Life without mirrors would be quite exceptionally tough. In our utterly self-obsessed liberal culture, mirrors serve quite a dysfunctional purpose but they always come in handy for such a wide variety of extremely important things too. It would be so very hard for someone to be able to keep track of the finer points of his appearance. It’s kind of difficult for me, right now, to come up with specific examples of how a world free of mirrors would be a bad thing. That’s because we take their permanent presence so entirely for granted. Each of us daily shaves, brushes his teeth, combs his hair and engages in all sorts of other behavior, both mandatory and optional, with the aid of this seemingly insignificant device. People practice for plays, speeches and other functions in front of mirrors. Without rear view mirrors in his vehicle, anyone who tried to drive a significant distance would be provoked into fits of frustration. Mirrors are to the individual’s own presence what windows are to his environment. They serve as quite an entirely indispensable tool for thoughtful reflection. There would be at least one significant advantage to life without them. Besides all these concerns there would also be perhaps a major drop in narcissism. That would, of course, only be true with a shortage of mirrors. Moderation in all things is unavoidably necessary. In a world with no mirrors, legitimate self reflection would be unavailable. I should like hereby to recommend a major reduction in the number of mirrors available to each of us. Life without them would be scary.
Although I’ve never been able to stand Jane Fonda, or trite inarticulate cliches either, the concept of “no pain no gain” has quite a lot of merit to it. Anyone who’s ever tried to do something exceptionally well knows quite well, after only a very short time, that nothing comes easily. Whether it’s getting a job, playing a musical instrument, exercise or anything else of any significance whatsoever, all important things require strenuous effort. At the church I attend, St. Mary of the Isle in Long Beach, Father Brian Barr recently told us about the time his nephew graduated from junior high school. His other nephew, the graduate’s brother, asked him what the word “commencement” meant. Father Barr told him that it referred to finishing something. The nephew who was on the verge of finishing school told him that it really was about beginning something. That’s what all of life in general has always been about. Nothing can be begun without something else’s being given up. Life is a series of beginnings and endings. All of life is a series of obligations and opportunities, and to try to avoid that combination would be a false dichotomy.
Over the course of at least my entire adult lifetime I’ve always been notoriously incapable of getting any significant amount of sleep. I always tell people that I haven’t slept five minutes since the presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon. This can be quite an advantage whenever I have either a job or some other unavoidably necessary responsibility to which I must attend. Being wide awake for its own sake though is much more of a have-to than a get-to. I don’t usually bother to peek out my windows in order to see the sun. Most of the time I just lie back and relax. It’s an especially good feeling being able to rest before the main part of the day has to kick in. A while ago, when I worked at the postal service in Bethpage, I usually worked the overnight shift. It was such an interesting feeling being able to drive home on the Southern State Parkway while the sun was coming up. All that peace and quiet, combined with quite a perfect view, made me quite happy. Occasionally I’ve been known to stay up voluntarily, for things like high school reunions, parties and other occasions. It’s not a habit I should like to get into though. When I don’t get enough rest there’s always the very serious risk of migraines. Ultimately I thoroughly enjoy always being up so early each day. Even though I don’t bother to pay attention to the rising sun, I can enjoy all the perfect solitude. Peace and quiet are unavoidably necessary for me. It’s the rest of the day that really gets on my nerves.
Ten year old Harold enjoyed terrorizing his eight year old sister Margret. One day in the empty lot at the corner of their neighborhood he found a nasty looking object, guaranteed to elicit shrieks from any grammar school girl.
“Ha! Ha!” the diminutive instigator chortled. “This is bound to make for quite a nice trick!”
There was a sort of ongoing contest between the young pranksters. She’d always managed to figure out quite a delightful variety of ways to make him cringe too. Theirs was somewhat of a lopsided rapport.
“Those are the oddest youngsters!” Mrs. Fensterblau gasped.
When I was still only a youngster, still obligated to go to school, I’d always so thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, of course, it meant having to put a stop to all the uninterrupted enjoyment of summer, going back to school in September was always quite an interesting experience. The only time I truly let it bother me a little was at the beginning of the seventh grade, when, having moved from Jackson Heights to Lindenhurst, I was forced to spend two weeks in Copiague Junior High School, after which I went to O.L.P.H. in Lindenhurst for the rest of my time in grammar school. That was only because they were both new to me. Now that I’m an adult man, my feelings toward the end of the summer each year ultimately amount to mere passive resignation. Imo’ve always been quite smitten with symbolism and autumn and winter always abound with it. The last few months of each year always bring with them cold weather and dark gloomy skies. For a while autumn is quite nice. I’ve always quite enjoyed Labor Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was especially nice when I was in the habit of visiting my cousins in North Tonawanda. Eventually, though, the last few months of the year turn into a seemingly endless succession of mandatory concessions to all sorts of inevitable trouble. My mother died last September and my father died last November so from now on those times will also have quite a particularly sad twist to them.
If ever I could count on the unquestioning service of a perfectly obedient robot that could be available at all times to relieve me of only one nightmarishly awful chore, I should very much like to have one that would shovel snow for me. When it comes to difficulty all other chores very much seem to pale by comparison. This is made especially true by the fact that it’s always outside in miserable weather. Bad weather in general has always bothered me. Snow and ice get me crazy. I’ve never been known for an abundance of physical strength and shoveling is one of the things that require quite an exceptional degree of endurance. By definition a robot doesn’t have to deal with frustration and exhaustion. All it needs is either a plug, battery or some other power source. Unlike me it will never complain about hypothermia or boredom. I should only need it for part of the year anyway, although winter, when it gets here, seems so unbearably long.
Light out Wanderlust. Head us out to sea. My brother in law Steve and cousin Mark own a yacht together. Ever since around my twelfth birthday I’ve always lived within walking distance to a significant body of water. Except for my seven and a half years in northeastern Pennsylvania, where I lived down the street from the Susquehanna River, I’ve always lived by salt water canals and a bay that leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Although I don’t ordinarily spend a lot of time specifically on boats or at the beach, or in immediate proximity to any of the water, it’s always been quite interesting and enjoyable for me. Because of my always having been a bookworm I can see lots of significant symbolism in water. From Noah’s Ark to “Moby Dick” mankind has always been inextricably linked to this extremely important reality of life, and has always referred to it significantly in story telling. From the point of view of wanderlust its appeal can easily be found in the significance of what lies out there beyond all that man’s eye can see. A horizon can be both frustrating and intimidating. Many things in life can be elusive and deceptive. Once someone reaches what is currently his horizon, it’s not there anymore. It’s all relative to his current circumstances. That’s why wanderlust can be a frustrating problem, never to be satisfied.
Usually I drink non-alcoholic drinks. As everyone knows I’ve always throughly enjoyed coffee and tea. All my life I’ve really enjoyed a good alcoholic drink too though. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to drink very much because my constitution has always been so very fragile. I have the same rule for alcohol as for coffee. I quite enjoy the straight plain variety every bit as much as the flavored pretty kinds. In my old Knights of Columbus council in Lindenhurst, where I was a bartender, I was quite fond of Kahlua and Sambuca. Unfortunately I haven’t drunk either in quite a long while. My current signature drinks are martinis at weddings and other large occasions, and bourbon whenever I visit my cousin Mark. Surprisingly there isn’t any single specific reason for either choice. I simply decided quite a few years ago to start drinking martinis at big parties, and last Christmas, at a party at Mark’s house, I got the idea to drink bourbon whenever he and I got together. So far, it’s only happened twice. There’s most certainly no entirely non-negotiable rule though. I can always cheat a little and have something other than bourbon or a martini. One day a few weeks ago my nephew Sam and I were hanging around and he got a glass of vodka. I ended up drinking a glass of Salignac cognac. It’s really good to be flexible.
Julius and Ethel Weidermeyer were trying to get ready to deal with the news about his father’s death. The eighty year old grandfather had been ill with cancer for most of the past five years. When the inevitable finally came to pass, they made the one hundred and eighty five mile drive to his house in northeastern Pennsylvania in order to make the arrangements for his funeral, as well as to sort through all his belongings. When they arrived they were confronted with quite an adventure. They’d always known he was a notoriously sentimental character as well as a bit of a pack rat but their discovery was absolutely amazing. Going through his dad’s basement was like having a time machine. They found a bottomless pit of boxes, bags and cases of artifacts from literally the very beginning of his lifetime. He’d even saved souvenirs of people like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. His parents must have gotten all these things for him before he was even old enough to walk. As they went along they found clothes and memorabilia with all his old schools’ insignias on them. It appeared as if the old fellow had felt somehow unrelentingly compelled to save all sorts of relics of each successive era throughout his entire lifetime. The more they found the more awe smitten they were. “I just don’t get it!” gasped Ethel. “It’s not exactly as if there’s anything exceptionally valuable here. They’re all just very old pictures, records, clothes and things like that.” Eventually, though, they wised up to the fact that it was quite an interesting discovery. The more they thought it through, the more they recognized that there was quite an entire lifetime’s supply of profound history here. Besides its being a miniature lecture on all the history and pop culture of most of the twentieth century, it was also an indirect source of insight into all sorts of background about Mr. Weidermeyer, things they could never have otherwise found out. Over the course of his very long lifetime he’d told a lot of stories and seemed to have been quite knowledgeable about all sorts of offbeat things. It turns out, though, that he must truly have been quite devoted to all those long ago milestones. “I can imagine how Mom must have felt,” complained Julius. “He must have driven her out of her mind, nice though all this stuff is.” Anyone who wanted a lesson on things like the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean Conflict and Viet Nam could have the time of his life in such an environment. They could rake in an absolute mint, they thought, by charging admission for a guided tour. Soon they started having the time of their lives enjoying all the silliness of their adventure. Understandably they were sorry to have lost him. They would have really enjoyed talking to him about all these things. At his wake, they mentioned his treasure trove to all their family and his friends. It added quite a dimension of joy and relief to the otherwise somber occasion.
“It’s such a bright sunny day, we could be having the time of our lives, but we’re stuck in some Wilkes Barre shopping center parking lot because you drove without your glasses!”, shrieked Sadie. Elmer cringed, feeling stupid.
They both paced restlessly throughout the parking lot of the Hub, waiting for help. She was trying so hard to be so patient and understanding but his absent mindedness drove her crazy. “I’ve never gotten into an accident with a fireman before,” he stammered. “There’s a first time for everything,” she said. “Try thinking straight for the first time.”