Be Careful Who You Curse

Note: For the North American market – curse here doesn’t mean foul language or swearing – it means actually drawing the wrath of whatever down upon your enemies. You can swear all you like.

The business of cursing someone is a serious one. You should not do it lightly nor wantonly. You must reserve it for occasions when it is really necessary. This is not because your curses will lose potency if they become too common – it is because they may very well precipitate disaster for the victim.

Calling down the wrath of Heaven ( or raising a similar affliction from Hell ) should never be a matter of petulance or smart aleck behaviour. Both Heaven and Hell have more important things to do than act as your minions. Do not invoke them unless it is a serious matter indeed. They are not patient.

Consider before you curse whether there is another, milder, way to resolve the problem – a fist fight or stabbing or somesuch. If you have access to anti-tank artillery, use that. It is far kinder to put a 17-pounder round through someone’s door than to spit on a coin and throw it across their threshold. The AT shell will only make a big hole – the coin will destroy anything it touches – lives, reputations, businesses, etc.

Do not curse if a blessing would prove more helpful. Or damaging. Blessings are generally more acceptable to Heaven, though they may not be acted upon. It is the optional nature of the thing that lets them be racked up on a spike and attended to whenever there is enough spare time. Curses need answering right now.

Of course, the right now may be in galactic terms. Many of them take generations to come to fruition and people who are eventually sitting there covered in dung do not connect the actions of their ancestors to their fate. This may not seem to be rewarding to the cursor ( or is that curser? I can never tell. ) but if you take time to see far enough into the future you can get some inkling of the effect. The first American Indians who let tobacco loose upon mankind  probably never saw a lung cancer case in their short lives – but they can look down from the Happy Hunting Ground now and see what a curse they unleashed.

The reader of this essay who is skeptical about it will not draw a curse from me. They are free to think for themselves. But they are directed to enquire about the fate of the Han’s Café business.

 

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Oh, The Indignity…

I have been undignified all my life. In some instances it was just small and hardly noticeable – in others massive and memorable. It was a method of living – if anything about life can be methodical – that served me well. Because it let the pressure out of the vessel before it burst.

There were a lot of times when that was the difference between continuing to be a real social being and retreating into depression and fear. I never went into those regions because I aways blew up the verbal paper bag and popped it to let off the tension.

Being foolish is undignified. So is being crass, gauche, pitiful, or needy. No successful comedian was ever dignified – that was the job of the straight man. But in the end the straight man was always the second banana in the act. You know the names Abbot and Costello but it’s Lou you remember with affection.

The class clown is frequently the class dolt – the person who finds that they cannot learn or think and quickly runs for the simple reward of attention. Even if they have to purchase it at the expense of harsh discipline they will act up and get the laugh. If there is a class brain, they observe this behaviour and see if it can be adapted to their needs; frequently this is the case. The dolt never knows that they have been a useful example.

This was the case for me in grade school. Hauled, as was my norm, out of one school between years to another far way ( heavy construction company work ) I had the wearisome task of new-kid fights and pecking order with the start of the eighth grade. The class clown was a dolt from the local area who did his share of picking on me  between getting into other trouble. And it was watching his treatment at the hands of authority that taught me what to do.

a. Do not play up in class. Let the teacher get on with the business of teaching. If you can sit learning, do so. If all you can do is sit, take that route. But sit quietly.

b. Do not play dumb. Never do badly academically just to please the mob. Pass the tests as best you can and let others fail at their own pace.

c. Make a fool of yourself for the amusement of the mob in some show that doesn’t cost anything. That relieves the jealous tension and lets them out of having to react to anything you do.

d. Then occasionally sock it to them. Make fools of them.

 

 

Sobering Up and Behaving Properly

I seem to be in the sights of a number of organisations that wish me to obey them. Not just the police and taxation office – now it is the nutritionists, dietitians, and moral reformers. They have selected my home as their target for tonight and I can hear the rumble of bomber engines every time I turn on the internet.

To be fair, I invite this attack myself by clicking on Facebook. It is the equivalent of turning on all the house lights and throwing back the curtains on a moonless night.

I was told to give up alcohol for January – with the promise that it would make my life better. There was a clear inference that if I continued abstinence through the following eleven months I should become a healthy and sane individual. They did not feature a picture of Carrie Nation and her hatchet  on the internet, but I’ll bet they were tempted.

I am also to abstain from all meat, milk, eggs, and other non-vegan foods. This is not being sold to me for my health, but on moral grounds. The pictures used to scold me away from meat are actually worse than those of Carrie in her bonnet.

Occasionally I am warned away from fluoride in my drinking water, soft drinks, natural gas, vaccines, Chinese people, and anything else of which an internet poster does not approve.

Of course, I am always forbidden to approve of the American president, local politicians, Australia Day, horse races, and many more hitherto innocuous subjects. This list grows yearly and is the subject of some cynical betting as to what will be next. Note: 50 years ago I was scolded for using an aluminium cooking pot, which was pretty bizarre at the time…I had no idea the internet would bring so many more sins to light.

I do not resent the posts – they are evidence that people think of my welfare and want the best for me. Of course, this benevolence is not a one-way street. They do expect something in return. If it is not donation of money, it is assistance in promoting Their Glorious Cause. I’m only sorry that heretofore I have not done so…but I fully intend to go to their next torchlight rally at the sports stadium. I like the searchlights and the marching bands…

The Whippersnapper

I use this in my title to alert a reader of this column to the fact that I read his column as well. He’s recently mentioned the word and lamented that it is not used any more. I have been thinking about that and agree with him. But there’s nothing to stop us – he and I – from inventing new phrases that can be just as effective.

Do we wish to suggest that someone is shallow, annoying, and attention-seeking? Would we like to include overtones of callow and valueless behaviour? Would we like to call someone a whippersnapper?

Well, we’ll try one of these:

a. ” A Beardless Youth “. Sounds classical and classy. Particularly effective if the target person happens to be female.

b. ” An Ungracious Lout “. If we, in our turn, look like unmade beds, it gives added piquancy to this.

c. ” An Exquisite “. No-one really knows what this means but it sounds brittle and slimy  at the same time – a considerable feat.

d. ” A Social Climber “. This suggests that the person is a snob but that is only one of the options. People can climb down as well as up…

e. ” A Brazen Vessel “. A bit more biblical, but still suggesting more valueless noise and shallow capacity.

The good thing about using these phrases is that while they are not obscene, they are memorable. We must use them sparingly, and pronounce them in a slow, clear manner. They will stick better than wax* to a blanket.

*  Wax is not the word I wanted to use but this is a family column.

 

 

The Outlet Store – Retail Clothing Part One

Our city has a fairly new set of clothing stores located on industrial land adjacent to the domestic and international airport. Heck, it might be Commonwealth airport land that has been sold off or leased to the new occupiers.

In any case, they are a set of shops that bill themselves as direct outlets for fashion goods – clothing shoes, accessories, and probably a lot more. Their opening day was apparently grand – in the sense that the crowds going to visit blocked the highways around the airports and prevented people from getting to their planes on time. This also happened when a big Ukrainian cargo airplane came to visit Perth a couple of years ago. We’re sometimes starved for amusement of a weekend…

I am not one to decry initiative and hard work – nor to put a brake on trade. And I recognise that new clothing is a good thing. But looking into my clothes closet and set of drawers that hold more cloth than I could ever wear, were I to live to 100, tells me that shopping for more would be folly. And I wonder how many people are in the same boat? Not just old coots like me…young coots  as well. How many new shirts is enough?

If you are a profligate, the answer is ” too many “. If you are not given to washing and mending what you do own, you are going to be the natural prey of the retailer. Likewise if you have a mind that can be swayed and swooshed by every new fashion that the makers would like to be paid for…well, your wallet is open to their fingers.

And it doesn’t matter whether the clothes you buy are at a discount factory outlet or the twee-est boutique in town. You will still pay as much as you can for as long as you can whenever they apply the electrodes or air their advertisements.

The Oslo Lunch – Part One

Look it up – I did. The Oslo Lunch was a real thing pre-war – an experiment that worked in improving children’s health via better nutrition. It was essentially whole-meal bread, cheese, milk, and fruit or salad. Not a bad thing overall, and apparently led to weight and height gain for under-nourished children in Norway and Great Britain.

I believe it featured here in Australia and I can vaguely remember some mention of it at Governor Stirling High School in 1965.

School lunches in my childhood in Canada and the USA were generally either a cafeteria hot meal in the more affluent areas or home-packed in all the others. In one memorable junior high in Calgary there was a policy of sending the students back home for their lunches unless there were such dire weather conditions that they could not go out. Even then, one had to have a signed form citing ” inclement weather ” to be permitted to huddle in the school assembly area for the lunch hour.

I think, in retrospect, it was just a move to get the students to clear off and let the staff members have their lunch hour to themselves. I wonder if they were required to walk a mile either way four times a day…Mighta been good for their lard asses.

Note – inclement weather in Calgary generally had to be an active prairie blizzard with drifts of snow higher than 3 feet. We did not have ” Snow Days ” in the 60’s. Snow was an accepted fact of life. After the blizzard blew out you went to school, drifts or not. I bicycled into a parked white Oldsmobile that was buried in a drift one year. Now that’s educational.

” You Wait Till I Get You Home “

We can all remember that one, can’t we? Either we said it or heard it.

It was a tense little sentence.

At the time I never realised what fun it could have turned into. All one would have needed was for the child to say:

” Are you going to take your belt off and beat me with it again? ” in the presence of strangers. And then cringe away.

I daresay there would have been consequences, but a new wariness on the part of the parent over the business of psychological terror out in public.