The Fog of Boredom

Boredom is not necessary, neither is it illegal. Resorting to subjects, verbs and objects that are illegal often serves as boredom’s potent antidote. For a while, anyway. Until one becomes bored with whatever illegal activity, hormones will surge, chemicals will churn life into the dull grey soft matter that is the hardware of consciousness. We are children squishing ants on the front porch. Nothing wrong with that, even kind of addictive. And it never gets old until we do.
Let’s turn things up a notch. That bird over there needs a rock thrown at it, we think, and throw one in its direction not intending to hit the target, which it does. The sparrow falls quickly, unaware of how or why or even that it has become acutely inert.
A few years later another juvenile ensemble has assembled, waiting to pounce. That kid with the new bicycle (sweet tufted banana seat, suicide handlebars, nothing but chrome for fenders) sees them staring at him. He innocently leaves it unlocked in front of the drug store. The glass door doesn’t even shut before one of the boys mounts the stingray and flies it to the next neighborhood. Hey, it’s something to do. The dork comes out holding a candy bar he will never eat. Sick with loss, new emptiness where his new bike was a few minutes earlier, safe, solid and real, all his, suited to no one else. How dare anyone ride it but him. He must walk the city block to his home. It’s a joyless hike, the distance compounded as barefooted forced march. The void that is his loss weighs on him brutally. That fine machine, the envy of the other boys, the most significant physical extension of his personal identity, the thing that got him from place to place in style, gone.
The dork rides shotgun as his father steers the Impala through the neighborhood streets. Decades will pass until father and son both relive these moments in dreams they never share with the other. It never occurs to either of them as they reflect on this memory, a horrible experience transformed into a sweet recollection, time together, so long ago. And there it is: the stolen bike, still recognizable under the all the disguise from a hasty black paint job. The thief later becomes a friend.
He remembers the time he returned to check on the carcass of the fallen sparrow a few minutes after he’d killed it, but it was gone.

Babies are Gross

Birth. Our nephew’s daughter entered Earth’s atmosphere in the vicinity of San Antonio. Hardly a moment later photos came as email attachments, precious new yet-to-be-swaddled human, her waxy white and vernix coat softening the blushing red. Other than in emails, this image was spared social media exposure as far as we know. The parents are commended.
The joy of a new family member spread quickly to the other side of the world. Our daughter in Seoul quickly shot back her observation. “Babies are gross.” Such candor attests to her lineage, and the adage: she is her father’s daughter. I’m so proud.
She’s right, you know. She, at birth, was no exception. None of us are. Caesar’s entry into life and exit from his mother, the method of which bears his name, was probably more especially gross. And of course all the accompanying baggage, you know, that cord and a couple of square feet of amniotic membrane, the child’s weight in placenta, have got to go somewhere and aren’t going to dispose of themselves.
Even the immaculately conceived Jesus, vaginally birthed in circumstances so abjectly humble so as to emphasize the glory of his virgin mother’s deliverance, halos all around, angels attending, afterbirth lost somewhere in the hay, not unusual for that kind of place.
Civilization removes the grossness of childbirth. But there’s no escaping the reality. I was born in my father’s absence as was the custom in those days. He was in the waiting room down the hall. One could argue that my mother wasn’t even there. I don’t know if she was anesthetized for the event, also an easy option of the times. As for me? I don’t remember. And no manner of hypnotic regression will change that. What would be the point. My mother tells me she thought I looked like a red rat when she saw me for the first time. And looking at the black-and-white of me as a newborn, I’ve got to agree.
Continue reading “Babies are Gross”

what is a sacred clone

This is truly a question that I am frequently asked. ((I’ve answered this before in two mini-essays, the second after the first was destroyed. This is the third attempt. Here’s hoping.)) This is a question to which I would like to hear more answers than the one I’m about to give. It would be pretty cool for people to offer their own conclusions as possible answers: “Is a Sacred Clone…   such and such and so forth?” Even that answer is sounds good to me right now. Think of a sacred clone as a clone that is sacred.  All too obvious, I know, but it’s that

The fun lies in the multiple layers of meaning. ((A childhood friend referred to these layers as “transparencies.”  I am not sure what he meant by that other than the different meanings a thing takes on when you look at it, or through it, in a different light, other connotations and denotations derived in the context of situation and circumstance.)) The term “layers” can be deceptive, implying hierarchy of each meaning, one over the other, disparate definitions insulated with layers of nuance and interpretation. Such is the hazard of bias, inflexibility, rigidity. Words are alive with their meanings. All things alive grow and change and evolve, potentially into something unrecognizable. ((Most people I run into these days do not recognize me if we have not seen each other in more than twenty years.)) And so, sometimes you just have to move on.  Some words just don’t mean the same thing they meant a generation or so ago. When one does not accept the plasticity of language one is not likely to accept the inevitable communication failures that result.
Clones are identical, right? I don’t know. Most if not all the sci-fi literature I have beheld seems to emphasize degradation as the common theme. Rule of thumb is that a clone from an original isn’t quite as good as the original. Same goes for a clone of a clone until all integrity is lost and it just won’t hold together. And so, what’s the point? If a clone is not identical to the original, why would you want it?
One of the meanings of the term Sacred Clone could be that that particular is different than all the others. But then, is it a clone? Would the difference lie in mutation or some other fluke that allowed it survivability, that it should not degrade as others of its generation? Again, I don’t know.
All emperor penguins look alike. To me, they sound alike, they act alike, they smell the same. And it is a scent without nuance or subtlety as far as I can tell. But they know each other. Mates know their mates. Parents know their offspring, and can distinguish one from another in the throngs of companions upon returning from weeks away hunting and eating.
A friend and I were playing billiards. She was beautiful as far as I was concerned. But she was a bit older than me, had children half my age. Talking about this she mentioned something, threw it out in our conversation like any other sentence. Yet, I have heard nothing as profound spoken so casually in any conversation since: “We are much more alike than we are different.” And she wasn’t talking about the two of us necessarily. That was when we looked up and noticed a crowd gathered around one of the TV monitors at the Student Union Building. Ronald Reagan had just been shot. He survived. My friendship with that particular beautiful woman did not. However, if you put the two of us together in a crowd after all these years, we would find each other. We would know who the other was from that other time and place and we would enjoy a visit and then move on.

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