349. Legalism

I don’t have time for all this, I guess, but I make time for what I enjoy… coffee shop chatter, chess, blogging. I realize it’s low hanging fruit, but I enjoy these apples.  I don’t need an island in the Caribbean, unless you happen to have one you want to get rid of. I mean, I’ll take it off your hands if you’re sick of the steel drums and rum. I’ll take my turn. However, I’d just move my mindlessness to a new scene and start training those East Indians in Western Mindlessness Seminars. I’d open a coffee nation noodling institute and seek funding from the U.N. My theme song would be sung daily by my 2 year old granddaughter, “Let There be Peace on Earth”… and let it begin with me. Her sweet whispery little baby bird voice kills me. I suspect all grandfathers feel this way about their grandkids. Hope so anyway.Amazing.: Grandkids are the ultimate proof of God’s grace. We don’t deserve them and can’t earn them.

I guess what I’m saying is that I am content. Full. Satisfied. Sure, I want to keep on living, but if God unplugs my USB cord today, I have no regrets that won’t be addressed in heaven. I’m sure there is a customer service desk in the lobby area.

“Welcome to heaven. I’m Peter. How may I help you?”

“I want to see a manager.”

“Mr. Burrito, it’s heaven. There are no managers. There are only angels and the Lord in the center of a cosmic Rose Petal Auditorium filled with incense burning, praise and worshipping throngs of billions of saved souls. Would you like to make an appointment with Him?”

“Yes, but I thought the spiritual world was all post time and space continuums, you know, no lines. This sounds like a Grateful Dead concert. How long must I wait?”

“Well, here in heaven a thousand years are like a moment, and a moment can be a thousand years.”

“So, next Tuesday at 11 a.m.? How’s that?”

“When the spirit moves across the still waters of your soul’s ocean, you will have your heart’s desires in little ripples upon the distant shore of peace.”

“Pete, do you offer interpreters?  I am just not getting this spiritual talk. Maybe my fleshy head is still stuck on my spirit body. Does that ever happen?”

“Yes, more often than one might think. Remarkably often, pastors have this issue where they keep worrying about their congregational needs back on earth. It takes a really long time for them to turn off their obligatum.”

“Uh, okay that makes sense except for the obligatum thing. What is that?”

“Oh, sorry, it’s Latin for holy guilt.”

“No kidding. I guess I had mine taken out with my adenoids.”

“Likely, yes, um, if you had one to begin with. Not all humans have an obligatum. Antisocials seem not to. Were you by any chance a Catholic child?”

“Yes, right up till I wasn’t.”

“Precisely. You could have burned up your obligatum through overuse. Very common with our Catholic brothers. Like an overactive thyroid. If you don’t treat it, you lose it. Poof!”

“So you are telling me that many pastors can’t get out of their own guilt even when they are walking or skipping about in Paradise?”

“Or zooming. A lot of pastors had to drive Dodge Darts and Priuses on earth, so they like zooming with the top down in heaven. It’s a big adjustment for them, bless their hearts.”

“Wait. That’s code in the south for ‘this guy is the village idiot’. You know, ‘Look at Mervin, he’s feeding the dead pigeon his bologna sandwich, bless his heart.”

“I assure you, Mr. Burrito, there is no double standard or code here in heaven. God loves us all the same.”

“Even lawyers?”

“Even, uh, have you seen the botanical gardens yet? They are a sight to behold!”

“No, I want a lawyer. I demand to see my lawyer, Joel. Where is he?”

“He is… uh… indisposed at this moment.”

“He’s in the bathroom? I thought that was all done with once you got the spiritual rigging in place.”

“I don’t wish to be indelicate, Mr. Burrito.”

“Okay, Pete, but you need to butterfly this spiritual shrimp for me. I’m getting suspicious. I mean, all my life I’ve looked forward to heaven and bliss and eternal grooving, and I’ve only been here five minutes or five thousand years and I’m getting nothing but double talk from you. I could get this treatment on earth for free.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. B. If you’d like to fill out a complaint form, I’m obligated to provide you with one within ten business days. Would you like to continue?”

“No.  When folks are not honest with me they start to look like Hillary Clinton, Pete. I want my lawyer and I want him now. I know my rights. I get a free phone call too. And no pants suits.”

“Sir, you have not been charged with any crime. Please, control yourself. You are in heaven for goodness sakes! You don’t need that kind of sassy attitude here.”

Snatching Pete up by his collar, “I want to know what you did with Joel.”

The Angels Gabriel, Michael, and Ludicrous swoop down.

“Burrito, we have you surrounded. Here’s what you’re gonna do. Put Peter down. Eat a Snickers. Then we’ll talk. You seem to be having a hangry attack. Most souls don’t experience hunger or anger in heaven, but you are anomalous.”

“Fellas, I simply asked Pete here where the lawyers are. And he has been reluctant to tell me. Offered me a complaint form instead of prompt service. You people need to get your act together.”

Gabriel, “Burrito, Joel didn’t make it.”

“What?!! I gave his eulogy just last year. I took a whack in the head with an aluminum badminton racket for him, and now you’re saying he’s not here?”

Michael, “Burrito, there are no lawyers in heaven.”

“But, but, I don’t understand. Joel was a nice guy. He dressed well in tweed and the occasional snappy tie. He was well groomed. Liked cats. Was a bowling champion in sixth grade. Played the tuba. What do you people want?!!”

Ludicrous, “The Lord requires obedience not sacrifice. No man is saved by the Law.”

“Well, okay. That’s all I needed to hear. I need a minute to grieve, though.”

Peter, “Mr. B, Joel is not down there, if that is what has you worried.”

“Well if not Here and not there, then where oh where can my attorney be?”

Gabriel, “He’s in Legal Limbo. It’s not quite as nice as heaven. They live in condos and share a pool. It’s a cash bar and no free lunches there.”

All, “God is merciful.”

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

265. Low octane blood sugar

Ever get that deflated state of mind and body when you haven’t eaten lunch and it’s 4 o’clock?  Your heart is thumping and your mind is jacked up about sumpthing or other and you wonder if you have a fever or a touch of mania. You feel Snoopid. Deep breathing and lots of water get drained off. You know better than to use caffeine.  Hooo baby! Bodily warning signals are going off all around, but you manage to postpone sitting down and eating. Finally you inhale a bowl of left over pasta with chicken and mushrooms without tasting a thing. A quart of water washes it down. Eyes closed as CNN anchors prattle on between commercials. “What these jihadists seem to want most is…” Mute. Darkness helps dissolve the inner staccato buzzing of flies playing soccer in a jar that is your brain. In an impossibly insective yet Hispanic falsetto, “Gooooooal!” My flies seem to be Guatemalan.

As late nutrition gets caught up with my blood sugar deficit, I wait. I recall pumping gas at the old Exxon station back in the early ’70s when leaded (yes, leaded) gas was 29 cents per gallon. Cars would hiss and clip clop into the station just off the D.C. beltway on mere fumes. “Ping-ping” went the sensor bell. “Filler up!” the customers would bark at us. Self serve was not common then. We’d get busy checking the fluids and washing the front and back windshields. Service was expected and sometimes demanded. Funny thing is that as gas prices increased, service disappeared. It became something only for the elite or was legislated to remain in New Jersey. Go figure:  the more a commodity costs, the less delivery service you get with it, unless you live in Jersey. So, the hangrier a person gets, the lower his/her expectations drop for service associated with meeting that need… thus no gas attendants and no wait staff in general. Remember when folks actually made careers out of selling clothing? Now it’s mostly point and shoot, self service unless you are at a high end haberdashery.

Let me consider this paradox. If true, then I should expect service at the most expensive restaurants to decline and eventually disappear. Thankfully that has not happened. Can you imagine make-your-own lobster bars and steak houses? And would you tip yourself for excellent self service? “My man, the calamari was superb!” “I know, Sir, for I am you.”

 Oh, that’s a cafeteria or a buffet. Doink!

So we are back to food and brain activity. I don’t really know much about either, just that the absence of the first leads to the absence of the second.

I did not plan it this way, but I was involved in an afternoon court case recently as a witness. Naturally I was anxious since attorneys tend to ask innocent sounding introductory questions that lead to bloody machete slaughter of little lambs a little later. In my case the thing to be slaughtered was my credibility for the presiding judge, no jury. As the afternoon wore on and my breakfast wore out, I began to sing to myself, “I’m all about the judge, ’bout the judge, no jury. I’m all about the judge, ’bout the judge, no jury…” I tried not to sway and smile like Stevie Wonder in the witness box. But let’s be honest: Stevie can testify.

 I wish I could have seen the thought bubbles above the other folks’ heads.

“Did I let the dog out at lunch?”

“This medication really constipates me.”

“Boom! That woman is a bitch!”

“Why did I run for judge? It’s more like sludge.”

“My spanx are cutting off my circulation and my bladder signals.”

“This guy seems to be singing that bass song to himself… ‘I’m all about the bass, ’bout the bass, no treble.'”

Well, there is really no reliable way to prove what others are thinking if they are thinking at all. The other attorney, for instance, introduced herself by saying, “I tend to ramble on, so if you don’t understand one of my questions, just ask me to repeat it.” Now that is thin competition, if you ask me. She was the equivalent of the other brand that loses to Bounty Tough Towelettes every time. Not the quicker picker upper, i.e., useless.

Uh, I mean, she’d be an okay vice president, I suppose, as long as the president is very healthy and well guarded. Just think Joe Biden in a skirt.

So, a hangry mind cycles on the questions being asked and evaluates each one over and over, as if chewing on words were as fulfilling as chewing on venison jerky. Not so, my bloggoiters. If you don’t feed your brain in a timely manner, it goes spanky on you, and I’m not sure that’s a word, but if it is, then it means something negative and shady.

The hearing ended in real time but continued in my sugar depleted brain. I recalled again and again what the smart attorney asked. I evaluated my performance over and over. I needed to get out of the cycle. I was obsessing like an OCD client worried about a shark attack in Nebraska. Unlikely. It was just my unquelled mind. I needed some fuel and time to process it.

Fortunately for the me and the world I found leftover pasta with chicken and mushrooms in the fridge. Bingo. Direct hit on Hangry’s Hanger without a hangover. I can see how tempting it might be for lawyers to drink their lunches and dinners. That rocket fuel of alcohol goes right to the brain without much delay. And the good times roll as surely as Mustang Sally without a subpoena. But no, I don’t go there, friends. Alcohol works like Ambien for me. I’ve been called a Two Beer Queer because I get sleepy after two good beers. And I am not ashamed of this label. In fact, I embrace my low tolerance for all forms of alcohol and LGBT causes. That is to say, I embrace the LGBT community and have a high tolerance for, no, I uh, have a strong endorsement for them. I just need a nap. However, if nominated for vice president, I will serve.

 

 

 

230. Magical Mystery Tour

Okay, this post has nothing to do with the Beatles album of the same name, I just thought you might peek in if I baited you with art and then switched you into madness. I am currently under the influence of Pink Floyd and Cream at this very intense moment and my thoughts seem to be erupting slowly like methane bubbles rising out of the decaying detritus from the floor of an intellectual swamp and then popping onto this blank canvas you are reading. Visual flatulence… could be the name of a band from Toronto that never quite made it, like Spinal Tap. Anyway, at this morning’s Coffee Nation Summit things turned and twisted uglily (yes, I’m sayin’ that) as they normally do… five wet shower curtains in the wind on a drizzly day. Each very limited man put in his unlimited input, like PGA putters put in their putts or putzes, depending on your personal preference and people group. But put or putt or putz, no one was disputin’ Rasputin or Vladimir Putin due to Article I of the Nation’s Constipation:  no politics or religion will be broached or tolerated in Summit. Failure to comply will result in a slow, painful death by pun firing squad, which may take up to six months. [Most victims of the pun firing squad actually die of dehydration since they only drink coffee during the painful firing of the puns. They often beg for a quicker death near the end. It’s a cruel and inhumane way to die and must be carried out beyond the outer limits of the Geneva Convention in caves on the north beach of Aruba, aka Pun Island, where the pun is truly mightier than the sword.]

Joel our jovial attorney was in no hurry to get to work printing counterfeit money. He stayed quite a bit longer than normal. (I hesitate to use the word normal, since that has mental health implications that we cannot justify. We are abnormal putzes. If we had an alma mater, that would be our cheer: “We are… abnormal putzes. We are…”) He had shared his thimble of wisdom for the morning and invited us all to his summer tendonitis attorneyment. You’ve probably already guessed its name:  Thimbledon. It’s a fortnight of blindfolded barristers yelling legal citations back and forth over ankle high badminton nets followed by a round of icy mojitos on the  croquet lawn. Instead of golf carts they have summer interns push them around in wheelbarrows to avoid any possible DUI’s. This year’s theme is “Liability and Libation, A Study of Contrasts”. Most attendees will never forget last year’s rousing rendition of Pete Seeger’s “If I had a margarita, I’d hammer out justice, I’d hammer out freedom all over this land” by a young member of the local bar who chooses to remain anonymous. (It was Eddie Fickle, but you didn’t hear this from me.)

As Lance arrives, Joel says, “When I see you, I have to go.” The table reassured him that there are medications that can help with his random urinary urges. He did not protest as we offered various homeopathic remedies such as corn starch and fiber supplements to balance and help him control his aging bladder. My favorite suggestion was for him to sleep with a penny under his pillow each night to pay off the bladder fairy. With a sheepish grin he thanked us.

Big Steve regaled us with his pool maintenance tips and warned us of using outdated hoses on updated pumps. Someone could be violently hosed if the couplings did not get along. (There’s a Lady Gaga joke in their somewhere.)  And isn’t that a universal truth?  This was a natural segue into the topic of war. D.J. shared his near death experience in Iraq when a nursing mother attacked him with a squirting breast. His soldier buddy collapsed at the absurdity of it all, laughing himself into a helpless state as D.J. had a tense standoff with the milk bomber. Later he wrote it up as an encounter with an IEBD, Improvised Explosive Breast Device. “She was deadly accurate with that thing. I mean it, man. I was ready  to shoot back!” Imagine his PTSD flashbacks and nightmares. Huge zeppelins spraying laser streams of 2 % milk on him as he fights against his high count Egyptian cotton sheets and shudders, “Don’t milk taze me, bro!” It’s not funny. A simple trigger of a pool pump could throw a man back into his struggle for life in a godforsaken land of booby traps… something his recruiter completely failed to inform him about. Maybe one of the Thimbledon lawyers will take his case and together they can push wheelbarrows filled with young interns around Aruba. “Mojitos for everyone.”

Meanwhile Gene sits like a disgruntled Buddha with hemorrhoids who occasionally shouts, “Shut your face!” He gives his shots at the Nation, knowing that when he leaves he’ll be subservient to Lance’s razor at the barber shop tomorrow. ” N-N-Not to be smart, but I can’t argue with a man who’s got a razor at m-m-my neck.” He’s as meek outside of the coffee shop as he is cantankerous inside it. The Nation functions as a catalyzing poop magnet for Gene, keeping him emotionally regular from week to week.  Lance sat across from Gene and was not content until he got a blast, “Shut your pie hole, you!” This outburst led to bent over contortions of laughing.

And that leaves me. The nice thing about being a blogger or the Dictator for Life of Coffee Nation Summit is that you answer to no one except your wife. So I am under no legal or moral obligation to say what I did or did not contribute to the group… unless my wife jacks me up and makes me confess. Anyway, I remember others’ silliness far better than mine. So let it be written. Let it be sung.              The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away. Dying to take you away, take you today.