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Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Busy Monster

(Cross posted to Stranger Than Fiction )

pity this busy monster, manunkind
not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)
plays with the bigness of his littleness
--electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born – pity poor flesh
and trees, poor stars and stones, but not this
fine specimen of hypermagical
ultraomnipotence. We doctors know
a hopeless case if – listen: there’s a hell
of a good universe next door; let’s go.

(e.e. cummings)

I know everybody here remembers Ray's recent post entitled "Sad News for Some." It’s not the first time Ray has posted a fake obituary for himself. The bleevers always scold him "Don't do that to me, Ray!" and he always ignores them and does it again.

If you asked him, "Ray, why do you shock your friends like that? You know they'll believe anything they read on your page, you know what their reaction will be, so why do you do it?" he would protest that he does it as a joke on the atheists and that no harm is meant by it.

He might even add, “And if anybody’s dumb enough to believe it, that’s their problem.”

Here’s a not-totally-unrelated story that came to my mind when I read that post.

A schoolmate of mine, R., was a lovely young woman – tall and graceful, with dark hair, dark eyes, creamy skin and a throaty contralto voice. She was also painfully shy and self-conscious. Her brothers teased her cruelly, partly because their father did nothing to stop them.

One evening R. was babysitting her younger siblings when the phone rang. A male caller, who did not identify himself, informed her that her parents had been killed in a car accident. With shaking hands, she hung up the phone and sat down at the kitchen table to cry.

R. got another shock a couple of hours later, when the door opened and her parents walked in, alive and well.

Long story short: The unidentified male caller was R.’s own father. He had slipped away from whatever function they were attending and made a prank call.

He thought it was hilarious.

I’ve always wondered whether he thought R.’s subsequent breakdown was also funny. I certainly hope he was entertained by paying the bills for her meds and psychotherapy. It was months before R. could return to school, and years before she could be described as “normal” again. She’s still fragile – definitely not the woman she might have been – and while she seems to be on good terms with most of her family, she maintains as little contact with her father as possible.

I know that we neighbors were less than amused by the whole thing.

* * * * * * * * * *

[Aside to those who may be wondering why R. didn’t recognize her father’s voice: On the rural phone lines of thirty years ago, it was a wonder that any actual communication ever took place. They were that bad. And Call Display was still years in the future.]

* * * * * * * * * *

Of course I know that families hurt each other all the time, it’s not intentional, “it’s all fun ‘n’ games until someone loses an eye,” or their sanity, or something.

But some things simply shouldn’t be forgiven, not even by family – perhaps especially by family.

I’ll never understand why R.’s mother didn’t walk out of the house that night and take all six of her children with her. I’ll never understand why R.’s sister works for her father to this day. I can’t believe any of the kids actually trust their father. I know (the whole neighborhood knows) that the oldest son is busily, methodically robbing the old man blind and when he takes over the family business it will be bankrupt in less than six months, and I’ll never understand why this smart and successful businessman keeps this thief in his employ.

Then again, family is family. It’s not like you can simply pick another father, or another son. I’m reliably informed that mafiosos trust each other precisely because they can’t trust anybody else -- right up to the day when they turn on each other.

I know why Ray lies to his friends (same reason he lies to everybody else). I just don’t understand why they continue to follow him. It’s not like there aren’t other – and more appealing – bible-pounders available. I wonder what he could say that would convince any of them that he ain’t all that.

And (irony alert) they think we’re the miserable ones. At least we don’t feel obligated to keep company with people who can’t be trusted to behave properly.


  1. Also, there aren't poetry readings over at Rays. Enough to make me barf. >:(

    Agreed. Rays a liar, his rayniacs still love him [even though he's breaking a commandment], and they continue to believe the shit he says is REAL.

    I liked the blog post, if you were an author, your biography would be real page turner.

  2. I am sickened that someone would do that as a prank on their daughter and think it's funny !!! I feel really bad for her. Sometimes people do things to each other that seem trivial at the time, but they last forever.

    I think Ray has a cruel streak in him that he keeps hidden just under his god-veneer. Instead of unleashing it all at once, it leeches out slowly in the form of 'humor'.

    I have the complete works of e.e. cummings. He's another one of my favorites. This is a good one, thanks for posting it.

  3. FD, my pleasure.

    Ranting, I'm glad you liked it. I admit I threw in the e.e. cummings poem a) to let readers know where the title of the post came from and b) as insurance -- in case my writing sucked, at least there would be something interesting on the page.

  4. This reminds me of a video I saw. There was a young kid, unpacking his Christmas presents. One of the packages was an XBox package. He was euphoric with joy, but inside were only socks or a t-shirt. His own parents had punked him and were laughing their asses off while he broke down in tears of sadness and anger. The only difference to religious messages of salvation is that most of the people delivering and believing them punk themselves into believing they have an XBox - but they never dare to open the package.

  5. Felix,

    Your story reminds me of the Christmas we gave our young son a big box of assorted oatmeal packets. ok, I know that sounds insane but he was really hard to shop for and he had this thing for oatmeal at the time. Also he did get lots of cool presents. This was just "padding" to give him something extra to open and prolong the unwrapping phase. Unfortunately, he was anticipating something spectacular and was quite crushed when he opened it. Never said a word about it at the time, but apparently we warped his young psyche permanently.


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