Saturday, November 26, 2011

"If you can hear this..."

"There you are in Mousetrap, Paul. Love the pointy mustache!"

Paul grins and pulls at his pajama bottoms. His legs are so skinny. "Do you remember the guy who played the Inspector in that show? What was his name?"

Sue looks up from browsing through the scrapbook she holds in her hands, anticipating the well-worn story he's going to tell. "His name was Larry."

"Remember the time he was on stage in the middle of the final scene, telling everyone who the murderer was, and he forgot his lines?" Paul laughs. "So he walked off the stage to find where he was in the script and figure out his line? Remember that?"

I laugh politely (did it sound fake? I hope not) and grab his arm. "I know it was a good thing you were there to keep the show going."

"Paul is the master improvisor," says Sue.

Paul turns the page of the scrapbook he's holding. "Oh! And there you are as Scumbiscuit," I say, pointing to a picture of Paul wearing a ridiculous white pastry chef's hat, with the word 'Scrumbiscuit' embroidered on it.

"Mais oui, I am the, 'ow you say, Scoombiscuit," he booms in an over-the-top French accent.

"--and the master of a million and one voices," continues Sue. "He can just hear one once and bam! He can do it perfectly. Hey Paul, do you remember the first show we were both in? The director would come to rehearsal drunk as a skunk..."

"...and take out her false teeth when she got excited, and wave them around. Ha! Hey, Ricky!" Paul says, noticing an orderly passing by. The orderly nods politely, turns around. "I want you to meet a few people. This is my sister Sue, and her husband Rick. And this is my friend, Ted."

"Nice to meet you," says the orderly, and then turns to go about his business.

Paul turns his attention back to me. "Hey, you were in Jesus Christ Superstar, weren't you? You played Judas, didn't you? Were was that held?"

"North Eldredge High School," I replied.

"Great show, great show. Remember the two-record album? Man, I used to play that all the time. One time, a friend of mine took me to see it at PPAC. It was amazing. That opening number, right before they go into Heaven on their Mind...first, there's complete stillness, and then you hear the guitar come in..." And then, he proceeds to sing every note in the overture, staring at me intently.

I had forgotten that Paul liked to reenact albums. It kind of reminded me of my son-in-law, who likes to loudly play songs he's plucked from YouTube, in the middle of parties. Of course, in Paul's teen years, they didn't have YouTube...only vinyl. This approximation were probably his generations' form of mass communication (note: why yes, that was an obscure Jesus Christ Superstar reference. Thanks for noticing!)

I wait politely until he arrives at the fanfare. "I remember waiting for my first song to begin, during that overture. I stood behind the grand drape. The director wanted the stage to be completely covered in fog when the curtain went up. So I'd stand there as the fog machine poured smoke onto the stage, and it would get higher and higher and higher, until it was over my head. And I'd have to breathe it in! I tell you, by the time that curtain went up, I'd choke out, 'My mind is clearer now...'"

"But your voice wasn't," giggles Sue.

"Hey, you!" says a fiesty-looking Italian lady with dark hair, who it turns out, is Paul's Occupational Therapist. "You singing Pink Floyd again?"

Paul laughs, shakes his head.  "Nikki! I want you to meet a few people. This is my sister Sue, and her husband Rick. And this is my friend, Ted."

She nods appreciatively. "You sure have a huge crowd today. He tellin' you about Pink Floyd? This man knows everything there is to know about Pink Floyd. Paul, you show 'em the jacket we gave you?" She turns to me. "One of our orderlies had a boyfriend who made her one of the all time great Pink Floyd jackets, back when she was nineteen. She kept it all this time and decided to give it to Paul! It fits him, too, believe it or not."

Paul looks down at his skinny frame, at least a hundred pounds less than when I last saw him. "I have a little trouble with the sleeves..."

That rings a bell with Nikki. "Paul, did you go down for dialysis today?"

Paul nods.

Pink Floyd. Funny, just about a month ago, I rediscovered my Pink Floyd fascination, brought about by a Rolling Stone article on the anniversary of Dark Side of the Moon. "So, you're a big Pink Floyd fan, huh?"

"The biggest," says Paul, with obvious pride. "Ask me anything."

"Who was the original lead singer?"

"Syd Barrett," replies Paul. "Their first album was Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Of course, their greatest album, and the one that made them famous, was Dark Side of the Moon."

"Oh yes..."

"It starts off with the really quiet, but then, you start to hear this sound, coming out of the silence..." And suddenly, Paul launches into a recitation of the entire first side of Dark Side of the Moon. Sue turns her head, starts talking to Rick. Paul shifts his attention solely to me.

Politely, I listen. He runs through album, song by song. Speak to Me, then Breathe. Then On the Run.

"...and then, you hear the tick tock of a clock, and suddenly, there's a huge noise of all these clocks going off, everywhere!" says Paul, enthusiastically. "And then you hear the guitar, and then..." And then, he starts singing. "Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, you fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way..."

As he sings, he gains momentum. I sing along, trying hard not to think of the situation Paul has found himself in, of the world within which he resides. Paul continues forward, the same old smile on his face. "So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking..." His eyes grow wide, he points to Rick, he's unaware of how loudly he's singing. "Racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death!"

The punchline has been punched. Paul pauses. "Oh...what's next...I forget now..."

"Every year is getting shorter," I sing, helpfully. Together, we finish off the song. Paul seems pleased. "And then comes The Last Great Gig in the Sky. My favorite."

He nods, grabs my hand. "Do you know, if you listen closely to that song, after the second chorus, there's a section that sounds like mumbling? But if you listen really closely, you can hear what it says? Do you know what it says?"

I'm starting to feel a little uncomfortable, "No...what?"

He stares at me, dead serious. "If you can hear this, you're dying." He shakes his head. "That's what it says. 'If you can hear this, you're dying.'"

I glance away at Paul, look over at Sue. She brings a hand to her face. "How long can you stay, Ted?"

"What time is it?" A glance down, to the phone. "Oh,man. Have to pick up the kids soon. Guys, do you mind if we take a look at that jacket, though? I'd really like to see it..."

We pack up the scrapbooks. Rick and I head off to Paul's room, trade small talk. Paul lifts himself up, uses his walker to shuffle back to his room, Psychic Sue following behind. The jacket revealed, photos taken. Then, goodbyes.

"I'll be back," I say to Paul as I hug him.

"You'd better be," he says.

All the way home, I think about life on the dark side of the moon.

"What's the purpose of life, Corb?" I ask, later that night, as he's going to bed.

"That's easy," he says, stretching out his big toes. To live."

"Is that it?" I pace around the room. "It just seems so purposeless, if that's all there is to it. There's just got to be something more, if not, it just all seems kind of futile, if all that living means is you're going to end up in a--"

"But few people really live," Corb replies. "Most people spend their times obsessing about stupid things, like bills and laundry and day-to-day crap, and don't spend any time at all actually living. The trick is living, Ted. That's something only a lucky few achieve."

Living. Hmmm.

If you can hear this...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Operation: Scumbiscuit

One of my silly mystery nights, featuring Psychic Sue, far right. 
This one was called The Battle Royale

Just the other day, I mentioned in my entry on journaling a quote from the play Love Letters, and lo and behold, what should I receive this morning but an email from my favorite acting partner, Psychic Sue. Some of you may remember her from a memorable adventure I took to Heniker, New Hampshire to perform in a production of that play with her.

This time around, the message was not so cheery: "Could you possibly call me as soon as you can? I have new information about my brother Paul."

Paul is an old friend, too, although I haven't kept in touch with him as much as I have Psychic Sue. I certainly never performed in any productions of Love Letters with him. However, he was a kind, loving bear of a man, with a love for old Three Stooges routines, and he had appeared in a few of the wildly amateurish mystery nights I had written and directed (and sometimes appeared in) back in the days that I still had hair. His character was usually that of Scumbiscuit, a jovial French chef with an atrocious French accent.

Last I had heard from Psychic Sue, Paul had fallen upon hard times. He had been diagnosed with diabetes and as a result, lost his eyesight for some time, although two painful surgeries had partially restored that. He had even been homeless for a while, although Sue and family had managed to find him a good place to live.

Immediately, I called Sue back. Sure enough, the news was bad. After a short peaceful lull, things were tough for Paul once again. "He scratched his toe a few months ago," Sue told me. "And because he has diabetes, things got bad quickly. They've had to amputate that toe. But even worse, because circulation is so poor down there, the other toes started to die. So, they've made the decision to cut all of his toes off on one foot."

What could I say? I said the words that you say. To repeat them here would be pointless.

"Ted, the thing is, through all that he's been through, he's always maintained a good attitude. You know how he always was. Always smiling, always there to listen to other people. Never thought badly of anyone. But this one's getting him down. He's grown really moody in the rehab center. Still has good days. The other day, he told me that he had had the best day of his life, can you believe it? I asked why, and he said that they held a Halloween party for some area kids, and he had never laughed so much in his life. A kid's Halloween party and it did that for him! But there are other days...well, he gets down. Moody. He''s losing hope, I think."

I waited for the next step. I knew that Psychic Sue was formulating a plan.

"So, I was thinking about the fact that loved the mystery nights he was involved in, and also Mousetrap. And I was wondering, do you have any photos from those shows he was in? He still talks about all of them, and how much he loved them. They still bring a smile to his I was wondering, do you have any--"

Aha! "Actually, Z, yes, I do," I said, moving into the bedroom. Josie and I had kept good care to record all of the shows we were in, back in the days when we involved with Eldredge Community Theater. We took dozens of photos, and maintained beautiful scrapbooks that Josie spent hours putting together. When we left the group, under not-too-pleasant circumstances, we had kept them, fearing that they would not have been treated very nicely by the group that was then in power. So, yes, I had many dozens of photos on hand.

Sue was amazed. "Oh wow...if you could just find a way to share them with Paul, that'd be great. I'll be coming home for Thanksgiving, but I'm not sure when I could stop over. I'll be with family all day Thursday, and then we're visiting Paul on Friday..."

I took a deep breath. "How about if I go with you to visit him on Friday? I could bring the scrapbooks with me. He could see them firsthand"

You could hear the relief in her voice. "Ted, would you really do that? I think it would mean the world to him."

Absolutely I would.

It's nice to know that those old memories mean as much to someone else as they do to me. All those old friends and the silly adventures that people went along with me on. They were foolish and unpolished, but in many ways, those are some of my fondest memories, back in the days when I was young and extremely foolish.

It's time to pay it forward, I think. Seeing Paul on Friday...Operation going to be a pleasure.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Greek's Way.

"The fact that they were in love with play and would play magnificently would be proof enough of how they lived and how they looked at life...the little pleasures, too, that daily living holds were felt as such keen enjoyment."
Edith Hamilton, The Greek Way

Me, as a little devil.
Aha! That's it. That's the whole purpose of my life, I think. Or at least, my online journal writings. Who needs all that sturm und drang, and even more, who wants to look back and read about it, years from now?

Oh, I've written down-right down and depressing entries, of course. When I first starting writing my online journal, way back in 2002, my first few years were all about the crumbling of my marriage to Josie and my first hesitant steps into the world outside, on my own. Not the cheeriest of subjects, frankly, which is why, try as I might, I've never been able to go back and read it from beginning to end. It's just too sad for me.

Instead, it's the moments of silliness and celebration that I've preferred, and frankly, which I think I have more of an inclination to write about. In fact, one of my first online journal entries was about a giant plant that lived at the Homestead on our deck, and some insane tall tale about how it went wild and one day and grew vines that wrapped themselves around Josie, attempting to drag her down underneath. Freudian symbolism abounds, certainly, even up to the ending, where I discover a secret passage, hidden underneath.

Those are the stories I go back to, time and again, because they have a lightness of spirit that I find attractive. That, and my "power statements," such as the story about how Josie and I first met, and what she means to me, or unpleasant stories of being bullied in junior high...nothing light in spirit about those, although they both have messages of hope contained within, about how it's possible to overcome even the worst of adversity and prosper from it.

Even so, I'm keenly aware that the way I tell my story is a bit different, and that not everyone is as obsessed as I am about turning the "little pleasures that daily living holds" into the fabric of the stories they tell. Many people use their blogs to wax political, or make things intensely personal without regard to others (an audience of one). Or, they skip the personal altogether, and use their space primarily to discuss anything BUT their personal life. Or, they try to focus their stories exclusively on one aspect of their lives: those who focus on how they raise their children (and usually how well they do at it), or on their life in writing. I can't be constrained stories could be about my kids, could be about my life with Corb, could be political, could be about theater, could be about nothing. A high spirited people do not obey so easily. And do not focus so narrowly, either.

One could call my material myopic in nature, and perhaps it is. But, it's what I do. Since I first started keeping journals, actually, when I wrote in the third person, and attributed the stories to the author "Vern Slater." My interest has always been on celebrating the every day, the mundane, the trivial matters in my life and those around me. That's my fascination, and it's a fascination I've increasingly chosen to embrace.

My dear friend [info]adrianaendless has taken to calling me a gypsy, because she feels that my style of writing the stories that I write are akin to that a gypsy telling a story around the fire. I think there's an element of truth to that, and I find it flattering. But in reading The Greek Way, I'm struck by how much of who I am has been influenced by a culture that I never really knew much about. My grandfather came to America as a Greek orphan and died when my father was 12, so I never really knew him nor did I have family members that I could reach out and connect with. However, likes those vines that entangled Josie, what lurks beneath has always held quite a strong pull, and the secret passage underneath has been informing my life since the very start.

Oh, and I'm usually deeply in debt, too. There's another thing I can attribute to my Greek heritage.

Note: today's photo is me, one Halloween. Five, maybe?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Best Bathroom Book Bets 2011

Anyone who's read me for a while knows I'm a huge fan of what I like to call toilet books. These are the books that (maybe not) you bring in with you for a pleasant little time away from the world, crapping or peeing to your heart's content while you read a little something something.

Toilet books can't be linear. They need to be something you can simply flip through and select a random page to read. Doesn't matter what page you turn to, you're going to find something interesting. After all, you're only going to be in their for ten or twenty minutes. Now, this is important: It also can't be a book you're reading in a linear fashion, because that interrupts your digestive flow. No, no, no. The perfect bathroom book needs to be something light and tasty, but with a little kick...kind of like an aperitif.

And of course, you need to mix bathroom books up every so often. One does get bored reading the same books time and again, after all. As a result, some get put away for a year or so, and then come back again. Others get retired for good.

So, in no particular order, here are my current picks for classic bathroom books...what I'm reading now. Pick a few up and you can crap like Ted! Let's face it, that's infinitely more entertaining than moving like Jagger. I know, right?
  • Get Happy: the Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke. Okay, I lied, this is my number one fave, right now. I have to admit, I am mildly obsessed with this book. But how can you not be fascinated with a book that has a story about Judy Garland giving some random movie star a hummer and then being forced to sing "Over the Rainbow" after she's done finishing him off? Talk about singing for your supper! Or the MGM executive who flashes a teen Shirley Temple, expecting her to service him, but she just ends up in a fit of giggles, so he fires her? I mean, this book is the Good Ship Lollipop, and the some! (My personal favorite pages: the late MGM years, right before she gets fired and tries to commit suicide. I don't like the suicide part, so I always skip over that.)
  • Center Square: The Paul Lynde Story by Wilson and Florenski. A quick read about the misadventures of a deeply troubled gay icon: practically every page ends in disaster. Without a doubt, the most offensive Hollywood Squares Paul Lynde joke: "What should you think when you walk into an apartment and all the walls and carpets are brown?" Paul Lynde: "The maid exploded."
  • Sing for Your Supper by Ethan Mordden. A look a Broadway musicals in the 1930s. Fascinating rhythm!
  • Popeye: The First Fifty Years by Bud Sagendorf. If I had a book on Dick Tracey, that would be on this list. But how can you go wrong with the Sea Hag, Alice the Goon, or Poopdeck Pappy?
  • My 1981 High School yearbook. Okay, okay, I know you PROBABLY don't have access to this one, particularly the version I own, which my best friend from high school sent an ENTIRE YEAR defiling and defacing. But if only you could...oh, the hours of pleasure I've derived from this book! It's better than sex. Well, almost. I'm including two of the few items that couldn't possibly offend anyone...the rest just will have to remain secret for some time to come.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Summer Place.

About a month ago, I received word that a friend of mine, Alana, would soon be retiring, and would I like to go to her surprise retirement party?

Of course, I said yes. Even though I haven't worked in the department she works in for over decade, I have fond memories of my time spent as a Casualty Supervisor in the Claim Department, and especially, the people that I worked with. Without a doubt, Alana was one of my all-time favorites.

I love Alana because she has such a love for the absurd. She never fails to see the humor in things, and is one of those people who can get you laughing, no matter how serious the work at hand is. Working in Casualty, which basically means figuring out how much of a price tag to place on a person's injury, you have to value people like that.

Being a lover of the absurd, I suppose it's no surprise that Alana tends to attract absurd situations into her life. It's just bees being attracted to honey, I suppose. Time after time while I was working with her, Alana would come to me, as her boss, and, being a lover of tales (just like me), she'd unfurl in glorious detail some of the strangest situations, much to my amusement.

During one of her first months, she came to my desk with the strangest look on her face. Even at that time, I knew her well enough to know that I was in for a great story. "What is it this time, dear?" I asked.

"Well..." she said, clearly distressed. "I have this injury claim, and I just don't know what kind of value to put on it."

"What happened?" I asked.

"Our insured struck the vehicle in front of him in the rear, so liability's clear," she replied. "He struck two little old ladies, these two sweet little old ladies. Nicest women you'd ever want to meet. So I was doing my job today and making calls out to both of them to see how they were and whether they were injured. I called the passenger, and when I spoke to her, I asked whether she was injured. She told me, well...yes...but in a kind of interesting way..." Then, Alana  blushed and smiled, for dramatic effect. "It seems that because of the impact, her left breast smashed up against the seatbelt, causing her nipple to become inverted."

I blushed, tried not to giggle. "You're saying her nipple...went..."

"That's right, Ted," she replied. "It went south for the winter. But should I offer her any money for that? I mean, other than the inconvenience, it's not hurting her. She's certainly not going to be breast feeding any what should do?"

"Keep the file open and call her in a month," I replied.

One month went by, and the inverted nipple lady came up for diary. I called Alana over to my desk. "So, what ever happened to that little old lady with the nipple that went south for the winter?" I asked.

"Oh, that!" Alana beamed at me. It was as if she had been waiting for me to ask. "I called her the other day to see how things were, and she said, 'Oh, just fine.' Then I asked her, delicately, how her little problem was. She said, 'You know what? I was taking a shower the other day and soaping up the puppies, when all of a sudden, POP! Everything was back to normal!"

Then she laughed, and of course, I started to laugh. For the rest of the day, all of I could think of was POP! Right away, that would get me to laughing again.

There are so many other stories like that. Weddings we'd go to, where she'd come dressed in a fox stole complete with matching muff. I marveled over that muff of hers for hours. Another wedding, where she brought with her a Nantucket wicker basket. I amused myself by shoving things into her basket whenever she went to the bathroom...dinner rolls, napkins...stories of pranks she pulled on neighbors, memorable Christmas themes she'd arrange for her children...oh, and sayings. "Laugh and lie," she'd always tell me, and it's something that stuck with me for years. Laugh and lie, even if you're furious with someone or about something. Better to put on a happy face than to fuss and make a bad deal even worse. Just don't let them see they got to you.

Alana is a lover of life, and it always showed. And even after I left the department, I still kept in touch with her. How could I not? People like her are few and far between.

This afternoon was her retirement party, and after she had entered the room and delivered her farewell speech, she went around the room to thank everyone. When she came to me and our friend Anna, she stopped. "You two," she said, sotto voce. "Follow me for a minute."

With that, she walked out of the room. Of course, we followed, wondering what in the heck we were in for now.

Alana moved us by a cubicle, then lifted up a finger. "Wait right here," she said, then scurried off.

Of course, we didn't move a muscle. How could we?

Alana returned a few minutes later, with a bag under her arm. "So, I think both of you know that my husband Russ inherited a beach house in Westport, and we've been in the process of refurbishing it," she said. "Anyway, I was going through some stuff in he cellar, and I came across a box of watercolors that had been painted by his Great-aunt Mabel. Remarkable woman. Born before the turn of the century. She had been a student at RISD, but didn't graduate. Smart as a whip, though! She made all her children bring home all their college text books so that she could read them, and she did, cover to cover. Anyway, she was quite an artist. Her husband was an artist, too, and he never graduated from RISD either...he'd been thrown out, for some such thing. She always got angry about the fact that they would go to art fairs and sell their works, and his would always sell, and hers wouldn't. Even though she was the better artist. 'Your paintings are too dark!' she'd always tell him. Then he died, and what did she do? She took all his paintings and made them brighter! I tell you, remarkable woman..."

"Anyway, I found this pile of paintings in the cellar, and figured she'd want people to have them, rather than have them gathering dust in some dark old place. So, would you like to take one?"

The one I chose is shown at the start of this story, and I fully intend to frame it within the next few days and hang it on my wall. Right in the living room, right by my writing desk.

And not just because it's a nice painting crafted by a remarkable woman. That's just half of the story, for me.

The other half is that the painting was given to me BY a remarkable woman. A professional absurdist, an eternal optimist, someone who taught me to laugh and lie (although I don't use that trick half as much as I should.) Every time I see that painting on my wall, I know it's going to make me smile.

That's something anyone can use to brighten up any corner of a home, I think. Which is why I'm happy to have Mabel...and Alana...brightening my life for many years to come.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just the three of us

Presidential hopeful Rick Perry demonstrates his favorite way to hold a corn dog.

Isn't it always the way?

Two nights ago, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, a man who is almost succeeding in making his fellow Texan George Bush look intelligent, provided hours of entertainment when he announced that his economic plan called for the elimination of three government agencies...and then forgot the names of the three he was looking to axe.

"Let me tell you, it’s three agencies that are gone when I get there," said Perry, just brimming with confidence (but not necessarily grammatical syntax). "Commerce, Education, and the um, what’s the third one there? Commerce, education and eh, eh...'"

Mitt Romney, trying to be helpful, suggested, "EPA?"

Perry scratched his his head and made the face Darren always used to make in Bewitched, when Samanatha disappears from the kitchen in the opening credits. "No, that's not it..."

Hey, I know how those things go. I'm FOREVER having the same problem at the supermarket. Whenever I have three things I need to get, it seems like I can always remember the first two items, but once I have those two in hand, try as I might, I can never remember what that third thing was. It's so annoying! There I stand in the supermarcado, looking a little like Darren and scratching my head. Chicken soup, gruel, and...oh gosh...chicken soup, gruel, and...dammit, what was it again?

Then I go home, all frustrated, and the minute I step into the living room, that's when I remember: Oh right, tampons! How could I possibly have forgotten?

I'm sure it must have been the same thing for Mr. Perry last night, only in reverse, right? Instead of picking things up, he's looking to go all "Hulk smash" on three agencies. Same concept, though...dammit, what was the frickin' name of that third agency? Oh right...tampons!

I wonder, do you think he went home that night, and after taking off his slippers and throwing the blankets back, sat there for a moment, his hands in his head. His wife moves over, pats him on the back "What's the matter, honey?" "I'm the...worst...Republican presidential...candidate...ever!" he sobs.

Well, maybe.

Of course, Herman Cain's having the same problem, too. What were the names of those ladies I was inappropriate with, again? Man, it's so hard to remember once you get past the first two...

I tell you, my holiday card this year is going to be so damn entertaining... 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Politics of ABC.

You know, really, if you think about it, there's no real reason that the alphabet is the way it is.

Oh, of course, you need to have some way to organize things, in order to file and be able to more efficiently look items up. Other than that, though, it's not like the number system, where 1 has to go before 2, which has to go before 3. From a logical standpoint, there's no real reason that A HAS to go before B, which HAS to go before C. C could just as easily go before A, quite frankly, and it really wouldn't matter, because that's not the way that we use the alphabet. It's simply what we've gotten used to. Had we gotten used to a different order, a world where B did go before A, we would have just accepted it, and it would have been just as functional for us as our present system is.

The way we phrase things verbally, the way we write, has nothing to do with the order we assign to our letters. The rules of grammar and sentence structure play a far more important role. In so many cases, even that doesn't particularly matter, frankly. 

When Ashes was going to kindergarten, she had the worst time with her alphabet. I remember getting so worried because she'd have such a difficult time sounding everything out and putting all the building blocks together. We would spend hours in her room, sounding everything out, writing everything down. And I would get so frustrated. Even then, we'd have those Greek temper arguments that we're so famous for within our family, where we'd argue and storm and rage and then fifteen minutes later, we'd be fine and moving forward.

Maybe it wasn't such a big deal. Maybe If I had just viewed the alphabet as a completely artificial construct without any sense of real logic behind it I wouldn't have gotten all so passionate and it would have made everything a lot easier.

Still, I suppose it is OUR artificial construct, and one of the cornerstones upon which our civilization is based. No one's demanding, after all,  that we rethink our alphabet, and place B before A, after all. We have way bigger fish to fry.

But who decided it? Was it a totally arbitrary thing? Was there a Holy See where folks came together and argued about the positioning? Someone came to the meeting bucking for the letter A to be the first letter? "Well, I was really hoping for the letter M to go first, but harumph, okay, what the hell, let's give A a chance to prove itself." 

Hmm. Like the Holy See, are there letters that were determined to be heretical? Maybe Q was a letter that was on the borderline. I know that W was an iffy letter, for a while. People seemed to like UU, years ago. Hell, for all intents and purposes, W is still UU. But were there any letters that were also-rans? What does it feel like to be a rejected letter, I wonder?

Sigh. Maybe I just needed a bit more coffee, this morning.

Just asked Ashes. She thinks that people who had no lives are the ones who determined the order of Things such as the alphabet. You know what? She may have a point there...