Lost pliers
Lost pliers

   My father never asked me about the Playboy magazine that had been on the shelf by his bed last night.  It was one that he had bought at Snyder's Drug Store, because it certainly was not one sent to him by the publisher.  He probably figured that his subscription request was lost in the mail because he never received a single copy.  For a smart guy, he sure didn't figure much out.  Did he really think he could preside over a crazy, alcoholic household of six boys and have Playboy make it from the mailbox to his bedside and stay there for  more than a few minutes?  After working long hours in a stressful job at the Mayo Clinic, he felt entitled to lying down and finding the Playboy he had started last night where he had left it.  He had been so tired that he had managed to read only the first page of the interview.  Now it was gone.  Tonight, he was so tired and so full of pity for himself that he would not get up and start asking boys under which mattress was his magazine now.  He knew that every single one of them would shake his head silently as if to say that he didn't even know what a Playboy magazine was.  Had he any sense, he would have bought seven subscriptions.
    Tools vanished in the same way.  In the spring he found his hammer with the leather-laminated handle emerging from melting snow.  On his work bench in the basement, he had once installed a handsome metal rack for drill bits.  In the course of one summer, every single one of them went somewhere and never came back.  Some were now rusting in the dewy grass.  Some had taken up permanent residence with the Tinker-toys.  Another puzzled our neighbor when he sought to  put back a drill bit he had found and discovered that every one of his drill bits was snug and dry in the handsome metal rack on his workbench.  Dad started to use the rack to store pliers.  I am sure that he once went to the rack to retrieve a pair of pliers he had a crystal clear memory of putting away there and finding nothing but a row of empty holes.  He probably leaned on both hands, hung his head, and felt within himself again the black and ravenous hole bequeathed to him by his desiccated and indifferent mother and his father of meager genes.  Poor man.  Misery over a pair of pliers. 

Moron
Morons at Play
Moron
Morons at Play
Moron
Morons at Play

     I found a short video on the web that has reassured me of the health of the human spirit.  Some nay-sayers will put a negative spin on the choices this man made, but I choose otherwise.  There are now so many humans, so much stuff, so many situations, and our race is so ancient that every possible permutation of person, place, thing, time, and purpose has been assembled.  Most of us become cynical or depressed by this reality, but, as always, a few intrepid individuals, within whom burns brightly the spirit of adventure, reject the decay and lassitude lapping at our ankles, leap off the consumerism conveyor belt delivering us to a fatuous and frivolous future, and - allow me to be trite - go where no man has gone before.  This modern day Magellan scornfully casts aside fear of the judgment and ridicule of the masses, the tyranny of convention, even concern for his own physical safety and asks, "Has anyone ever attempted to launch a bottle rocket out of his ass?"
    I can see him now, weary in his study shortly before dawn, book in hand, candle guttering, groping, groping in the darkness for something, he knows not what.  But something, something no one has tried before.  Or maybe Lear-like, he fights the storm that batters lesser souls into submission, howls against the thunder, and sees in the lightning the hint of an answer.  Or maybe Mother Theresa, clutching the wasting orphan to her breast, prays for the salvation of humanity.  In her soul flowers the question, "What if I stuck something on fire in my asshole?" 
    As happens over and over, the imagination, the courage, and the night when nothing is on TV intersects in the most unlikely of places: at the segregated lunch counter in Selma, Alabama, among the three hundred at Thermopylae, and, yes, the manger in Bethlehem.  One man stood up or, in this case, lay down and asked his friends, "What if you stuck a bottle rocket in my ass and lit it?"
    I wish I could give you a better picture of this sea changing moment, after which everything was different, at least for this man's asshole anyway.  You can see the video yourself here.  Prepare to be uplifted as he was. 
    I am forced to confess that I am one of the little people.  Senator Edward Kennedy eulogized his brother Robert with this description, "You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’". Rather than follow this ubermencsh into glory, I will go to the mall, watch reruns of Happy Days, and linger on the new frontier with the spirit-withering question, "Why?"