Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Metaphor for Suburban Life
Well, I am good and depressed now, that's for certain. There are some things that just scream out "Suburbia!" to me. It always sounds like an accusation. Mowing the lawn is the most common trigger. I can think of no more soul-crushing activity. As Dr. Seuss said, "...Think they work you too hard? Think of poor Ali Sard. He has to mow grass in his uncle's back yard, and it's quick-growing grass; it grows as he mows it. The faster he mows it, the faster he grows it..." Ugh.
Anyway, we had a small crisis this week. It's been nice out there, as fall in New England so often is, so the family and I ate dinner outside in the backyard. Norman Fucking Rockwell, I swear, even the cats came out to enjoy the lack of humidity and mosquitos that make fall, arguably, better than summer around here.
Yeah, that's where the problem started. Let the cats out. Now, these are my cats, and, while they are not my genetic progeny, are definitely the product of a Livingjetlag-influenced environment. So what do we have? Cat #1, Grendel, bought at the mall in Cheektowaga, NY for $20, black and white, age 13. Cat #2, Hyde, taken from the Farmers' Market in Ithaca grey sort-of-tabby, free to good home, probably too young to start eating cat food when we took him but no one told us so, and he ended up having a lot of chronic health issues; age 13. Early this year, he lost the last of his teeth, which actually seemed to help somehow. Both of the boys are declawed. Neither is particularly bright. Raised in Buffalo, NY on a major bus route, they are indoor cats at heart.
So there we were, minding our own collective business, when Grendel spotted motion in the grass. He went to investigate, and found a mouse. He watched the mouse. He watched the mouse. He watched the mouse. At no point was there any hint of aggression, or any apparent ambivalence about whether he should do anything in this situation. Yeah, he's the mall cat. Then Hyde, Farmer's Cat, noticed his adopted brother's attention being fixed on something. Quite the little hunter, he circled wide around, then stalked in to investigate from the far side. He pounced. A horrid sound followed. Part cassette with both "FF" and "Play" pressed, part nails-on-a-chalkboard, part malfunctioning brakes, it was too much for Grendel, who said the cat equivalent of "Ew!" and walked away. Yeah, guess who's not the alpha male.
Now, we are engaged in the timeless, life and death struggle of predator and prey. We will witness the final products of, depending on your point of view, creation or evolution, the purpose. Also, we will metaphorically visit the meeting of The Suburbs and The Real World. What do we see? Well, we see the instincts of the hunter and of the hunted. We also see that the hunted, while at a significant size disadvantage, has little teeny claws. The Predator has no claws. The Prey has teeth, which, while small, can chew a hole in the side of your house. The Predator has no teeth. Fortunately, someone opens the Lambs n Rice for him. The prey, needless to say, got free, as the predator was unable to gum him to death. The predator caught the prey, again. More horrid squealing, more struggling, another escape. Another capture. Repeat several times, with the action occurring a little closer to the tall grass and mousy freedom each time.
Where was the Livingjetlag family the whole time? Right there, watching. We knew the motion in the grass was a mouse because I checked it out during the Grendel-spectator phase. The LJ family looked on:
LJ's daughter, age 8, burst into furious, hysterical tears. "I like mice!" she later said. She couldn't turn away, but was obviously horrified. She yelled at Hyde to stop. My response, because I am very possibly the worst father in the world, was "NO! Let him be a cat." Mrs. LJ tried to get Daughter to stop watching, since it made her so upset. Too logical for anyone in my family, so no one listened.
The end result, of course, was that the mouse escaped, entirely unharmed. I was glad for my daughter, but a little upset that I didn't get a chance to see what would happen to the mouse carcass. I like to think I would have gotten half. After all, I open all those cans of Lamb n Rice...
Your humblest and most devoted servant,
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The environment belongs to the wealthy, so keep off!
Remember when the environment belonged to dirty hippies and third world nations? Ah, those were the good old days. Since then, apparently, it occurred to the Haves that the environment occurs, to a great extent, on land, and that they are the land-owning class, dammit, not a bunch of door-to-door college kids on break! So all the college kids and dirty hippies are forced to join PETA and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition now, and the environment belongs to the people who had fences put up around it. How can I tell? Well, I'm so glad (I'm pretending) you asked.
Let's look at a couple of stands the Radical Environmentalist Left have taken recently. One, not all that recent I admit, but still a thorn in my side after nearly 10 years, was a stand against a rail trail for use by cyclists, roller-bladers etc, that was to go through several towns in Eastern Massachusetts. The lovely people of the town of Weston, bless their environmentally conscious hearts, sacrificed their recreation out of concern that there would be too much environmental impact on this delicate ecosystem of disused railway. Now, the cynics say that the Tony Town of Weston just couldn't handle the idea of people from the neighboring town of Waltham being near their lovely homes. I mean, come on, Waltham is full of immigrants and the handicapped and working people and other undesirables. It's one thing to hire them to cut your lawn, but to have them engaging in recreation? Ew. Next they'll be engaging in procreation, and what will happen to property values then? Now, the people of Weston clog the streets of Waltham with their smogging SUV's on their commutes to and from Boston/Cambridge on a daily basis, and the argument could be made that they owe their neighbors a little fresh air, and I'm sure they would love to oblige, but not at the expense of the environment! Think of the chipmunks, people!
Ok, you think I'm exaggerating, but look up the "Wayside Rail Trail." How about another? There was a time that idiots like me thought that wind energy was a clean, renewable resource that would help reduce pollution and benefit the environment. Ha! Silly me. It has been clearly proven, both in Maine and off the coast of Massachusetts, that putting up windmills for generating electricity is possibly the single biggest threat to the environment short of strip mining. In Maine, someone tried to put some turbines up on some mountains in an area full of roads and ski slopes. In Massachusetts, someone tried to put some turbines in an area that can be seen from Nantucket, where there were fish 100 years ago, and there are too many jellyfish now (they love polluted water). In both cases, the unselfish people of those unspoiled wildernesses demanded justice for the delicate environment. They are striking a blow for the continued use of clean, renewable petroleum instead. It has nothing to do with those unsightly white propellers. Thank god for the people of Elizabeth, NJ, Buffalo, NY and countless other oil-refining areas of this great nation who continue to support the (cough, sputter, spew) environment on behalf of the people who own nicer land and bigger cars than you.
Not that I'm bitter.
Your humblest and most devoted servant,