Bill's Blither

Location: Cheshire, Connecticut, United States

devilishly handsome, screamingly funny, overly modest

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Disillusion- Harmful Flaws In My Childhood

Most people feel that the fostering of "harmless" myths in an American child's upbringing, such as the presentation of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny , and the Tooth Fairy as real entities, does little damage. This opinion prevails despite furious, and ultimately humiliating, defenses of these cherished icons in virtually every school playground by innocent, naive children against the forces of evil doubting cynics. The fact that the cynics will inevitably,over time, win this battle is devastating to a child's ego and erodes confidence in the parental guidance that misinformed him in the first place. It sets up a syndrome similar to the first Norse Edda, where the best that can be expected in life is that you die in battle to win the right to join the Aesir in an Armeggedon-like fight against the evil Titans, which you know you are destined to LOSE. It was cold in Norseland with no central heating, so a philosophy of doom and despair was inevitable. Not so here in the USA, so maybe we should give our kids a break with a little more early honesty.

In my own childhood I had a more personal experience with disillusionment. As a first and second grader I was a loyal fan of the "Howdy Doody Show". Howdy and his friends were mostly marionettes, with characters such as Mr. Bluster and Princess Summerfallwinterspring (with whom I was deeply infatuated, wooden though she might be). Other characters included real people like Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabel the Clown. (By the way, Clarabel was played by Bob Keeshan, who later became the adored Captain Kangaroo. As Clarabel his function was to spray seltzer water on characters he didn't like throughout the show, which made the audience shriek with laughter).The small audience, all children from 3 to 8, sat in what was called the Peanut Gallery, which was panned frequently by the camera to give the kids a piece of their 15 minutes of fame.

My mother surprised me and my sister with tickets to the show (I was 8, my sister 3). I sat with the "big kids" in the upper rows of seats, my sister down below where the children could be supervised by parents just off-camera. The show started and Buffalo Bob came out and started talking. Then Howdy came out onto an adjoining stage and I received the first in a series of shocks. I had expected the to see people above him pulling his strings, but I was completely taken aback when his words were spoken by Buffalo Bob. Smith made no attempt to keep his lips from moving since the camera was not on him. He also had no ability to throw his voice, he only changed accent and inflection with each character. He was the voice of ALL the characters, EVEN THE PRINCESS. I was devastated. My true love was a man. That would have disturbed me at any time in my life, but as a 3rd grader I was a basket case.

On the way home, my mother and sister were chatting about the show. From a lower seat angle my sister couldn't see Bob Smith's lips, apparently, and excitedly was questioning my mother about how the marionettes could talk. As I listened to my mother lie about the"magic" wooden figures, I felt almost physically the dropping away of my confidence in her honesty (a character trait of which my mother professed a great deal of personal pride). Never underestimate the perspicacity of your children, especially in matters of alleged truthful guidance. I don't remember ever believing any unsupported remark my mother made from that day on.

The moral of this narrative is "watch what you say to your kids". The afore-mentioned Bunny and Xmas Elf are good examples. Watch what you say about a personal God also, Pascal's Gambit was all that kept me from atheism during my teen-age (lifelong?) rebellion. In our society, kids are force fed on disillusionment, doomed to disappointment in discovering the untruth of the myths their parents tell them.

By the way, if anybody has a personal disillusionment story, I'd be interested in listening.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

I Almost Civilized Myself

Those of you following along know that starting last Monday I'd resolved to experiment with a full week of enforced "civility". This I defined for myself as (1) no uncivil confrontations (we're talking verbal here), (2) no ironic or sarcastic ripostes to the ongoing idiotic blither surrounding my average day, (3) teeth-gnashing "niceness" to the endless parade of conformist prigs spouting or exhibiting their concept of proper social behavior, and, finally,(4) no ever-present sexual innuendo.

I almost made it.

I listened to guys in my brokerage office asserting that the reason for poverty was that poor people were lazy. An acquaintance told me that teens watching off-color or violent TV and movies was the direct cause of juvenile crime. I heard a person say that Rush Limbaugh was the greatest philosopher of our time. An idiot opined to me that Creationism should be taught as a science in our high school, and gave as a reason that all his friends agreed with him.

I listened and made no negative sound. I smiled a lot and uttered not one discouraging word. Several people I knew asked if I were feeling OK. I was right about women. Females were solicitous about the disappearance of my usual confrontational personality, but the attendant sexual attraction disappeared along with the lack of innuendo. In short, I had become your average run-of -the-mill BORE. I could feel the forces of ironic incivility bubbling inside, desperately seeking freedom. Finally, on Saturday, an incident occurred.

I was in Stop and Shop. The cute but ditzy check-out girl asked if I wanted to donate a dollar to the Jimmy Fund. She then informed me of the good things that it did, including giving support to the "Dean Farber" fund and "St. Juke's" hospital. I couldn't resist. I engaged this sweet young thing in a lengthy discussion on (1) how the good Dean found the time to run his university and still put out his line of dishes (Farberware) and (2) how the lovable Saint was so adored by teens that they named the musical Box after him. I did this, of course, with a completely straight face and the SYT nodded very seriously in agreement with my comments.

On my way home, my wife berated me for picking on the young (albeit unknowing) victim of my sarcasm. I admit that it was a ridiculously unfair thing to do, but something inside me felt this little evil jolt of pleasure. I probably would have let that little fish off the hook if I weren't feeling ironically deprived.

My wife, a very civil person (at least to the untrained eye) wants me to try another week, informing me that lack of confrontation makes HER life less stressful (especially if family and friends are involved). There is no way I could do this again. They didn't call it the Civil War for nothing. I've returned to the familiarity of my abrasive, confrontational, innuendo-spewing, ironic, UNCIVIL lifestyle and I'm never abandoning it again. In the words of Fast Eddie Felson--I"M BACK.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hallucinagens and Me-- Is My Brain As Fried As it Feels

I happened to mention back a post or two that I had imbibed a non-legal mind-warping substance called "ecstacy". A commentor pseudonamed "ariola" asked for some elaboration, so here it is.

Some historical background is helpful to this narrative. I had experimented with mind-altering drugs in San Francisco in the mid 1960s, relying on the sage advice of Timothy Leary and others who told me I would expand my mind in the process. Some grad students that I knew cooked up little pills of peyote which gave me a really strange dream experience. People at several of the parties I attended (consisting mainly of law students) passed out LSD tabs which gave me a very weird view of the world for a few hours. I took a young lady who could best be described as a lovely hip flower child to see "Fantasia" during which we "expanded" with some LSD-loaded sugar cubes, a truly remarkable experience. I also had explosive sex on qualudes, but I don't know if that counts as hallucenagenic.

I stopped this behavior when an ex girlfriend had a bad trip at a party in Sausalito. I took her to a hospital where they kept her a few days but were clueless in knowing how to treat her. Four days later she was institutionalized and sent back to St. Louis. After that, I stopped taking hallucenagens (unless you count marijuana, which I don't).

Roll the script forward nearly 40 years. My wife went on a business trip for several days to San Antonio. I mentioned my temporary bachelorhood to a young girl I knew, who suggested that I join her and her boyfriend who were going to a "rave". I had never spent an evening in that manner, and showing my usual impeccable judgment agreed that this would be a fine way to pass the time. I should point out that at the time I hadn't the slightest idea what "rave" meant.

I was told that these parties were fairly well organized, having the requisite disc jockey playing obnoxiously loud music. The location changed week-to-week to avoid official interruption. Maybe 200 people were there, all much younger than I. It cost $20 to walk in. There was no ID check. I saw people drinking beer but nothing stronger.

At that point my friend pressed two small pills in my hand and told me that they would greatly enhance my enjoyment of the evening. I hesitated very briefly, mentally repeated my life mantra "what the hell", and popped them down. Within minutes I was feeling energized, with a warm fuzzy reaction to everybody and everything in my immediate universe. I was told later that I danced all over the floor, but I don't remember that part. I felt an overwhelming feeling of friendship toward everyone around me, particularly women, but it was a sensual not a sexual attraction. I was not alone in this reaction. Lots of hugs and kisses, no sex. Strangely, though, it was a very satisfying experience. A few hours later I was driven home on cloud nine, and woke up the next morning with no hangover or even tiredness.

In retrospect, I was stupid. Would I do it again, given no negative consequences? Probably not. I gave in to an impulse and was lucky to come away unscathed. If I could feel that good without the physical and mental risk, though, I'd do it in a heartbeat.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Can I Exist As a Civilized Entity

I recently made a comment on bluegirl's blog which stated that a male in our society described as "civil", or worse yet "nice", has difficulty succeeding in the modern version of the sexual sweepstakes. This drew a round of protest from some females, including my personal idolette of femininity, the intrepid blue herself. For that reason, I'm going to try a personality makeover and live, at least for a week or so, as a "civilized" man.

Anyone who knows me, or at least has read this blog, knows how difficult this is going to be. I have lived my life thus far as the quintessential wise-ass, lampooning society and conventional mores and morality with what some consider to be outrageous words and (gasp) behavior. I've always delighted in poking fun at conventional "civilized" behavior and more specifically those who practice it.For some indeterminable reason, this personal presentation on my part has what appears to be a minor aphrodsiacal effect on the opposite sex. I know this because women have always been unreasonably drawn to me, and there's no other logical explanation. This attraction has continued even though I'm too old, too married, and carry too much avoirdupois to account for it.

My friend Brett and his friend Rdogg, observing the reaction of an undergrad student with whom I had a brief chat, surmised that it was my "attitude" and an air of self-confidence. I think it has more to do with my lifestyle of civil disobedience (oh why has that disappeared as a political tool?) and social irreverence, which women pick up as a huge blip on their radar.

Nonetheless, I'm going to go a week as a "civil" human being. No wise-ass remarks, no sarcastic put-downs (even when deserved), and polite conventional response to all situations. I'll then report back on the reactions of people to this (especially females). Maybe I'll learn something.

On a completely different note, a comment on my last post asked for more explication of my experience with the drug "ecstacy". I've done this in a previous narrative a few months ago, but I'll be glad to recount in more detail next time.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Drivin' Around

Now that my new knee works well enough to operate a vehicle, I get to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes--driving about town pretending I'm doing vital errands but really just bopping around running into various denisens of my suburban environs. Since I've been out of commission for awhile, I've noticed an increased awareness of my surroundings. Food tastes delicious. I'm finding significance in the creakings of my house. Women's perfumes smell sumptuous, and all female bodies and visages have taken on an allure that I don't remember their having pre-operation.

An example of this heightened sensitivity and appreciation occurred at the library. Unfortunately, Cheshire does not hire it's librarians from the Sport's Illustrated swimsuit issue. Usually it's easy for me to concentrate on picking out books because on Bo Derek's scale of 10 these ladies are, even optimistically, mired in minus territory. Today, however, one glance behind the counter and I had a pant's tent of major proportion. (It's probably too much information, as my friend Brett always tells me, to mention that I was travelling commando today). Anyway, I'm sure these were the same damsels that I see regularly at my bibliotech, but vive le petit difference. Maybe it's the vicidin.

Then I went to Marshall's to get a back pack book bag. (It's hard to get up the steps to class with books and a cane, which I'll need for another week or two). At the counter, a Sweet Young Thing suggested I try the truffles that they had on sale. After determining that truffles were all that was on the menu today, I broke down my non-existent will power and bought some. Back at the car I opened a wrapper and popped one in my mouth. Ecstacy! I've actually had ecstacy at a Rave once and I swear it didn't taste this good. If I were a female in a romance novel I'd have ripped my bodice and swooned. I had to put the rest of the truffles in the back seat so that I could drive home.

Sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch (you don't get to hear my experience on this last sense,I don't do XXX ratings on my blog) I just hope I don't come down off this post-op high. Maybe the surgeon put me in a permanently altered state, or maybe it just feels so good to stop hurting. Either way, until I stop feeling this way, I'm gonna keep drivin'.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

I'm Back

As many of you seem to have noticed (thank you), I've been away from my blog for a while. A few asked why (and where) on my blog, many more asked by E-mail, and many more by phone. The short answer is that in a fit of uncalculated masochism I hired one of that army of highly-paid practitioners of human butchery known as osteopathic surgeons to replace my knee-- steel for bone.

It's now three weeks later and I find that I can now sit comfortably (sort of) at my computer and blog. I probably could have done this sooner, but constant dull pain does nothing to enhance my sense of humor without which my writing would just bore you to tears (me, too). My physical therapy girls tell me I tolerate pain amazingly well and that my level of recovery is way ahead of normal expectation. The problem with that fact is that the reward for doing well in PT is that the therapist increases her expectations and demands until the pain level makes you holler "uncle" ("uncle being a euphemism for expletives I never thought I'd use in front of the fair sex).

My therapists are both attractive and charming, butter having to work overtime to melt in their mouths. Belying this is a cruel streak of remarkable proportion. After they put me through the tortures of hell, they smile and tell me how great I'm doing and how good all this is for my new knee. I remain unconvinced.

The new issue of "Hartford Magazine" (April) features me in their lead article, with a half-page picture yet. I haven't seen it. If any of you are brave enough to actually want to risk looking at me (I've been known to turn people to stone at one glance), this is your chance. Costs $3.95, though.

Lots more to say, but