Oscar,Vinnie and crazy Rhoda decided, one warm Saturday morning, to go out for a walk through their favorite local park. Oscar had one problem with it though. For as far back as he can remember, he’d always associated it with the pipes of Pan.
“Everybody knows,” he reminded his friends, “that Satan does his best work in rural regions. You can recognize him very easily in his persona of Pan. He’s part man, part goat, and plays pipes.”
“Oh that guy!” cried out Rhoda. “Don’t worry about him. That’s my cousin Stanley and he’s quite harmless.”
If I were capable of controlling causality, of bringing about a causal relationship between two things that are currently unconnected, I should see to it that every time I drank coffee, all the world’s cell phones would be rendered inoperable. I’ve never been able to stand telephones. Ever since the invention of the cell phone, I’ve been constantly surrounded by one ignoramus right after the other, incessantly babbling on his phone, or at least allowing it to ring and to make all sorts of noises, with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the rights of others. If I could stop all the phones, merely by drinking coffee, always quite a very favorite beverage of mine, the world would be a much better place. Of course, that would be quite inappropriate in church, and in certain other places, so for those circumstances, I should like to figure out a way by which I could always count on being able to have a pot of freshly brewed coffee nearby. The world would be quite a very much more joyful environment if only mankind could count on more coffee and less noise, especially fewer telephones. It would be especially interesting if it could happen without anyone’s finding out about my naughty secret. Who could possibly suspect that such a harmless commonplace gesture could have such intense consequences? I could alleviate my anxiety and indulge my truly dastardly sense of humor.
A while ago I read a biography of the fourteenth century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer but until recently I’d somehow never read his “Canterbury Tales”. Considering what a compulsive bookworm I’ve always been, that’s quite a major shock. Recently I was looking through the book case downstairs in the den and I noticed that there was a copy of his famous classic narrative poem in standard English so I’ve begun reading it. So far I’m up to the Reeve’s Tale. Often, while reading for a long time, I become unavoidably distracted and my mind wanders. While reading the poem, I somehow spontaneously started thinking back to an incident involving my old friend Jimmy, when we were kids in our early teens. One day Jimmy and I had nothing better to do so in order to avoid boredom he started cracking corn. He never asked me to help him but, conveniently, I didn’t care. Often, if I let my guard down while reading, I start humming an old song or two. Last night I couldn’t help humming the Beatles’ classic, “Do You Want to Know A Secret?” My impatience gets me crazy like that but at least I always keep on trying to apply myself as conscientiously as possible to any task. Once I’ve set my mind to something I’m quite the determined character.
Christmas has always been quite enjoyable for me. Not counting the bitter cold weather and dark dreary skies, I’ve always really enjoyed it. When I was a kid, I obviously related to it much differently than I have as an adult but I still really enjoy it all. It brings back such exceptionally nice memories. Having to shop at such a crowded hectic time gets me crazy and I could do without the Christmas carols and sales starting in October but it’s a good time for me. One thing that nauseates me is the incessant insatiable left-wing determination to knock Christianity down. We’re expected to pretend it’s the holiday season when in reality it’s entirely about Christmas and that’s most certainly nothing to apologize for. Nobody expects proponents of Black History Month to apologize for being too black, or condemns the Puerto Rican Day Parade for being overly Puerto Rican. When was the last time you heard of the Jews’ being expected to apologize for their Judaism? This morning I went to get my daily coffee at the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue and one of the ladies behind the counter made a Christmas tree design on it. I was quite saddened to see that she felt somehow compelled to apologize for not having bothered to ask, first, if I celebrated Christmas. There’s something awfully nightmarishly wrong with a leftist cultural climate, in which someone has to expect to get into trouble for such a nice thing. Not counting all the aggravation that naturally ensues from the inevitable aches and pains connected with Christmas inconveniences and responsibilities, my infatuation with the good and important parts is the same as it ever was.
“I caught this one playing basketball upside down last week,” boasted twelve year old Winston to his best girl Cynthia.
Winnie was quite a lopsided youngster, a combination of amateur entomologist, obnoxious comedian, and inveterate ladies’ man. He spent all his spare time learning the exact distinctions between insects and arachnids, probing each individual creature’s head, thorax and abdomen with insatiable juvenile glee. His sweetheart, Cynthia, knew that he was such a good kid, in spite of his odd tendencies. Although he was a typical square, with horn-rimmed eyeglasses, she knew he was exactly the right boy for her.
If I were ever to form an anti-bucket list, it would have to include quite a few things that really bother me. Everyone knows that I’ve never liked left turns. Those blind spots are enough to drive anyone nuts. How, of course, could I possibly leave out odd numbers? Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always known that there’s something missing, or incomplete, about an odd number. It represents, in my worldview, an inexcusable void. In the world of entertainment, there wouldn’t be any of today’s current shows on. I can’t stand disco, rap or any of several other styles of pop music. The Jacksons, at least one of whom is already dead anyway, are a perfect example of how horrible pop culture is capable of becoming. Cold weather and inordinate precipitation would also be forever banned if I could have my way. There would be no unnecessary noise. Any world in which I get to run the show would be a world of peace and quiet, making every allowance for all the unavoidably necessary sounds that come with everyday life. Cell phones would be required to be silent. Liberalism, without a doubt, would be entirely eradicated irrevocably. That most insidious of worldviews deliberately pits people against each other for purposes of control.
Having gone, a few hours ago, to the Coffee Nut Cafe on Park Avenue, I’m now sitting down on an unseasonably warm Saturday, listening to the radio. The coffee they sell in that establishment is most delightful. I especially like the distinctive flavors, featuring ingredients like cinnamon, vanilla and icing. They have tea with lemon too, but so far I haven’t gotten any of their tea. I usually walk there since it’s so close to my neighborhood. If I’m going to spend a significant amount of money on something at least it’s good to know that it’s a fine product. I often walk at least twice a day, and say hello to each neighbor as he passes by. One of the ladies behind the counter is dressed in yellow. Sam, Bridget and I just recently ate bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches for lunch. Sam and I drank Costa Rican coffee with ours. I frequently walk down to the beach too, and enjoy all the water. Bridget has been complaining lately about problems with her telephone. It’s an Apple. Over the course of the past few weeks the weather outside has been so ugly but today’s is perfect. Nice weather always makes me happy. My Facebook friend list includes a lot of people from my past, like Brother Edmond from St. Gabriel’s, and other teachers, classmates and friends of mine. Facebook is a land where fantasy meets reality. It’s a world where everyone takes for granted a green light to ramble on about anything that interests him. The Irish advocate the wearing of green. The monarchists advocate a country ruled by a king and queen. Thanks to the internet, I’m now quite lazy about reading the paper. There are quite a lot of things I haven’t seen in Long Beach, but, of course, I’ve never seen an X ray of a zebra either.
“That bridge brings back such terrifying memories,” sighed the haggard schoolmarm. “It was the third of June, so very long ago, when my heart was forever broken.”
“Folks ‘roun’ here’bouts feel sorry fer the poor soul,” said Pearlie Mae. “It’s good that Preacher Taylor an’ Becky Thompson are willin’ to keep in touch with her. They’s all she has. The Tallahatchie Bridge was recently destroyed by one of Carroll County’s biggest storms. Ever’body knows what happened to her feller and her young’un. Choctaw Ridge has shonuf changed since them days. Please pass the biscuits, Uncle Ernest T.”
If I could have only one day during which I could have access to any and all luxuries, I should like to have an exceptionally fine gourmet meal, with all the best of possible liquor. There would be a bottomless pit of food and drink. All would be invited. A compulsive bookworm, I’d also really like to stock up on all my very favorite novels, plays, poems and short stories. Unfortunately one day would be entirely too short a time to make any significant travel possible, but perhaps I could fly to Europe at least in order to spend a little while there. Having always enjoyed fancy clothes, jewelry and cologne, I could see to it that I make quite an exceptionally enchanting appearance too. During my short trip I could visit all the best men’s stores in order to get decked out in all the most impressive styles. Of course my day couldn’t possibly be complete without my extending an invitation to Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, requesting that they serenade me with all their best songs. I’d buy an exceptionally nice guitar so I could join them. I’d want more but no one day could possibly include everything. Those are just the highlights.
Fr. Justin Belitz OFM is the founder of the Franciscan Hermitage and author of "Success: Full Living," "Success: Full Thinking," & "Success: Full Relating." His teachings incorporate spirituality, science, and art for personal growth and development.