The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Monday, February 01, 2016

Culinary news that you can use, yes you can



I don’t go to town very often—I am no one’s idea of a social butterfly—and so when I do go out I want to make sure than I am going to a good place with excellent food and nice ambiance. Once upon a time, finding such a place would involve going through newspaper after newspaper looking for reviews, but nowadays all I need do is check the Internet.  Almost all restaurants have their own websites now, complete with hours and links to reviews proclaiming how wonderful they are, and with menus listing the specialties of the house available for everyone to read.  I think this is a very good thing, although sometimes I wonder if the menus are too much of a good thing.

I bring all of this largely unnecessary detail because I have a bad habit of not getting to the point in the first paragraph, which I know many of you find annoying in the extreme and, to tell the truth, irritates me as well, but I fear that it is a stylistic tic that I am stuck with at this point.  In any case, I was reading the menu of a new Mexican restaurant here in our happy little burg—they had their soft opening a week ago and some of my friends recommended the place to me—when I noticed that amongst the fillings offered with their homemade tortilla tacos were children and Jamaican jerks. This took me aback; these are not the sort of things anyone would expect to see on a restaurant’s menu, especially a restaurant that hasn’t really opened yet.  The average taco connoisseur expects to see fish, pork, or beef as a filling, although in some places one can get kangaroo, cockatoo, or emu too; I should point out here that I would not actually eat a fish taco if one of my brothers’ lives depended on it—I hate fish with just about every fiber of my being. I hate liver, eggs, and asparagus as well, but I would eat them if one of my brothers’ lives depended on it…maybe. No, not maybe, definitely, sort of, and only if Mom made me. I suppose I should say something about the use of children as a taco filling, but an Irish clergyman of my acquaintance has modestly proposed something along these lines a while ago and so I recommend that you peruse his recommendations.  I agree with most of his major points and I see no reason to repeat those points here.

I do, however, wish to comment on the use of Jamaican jerks in Mexican cuisine. This seems to me an act of cultural appropriation on a truly monstrous scale, nothing less than the forced bastardization of two national cuisines that do not derive from the same cultural and culinary sources and share no common traditions. And to what purpose? Like Tex-Mex, chop suey, and Chicago style deep dish pizza, using Jamaican jerks as filling is less a celebration of culinary mestizaje than a surrender to the unyielding demands of Americanization and assimilation, a demand that all the world’s cuisines subsume their cultural autonomy into the black hole of the American melting pot and transform themselves into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
As if this astonishing act of cultural imperialism were not enough, I heard on NPR the other day that, following many allegations from consumers that the Jamaican jerks they’d eaten could not be the real thing, the state Department of Consumer Affairs had investigated several restaurants with Jamaican jerks on the menu for false advertising and that the consumers’ allegations were true.  Approximately thirty-five percent of all restaurants advertising Jamaican jerks in their tacos or as a separate menu item were not using Jamaican jerks at all; these restaurants were using locally grown American dumbasses instead. One veteran department investigator told the NPR reporter covering the story that this was one of the most blatant cases of false advertising and consumer fraud that he had ever seen.

Nor is consumer fraud we are dealing with here. The use of American dumbasses in place of Jamaican jerks who should have gotten those jobs is an in your face example of nativist prejudice and racism at its worst. I understand, as does anyone who has to deal with the public everyday, that dealing with jerks of any race or nationality is always a bit trying—jerks wouldn’t be jerks if they weren’t trying—but to deny jerks work simply because they are jerks is un-American in principle and probably a civil rights violation in practice.  While it may be too early to demand that the Attorney General’s office open an investigation into this matter, I fell that the restaurants involved should pay the Jamaican jerks they deprived of a livelihood some restitution for their pain and suffering, and also for involving them in an act of cultural appropriation that I am sure these good people did not want to take part in.

I should, I guess, end this discussion with a brief review of the food.  The child-filled taco was very nice, I thought—the meat was tender, but a bit too spicy for my taste, and the pulled Jamaican jerk made with real Jamaican jerks was quite good. You can tell the difference; American dumbasses tend to be bland and the meat tends to be a bit fattier—and it surprises me that any restaurant would think that they could pass off such a clearly inferior product and that no consumer would notice the difference. I do recommend the Jamaican jerk taco, if you like that sort of thing, and also the steak fajita, which was very nice and a welcome change to the less conventional fare.  I also recommend that if you have a restaurant advertising Jamaican jerk in your area that you call your local consumer affairs department and ask if they know if the restaurant is selling the real thing.  You really do not want to waste your money on a cheap imitation.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Gay Marriage Conspiracy, or Gregor Samsa's Diary, not by Franz Kafka



I was watching reruns of NCIS the other day—I will admit it, I could spend hours watching Ziva kicking bad guy ass—when a telephone survey company called and asked me to participate in a poll. I usually hang up on these morons, but I was watching NCIS on demand and I figured I could just freeze the show where it was and come back to it just as soon as I got rid of the surveyors or pollsters or whatever it is you call these people.  The pollsters / surveyors / whatchamacallits were asking about my reactions to current social issues and one of the questions was what I thought of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to make gay marriage legal. I said that I had no opinion on the subject at all, which seemed to perplex the young woman who was asking me the questions. I had previously identified myself as a conservative Roman Catholic Republican and she could not understand how someone with my ideological and theological background could not fail to be against gay marriage. I told her that whether gays married each other, married a non-gay person, or chose to marry an elderly sycamore tree named Elroy T. Hopkins did not concern me nor is the subject one that I choose to spend a lot of time thinking about.  The status of gay marriage in the law or how to adapt a traditionally heteronormative society to the new legal reality is a matter of indifference to me, except as a reason to use the word heteronormative in a sentence for the first time ever (really, I’m not kidding).

What people do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business and I see no reason to change my view simply because the people involved shelled out $35 to get a license from the county clerk. Getting a marriage license is not like getting a liquor license, which reassures the alcohol consuming public that their bartender is not serving them rotgut hooch he made downstairs in a dirty bathtub, or a pilot’s license, which reassures the passengers that the person in the cockpit knows how to fly the plane. No, it’s just a marriage license, which is the state’s acknowledgment that Person A and Person B are adult human beings who are about to do something incredibly stupid, that they are old enough to know better, and they intend to do it anyway despite their parents’ best efforts to dissuade them. Having invested in the license, having ignored their parents, and having spent a fortune on the wedding, the happy couple, gay and straight alike, should get what’s coming to them and get it good and hard, to quote the estimable Mr. Mencken.

I didn’t always feel this way, of course. Once upon a time, I thought the very concept of gay marriage utterly ridiculous. Why, I reasoned, would two sane people who didn’t have to get married actually choose to do so? What would be the point? Procreation? The reproductive urge having taken the high road to Loch Lomond in this case, why then bother with an unnecessary ceremony?  I thought this argument irrefutable, but there are people who do choose to refute it, strange as that may seem, and which they will live to regret, I fear. Marriage is a holy estate, you see, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, and those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder. So let it be written, so let it be done. And then there are divorce lawyers, whose altruistic motives and theological inclinations do not bear prolonged scrutiny.  I know that I should never think ill of my fellow human beings—it’s not the Christian thing to do, you know—but I can’t get over the feeling that gay marriage is a plot by a cabal of divorce lawyers to expand the client pool for their services. Granted, gay people only comprise some 2% of the population, but if you’re a lawyer who needs work any business is better than no business at all.  Indeed, in the rush to exercise their new found right to marriage, the gay community will dash out and commit most of the same silly mistakes that heterosexuals commit when they think they’re in love, which in turn always ends with the same result: divorce lawyers getting rich. I suppose I should get angry with divorce lawyers profiting from the stupidity of the hormone driven, but somehow or other it doesn’t really bother me. After all, why shouldn’t gays be as miserable as straights?  And why shouldn’t divorce lawyers soak gays for every last cent the lawyers can squeeze out of them? It hardly seems fair, either legally or morally, that gays can jettison an unwanted partner anytime they feel like it and straights cannot. If marriage is that important to gays then let them have at it, I say, and let the lawyers have at the gays as well. It’s a free country, after all, and divorce lawyers have to eat just as much as the next guy, and as a wise man once said, so it goes. No, I don't know what that means and I'm pretty sure no one else does, either.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Notice of intent



Just popping here to let you guys know that there is, in fact, stuff on the way, and no, I am not making that up. Not right now, of course, but certainly by Sunday, I think. Until then, enjoy the comforts of hearth and home, kith and kin, this and that, you get my drift. Meanwhile, here in the Vampire State, the leaders of both the State Senate (a Republican) and the State Assembly (a Democrat) are both under indictment for being more crooked than a pig's penis. Bipartisanship, it's a wonderful thing.

UPDATE: I am sitting here at my desk in the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my daily bread.  This is not unusual; I often sit at my desk here, except when I go for lunch, whereupon I will leave my desk and this building behind in a valiant but ultimately futile attempt to break free of the suffocating bounds of a rotting Christian morality and establish myself as an avatar of the Nietzschean Ubermensch with a Subway's meatball marinara sandwich and two chocolate chip cookies,  instead of the increasingly decadent roast beef  sandwich with mayonnaise and black pepper; but what is striking me as very strange is that I am the only one who seems to be doing so. Sitting at my desk, I mean, just in case you lost the thread of the previous sentence as thoroughly as I did. The place is empty. Did someone declare a national holiday today, and if so, how come I am the only person who didn't get the memo? Curiouser and curiouser, Akaky said to himself, and then wondered when the rabbit with the watch will going to show up, preferably with some not stale lemon danish. Cherry danish is acceptable as well, but raspberry danish is not. Standards must be upheld, lest the fabric of civilization disintegrate completely and leave us all in a Hobbesian state of nature without any clean underwear.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Lack of writer's block and other misadventures in electronic publishing



So here’s the thing: I have lots of ideas, so the usual excuses for not writing don’t really apply here. I have, for example, a piece half written on my desk even as I sit here at work listening to some teenagers being callow assholes for the sheer enjoyment of being callow assholes, which is the sort of thing you have to expect from teenagers, I suppose.  Telling myself that they are simply engaging in the teenage imperative doesn’t make their stupidity any less annoying, however.  So yes, there is no real reason why I haven’t been writing busily away here.  It’s just that RA[1] has raised its ugly head once again and I have had other things on my mind.  Having been medically evicted from my hips for non-payment of rent, RA has, like so many people in the past few decades, decided to improve its life and move to the suburbs.  I’ve never thought of my ankles as being particularly suburban, but I imagine that if the mind itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven, an annoying autoimmune disease can find suburban bliss and better schools for the kids in somebody’s ankles.  Its’ just that I would prefer that if find its bliss in someone else’s ankles. Mine hurt enough as it is.
In order to find some relief from the new tenants, I went to a very nice Chinese doctor who x-rayed my feet while I had unexposed photographic film in my pockets—yes, I know that the film is ruined, thank you for the reminder—and then told me that I had an inflammation in my ankles. The doctor was a very nice man, as I said, and so I did not tell him no shit, Sherlock, where’d you leave your squad car?  No, I simply nodded politely and asked what he intended to do about it.  He indicated that some cortisone was in order and he left me alone with my thoughts and my bare feet for a few moments to go get a nurse and some cortisone as well.  When he came back about five minutes later with both nurse and drugs in tow, I hopped up on the table as brightly and chipperly as someone who just invented the word chipperly can hop anywhere, whereupon the good doctor sterilized my right foot and then jabbed me in the ankle with a very large needle.  This being my first cortisone shot ever, I and my ankle did not respond well to the sudden intrusion of the corpus, and I wish to take this opportunity to apologize to the doctor for screaming, what the fuck, at him at the top of my lungs.  The doctor, however, did not so much as blink an eye at my comment, which leads me to believe that I am not the first person he’s injected with cortisone who has had this reaction.  Afterwards, I was left in the hands of the nurse, who proceeded to show me how to use the ankle braces the doctor told me to wear.

One of the braces the nurse gave me was a simple ankle brace that anyone who has had a sprained ankle will be familiar with. The other brace looked like a bondage device for foot fetishists.  The simple ankle brace came with a forty page pamphlet in twelve European languages (including Slovenian) and four Asian languages, two of them being Chinese in both simplified and traditional pictographs.  The foot fetishist’s wet dream came with no instructions in any language at all (including Slovenian).  The nurse quickly showed me how to put the thing on and then rushed off to see other patients.  As you might imagine, I have worn the foot fetishist’s delight exactly once, because I cannot figure out how to fasten and secure the device to my ankle.  In fact, I wear the brace for my left ankle on my right ankle; it seems to work, but there may be dangers here that I will comment on at a later date. As for the left ankle brace that I wear on my right ankle, it strikes me as decidedly odd that anyone would choose to print out, in twelve European languages (including Slovenian), four Asian languages, two of them being Chinese in both simplified and traditional pictographs, detailed instructions on how to put on a sock.  I realize that the bureaucratic mind will seize at any opportunity to make itself annoying to the public it allegedly serves, but this seems to be unnecessarily annoying. Didn’t we all learn to put on our socks before we started kindergarten? And even if our mothers put the socks on for us, I think that the majority of the world’s sock wearing population would have learned how to put on their socks simply by watching Mom do it every morning.  I, and I expect billions of other sock-wearing people as well, do not see the need for subjecting the gimps of the world to a forty page pamphlet in twelve European languages (including Slovenian), four Asian languages, two of them being Chinese in both simplified and traditional pictographs.  We already know how to put our socks on, thank you very much, or did I miss something along the way?


[1] Rheumatoid arthritis, if you are not a long time reader. I would say that this particular ailment is a royal pain in the ass, except that my ass is the one place it doesn’t bother at all.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Science news you can use



Quantum mechanics are in the news these days and not at all for the usual reason.  They are not going on strike, an announcement that comes as a surprise to anyone who has watched the airline’s troubled labor history and as a relief to anyone planning an antipodean vacation this year.  Odd as it may seem, you will not find the news about quantum mechanics in any of the places you would usually expect to find such news. No indeed. Quantum mechanics, if you can believe it, have made the headlines on the science page of every newspaper that can still afford to have a science page not dedicated to fad diets and miraculous cures for cancer.  Scientists working for an organization whose name is eluding me at the moment have determined that a key proponent of quantum mechanics, that reality does not exist until an independent entity attempts to measure it, is, in fact, true. Now, I am not sure how this can be, to be honest with you. If there is nothing until something tries to measure it, how can the something doing the measuring exist without something else trying to measure it? There’s a bit of a paradox here that brings to mind a universe of frustrated tailors packed into a small room trying to measure each other for a nice three piece suit and an extra pair of pants thrown in for half price (shoes, socks, and belts not included. Order now and avoid the Christmas rush!)  But who am I to argue with scientists?  No one.  A man who still has trouble doing long division is not a man who can argue with quantum mechanics, although I can tell when they’re padding the bill whenever I bring in my water cycle for inspection. Despite what you may have heard from certain biased sources—yes, Mom, I mean you—I do know when those guys are gouging me.

Still, the fact that reality does not exist until someone tries to measure it is, I think, one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century. For generations, dieters have fought the unwelcome tyranny of the weight scale, trying one new diet after another in a pathetic and usually futile attempt to halt and turn back the inexorable and ever upward advance of the scale. And what has been the result of all of this effort?  Depression, self-loathing, and an ever shrinking sense of self-esteem. But now, modern science finally offers the overwhelmed dieter a way off the never-ending cycle of weight loss and then more weight gain entirely. If reality does not exist until one attempts to measure it, then what could be simple than not weighing yourself and telling everyone who asks that you’ve lost weight?  Reality, after all, does not exist until you step onto the weight scale. So don’t step on it. This will make you much happier than worrying about calorie counts and weekly weight checks will, and quantum mechanics is all about making you a happier person, isn’t it?

There will be a great deal of pushback against these findings, of course. The diet industry is a billion dollar business in this country and they will not surrender those profits without a fight. The American public can expect to see the full weight of the advertising and public relations industries brought to bear in order to deny the science. Before too many more months pass, we can expect to see the full page spreads in all the major newspapers and magazines, the tendentious public service advertisements running in prime time, and the phony “scientists” operating out of allegedly independent research institutes telling credulous journalists that quantum mechanics is not really settled science, that quantum mechanics don’t allow black people to join their union, and that Werner Heisenberg, the original quantum mechanic, was a not very nice person who did not support gay marriage and liked to kick cute little puppies out of second story windows when they weren’t looking.  The journalists, whose employers will not want to upset such important advertisers, will not bother to research the claims of these “scientists” and so the public will not find out until much later that the diet industry funds these “independent research institutes.”  The fear that the diet industry will use its economic clout to harm the media is nothing for anyone to sneer at.  It is important for the true believer in quantum mechanics to know that the dieting industry, like hell and tyranny, is not easily overcome; the fight against these science deniers will be long and hard. As I mentioned above, there’s simply too much money involved to think that the dieting industry will go gently into that good night willingly.  We must educate the public that they do have choices, that the dieting industry is trying to deny established science, and that the public does not have to live with the abuse heaped upon them by these corporate bloodsuckers.

But all will come right in the end.  The richly deserved economic oblivion that awaits the dieting industry will mean the end of fat shaming in our society and the attendant psychological bullying that goes with it.  Science will move us all forward into a bright new day and quantum mechanics will go back to doing what they do best: disassemble the transmission on your water cycle and tell you that it will cost you two thousand dollars to repair the thing. You’ve noticed, no doubt, that quantum mechanics will tell you that reality doesn’t exist until someone tries to measure it, but they get to charge you an arm and a leg just to do noting but look at your transmission.  Reality and unreality run into real money, folks, whether or not you own a weight scale or a tape measure, which I find vaguely surreal, but, as in all things mechanical, that could just be me.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Letting it all hang out, sideways sort of



We live today in a tell—all—let—everything—hang—out society, a society that believes that keeping certain things to oneself is psychologically unsound for the individual and for society as well, and therefore the best thing to do when confronted with personal matters you would rather not discuss with anyone is, counterintuitively enough, to discuss then with damn near everyone you can think of. I should blame Sigmund Freud for this, but I don’t, not really. He merely theorized that discussing your innermost thoughts and emotions with a medical professional would help his patients understand why they were so miserable; he never promised anyone that spilling their guts to him would make them permanently happy—it would only relieve the misery of existence for a short time, in much the same way as a priest granting absolution after a sinner’s confession understands that the sinner will need to come back and get relief for the sins he will commit during the following week. It may not make you happy, but you will know why you’re not happy. 

No, I blame Phil Donahue and his principal acolyte, Oprah Winfrey, for the current obsession with knowing more about people that we really care to know, and, of course, I blame Philo Farnsworth for inventing television in the first place, which gave Donahue and Winfrey the platform they needed to display their emotional basket cases to an unsuspecting world. I suppose, given the popularity of the format that Donahue and Winfrey pioneered, that I am in a minority about this, but I would just as soon not know who is copulating with whom or to discuss reproductive biology, my own or someone else’s, with complete strangers. I do not inflict unwanted confidences on other people and I should like some reciprocation from them, but I know better than to expect it. I realize that this reluctance is an anachronism in this day and age, a cultural artifact of an Irish Catholic childhood that has no place in the modern world, but there’s nothing I can do about it at this point. I am what I am, said Popeye the Sailor Man, and if it’s good enough for Popeye, it’s good enough for me.

I wonder when we here in this our Great Republic began treating the most intimate aspects of our private lives as fodder for mass entertainment and the stuff of everyday conversation. You may not credit this, but once upon a time here in this our Great Republic the only people who would talk about such things in public were the mentally ill. But the mentally ill have a reason for their tell-all mania: they are, in fact, maniacal. They are nuts, clinically, psychologically, one hundred percent by a doctor who went to medical school and everything certified bonkers. The rest of us, however, don’t have that excuse. So why do we keep displaying our psychic quirks in public?  The question remains a Rosicrucian mystery to me and all the evidence points to the question staying that way. I suppose people keep doing this sort of thing because emotional caterwauling makes them happy and it makes other people happy to watch them roll around in their psychic traumas. There is something more than a little gruesome about all of this, I think, but as I appear to be the only one who thinks so, I must endure what I cannot stop. It all seems horribly unfair to me, but I don’t think anyone cares what I think of all this one way or the other. Ah well, what can you do?

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The End is Near, and other things you don't care to read about.



I suppose this should not bother me—I’m a big boy now, after all, and on a scale of one to ten of life’s little annoyances this should not even register as a blip—but I am not sure when Christian eschatology became an appropriate subject for men’s room graffiti. I am a firm advocate of the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion, but I also believe that there is a time and a place for everything, and reading that ‘THE END IS NEAR’ while I am standing in front of a urinal relieving myself is, to my mind, neither the time nor the place for such a message. At such a time, I do not want to think deep thoughts about the Day of Judgment nor do I wish to pass the time it takes to pass water contemplating my sins; I simply want to finish the business at hand and get out of the men’s room, especially the men’s room that is the star of this particular screed, which is unnecessarily noisome, even by the very low standards that most people judge rest rooms by.  If I didn’t absolutely positively no—two—ways—about—it did not need to use this rest room, I wouldn’t, but nature has its own purposes, as it is wont to do, and while I am attending to those purposes I do not wish to think about eschatology or the soteriological train of thought that inevitably arises from it.

This was not always the case, of course. In the history of Christianity, there are any number of great theologians who have thought their greatest thoughts while attending to the necessary. The great fourth century heresiarch Arius, unless he was the great fifth century heresiarch Arius—I’m not sure if I’ve got the right dates here—first thought that Jesus was not consubstantial with the Father while sitting in the men’s room, and no, I don’t have any idea what Arius was talking about, either. Understanding the details of his theology was apparently not a requirement, as Arianism became wildly popular without anyone really knowing what Arius was going on about. Arius was sort of like the Stephen Hawking of the fourth (or fifth) century; everyone bought his books but no one really read them. But fashion rules all, as someone much smarter than me once said, and back in the day everyone who was anyone wanted to be an Arian, and so Arius started spending a lot of time in the men’s room trying to think of the next big theological thing.  This was unfortunate, because one day while Arius sat doing his business and thinking deep thoughts about the nature of the Trinity, some non-Arian Christian—I have not ascertained whether this person was Orthodox, Catholic, miaphysite, or Nestorian in his theological orientation—ventilated Arius’ guts from below with a sword. Besides being an extremely painful and more than a little embarrassing way to die, one cannot help but wonder how the assassin knew which of the rumps above his head belonged to Arius. All human faces are different, but everyone’s backside looks pretty much the same. There are differences in size and shape, of course, but the basics don’t really vary that much. Butts are butts.

Martin Luther was another habitué of the theological outhouse, a man who suffered from such severe chronic constipation that he tore Western Christendom apart trying to relieve the gastrointestinal pressure on his body and soul.  Why Luther suffered from such chronic constipation is lost now to medical science: as an Augustinian friar he may have suffered from the poor monastic diet—bread, water, and wine do not a balanced diet make, no matter how positively biblical this trinity might otherwise appear—and so it is not difficult to imagine that Luther’s guts revolted when confronted with the occasional bratwurst.  Indeed, given the vehemence of Luther’s denunciations, it is not difficult to imagine that Luther found Johann Tetzel’s selling papal get out of purgatory bubble gum cards less objectionable than Tetzel’s lack of laxatives in his peddler’s sack. Getting out of purgatory is all well and good, but it is sometimes difficult to contemplate the mysteries of the divine when your guts are in a knot. Something had to give, and in 1517, something finally did; Luther posted the 95 Theses, beginning the Protestant Reformation. Whether the Reformation did anything for Luther’s need to relieve himself is unknown.

Still, the most interesting of the plumbing theologians was, to my mind, St. Edwin of Nobbish, an English saint who wanted to be a desert hermit like Simeon Stylites, an Egyptian saint who lived on top of a pillar for forty years. This posed a bit of a problem for St. Edwin, given the lack of suitable pillars, posts, and deserts in his native England, but not one to give up easily, Edwin compensated by standing on top of a chamber pot on one foot while he contemplated the nature of free will.  St. Edwin, an otherwise orthodox Catholic theologian, held the view that God must exist simultaneously at all levels of possibility, in what happened and what did not happen, reconciling, he thought, the question of free will with the omniscience of God. The Church found his theory more than vaguely heretical, but could not come out and say so without denying the omnipotence of God, which is not vaguely heretical at all; it’s the real thing. People who know about such things tell me that while St. Edwin of Nobbish’s theory may not be entirely orthodox theology, it is fairly good string theory, and that the story that he died because he turned an ankle and fell off the chamber pot he’d stood on for fifty-two years and cracked his skull is exactly that, a story. St. Edwin died in the late 1340's, yet another victim of the Black Death that killed nearly half of the population of Europe.

It also occurs to me that the graffito ‘The End is Near’—remember ‘The End is Near’, it’s what I was complaining about before I wandered off into the tangles of Christian theological history, for which digression, I must beg your pardon; I know I shouldn’t go off-topic but sometimes I can’t help myself—that this might mean that the user’s end is near the urinal, in which case they are standing in the wrong stall. They should be sitting on the commode in the stall next to the urinal. This, though, sounds as farfetched as St. Edwin of Nobbish’s theory of simultaneous ubiquity. Why would someone who knows what a urinal is for attempt to use it while facing away from it? Even a woman compelled by necessity to use the men’s room would know better than to use a urinal in this fashion. So, whose end is near and why is this end in this particular urinal? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is a reason why tradition limits the subjects on men’s room walls to scatology, obscenity, profanity, slander, and sports, and this is it. No one wants to think about ultimate things while they are attending to the necessary. We just want to go.

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