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!”

 

 

 

 

285. The Lyin’ King

“Shall we speak of your past, Andrea?” I began with only  two other bean patrons in the quiet shop of coffee.

“If the Lion King taught me anything it’s that you can’t change the past,” said Andrea from the other side of  the counter as she counted out my ten used cup sleeves that entitled me to a free cup today.

“So harsh. You are referring to the Disney cartoon movie here?” I asked

“Is there any other?” she followed.

“Well, of course, my child. Of course there is and of course you can change the past. It’s simple. The past is actually quite malleable.”

She chuckled and lightly snorted into her shirt collar. “Oh here we go.”

“Did you know that there used to be public bathrooms under the street by the courthouse? Visitors from the big city thought we had a subway in Turtle Town.”

“No, not sure I can believe you. I’m from Needmore, remember?”

“Yes, I am so sorry. But after the Berlin Wall came down and détente began, your people were rejoined with the rest of the free world, yes?”

“Yes, we have a small stone wall in Needmore that commemorates the liberation.”

“Good to know, and the wall keeps the cows off of Route 522, I imagine. Yes, practical bunch out there. But there really were subterranean bathrooms with decorative green metal stairways descending to them. Do you have a small piece of paper?”

“Here you go.”

She produced a small block of white paper with a logo for cleaning supplies in navy blue ink. I miss nothing. No detail is too superfluous to record. I wrote in block letters, ‘The Lion King”… be true to yourself.’ Beneath it I wrote, ‘The Lyin’ King…of course you can change the past.’ Then I proceeded to share with her how I had led the Redskins to Super Bowl 17 victory in 1983, the strike shortened season as the quarterback.

“I didn’t know that.”

“A lot of folks don’t. Here’s a favorite  picture of me throwing the winning touchdown.”

Image result for super bowl 17 pictures

“And so you are free to spin your yarns, and these stories are just far enough away that they are hard to prove at any given moment.”

“Exactly. You sprinkle just enough facts and details into a story to give it verisimilitude, or the appearance of truth. You see, I respect the truth greatly, so much so that I imitate it freely at any given moment.”

“I know, and you confuse the crapola out of me.”

“Andrea! There is no need for such Mufasa here! Think of the little lions. Where is thy pride, girl? Think of poor Nala. You need to romp on back to Needmore and reclaim your glory.”

I was met with the stern schoolmarm look over her octagonal glasses with a wisp of her tucked maple pony tail bobbing behind her head like a ticked off pigeon.

“I think you’re losing focus here, creeping into that three per cent of fantasy that you are known to indulge on occasion.”

“I prefer to call it the Airless Summit of Mount Truth. Most folks operate near sea level or up to 9,000 feet above it, where oxygen is plentiful. Some brave souls venture higher, into the next 9,000 feet, where the air is quite thin and life is tenuous. Sherpas, mountain sheep and condors are the only forms of life at that altitude. And then there are the rare ones like me who start their journey at 18,000 feet and trek fearlessly upward through the unsustainable atmosphere known as the Death Zone.”

“You are so dramatic. I can’t believe anything you say.”

“Here come the bankers. I suppose they speak the truth relentlessly.”

“Well, they’re a bit more predictable than you.”

Teresa, “Are we interrupting something important?”

Andre, ” No, it’s more like rescuing me from a bad movie.”

Me, “Uhum. I was just sharing the daily wisdom with Andrea regarding the Lyin’ King.”

Teresa, “The Disney movie?”

Me, “The sequel, actually.” L-Y-I-N apostrophe KING. Not that bankers ever lie.”

Teresa, “Oh, every day. We’d be out of business if we told the truth.”

Cody, “Are we gonna get some coffee?”

Andrea, “Sure, what would you like?”

Cody, “Medium regular.”

Teresa, “Small. Guess I missed the hazelnut on Monday, huh?”

Andrea, “Yeah, sorry. You didn’t come in.”

Teresa, “I was stuck in a conference all day long. What a waste!!” Then turning to me, “Are you going to the ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ parade this Friday, Burrito?”

Me, “Uh, my chiropractor won’t allow it. Too hard on my glutes.”

Cody, “I’m walking in heels, got fishnet stockings to go with them.”

Me, “I would only do that if I were in prison and Bubba told me to walk this way. I mean, it seems either prison creepy or like a Lou Reed song.”

Teresa, “Who’s Lou Reed?”

Me, “He played third base for the Yankees in the 1960’s. Switch hitter. Utility infielder mostly. Later on  he wrote songs of desperation, drugs and alternative lifestyles.”

Cody, “Didn’t he write ‘Walk on the Wild Side’?”

Me, “Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. The man in the red high heels and black fishnet stockings and Brooks Brothers navy blue blazer ensemble.”

Cody, “Whatever Bubba wants, Bubba gets.”

Teresa, “Wasn’t that in Damn Yankees, only it was Lola?”

Me, “That’s a Kinks song you’re referencing now, but it’s in the same transvestic neighborhood.”

Andrea, “Oh, Lord help me. Though I work in the shadow of the espresso machine, I will fear no evil customer. ”

Me, “Here, let me get the door for you.”

Cody/Teresa, “Thanks, Bubba.”

Me, “It’s Simba to you.”

Andrea, “Noooooooooooo!!!!”

They hung a sign up in our town
“if you live it up, you won’t
live it down”
So, she left Monte Rio, son
Just like a bullet leaves a gun
With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips
She went and took that California trip
Well, the moon was gold, her
Hair like wind
She said don’t look back just
Come on Jim
(Chorus)
Oh you got to
Hold on, Hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
You gotta hold on

Well, he gave her a dimestore watch
And a ring made from a spoon
Everyone is looking for someone to blame
But you share my bed, you share my name
Well, go ahead and call the cops
You don’t meet nice girls in coffee shops
She said baby, I still love you
Sometimes there’s nothin left to do

Oh you got to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here, you got to
Just hold on.

Well, God bless your crooked little heart St. Louis got the best of me
I miss your broken-china voice
How I wish you were still here with me

Well, you build it up, you wreck it down
You burn your mansion to the ground
When there’s nothing left to keep you here, when
You’re falling behind in this
Big blue world

Oh you go to
Hold on, hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
You got to hold on

Down by the Riverside motel,
It’s 10 below and falling
By a 99 cent store she closed her eyes
And started swaying
But it’s so hard to dance that way
When it’s cold and there’s no music
Well your old hometown is so far away
But, inside your head there’s a record
That’s playing, a song called

Hold on, hold on
You really got to hold on
Take my hand, I’m standing right here
And just hold on.                                           Tom Waits, “Hold On”

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And so, You Honorable Blogitnesses, I  submit that verisimilitude is art by another name.