one could find the stash by listening to the beep-beep-beep rising in pitch and frequency. The magnetic display needle would slam against the highest setting as the sex detective scanned the woods where young boys played with plastic guns and sticks and Playboys. Invisible energy leeched out, seeped out, wafted out of the trash bag container poisoning young male minds. Rotting carnality just an arm’s length away, the shiny nude photographs eroded innocence as surely as cancer erodes whatever it touches. Objects outside of any relationship, culture, or code jump out at the viewer– an oyster nailed to a tree; an owl flying through a hospital ward; a baby in prison. Impossible to unlook or forget these images once tattooed on a revolted conscience.

We knew some dads even had 16mm porn movies, but that was way too complicated to attempt rigging up.  We knew about the drive-in on Palmer Highway. Triple X movies were all they showed. I blogged about that adolescent, rooftop experience in an earlier post. The triple X porn movie on the drive-in screen was not memorable, however. The wild police chase and narrow escape with my buddies was etched into my grey memory matter. I smile and savor old memories like that one. On the other hand, the porn addict is haunted by his old violations and perversities, unshared and utterly alone. And that is another aspect of porn use that is not immediately understood– it isolates the addict from real intimacy and isolates him from himself. Instead of connecting to others deeply, the addict uses airbrushed images of perfect others to remain perfectly disconnected. The shame cycle is simply ramped up by repeated failure to escape the addiction. Self disgust mounts and more porn is used to escape the negative emotions caused by the addiction to begin with. Pornography strip mines the soul’s majestic mountains.

And just in case you think that church doors filter out streaming porn from genuflecting male minds, the stats are just as bleak for Christian men. Viruses don’t care if you go to church, and Porn is a billion dollar virus industry.

 

364. Super Size Me, Dude

Rusty did not set out to work the drive thru window at the Happy Burger in town. He had bigger dreams. No one dreams of working fast food, do they? So it’s safe to say that the drive thru window was his second worst nightmare. Kids he had graduated with and other folks in town drove up, and he had to smile then happily hand them their Happy Burger meal, smiling insipidly above the deep dread he felt. He chose the third shift to reduce his exposure to such social shame. But the inner revulsion rose up anyway, against gravity like a wave of acid reflux, gagging him much too often. He had suggested to management that the staff wear happy clown masks, hoping to hide behind a company provided clown mask instead of his own recognizable face. “Shame, shame, it’s a damn shame what my life done became”, he muttered to himself like some ridiculous rap line.

He was smarter than this and smart enough to know that smarts don’t count as much as family connections and money and wisdom. Those college prep classes, the AP, the advanced track, he took many of them and held his own, never once imagining that one day he’d stare into the deep fryer watching frozen French fries boil up in super heated peanut oil. His dreams were likewise deep fried and floated up, golden brown– so many dead fish, chicken wings or fries. He remembered getting A’s in chemistry class and physics, pointless now… “Shame, shame, it’s a damn shame what my life done became.”

Rusty knew it was not grammatically correct, but he didn’t care any more about rules and order, manners or limits, even law. Chaos had blown his illusion of control to smithereens.  Bits of his expectations littered the break room like shrapnel. He’d once memorized the periodic table of elements in his junior year. The only element that held any interest for him nowadays was plutonium, named for the Roman god of death. He was past dying; he was dead, walking dead. Zombiefied. Embalmed with the toxic liquor of his misfortune, like drinking Captain Morgan out of a corpse’s boot. The oxy’s, he found, took the edge off of shame, reducing life to a mere sham.

He got her pregnant. It’s just that simple. One biological fact threw two, no three, okay, maybe twenty lives into the industrial strength blender on puree. Chaos turbocharged the two of them. They were both in college prep and had a lot going right in their lives. They were bright and optimistic, glowing with the beauty of late adolescence–Radiant hair, teeth and skin, firm muscular bodies. Irresistible, and they did not resist many impulses. Faster and faster the unsustainable Whirling Dervish ride went. Time and money they did not have were squandered. At least those were measurable. All the emotions that vaporized over that furious year could not be counted or contained. Boundaries were crossed, no, leaped across headlong like the obstacle course at Ft. Benning, after Rusty enlisted to get the security package available no where else. Private Steele, first class. It was something, some place to start.

“Beep, beep, beep” the fry timer screeches to his numb mind. Never mind, never mind. The baby accelerated adult life, couldn’t wait. He raced the baby to graduation, marrying Tiffany, and becoming a father all in the same month, June 1992. The year Hell opened up and demons darkened his skies. Totally black now.

An anesthesiologist, yep, that was the target. It was high status and medically necessary and very lucrative. Plus, it just sounded so cool to say at a cocktail party. “And what field are you in, Rusty?” “Oh me? I’m an anesthesiologist.” Seven silky syllables in one sexy word. “The last person you see before your surgery, you know? It’s dicey, though. They put their lives in my hands, but they don’t all make it back from dreamland, you know?” Dr. Kevorkian was all the talk back then. He wanted, even demanded, assisted suicide be granted a legal guarantee. Rusty had disagreed with Kevorkian back then; but these days he thought it was pretty darn appealing. Why not?  When the unenlightened townies drove up yelling, “Super Size Me, Dude!”, he wanted to scream back “Minimize Me, Dude”. ‘I don’t want to be here anymore. Hook me up with morphine and leave me in the walk in freezer’ he thought he thought.

Some days he’d stomp into the walk in and punch bags of frozen French fries, and pound his sweaty head onto rigid patties of beef. The revulsion gurgled at the back of his throat, threatening to spew out. He could feel the grease on the soles of his shoes begin to congeal in the subzero temperature of the freezer. No one could hear him scream, “Super Size Me, God!! I can’t take this existence any longer. Kill me!”

Things looked good for him in the Army. College was still possible and his superiors liked him, recognized his abilities. He was finding a path in all the deep weeds ahead of him. And then Tiffany grew distant. Sure, they were both immature but coping as new parents, along with lots of help from his mom and hers. And surprisingly his own father stepped up and made himself available to them, far more than he’d ever done so with Rusty. Despite all the help or perhaps because of it, Tiffany demanded time out and away, fun time for her. “Girls just wanna have fun” times, she’d say.  There was more to it. Rusty had little experience with girls in his young life, but he knew something odd was afoot. Someone else’s feet were walking across his fragile marriage and slipping shoes under his marriage bed. He just didn’t know whose feet yet.

The night of the atomic bomb blast was burned onto the back of his eyelids, inescapable and beyond comprehension. Tiffany, his own father, the silent lies that wove together under a disgusting quilt of putrid truth. Incest: the unthinkable had become the unbearable. By then he’d broken his foot and been discharged, rejected by his Uncle Sam as a hopeless cripple. So as he locked the freezer door behind him and lay down with a can of starter fluid, it all seemed so poetic. He recalled Prufrock’s Lovesong from AP English, “Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table…” He huffed the ether, knowing he’d lapse into unconsciousness immediately. He uttered his own pathetic poem to frozen chicken fingers, “Shame, shame, it’s a damn shame what my life done became.”

…. Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

347. DARKLY

 

We tied fishing rigs for the morning, sure to hit the bluefish that feed voraciously in the Cheasepeake Bay.  Point Lookout, Maryland had been used as a prison camp for the Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.  Hard to imagine now.  It was just a narrow spit of land that jutted into the dark bay water. No signs of tortured troops and squalid conditions from the old days. A lot of men died here from neglect and exposure to the elements.  Nowadays there is no evidence that anything unpleasant ever occurred on these shores.

“That’s Virginia on the other side,” said Cork with as much authority as he could muster.  The fishing trip was his idea.  It was his boat, his truck, his tent, and so forth.  I had never been out on the water, so I accepted the invitation and everything else at face value.  Foolishly, as I would later discover.  But on that warm Friday night in August, the upcoming fishing trip seemed like a sharp memory in the making.   We had worked together painting houses and barns all summer.  This was a reward and a chance to build another area of friendship. Cork and his son Biff had been here many times before, and they enjoyed putting into practice the rules and tips of their recently completed boating safety course.  So I thought.

Around 10 p.m. we decided it would be exciting to go for a short ride on the bay.  There was no moon. The bay was calm and smooth.  We shoved off under the orange glow of the mercury vapor light at the end of our dock.  It felt a bit eerie to me, casting off into the black sky on the black water, sort of what I imagined crossing the River Styx might be like in Greek myths.  Quiet, to be sure, but not safe.  I felt as if there were fish beneath us that could be as large as our little 18 foot Bayliner.  Maybe a sea monster or two.  The fact that we had no lights on the little boat did not seem to be an issue as we put out into deep water.  Captain Cork was in command.

We cruised the bay for an hour or two.  It was fabulous.  I lay down on my back to watch the stars glide overhead.  Every once in a while we checked our poles, but not a single bite.  I lost track of the time and our location.  I never doubted the seaworthy skipper who, by the way, had grown up next to a cornfield in a landlocked county in Pennsylvania.  Not a problem when you are as smart as our skipper.  The intellect is a fine thing when it is not caught in a net of pride and self deceit. It must have been midnight or near 1:00 a.m. when we decided to head back to our familiar dock with the orange mercury vapor light. No problem.  “We’ll just head back in now, fellas,” said Cork matter-of-factly.

That’s when the fabulous dream turned into a harrowing nightmare.  It started slowly and innocently enough.  “Is this Virginia…” asked Captain Cork hesitantly, and then pointing across the miles of dark bay waters, “or is that?”

“Which direction are we headed in?”  I asked.  “If we’re going south, then Virginia will be on our left, the other side of the bay.”

“Hell, if I knew which direction we were headed in, I wouldn’t have to ask you!” declared Cork with a bit of tension and disgust rising in his voice.

“Don’t you have a map or compass?”  I asked.

“Yeah, but they’re back in the truck.  I forgot to put them in the boat.”

Biff calmly pointed to the orange glow emanating from what I was coming to believe was north.  “Isn’t that the dock light up there on the left?  I remember we pulled out from there and circled the bay a few times, but that’s it.”

“Can’t be.  This is Virginia we’re looking at.”  Then he spied a faint dot of orange on the other shoreline, miles away.  “I’m afraid that is our dock light over there.”

I asked, “Well, what are we going to do?  Can we call the Coast Guard on the radio?  Maybe they’ll be in the area and set us straight.”

“No.  I’ll get written up for no lights and no maps,” responded Cork.  “Son of a bitch!”

Now Cork’s anger had kicked in.  It was quite familiar to Biff and me.  On land it was manageable; you  could walk away and generally not have to deal with it.  It was different here.  Here in the dark Cork was at the helm, in control of the boat though not of his own emotions.  A stream of angry epithets preceded him gunning the throttle as we roared toward what he believed was Maryland in the distance. 

I was terrified.  We were literally racing in the dark.  I took our camp flashlight and moved to the front of the boat.  I could see pelicans coming at us like spooks from Hell.  Somewhere I knew there were old target practice ships that the Navy airplanes shot at.  And I recalled seeing the occasional netting strung around telephone poles as some kind of breeding area or hatchery.  Any one of these things could destroy our little boat that was speeding along under the angry blindness of Captain Ahab. Image result for dark water at night pictures

As we raced across the bay, the little orange dot became fainter instead of stronger.  Soon it was gone from sight. “Damn it!”  And various other expletives were hurled at no one in particular, the gods, I supposed.  Cork was often adamant in his agnosticism.  Others’ sins kept him out of church the past twenty five years.  “Goddamn hypocrites!”

I was becoming a believer, a scared believer as we raced back to the previous shoreline.  Maybe we could figure out where we were by a boat registration or a sign on a dock.  Maybe we could even meet someone on the shore and ask for directions.  Maybe one of us could get off the boat and knock on someone’s door at 2:00 a.m.  “Excuse me, is this Maryland or Virginia?  You see we’re lost and really stupid.”

After perhaps an hour and a half of frustration and terror, Cork finally quit.  He angrily surrendered the helm to Biff.  “If you think you’re so goddamn smart, go ahead!”  Biff quietly motored the boat toward the original marker.  Sure enough it was our dock.  The same dock Biff had identified two hours earlier, before the mad scramble in the darkness had begun.  I was relieved that reason had prevailed over anger.  I had already resigned myself to staying out on the water till daybreak.  At least we would not get hurt this way.   Image result for dock light at night pictures

I guess this is just one more example of anger limiting one’s intelligence.  When we get angry we get stupid, stubborn and stuck.  I have had several clients who seem to be driving an unworthy craft through the dark of night, directionless, angry and very, very lost.  Instead of seeking the light and the right direction, they seem to angrily toy with the unforgiving dark.

 But not us, Bogmateys. We are scrupulously careful navigators of life. Dark pride never crosses our stride, right?

 

343. Immigration Quilt

Some folks call me liberal; others call me conservative. My twin brothers-in-law, for instance, call me lots of names while playing chess. I think I’m consliberal or conliberative, a mixture of many threads. Both individual and communal minded. I like free enterprise and capitalism, it’s just that human beings suck and lie, cheat, steal, defraud, plunder, rape, pillage… you get the point. Therefore, we need a government entity to protect the community from the uber wolves who have no conscience. We also need government because we suck at being good citizens. Left to my own devices, I would not drive the speed limit nor get my car inspected nor pay taxes in a timely manner. Nor would you, comrade. I might shoot the neighbor’s barking dog at three in the morning after listening to it all night. Fish and hunt when and where I felt like it. Make my own rules as I went along. Still, we need productive citizens who make money and pay taxes in order to have a government that in turn protects us from foreign and domestic threats. But this is not my point, it’s just intro blather.

Lately the political/news porn lens focus has been on migrants. It’s not a new fear about the foreigners, the different ones. Way back when, it was the Catholic and the Jew who were feared and despised. Then it was the Eastern Europeans and then Asians and then Central Americans… all coming to  destroy our perfect union, which has never been perfect. Somehow these unwashed savage despicables were going to take our jobs, our land, and our women, which never really worked out, and in any event our ancestors took all of that from the Native People just after they hit the shores.

Anyway, talking with Gary after Sunday School this morning, he mentioned having had new citizens to his lovely home over Thanksgiving. “It was neat. Here we were eating Thanksgiving dinner with immigrants.”

“Gary, unless you are Native American, you’re an immigrant too. You just had a head start.”

“Yeah, I guess so. I just don’t know about the immigrants who don’t want to assimilate to our culture, you know, and want to stay in their own closed off enclaves.”

éåìä ÷åìáøâ

“You mean like the Amish, the fundamental Mormons, the Shakers, the Hassidic Jews in Brooklyn, the Klan, the Branch Davidians, or drag queens, or gypsies, or…”

“No, I was thinking about these Muslims. They don’t want to assimilate and I can’t see how they can want to be Americans and at the same time work against being an American. You know, try to bend our country into an Islamic state.”

“I hear you. Everyone seems to have an agenda, but what I like about our country is that it’s like this huge quilt that is made of loosely affiliated people groups who somehow find a way to coexist. Farmers from Vietnam, bankers from Canada, doctors from India, pilots from Norway, nurses from Belgium, etc. Like last week in New York City, we drove through China town and Little Italy. Didn’t make it up to  Harlem or Spanish Harlem, but these places are all heavily ethnic yet assimilated. Actually, I’m not sure what a fully assimilated American would look or sound like, George Clooney maybe?”

“But it seems like these Islamists are radical and want to make us like them instead of just joining in, finding a niche for their culture inside the existing one.”

“Yeah, the guns and bombs are hard to ignore. Hmmmm. If one percent of Russian immigrants are evil, and one percent of Africans, and one percent of Mexicans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bolivians, well… I don’t know how you keep that per cent out unless you keep them all out. And that does not seem very American. I’m sure there were unsavory Irish, German, Italian and French immigrants. You and I descended from such stock and we’re pretty despicable. Heck, Georgia was a penal colony, for goodness sakes! Let me Google something on this…

The British used colonial North America as a penal colony through a system of indentured servitude. Merchants would transport the convicts and auctioned them off to (for example) plantation owners upon arrival in the colonies. It is estimated that some 50,000 British convicts were sent to colonial America, representing perhaps one-quarter of all British emigrants during the 18th century. The State of Georgia for example was first founded by James Edward Oglethorpe by using penal prisoners taken largely from debtors’ prison, creating a “Debtor’s Colony”. However, even though this largely failed, the idea that the state began as a penal colony has stayed both in popular history, and local lore. The English also would often ship Irish and Scots to the Americas whenever rebellions took place in Ireland or Scotland, and they would be treated similar to the convicts, except that this also included women and children.

“Can you imagine this today? Importing a group of known criminals, 100% of them known convicts. And what about slavery?  The despicables there were doing the importing. It was all okay then when cheap labor was needed. Today we send good jobs overseas and import sex trafficking victims, but it’s the same old sad story of evil people taking advantage of others.”

“You really think we’re despicable, I mean, you and me. A lot of the stuff I say about you is just joking, you know that, right?”

“Gary, even despicables like us get a swatch of printed poplin in that grand old immigrant quilt I’m talking about. We’ll be in the armpit section, but we’ll still be part of something bigger, better than we are.”

“So you don’t think we need to buy a bunch of guns and ammo and start patrolling the mall with Josh?”

“Actually the mall is going to collapse under the weight of its uselessness coupled with its undesirability and history of bad management. Folks just stopped migrating there when competition showed up.”

“You think some other country will open its arms to these refugees, then?”

“Yes. A land with barren spaces and no ingrained culture to overthrow.”

“In this hemisphere?”

“Sort of…I was thinking of Antarctica. If you squint, it sort of looks like a bunch of Amish guys dancing with Hassidic Jews and some Shiite dudes.”

 “Thanks, man. You have a way of muddling difficult facts in such a way that I just feel better leaving you.”

“You are welcome, my fellow traveler brother.”