“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
– Ernest Hemingway
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
There’s an old fable that tells of scorpion that begs a frog for a ride across the river. The frog replies, “if I give you a ride on my back, you’ll sting me!”
The scorpion assures him, “if I sting you, we’ll both drown!”
The frog accepts this as logical, and agrees to take him across the river on his back. About half way there, the frog feels a sharp pain, and his legs go numb – they both begin to sink.
“Why did you do it?” asked the frog, “Now we’ll both die!”
“I couldn’t help it,” replied the scorpion, “it’s in my nature!”
In other variations, the frog is replaced with a fox. Perhaps this was to illustrate that even a creature as clever and resourceful as a fox is not immune to the cruel indifference of nature.
A modern retelling has the fox place the scorpion on the end of his snout where he can keep an eye on him, flinging him off at the moment he raises his stinger. Interesting, but I think it misses the point (pun intended); The fox learns no lesson and instead, confirms only what he already knew to be true.
The last variation of the story replaces the scorpion’s fellow traveler with a tortoise. According Bidpai (as retold by Maude Barrows Dutton):
Halfway across he was startled by a strange rapping on his back, which made him ask the scorpion what he was doing.
“Doing?” answered the scorpion. “I am whetting my sting to see if it is possible to pierce your hard shell.”
“Ungrateful friend,” responded the tortoise, “it is well that I have it in my power both to save myself and to punish you as you deserve.” And straightway he sank his back below the surface and shook off the scorpion into the water.
The scorpion pretends to understand logic and can parrot reasoned arguments, but he is and will always be a slave to his nature. Is there any point to being upset at a scorpion for being a scorpion?
The lesson here (if there is one) is this: You can only trust a scorpion to be himself. And if you are going to try help him, you’d better have thick skin.
In his book, God, No! Signs You May Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, Penn Jillette fondly recalls the line, “And now I’m Japanese, so fuck off!” from the mid-80’s porno movie, New Wave Hookers as delivered by the late Jamie Gillis.
Unfortunately for Penn, nowhere in the movie does Jamie say this, or anything like it. What actually happens is that the “Vice Squad” busts in on Jimmy (Jamie Gillis) and his partner, Jamal Lincoln Bubba Washington to break up their “New Wave bitches” prostitution ring.
They confuse Jimmy with Jamal, at which point Jamal jumps up and runs off into the night in his fly, banana-yellow jumpsuit. Jimmy, in all his fo-punk glory, is left to deal with the two agents. What he says next is this:
“Hey, listen guys. Hey, I’m not Jamal, but listen, you take it from me. You’re smart enough to throw in with us, you can have any of these fuckin’ bitches you want, any fuckin’ day of the week you want. Get it guys? I mean, fuck it. Don’t you recognize me? I used to work in your fuckin’ office. And now, I’m rich, I’m satisfied, and I’m Chinese you assholes!”
Not quite the impassioned speech from Penn’s Clorox-scented memories, but there it is. Incidentally, this is all an inception-like shared dream between the two protagonists.
Does it really matter what Jamie (Jimmy?) said? Or is this just another manifestation of the Mandela Effect? Like the plastic-covered seats of a seedy porn theater from a bygone era, memories can be slippery.
Life is a series of lines in the sand; each represents a milestone, when achieved, will finally bring you happiness and contentment. I’ll be happy when…
- I’ll be happy when I earn my degree
- I’ll be happy when I land my first real job
- I’ll be happy when I start making real money
- I’ll be happy when I own my home
- I’ll be happy when I buy my first new car
- I’ll be happy when I lose 20 lbs
- I’ll be happy when…
On and on it goes, ad infinitum. Each of these is a lie we tell ourselves for the hope of what tomorrow could bring. We all need something to look forward to, otherwise, what’s the point?
The truth is, happiness and contentment are mercurial. It can’t be captured in a bottle and preserved forever in your wine cellar – and even if you could, would you really want to?
Try to remember the great times you had…
- I was happy when girls started to notice me
- I was happy when I stayed up all night with my friends
- I was happy when I quit a job I hated
- I was happy when I impaled myself on the tree of knowledge
- I was happy when I was a broke musician
- I was happy when I was 12,012.83 km from my place of birth
- I was happy when…
But don’t forget to take pleasure in the moment…
- I enjoy paying myself $75/week to lose weight by bringing my lunch
- I enjoy going for a 3-mile walk every night
- I enjoy my first cup of coffee every day
- I enjoy conversations with my friend Jim after work
- I enjoy laughing to politically incorrect humor
- I enjoy talking to strangers
- I enjoy making arbitrary lists…
So there I was, sitting at home, minding my own business, trying to get some work done when I get this mysterious text message from an unrecognized number.
I don’t know anyone by the name of, “Alisha,” let alone one with a cute ass…Or was I the one who has the cute ass? I think I need to buy Alisha a punctuation.
Instead I decided to just go with it…
I decided to play it cool here. A suspicion was beginning to well up inside me that Alisha expected me attend her friend’s party, so I decided to give her a lukewarm response.
As predicted, Alisha counters by announcing her intent to get inebriated, then inquires about my well-being:
I maintain a relaxed demeanor and wait for the veiled invitation that’s sure to come.
My assumption was that Alisha was into older guys and Jerry Springer. I considered breaking out Matlock, but decided instead to combine Matlock with Jerry Springer to form a two-person Voltron (i.e. the Brad Neely technique), resulting in the Judge Judy counterplay:
This is where Alisha demonstrates surprising resilience, undoubtedly bolstered by the Drunken Booty-Call Bulwark™ (DBCB) defense. My improvised Easter Island emoji didn’t stand a chance – oh the carnage!
I realized that Alisha was no slouch, perhaps even – dare I say it, a pro! The way she masterfully rolled with the blow, Fédération internationale des fessiers appelants perhaps? Maybe even a Grand Master??
It was then that I decided to risk it all on the dreaded Boer Goat Gambit!
It is like that scene from Once Upon a Time in the West: I’m a Charlie Bronson, and Alisha is the Frank, and the Boer Goat is my Colt Single Action Army delivering the .45 caliber coup de grâce.
But Frank, errr Alisha wasn’t going to leave us without one last death rattle:
I decided to reply to her rhetorical question with a matter-of-fact answer, then continue expressing my admiration for Judge Judy. I had prepared a 6-page story detailing the adventures I got into on my quest to seek out the new KFC Zinger sandwich I was going use to get Ms. Kitts back into the barn.
Sadly, the lesson endeth here 🙁 …
I haven’t heard from Alisha since. I wonder what she’s doing now? I wonder how her baby sister’s prom went? So many unanswered questions. As I write this, I’m left with a deep sense of gestalt.
The way I figure it, right about now she’d be waking up, fixin’ to recover from her hangover with a Zinger from KFC and sweetened ice tea…
Alisha, wherever you are, whoever you are, know that you will always have a special place on my internets!
~ Alisha ~
I just ate a pile of cornbread stuffing and two pork chops. I really just want to lay back for a nap while a helper monkey massages my balls.
I’d name him ‘Okinawan Karate Champ Erh Ku’, and make him his own little welding sleeves so he could operate the portable 880,000 BTU afterburner I use for cooking stir fry (a hint of singed monkey hair is the secret to authentic Cantonese flavor).
We need to establish the ‘Cetacean Nation’. I nominate myself to be the United Nations representative to the cetacean nation. Then we will force the white man to give back what he has taken from us.
It is both a philosophical and cultural imperative to perform the seaweed dance prior to making contact with the dolphin spirits. Otherwise, our bodies will be unprepared to receive their awesome powers.
I, for one, have been performing a daily ritual of deep, transcendental meditation, followed by exactly three jimmy flips, two half-berpies and a Krispy Kreme enema to sharpen my senses.
So there’s this infographic goin’ around the interwebs about “The Hero’s Journey”. There seemed to be some strange parallels between it and my weekend, which went down like this:
“The last time we [Joe and Jim] were close enough to be photographed together, a gravitational singularity occurred. This resulted in the destruction of a small convenience store and goat farm in eastern Oregon. It’s for the best that we don’t post pictures now. Think of the goats.” – Big Jim, August 24, 2015