The Short Road Between Disappointment And Despair

Let’s get hypothetical here.

Suppose you learned that a friend had troubles in their life and had decided to address these by going on a wild rampage of senseless violence and bloodlust. And that they had equipped themselves with knives, pistols, bombs, and poisons to do so. And they had stripped themselves of all identity, greased themselves with rancid fat, and donned a Mexican wrestler’s Hello Kitty mask.

Would you be disapproving? Which part of the scenario would call this forth; the trouble, the bloodlust, or the mask? Because this says a great deal about you and your appreciation of life. Early sadness would indicate compassion, in the middle it would be civic virtue, and the last named would be the triumph of good taste over popular culture.

But that was hypothetical. Let’s get down to real life. Other people have troubles all the time, and unless we can end them, we are better off not starting in to interfere. Well-intentioned meddling is still meddling, and rarely comes out well. Though it is often a comfort if you are prepared to go round their house and slip on a banana peel to amuse them. Note: it’s not considered a friendly act to sue them for the peel and the injuries.

The principle of counter irritation is also a good idea. In the old days of medicine a pain was treated by rubbing another portion of the patient with acid or a hot pepper mix – this drawing off the humours and giving them something new to concentrate upon. You can apply this now – when a friend is unhappy go visit them and irritate them beyond endurance on another topic. They’ll forget the original problem in an effort to get at your throat with a pair of scissors, and the time will pass blithely. Try to be close to the door when you do this.

Now we’ve all seen the memes on Facebook that show cats frowning and looking judgemental. Try to pattern yourself accordingly. Do not purr unless absolutely necessary and remember to show people your bum.

 

” I Need Sex “

You what?

” I need sex. If I don’t get sex I will be a failure. I will be sick. I will be terrible…”

Hogwash. If you don’t get sex you won’t be any of those things. You’ll just be yourself with your clothes on and a good deal more spending money in your pocket. You’ll have time to do pleasant and fun things without worrying about consequences. You will be able to avoid any number of unpleasant outcomes – both physical and mental.

” But everyone else is having sex. ”

No they’re not. They might be telling you that, but a great many of them are lying. They are bragging about it in hopes of making themselves look interesting or sophisticated or exciting. They could do that by reading a book.

” But what if I’m missing out? ”

Here’s a textbook on venereal diseases. Find out what you’re missing…knock yourself out. You’ll love the chapter on herpes. It’ll stick in your mind, like the virus sticks everywhere else.

” But what if I fall in love? ”

So fall. Fall as hard and fast and wet and foolish as you want to. It has nothing whatever to do with sex, as the porn channels on the internet make perfectly clear. You can have a superb romance dressed in woollen longjohns and sensible shoes. You can do it in cold weather and look absolutely stunning against crashing sea waves.

” So sex is not as good as it is made out to be? I can do without it forever? ”

Nahh. Sex is alright. Dive right in when you find a chance. But don’t hang about the edge of real life just mooning and mooching – use your time to enjoy everything else. If it gets you, it’ll grab your crotch anyway, and if it doesn’t you can be happy doing other things.

 

 

” Don’t be Ashamed Of Your Urges. “

Some people are hard to startle. SAS sergeants, nuns, cess pool cleaners… They have seen more than you will ever been exposed to and are still sane. You would be silly to try the title of this essay on them, expecting them to jump. They would take it calmly and just punch you.

On the other hand, there are people who are ready to jump 10 feet in the air, turn left, and explode if you merely look at them and smile. While it’s a lot of fun to do so, it’s really tame sport – you are facing no challenge. Better to look for someone in the middle and exercise your talents on them. Here are a few suggestions:

a. Schoolteachers.

The masters, mistresses, heads, principals, or whatever of the education system might be thought of as hardened as our aforementioned SAS sergeant. After all, they face the enemy every day of their working lives. But you only have to ask them a question particularly attuned to their speciality to watch them wind up like an alarm clock. You may have to do a little research into whichever discipline they teach, but once you get there you’ll discover that there are pits of lava and landmines everywhere.

At a noisy cocktail party ask a mathematics teacher if they read the news article today that said a teacher in Adelaide has successfully squared a circle and proved it. Use the noise of the party to make your getaway, but be assured that your victim will be awake and at their desk at 4:00 AM trying to figure out how.

Or ask an English Lit teacher to justify Barnaby Rudge in the context of existential slavery reform. You can toast marshmallows on the resultant heat.

Or just mention that there was a parliamentary petition in Facebook to reduce teacher’s salaries to a sensible level and that you signed it…

b. Health professionals

You can torture a biochemist with anti-vax memes but this is tame game. You can annoy a dentist by challenging them to defend the practise of root canal therapy ( and there are some good pamphlets available likening it to poisoning wells…). You can freeze a physician by asking them to justify their practice’s rate of death and disfigurement over the last three years in light of recent discoveries. But the most fun of all comes when you find a marginal worker who massages spines or prepares dilute water drinks to cure broken legs. Then you don’t deride them – you praise them – and ask them to publicly declare their faith to all the people around them. Some will start to do so…

c. Sales persons

It doesn’t matter what they sell – they have been compelled to tout some dud of whatever object or service in which they deal at some time in the last three years. Ask them about it…and then challenge them to defend their decisions.

Cold sweat is a marketable commodity. Have a mop and a jar ready to collect stocks.

 

” Perth Is Boring “

We’ve all heard this one. You can substitute any other place name you like for ” Perth “. The effect would be the same; someone is unpleased with the place that they live…and wants something different.

I noted this while reading a mild debate about the erection of a public sculpture ( note: erection, not demolition…). An artist wants to sell a metal sculpture of a dinosaur to the state government – or the city council – and place it in the middle of our riverfront. Not a little sculpture , but a massive 90 metre one – and for a mere $ 1,000,000. Apparently it would draw the attention of visitors.

Frankly it should draw the attention of the taxation department, the ACCC,  and the Commissioners in Lunacy.

There are enough eye-sores in our landscape as it is – we do not need to erect more.

If people find Perth boring, it is because they are either easily bored or boring themselves. Demand for spectacle and entertainment was all very well when you could set gladiators to kill each other or lions to devour Christians. Look what great things it did for the Romans, and how well we think of them for it. You could as well demand relief of boredom by instituting the same measures as they do in Syria – artillery barrages and gas attacks. No-one bored then, eh?

Or you could address the problem of personal boredom by compelling people to undertake activities and studies that would fill their minds or develop their bodies. We did it in school and were busy instead of bored. Adults have all the world in front of them to develop and learn – boredom is laziness without even the excuse of fatigue.

 

My Readership Is Growing

Since I started promoting the Karen And Sharon Institute of Opinion my readership numbers are climbing.

720 prospective new clients every day. Mind you, remember the word ” prospective “. Not all of them will ultimately subscribe to internet social platforms, let alone my own. I must accept some failure rate with sombre resignation.

Still, with a new client every minute – as Mr. Barnum wisely said – I can be sure that whenever I wish to make the local population eat soap, refuse medicine, or break statues I have only to blare it out on Facebook. If necessary I can edit the responses of the readers so that my own point of view is paramount, or I can let their posts stand to mock them later. It is a matter of having the time available and/or dealing with a case of indigestion.

I pays to be careful what soap you swallow…

The WordPress Gang

That joke works on several levels.

If you didn’t get it, here’s a tankard of ale and don’t forget to look into the bottom and see what’s down there… pick it up and peer at it…God Bless The King, and stand up straight, you horrible little man…

The WordPress organisation is a marvellous thing. I wish to praise them unreservedly. Before their activity commenced I would have been stifled. Silenced. Prevented from publishing every stray thought that enters my head and leaves by my fingertips. You would have never known how clever I think myself, and neither would I.

As it is, I can launch these guided missives every day at no cost. Few will see them, fewer care – but the very act of putting the ideas down on the screen does good. In these viral lockdown times, more good than you would think.

I live in a bubble of self. You may do too, and I do not judge you for it. But we need to contact other bubbles. In some case we can pop and merge – in others just bounce off each other. No matter which…as long as we can say our piece, state our case, tell our truth…we can stay sane. Others who read what we write may be pitched over the brink of madness, but you get that with most hobbies.

I See Bad People

Can you see them too? Whew…I was getting worried there for a while. So they really are real.

What I can’t figure out is what I’ve done to deserve them. I’m not a bad person. I’m a good person. I don’t set fire to orphanages…not even when  they deserve it. I don’t chew with my mouth open or use bad language. Why me?

Oh, you can go on as much as you like about channelling spirits or invoking daemons and such. But I never draw things on the floor or light candles, so what’s the attraction? The only thing I do is write little essays and paint model airplanes and look at Facebook.

What? What do you mean ” There you are…”? Where am I? What have I done? What does building model airplanes have to do with bad people?

Oh. Not the model airplanes. Facebook, eh? That’s the portal? That’s the pentagram that attracts stray communists, racialists, and assorted third-hand radicals to my house? Oh Dear. I’ve done this to myself? Oh Dear…

But there is a way out of the morass? I can remove them with one click of a button? The trolls can be stuffed back under their bridge? Oh, thank goodness.

Show me the button.

The Ill Manners Award

We often see award ceremonies on the television. They can be for motion pictures, television productions, or other public entertainments. It’s no surprise to see this, as the mechanism of entertainment is best placed to laud itself.

In the publishing, press, and literary world this sort of thing is also…well…rife. Not content with just the Pulitzer prize contest, many organisations make subsidiary contests with awards of honour to whomever their committee decides upon. I suspect some of these, but then I was always a cynic about the $64,000 Question, too.

Step further into the market place and you will encounter literally hundreds of trade-related awards that are trumpeted and bestowed every month. Every division of every business that wants to have an excuse for publicity can invent a contest and an award. Lucky you if you can afford to win or buy a trophy.

I propose an award from the Backstabbers Guild of Australia that will focus upon ill manners. I’ll survey the year’s crop of Facebook posts, news headlines, and scurrilous rumours and award first, second, and third place to those people who have been outstandingly egregiously foul. I have one candidate already.

Do you wish to nominate someone? How ill-mannered of you. Award date is the first of July.

Not. To. Be. Joked. With.

I’m sure you have met them – the people who will not be joked with. The serious members of society. The sober, dignified, correct people with whom it is virtue to neither laugh nor smile.

They may be found in all walks of life – it need not just be the local magistrate or headmaster. You can find them in most workplaces, and you’d be surprised at how often they are put in command of others. This is possibly because they are fittest or possibly just a lapse in judgement higher up the chain of command.

They are dangerous, not least to themselves. Their sober mien and serious dignity may be helpful in some situations but harmful in others. They exude little warmth, though they may be come passionate about their position and the deference due them. They can frequently make a bad situation worse, and become indignant that they are not respected for it.

All this said, I love them. They are the best of targets for humour. Of course it will not be appreciated by them – if even perceived –  but if they repel it with the shiny armour of virtue, it can reflect to all those around them. And the laugh spreads outwards in shock waves.

If this seems a little mean, it is only because it is. And it can be converted to a lot mean with just a little more effort. Dignified people are often blinkered, and can see only one meaning to a word or to a behaviour. They can, like a blinkered horse, be led down an ever-narrowing pathway until they cannot turn around. Speak seriously with them, and as kindly as needs be, and you can get them a long way down that path.

Do they ever change? Only with the greatest effort or because of the greatest life episode. Marriage will often burst the bubble, and parenthood will prick anything. Some people’s dignity will survive hospitalisation, business failure, or public shame, but often this will derail it long enough for the mechanism of the human mind to reset. Then they might have a laugh on themselves.

The Mockingbird Dance

When someone wants to mock you, to offend you, and to try to pressure you into an angry response, they will very often make a number of foolish errors. How you respond to these can make all the difference.

a. Direct insult in a private place is best answered by either direct insult or genuine laughter. it’s not often that you are overcome with the second, but when it comes, let it flow. The look of horror on the face of the other person is priceless.

b. Direct insult in a public place is best answered with a dog whip across the face of the miscreant ( throw the contaminated thing away afterwards ) or again by genuine laughter. Or you can maintain a stony and complete silence and ignore the ranter – they will try harder and eventually exile themselves from any public approval.

c. Facebook insult is harmless, and can be treated with witticism and lighthearted banter. This may charm the insulter and convert them to a genuine friend. When you next meet you have a chance to dog-whip them.

e. Extraordinary efforts to mock or offend – performances that go beyond the mere side-comment – should be treated as theatre. Applaud them between movements. Encourage others to join you. Sing along with the chorus. Ask for a CD. Shout ” Encore “.

You do not need to make your detractor look foolish in the eyes of other people – all you need to do is make them look foolish in their own eyes. Then close the scene on that note and they will gnaw their own hearts out ever after.

f. Some mockery is deserved. If you perceive it to be, acknowledge it to be so, thank to perpetrator publicly, and offer to shake their hand. 95% of them will refuse, and then will appear to be ill-mannered brutes. This scenario actually raises you in the eyes of the spectators.

g. Some mockery is beneath contempt. Racialism, religious attack, sectarianism…all come into this category. Also any reference to physical distresses or financial circumstances. Just ignore it as you would the sound of someone flaying themselves with their own set of steak knives.