I have heard that rich knuckleheads are paying some of the folks camping out on Wall Street and in financial districts around the country. At first, it only amused me to think that people who refuse to be paid minimum wage to flip burgers, which is at least a job that can lead to better jobs and is understood by everyone to be an actual job, were quite willing to be paid a minimum wage to stand around in filthy clothes and defecate in the street.
As a career, I suppose it offers certain advantages; namely the freedom not to shower, show up at a given time or deal with those pesky dry cleaners. On the other hand, I had always assumed that even liberal arts majors generally aspire to become something other than a bum.
If today, as my wife’s magazines keep insisting, 70 is the new 60, 60 is the new 50, and 50 is the new 40, these young guttersnipes remind us that 20 is the new 10.
That’s not to say that they are all young and spoiled, because some are obviously old and spoiled. They are the aged hippies, still hanging on to their granny glasses and ponytails. They’re the sad relics who show up at the airport, having no place to go, but merely in the hope that some obliging TSA agent will pat them down.
Looking at them, I am reminded of the first time that I ventured into a health food store in order to write a column about the experience back in the late 60s. No matter where I looked, everything I saw was puny, pitted, dried out and wrinkled. And, as I wrote at the time, the store’s merchandise looked equally unappealing.
Lest you think that I am unaware of my own flaws and foibles, I have already written about my earlobes which, at my advanced age, have begun to resemble those depicted in Robert Ripley’s old Believe It or Not cartoons of African tribesmen, who apparently adorned their own lobes by sticking small logs through them. I am considering it.
Also, long after losing the hair on top of my head, I have somehow managed to sprout hair in places I never dreamed it could possibly take root. Sometimes, I wonder if I could sue the shampoo company that insisted I should only use their product, never soap, on my head. Inasmuch as I now only have hair where I previously only used soap, I suspect that a sharp lawyer could make me very rich; especially if we were lucky enough to wind up with a bald judge and 12 bald jurors.
While I’m in this confessional mood, I should mention that this afternoon, I heard a wine expert on the radio describing himself as someone who likes to catalog information. I immediately perked up. That’s what I like to do. But until hearing him say those words, I had merely regarded myself as someone who made lists. Lots of lists. By now, I could probably have a page all to myself in the Guinness Book of World Records if I hadn’t hidden my light under a bushel for all these years. For instance, since the age of 11, I have kept track of every book I have ever read. Even I can acknowledge that’s pretty weird.
So you can see where a person who keeps lists might not want it to get around. But a cataloger of information has quite a nice ring to it. It almost sounds like a scientist. At the very least, it sounds like a vocation, as opposed to a minor mental aberration.
Besides being a cataloger, one of my favorite pastimes consists of turning up examples of irony. So, for instance, I recently read about a Civil War general who, during a battle, told a young Union private that he had nothing to fear from Confederate riflemen, because, “They can’t hit the side of a barn.” The general was shot and killed instantly, having barely finished the sentence.
Now, to some, that would be ironic. But to me, that’s more of an amusing coincidence.
On the other hand, it would be classic irony if, at the time, the sniper had actually been aiming at the side of a barn.
|©2011 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write Burt! Click on the little envelope below to email this article.|
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