My wife and I could be celebrating fifty years of marriage in less than a year. We have not focused too much on this, fearing such presumption might jinx us. But Mollie has wanted to renew our vows at fifty years ever since an impromptu mini ceremony on our 25th Anniversary vacation. The Church we attended on that trip asked anyone with a milestone Anniversary to come forward and be blessed. So we did. This past Tuesday, before she left on an eight day trip, Mollie told me out of the blue, “I don’t want to renew my vows any more.” I usually do not need a pause before speaking but my words were muted by the collision of several competing thoughts: (1) I was excited I would not have to attend or pay for a renewal of vows ceremony; (2) I was willing to renegotiate the vows. If she really wanted to drop that “obey” provision (she never complied anyway), I would agree if she would just promise to always return the keys to the key drawer; (3) I was uneasy about why she did not want to renew her vows; (4) I had an urgent interest in listening more carefully to what exactly she would be doing on this trip; and (5) I was optimistic that I was going to get several good Blogs out of this emerging situation.
Some people say you can tell who a person is by the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the house they live in, or the company they keep. That is the biggest myth ever. If it were true, I would be in a Superman outfit, driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile home to a circus tent where I would be hosting a Narcissist Anonymous meeting.
My friend Tee Shirt says that being cremated is his last hope for a smoking hot body. Tee thinks it bad enough that we have to die but we also must pay big bucks for our own disposal. And the choices are all gruesome. We can burn ourselves. We can bury our bodies to rot in the underground with who knows what creepy companions. We can freeze ourselves to be resurrected as part of some future Frankenstein experiment. We can be stripped for our parts if we have any healthy ones left. And we willingly sign up to pay for these options as we seek to control our own destiny even when dead. Tee says that is because anything is better than leaving our disposal up to a trained assassin in a revenge murder plot. I need to keep my distance from Tee.
My father was a Patriarch in a large extended family until he died when I was 57 years old. When things were going poorly in the family, my job as eldest son was to identify culprits and savagely critique Patriarchal performance. When things were going well, my task was to stir up trouble with merciless teasing and outrageous pranks aimed at putting other family members on edge. My age now makes me a default Patriarch, at least in my Clan of Thirteen descendants and spouses. I now view my former role as a self appointed Consigliere from a perspective dripping with poetic justice. I wonder why my Dad did not disinherit me.
If you have nothing, you want something. Many find that reasonable, others affix blame to your nothingness. If you have something, you want something more. Some find this ambition healthy. Others find it greedy. If you have something more and hoard, shamers will guilt you. If you do not have good health, you want it. If you have your health, you want something else. Happiness is difficult on life’s decision tree because so many paths lead to a deeply ingrained need to be miserable. The “have nots” feel entitled to their misery. The “haves” want to win at everything, so even they compete for the biggest share of misery. Taxes are too high. Service was awful. The in-laws are evil. The price is outrageous. Our bosses and leaders are jerks. The referee sucks. The neighbor is rude. This is nothing new and we all know the absurdity of it. People who want good health and have power to attain it still light up that cigarette, splurge on that mud pie, and choose sedentary options. I make so many choices against my self interest that I assume my secret happiness must come from whining about the truly inconsequential!
We do not get the official job of remembering ourselves. Others do that for us. We can try to control the narrative by writing autobiographies or talking about ourselves ad nauseam. But still others will decide how to define us. It must be frustrating for a President of the United States to be famous for uttering, “I am not a crook.” Or for splitting hairs about whether he inhaled or had sex with that woman. Teddy Kennedy was defined by a wrong turn on Chappaquiddick Island. A majority of Americans apparently want Hillary Clinton locked up for her emails even though the chanters likely do not know what any of those emails said. I could tell you what I am going to be remembered for but I refuse to spread that scurrilous gossip. Of course, until we die we cannot be sure about our defining moments. When I am eighty years old, I might rescue orphans and their pets from a burning building and be a hero. It will be annoying to have that happen so late in my life. It needed to occur when I was about thirty so I could bask in the deed for half a century. But with my luck, I will be remembered for accidentally setting fire to that dang orphanage.
Some people find it incongruous that the Trump base wants Hillary Clinton locked up for using her private email account for government business while Ivanka Trump is apparently doing the same thing. But these two cases are totally different according to the Trump Doctrine. The Donald ran for President on an unambiguous platform known as the Trump Doctrine. It was very well understood and he was elected. So why does the fake news media keep trying to act like we should be surprised and shocked with the implementation of the Doctrine? The Article One morals clause states that Trump is a Christian but that he himself is not bound by any principles of Christianity. Article Three on Taxes identifies anyone who pays his taxes as a Chump. Article Six on Foreign Policy allows the President to believe any lie by a foreign leader if profitable to said President. And he expects the same courtesy from those he lies to. Article Seven on Human Rights guarantees females equal rights with immigrants, refugees, foreigners, minorities, Democrats, and the disabled. These rights are second only to the rights of Caucasian males who can pass a Loyalty Test. For the sake of space, I have not summarized the Articles on Patriotism, Sexual Impropriety, Fraud, and Confefe, all of which are well known. What was the point of electing Trump if we are going to turn around and expect him to tell the truth and to promote the rights of the disenfranchised?
Darn. I missed Christmas again. Partly because I lost my calendar for awhile. But I should have been reminded by all the decorations appearing right after Halloween. Factoria Mall was really decked out and Walmart and others were selling Christmas trees in plain sight. Duh. I have been wandering around in a stupor. Thanksgiving came on its earliest date so perhaps I am not the only one surprised by the premature cycle this season. At least I did not have to buy presents and send out Christmas cards. I expect all the Christmas decor will be replaced this weekend with Valentine promotions. Time is speeding up for me so I am consoled that it will probably seem like only a month before next Christmas rolls around.
I wondered why I could get a dental appointment on short notice for a temporary crown. Who else would schedule a few days before Thanksgiving? Waiting two weeks for the permanent crown is difficult enough. But I am not supposed to eat anything hard or sticky or hot or cold or delicious. Is Jello too sticky? Can I eat my grape nuts just on the left side of my mouth? Apparently not because one might navigate to the other side, especially in a forgetful moment when habit takes over. Fortunately I discovered a couple of boxes of oatmeal packets in the very back of a kitchen cupboard. They are about four years past the “use by” date, so I am not stealing anyone’s secret stash. Someone apparently gagged down a couple packets before abandoning the Instant Oatmeal Diet Plan. If only I could add raisins. I weigh myself every morning and at least I am finally going to break a streak of many decades. I have never before lost weight at the Friday after Thanksgiving weigh in.
I lost my calendar for a couple days the week before Thanksgiving. Without it, my life grinds to a halt. I cannot complain to anyone because I look foolish using a paper calendar. I actually have an Outlook Calendar that peppers me with reminders for events even though I have no recollection of telling them to remember anything. That scares me. But I am also annoyed that Outlook’s reminders are so incomplete once they are poking around in my affairs anyway. My sister’s birthday is no big secret. Why not warn me about missing that instead of giving me status on an Amazon delivery that is so much less important? I wasted more than an hour searching for my paper calendar. I could not even get any satisfaction blaming my wife during the hunt because I knew we might find it somewhere only I could have put it. I scoured the car, tossed the couch cushions, rummaged through the storage room, inspected the bathrooms, checked the guest bedroom, and everywhere in between. Then I repeated the same search. Eventually I found it in my den, in the drawer right under the desk top where I keep it. My wife could not enjoy my embarrassment too long because immediately thereafter, she claimed her car key was not in the key drawer. As she began her hunt, I double checked the drawer and found it. She reminded me never to speak of these things to anyone. But I forgot.