My dear bourbon sippin’ Pappy fired his .45 caliber Army pistol, shattering the still, late-night air.
About 20 minutes later he did it again. I didn’t know what he was aiming to shoot. Without a moon there was nothing much to see. And I was beginning to think he was acting crazier than a blind man in a gun fight.
It was a tad unnerving. Afterall, I was young enough to still be struggling with my alphabet soup. With the night watchman off for a few days, my dear ol’ Pappy and I were walking the fence lines of the 400-acre farm and around the boundaries of his chain saw factory that someone had once set ablaze a couple years back.
And just after he fired that roaring semi-automatic cannon one more time, I screeched out: What are you doing that for?!
“Just sending a message, son,” he exhaled at the end of a long omnipotent puff on his omniscient corn cob pipe. “Just letting any trespassers know that their warning shots have already been fired.”
I grew up fully endowed in the many versions of what my dear ol’ Pappy and others meant by ‘warning shots.’ As in, No Trespassing: Any survivors will be executed.
“Man’s gotta hold himself accountable,” I remember Dad espousing as we ambled on. “You pay a price for everything. Most folks don’t consider warnings.”
At that my dear ol’ Pappy spit a wad of that tobacco pipe juice before adding: “Most folks don’t consider most anything – even the good Lord’s commandments.”
Bourbon sippin’, pipe puffin’ and most everything else, my Dad wasn’t one to much like people. But he was one to prepare so he could be the last man standing to deliver the final acerbic words at their funerals.
“We are all fools,” he said. “We are all born to die. In many ways, at any time. And when it’s my time I don’t want to be caught with my pants snagged in a barb-wire fence.”
Like most of us.
Which we demonstrated, recently, with ‘Hurricane Irene.’
In the Philadelphia metropolitan area, the hurricane dominatrix was sorely as disappointing as my hungover face in the morning mirror. After all the bloody hype and unending operatic warnings, we still got painfully snagged in our pants’ zippers.
By that, I mean, we believed the same TV people who cried ‘Wolf!’ the last time. And the time before that. And the time before… and before… But never a time without all those prime time paying commercials.
Indeed a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
I thought we were going to act like we all got a proctologist to pull out our heads into the light of reason and rationale. And we seemed to be making some good headway, at first.
That is until Irene got huffing and puffing. Then the shills and shrills took our over spineless souls.
We were told the bawdy belle might do something terribly dreadful — like knock out our $150 a month TV cables . So finally, like locusts, we swarmed our food and hardware stores, where hiked prices on batteries and stuff sent the Dow Jones all giddy.
All the screaming, agonizing, kvetching and whining from the TV news and politicians and weather channels almost made me yearn for my ex-wife.
How many times did we need to be told that Big Bad Bart was sending in his bigger, uglier, sister, Irene, over inoculated with PMS and a supertanker of testosterone ?
Back in the days my parents struggled in the Great Depression, it seemed that folks had little and were constantly preparing for less. A lesson they always carted with them.
I mean, after the chain saw factory burned down when the Modena Fire Trucks ran out of water, my father dug two fire ponds. When the Americans and Russians were nuclear saber rattling back in the early 60s, my father built a bomb shelter in the basement. We were always stacking up extra supplies for the winter surprises. When wild dogs strode in to kill our sheep we had already stocked up extra bullets to keep the peace.
There was always something to prepare for, especially the wrath of my ideological Pappy.
In my parents time they learned you couldn’t depend on the government for sufficient answers. You went out and supplied them yourself. You shoveled the snow and picked up the litter. You looked in on your neighbors. Everyone had responsibilities, even if it was little more than courteously tipping your hat to an aging war widow.
Today it is easier than at any time in the last 10,000 years to prepare for that which can possibly be prepared for.
So what happened again? Why did the last minute lines grow so rambunctious, again. And for what unG-dly reason were folks gripped with fear?
I guess, like my dear ol’ Pappy, I am shooting in the dark here. A word to the wise ain’t necessary. It’s us stupid folks that need the ‘advice.’ The ones who merely use our intelligence to invent stupidity.
Born stupid and work overtime to stay that way. And you wonder why I’ve had so many relationships. By the way, they were all successful….in that they ALL ended.
It is fine that our government finally did something right this time. It actually warned us about the hurricane of the century – even if ‘The Perfect Irene,’ turned out to be that oxymoron — a reasonable woman.
Except for some flooding and power outages she was far less destructive than Florida stealing Bush’s first election away from Gore.
In the end, hurricane Irene, turned out to be like most of my exes, mostly churlish fury, lingering where it wasn’t wanted, far too long. Yet you have to ask yourself why we always seem readily able to be ‘sold’ on the worst case scenario.
On TV there is the weather channel, followed by all the local and cable news channels getting weather reports from the same source — National Weather Service. This is 24/7 of weather. We had something like that when I was growing up nearly 50 years ago. We called it a window.
What we seem to forget is that since the anointing of the so-called ‘Perfect Storm’ and the ‘storm of the century’ nothing is what it is anymore. It now must always set a record. It now must beat out all previous storms…
Or be a disappointment.
It must be hyped, screamed, dared to be greater than ever.
And we have become accustomed to this, in our sports, for instance, as well as Wall Street, the revenues harvested by last weekend’s Hollywood release… and most everything else.
Now we want this weather to beat all other recorded weather. It is good for business. The news business. The grocery store business. The hardware store business…
They’ve got us screaming and crying and stomping our feet about everything. And I find it exhausting. And it’s made me understand all this escapism we undergo – especially in watching all those stupid shows on TV.
Perhaps it is because I am aging petulantly, but there are too many crises than can fit on the 500 cable channels. There cannot be any more crises next week. My schedule is already full.
I guess what I am saying is that even the most dim wittiest who walk among us and do little more than overfill our sewer pipes will eventually catch the disease of the inured, fed-up, sick-and-tired and I ain’t taking it no more.
And when folks stop believing and listening to anything and everything the government or news or movies are hyping — whether it is cheap homes and overpriced mortgages to the next storm of the century — then you have something much uglier than the hairy wart on your fat aunt’s derriere.
Without ‘faith’ we stop believing in all the lies we are told. We believe them now because they keep our way of life afloat – like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the value of the dollar, and the loopholes in the Bible.
Look. As with anything, I appreciate being warned. That’s the government’s job – warn, but not dictate. And if need be, warn me again. And then tell me what you already warned me about.
That’s three and out.
And if I choose to disregard them, don’t resuscitate me. Don’t rescue this stupid ol’ boy. We all deserve to die for our stupidity and insolence. For the most part we dig our own graves.
Like my dear ol’ Pappy informed me: The warning shots were fired. Trespassers were warned. All survivors will be executed.
There’s no better advice than a good scare. And nothing focuses the mind like a good hanging.
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony.