25 March 2013

The Only Thing We Are Responsible For is Being Offensive and Then I Tell a Story

“The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armour of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error."  -- John Dos Passos, The 42nd Parallel

Mired in sophistry. People dulling their minds with trivial debates and debating trivia while empires crumble civilizations tumble and hunger

Got sucked into it myself today for a bit. An article on a city news site about a poorly attended rally for pedestrian safety. The organizer was quoted as complaining of apathy and dangerous driving in Berkeley. I couldn't resist posting a comment (mistake!) pointing out that Berkeley could hardly be accused of apathy (the least of its faults to be sure) and that drivers were no more reckless within our borders than any place else. The quoted responded to my comment by saying that I had offended all of Berkeley's pedestrians and was lacking in reading comprehension skills. Well of course. I rebutted that I had in that case offended myself as a Berkeley pedestrian and that I was in turn offended by his attack on my reading skills. "Offenses for everyone!" I concluded.

The subject of offense-taking has been a theme of mine of late on this blog. Never did I think that I would be accused of offending pedestrians. A group of which I am a proud member. Poor pedestrians we are just another beleaguered minority. No one --  it seems --  is immune from offense taking or giving.

You blaggard! You scoundrel! You ruffian! You cad! You roustabout! Or how about this: you person of another color! Or you person of a differing sexual orientation or of a gender or religious belief or lack thereof or weight or personality type. Or you person of a differing opinion! Put 'em up!

"Nobody calls a Firefly an upstart!" - Groucho Marx as Rufus T. Firefly in Duck Soup.

I swear this society is headed back to the days of dueling. Throwing down of gloves slaps across the face and perhaps even ten paces and fire!

A popular target group of offensive remarks that has been getting an especially spirited defense of late is fat people.  You see its not their fault that they are constantly inhaling milkshakes and 98 ounce sodas. No of course not. No one is to blame for anything. Racists can't help it they were raised to believe in the inferiority of other plus these poor people are ignorant. Leave em alone. Drug addicts and alcoholics have a disease they were born with. Homicidal maniacs have serious mental issues that are not to be made light of. Polish people were born of Polish descent. No one is responsible for where they are or any aberrant behavior they engage in. We are all victims of what we are and we are all every one of us precious and not to be made fun of. Humor is offensive. Satire is rude. Observations are risky. Sarcasm must be eliminated.  Opinions are noxious. Art is dangerous. Self expression an abomination.

The only thing we are responsible for is being offensive.

Not to change the subject but....

Ted and Martha thought that they should drop by. You know at least make an appearance. For appearances sake. They were pretty good friends with Chuck and Lisa and it would be wrong not to stop in and say hello even if they didn't really know anyone in Chuck's family -- Lisa's family was all back East -- or most of their other friends. They made a point to be half an hour late knowing that most people would be fashionably late. They left earlier than they should have but killed some time by stopping for a bottle of wine. Nothing cheap but nothing too expensive either. They were still early so they circled the neighborhood which they had to admit was a pretty nice one. Chuck had done well for himself and apparently Lisa's real estate business was doing okay after all. Ted had predicted it would be a bust but as Martha reminded him he'd been wrong before.

They arrived exactly a half hour late. Ted and Martha found the hosts and gave each a quick hug and a peck on the cheek (well Ted didn't give Chuck a peck). They complimented their hosts on how nice the house looked and how they appreciated the invitation. Chuck and Lisa were busy hosting so couldn't chit chat for long but promised to catch up later in the afternoon. So Ted and Martha helped themselves at the buffet table and got themselves a glass of wine. They separated and each looked for people they knew. Ted saw a few familiar faces but they were mostly already deep in conversations. He wondered if coming so late was such a good idea after all. He managed to talk for a few minutes with Lyle Conklin about yesterday's game but Lyle was just a casual fan and had nothing of particular interest to say.

Martha could find none of her dear friends but was introduced to a Tanya Mickleson who had a shared interested in quilting. They had a nice chat before Tanya was called away to meet someone else. She then found herself talking to Laura Dugard who she really didn't like. Laura was full of opinions and never took a breath from offering them to hear what anyone else might say. Ted's luck was no better as he found himself talking to someone named Zeke who mostly bragged about his sail boat.

Eventually Ted and Martha found each other again and shared their mutual disappointment with the  party. Ted asked if it was too soon to go. Martha suggested that they should really give the gathering a bit more time and that things might pick up yet. Martha warned Ted not to have too much wine which annoyed Ted who rarely had a drop more than he should -- at least in his mind. Martha sensed Ted's irritation and worried that she'd just pushed Ted toward actually having a drink or three too many. She gave him a tender squeeze in hopes that it would help matters between them. The fact was that Martha had felt a strain in their relationship of late. Ted was clearly battling depression though he would't talk about nor would he get help. Ted was indeed suffering from severe bouts of depression and was troubled by his failure to earn a promotion at work though he was sure the two issues weren't linked. They weren't.

They ultimately decided to mingle some more and Martha fell into conversation with a woman named Cheri with whom she had a number of mutual acquaintances. They ended up gossiping and having a gay time and it was Martha who had more than her share of wine. Meanwhile Ted found someone to talk sports about and then finally got to chat with Chuck who gave him some good investment advice.

Around 9:00 people started leaving so Ted and Martha said their goodbyes and drove home. They agreed that it was a nice evening after all and it was good that they went. At home Ted settled in front of the TV and watched an old World War II movie for about the fifth time. He always got a kick out of it. Martha was still tipsy and made some phone calls to a sister and cousin then showered and read in bed for a few minutes before falling a sleep. She was snoring loudly when Ted climbed into bed next to her. He settled in under the comforter and remembered the pretty young black prostitute he slept with in New Orleans when he was in the service. He felt a weird mixture of excitement and guilt and hoped that her life turned out well. It was an hour before he could turn his mind off from distant memories and fall asleep.

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