A guest post from Steelcharmer…
Don’t worry… I’m not planning to drape the back of my hand against my forehead and swoon melodramatically like bad actors do.
But you get it right? I’m leaving for 6 months of sleeping in the dirt, eating crap, and walking, and walking, and walking. So, goodbye indoor plumbing. Goodbye laptop and wifi and HBO OnDemand and (damn it’s harder to say than I’d expected) goodbye Jack Daniels. Goodbye wife who is probably already sleeping on my side on the bed. Yes, goodbye cruel world…hello cruel-er world.
I’m looking at this bulging orange backpack, trying to come to terms with the fact that this will be my home until the NFL season starts back up again. I look at the half-drank gallon of milk in the fridge and wonder what it will smell like when I get back (because there is a very good chance my dad won’t throw it away before I get back). Will I smell worse? Will my food standards drop so much that I still drink it?
I know it won’t be all bad. There is a free moonshine sampling place in Gatlinburg, and a “naked day” sometime during summer. I’ll probably get rid of enough of my gut to reintroduce myself to the valuable real estate below my belly button (I’m talking about my feet you perverts), but there is going to be sooo much time and walking in between these distractions.
I also know that it’s important. Life has been a not very fun merry-go-round for several years. Keep revisiting the same disasters. Something needs to change. Maybe this will be it.
So, let’s do this thing. Let’s hike the Appalachian Trail. Let’s hike really fast so we can get back into bed with Monica before it gets cold in Bucharest again! (Wow. Some of you really are kinky. I’m not suggesting group sex when I say “WE can get into bed with Monica.” I’m using the royal “we.” And I’m almost positive she would never go for it.)
I heft my pack (I’m sure it will feel lighter once I get in better shape) and meet Dad at the truck so he can take me to the airport. Dad is great about being supportive, says things like “this will be a great adventure” and “you’re going to meet some great people.” Lots of platitudes with the word great in them. (I think he’s just happy to have his storage room back.)
Although I had to check my pack (no way it was going to fit in the overhead bins), I can’t believe they let me carry on my trekking poles. No water bottles or nail clippers allowed through security, but the two spears with handles are no problem.
Anyway, I barely get a chance to wedge myself into my window seat when an overweight mother plops down into the seat next to me. Of course she has a lap warmer that couldn’t be much more than a year old and it’s already cranky. The mother starts talking at me, something about hating to fly and problems with the family in Atlanta. She is almost as oblivious to the cues I’m sending her as she is to the squeaking coming from her irritable child. Nonetheless, when she pauses to catch her breath and pull something squeaky out of a bulging diaper bag to compete with her kid’s noise, I recognize this as yet another one of those character building moments I see in movies. I could put in my earbuds and try to ignore their existence for the next few hours, or, I could let her in on a social experiment with lots of potential that she should be interested in.
I begin to explain, using the smallest words I can. We have forgotten that as far as children (below a reasonable drinking age… say 14) are concerned, vocal cords are a privilege, not a right. To illustrate my point, the toddler gets really expressive as we lift off and cabin pressure drops enough to make its ears pop. Mom is absentmindedly bouncing it on her knees as much as the seats will allow, but she adopts this weird bug-eyed look. I assume that she’s having a hard time concentrating while her kid howls in her lap, so I start speaking louder.
I mention that the vocal cords (removed humanely, and under general anesthesia of course) would be stored in some embalming fluid like formalin and put in a decorative jar. Maybe she could put the jar on the mantel of her fireplace – like a motivational reminder? Taking the vocal cords out wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but there aren’t that many surgeons with the experience to reimplant them, so we may have to do something to hurry the technology along. She starts looking for the flight attendant to change seats.
Deep down, I suspect she sees the beauty of my idea even more profoundly than I do. After all, she has to live with that all day (and all night). Besides, I bet when circumcision was first suggested, there was probably some pushback. Now, even the medical students are snipping away the “extra” skin on newborns as practice. And most babies do fine with a pacifier dipped in sugar water (there is still some screaming, but again, this could be controlled with a combined vocal cord-ectomy/circumcision). After enduring an earful from the histrionic mother, the flight attendant tries to tell me to keep my comments to myself, and offers us both a complimentary drink. Since the mother has her hands full, I take hers too. After all, I’m the one that has to look like the bad guy here, even though my idea will make everyone’s life so much more pleasant. Who knows, it might even fix a lot of the problems with kids today. Make them model citizens.
I know this idea is still in its infancy, but it’s got potential. And given our current political climate, now is the perfect time to try our some of our more progressive social experiments. If nothing else, I’m sure the beneficiaries (the children of course) won’t voice any criticisms.