If I could have the ability to build a magical tunnel by way of which I could secretly travel, at will, to the location of my choice, I should really like to go to Europe. I understand that all the liberals must think I’m so ignorant, racist, yada yada yada, because the Third World doesn’t interest me one bit, but I don’t care what they think. That’s all part of the fun of things for me. Europe has always struck me as being the source of all the very best of the world’s history, literature, theology, philosophy and art among other things. As everyone knows, I’ve always been quite smitten with western culture, including all things European. I could visit Spain, Italy, France, Holland and Ireland, home of many significant Carmelites. There are all sorts of museums I should very much like to see. I could walk in the footsteps of people ranging from Shakespeare and Milton, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, among others. I realize that while I’m there I shall have to try to figure out how at least to understand a little of each of very many languages, and that the driving will get me quite frustrated. The food, from what I’ve heard, isn’t necessarily anything to brag about either in certain places. Those, however, will be only slight problems compared to all the advantages I could be afforded by way of such easy and convenient access to such an interesting environment.
Over the years I’ve been known most certainly to have my share of inadvertent gaffes, from the time I heard Z.Z. Top’s “Two Step Boogie” as “Tube Steak Boogie” to the times I’ve answered the phone by saying “Telephone” instead of “Hello”, and the time I pronounced “NOmenclature” as “noMENclature.” Inappropriate behavior has always come quite naturally to me. To this very day my cousins from western New York remind me of the times I was visiting them, mostly during the 1980’s, and had all kinds of missteps involving their dog Muggsy, my polka dotted jammies, and all sorts of other horrendous missteps. My cousin Vinnie especially likes to talk about his visit to Lindenhurst during the late 1970’s when I sideswiped a school bus on the way to Robert Moses Beach. Those are just some of the highlights of my lopsided adventures. Please stay tuned for ever more yet to come.
If I could have a lot of time available to visit my collection of reading material, and to pick one book which I should absolutely have to read before all the others, it would be quite a very difficult decision. I always seem to wander back to Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” and Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited”, as well as a few others. Perhaps I should choose “Brideshead Revisited”. It opens in 1922 and tells the tale of the Flyte, an aristocratic English Catholic family. It begins with Charles as a new freshman at Oxford with all his eccentric friends. The novel then goes on to relate the story of all the dysfunctional relationships, both familial and marital, that exist within the family or Lord and Lady Marchmain. It tackles intensely serious problems in a somewhat seemingly lighthearted manner. Everyone in the story is deeply morally flawed, especially those characters who are the most significantly aligned with the Faith. As in real life, the novel shows beauty as well as ugliness and sorrow. There are all kinds of reaction to the Faith, from the agnostic narrator Charles to the devout Lady Marchmain; Lord Marchmain, who grudgingly became Catholic in order to marry her; and the hopelessly befuddled Protestant Rex Mottram, Julia’s husband. Rex and Julia want to marry, but he’s Protestant, has had an affair and has already been married. The scene relates a serious problem in a seemingly relatively lighthearted way. Unlike the intense style of Dostoyevsky, Waugh depicts such dilemmas with wit and makes his characters appear even a bit toward the silly side. Considering what a profound and significant topic the book deals with it takes quite a humorous approach to things. Catholicism is ultimately exactly like that anyway, with dimensions that appear a bit Mother Goose-ish but that are ultimately about very hard facts. The novel deals with all dimensions of society, including fear and resentment of the other, class consciousness and mankind’s ultimate end.
I got home yesterday only to find a huge bouquet of exceptionally lovely fragrant roses awaiting me. Although there was no accompanying card or return address I know quite well that they were from my old Knights of Columbus council 794 in Lindenhurst. I haven’t been a part of that world since April 2006, but they still remember me. The bingo people sent me the flowers because of all the interesting times we’d always had together. I spent a lot of times helping there on Wednesdays and Thursdays whenever I was available. Everyone knows how difficult a bunch of characters can be found at bingo games so that’s most certainly quite a significant accomplishment. Each week I could always be counted on to help, mostly in the lobby selling things, and sometimes in the kitchen with the food. I eventually developed quite a distinctive rapport with the other bingo helpers, and the people who came regularly to play. Exactly because it was so long ago, and because eight years isn’t exactly a milestone, you might wonder exactly what could possibly have possessed them from out of nowhere to send me something so nice now. Members of my Lindenhurst council, and the bingo players, always were the absolute epitome of entirely atypical behavior. Every week I was expected to put up with all their offbeat antics. I don’t think they ever gave anyone flowers throughout all the long time I was really active in the council. It might be a really new practice they’ve only recently started. One of these days very soon I shall have to make sure I drive over to Lindenhurst and thank them in person for the nice flowers.
Both unfortunately and surprisingly I’ve never once, to this very day, named an inanimate object of mine, although I’ve quite often considered it. Several times I’ve considered having either a guitar named Nellie, or perhaps a car named Bessie. It would be quite an interesting experience to tell people that either Nellie’s out of tune or Bessie has to be inspected. That would most certainly raise quite a few eyebrows. It all boils down to being able to keep a healthy sense of humor about things. People, throughout the known course of mankind’s history, have always tended to personify things. I’ve always enjoyed letting my imagination run entirely wild anyway so I might just as well give a thing both a personality identity and a life story to go with it. My insatiably creative streak simply demands that I figure out a way to get around to something like that eventually. Perhaps I can even take on more of a sense of responsibilty for all my most important things if I start calling each of them by its name.
Stanley Freitag was desperately looking forward, after a long arduous week of work and paying bills, to a nice relaxing weekend of nothing but one hundred per cent peace and quiet. He specifically made his wife Agnes, and their kids adhere very strictly to a promise not even so much as to think of bothering him no matter what might happen.
Friday night at last arrived. He went to bed very early, at around nine o’clock, precisely in order the better to assure that he could count on as restful a sleep as possible so he could enjoy the perfect Saturday. Suddenly from out of nowhere it was Saturday morning at around four o’clock a.m. He woke up with a headache and no matter what he tried it would not go away. It was one of those five alarm migraines during which every time a phone or doorbell rang, or a light went on, he went right through the roof. He ended up having to beg Alice to call his best friend, Joe Fensterblau, and to ask him not to bother to make any plans for them to do anything together until further notice.
As it turned out, Stanley couldn’t get a break no matter what he tried. Because of a problem in their schedule, the garbage men were forced to go through his neighborhood that morning, bright and early, with all their loud noises. Besides that they were close enough to his house that he could smell all the garbage as it passed him by and it made him unbearably nauseous. As if that weren’t quite unbearable enough the kid next door got a new electric guitar and invited some friends of his over to play in their loud band.
Although Stanley had originally hoped for such a nice time that weekend he was subjected to a bottomless pit of frustration. One bitter setback was immediately followed by another. Everyone knows how hypersensitive somebody with a headache always is. Ordinary things, even the good ones, are so hard to accept. The seemingly endless restlessness and frustration drove him to fits of rage and fury. Eventually he just fell back onto his pillow and tried to accept the phones, smells and other distractions in the hope that next weekend could be much nicer.
Eventually Sunday night arrived and a harried, frustrated Stanley started feeling a lot better, just in time to go to bed so he could be ready on Monday morning to start his work week. Having been begrudged the ability to relax over the past weekend he was quite frustrated but eventually he was forced to accept his bad break.
I always seem to go against what the fans and critics say. Although I’ve never read either Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” or any of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books, I’ve most certainly read and heard enough about them, from reputable source materials, to know that I couldn’t possibly be expected to be able to stand anything like them. The television show “Friends” is a good example of something I’ve seen and never especially liked. I never watched either “Friends” or “Seinfeld” until a significantly long time after they were cancelled. Cathleen, in California, gave me the idea to watch them. Although I’ve always especially liked “Seinfeld”-considering my eccentric sense of humor that’s most certainly no surprise-I’ve simply never been able to find “Friends” even the least bit appealing. For some reason it’s just not interesting in spite of the fact that everyone has always bowed down before its very shrine. It wasn’t the least bit bad. It simply left me entirely apathetic about it, without even so much as the satisfaction of my being able to complain. Perhaps there was something about it that I couldn’t catch onto. Was there some inside joke, or hep 1990’s style or charisma, going on there and I could never get the point? I found it all so plain, dull and ordinary. I’ve never been able to understand why everyone’s always been so crazy about the cast’s looks either. They’re all conventionally nice looking but in such an ordinary way. They would be nice neighbors and friends for married couples to have so that when a wife asks her husband : “Honey, do you think Rachel, Monica and Phoebe are pretty?” he could say yes without provoking any suspicion whatsoever. I just don’t get all the hype about what a legendary milestone that show supposedly was. I enjoy “Seinfeld” though. The people on that show are lopsided individuals who are even enjoyably lopsided looking.
Uncle Leo, from what I’ve heard, was quite the studious old bookworm. He could always be found at his desk-relatives from his day always called it the thing o’ Leo-doing his work, reading his Bible, and reminiscing about World War I.
It’s time to dust my house yet again. If I have always to do such a boring chore, it’s at least a nice excuse to reminisce a bit about all the colorful characters in my past, like Aunt Harriet and Uncle Leo. Life is always so much less tedious from the outside looking in.
I’ve always been quite a literary snob. Although I realize that every pop cultural figure, ranging from Joan Collins’s sister Jackie to Suzanne Sommers, and people from the casts of television shows like “Friends”, thinks he’s a writer, I inevitably restrict my reading material to the works of people like Dostoyevsky and Jane Austen, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, and all the other highbrow literary figures. Were I ever confronted with a literary fairy, who could give me the ability to become either an obscure novelist, whose work would be admired and studied by a small cult following for generations yet to come, or a popular paperback author whose works could provide immediate enjoyment to millions in the short term, I should choose to be a serious author. There’s nothing wrong with writing harmless fluff with no literary merit. I’ve simply always admired important literature and wished that I were capable of writing something truly profound and noteworthy. I don’t like having to be bothered with keeping up with trends, though several trends, throughout the past few generations, have most certainly caught my attention quite favorably. Great literature, like all the other disciplines in the humanities department, deals with human nature and a good author has to have the ability to have a lot of insight into history, psychology, philosophy and all other disciplines. If I were ever lucky enough to be a serious writer, I should make sure I should steer clear of all liberal ideas. Story telling is extremely important and the conservative voice has to be heard. That’s why I’ve always liked both music and literature. Politics, history, economics and other disciplines have their place in society but people tend to be more prone toward accepting ideas by way of the narrative approach rather than didactic. I should think that maybe I could be a serious intelligent alternative to the kind of pablum that comes from writers like J. K. Rowling. Even if my work would be admired and studied by only few people, as the object of a cult following, I should be quite happy with that, as long as I could write exceptionally good literature. That would be especially appropriate for someone like me, considering that I’ve always been quite a distinctive character who can be counted on to appeal only to people with seriously offbeat tastes and ideas anyway. I’ve always enjoyed Emily Dickinson’s idea, that one should “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” Symbolism, an important ingredient in all literature, plays quite an exceptionally large role in my world. Since I’ve never felt particularly comfortable in the company of strangers, I should have to be the kind of writer who would remain aloof from his readership. Frequent interviews and constant attention would be quite a burden for me to have to contend with. If anyone is interested in finding out about the other worlds that come from my imagination, though, he’d better most certainly beware of all the twists and turns they contain. Some of them can be awfully seriously disturbing.
If I were to wake up tomorrow morning and to find out that I have somehow aged a decade from out of nowhere, I should have to start making some very significant changes to my approach to health care. The older someone gets the more careful he has to be about all matters relating his diet and exercise. The grey hair and wrinkles will force me into quite a major adjustment too. I shall also have to take a closer look at the reality of death because the more time that passes by the closer the ultimate moment of truth inevitably gets. Assuming this odd stroke of fate will have happened to me, I should be forced to make up quite an interesting story to explain it all to my contemporaries. Maybe I could even start wearing old-man clothes and affecting old-man speech patterns, habits and mannerisms. Since no real time will have lapsed, I shall have missed out on an entire decade’s worth of stories to tell and experiences to capitalize on. Knowing my imagination, with its tendency to go into all sorts of offbeat directions, I shall have quite a time pondering all the wild twists and turns that I shall be subjected to. Since, throughout my lifetime, I’ve always been so knowledgeable about the 1960’s I could take advantage of the twist of fate by blending in with people who are a decade older than I. It would be quite an interesting experience to be able to see who notices that there is something awfully wrong with my particular circumstances. Because of my advanced years I could feel quite free to make inappropriate remarks, to engage in inappropriate behavior and to flirt with really pretty young girls. So far I still get into quite an awful lot of trouble for things like that, but since I’ll be so old everyone will be happy to humor the harmless old guy.