By Danny Tyree
Author Harlan Ellison once dropped me a postcard remarking that my mind “works like a demented cuckoo clock.”
In tribute to Ellison (who passed away last June) and in response to a relentless deadline, I have cannibalized some random thoughts I was saving for a book project.
For starters you know all those climactic movie scenes where two tough guys are fighting to the death on a railroad track or on a skyscraper girder or in a pool of alligators? One always makes a final lunge and growls, “I’ll see you in hell.” Well, what if hell’s smoke causes low visibility, or the GPS malfunctions or Mr. Big Mouth’s Post-It Note reminder burns up and he plumb forgets making the threat?
Does the broken vow add to his pre-death score and earn him a special corner of hell? Forget “free will” and “original sin.” This is the sort of stuff enquiring minds want to know!
Next, why do we take Desiderius Erasmus at his word when he declared, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king?” Can’t the vision-impaired establish a confederation or a constitutional republic instead, if they so choose? What if the king has one good eye but a terrible sense of taste and eats some spoiled leftovers and kicks off before his coronation? Would the chamberlain be forced to search out Skippy the Honors Braille Student of the Year to replace him? How did we wind up with a land of the blind, anyway? Did the government give everyone free health care, free tuition and a free Daisy Red Ryder BB gun?
On a similar note, how do we know that “a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then?” What if the hog is in the middle of the Arabian Desert? What are the chances Sheik Yaboohti is going to ride out on his camel and exclaim, “This is your lucky day, unclean animal! I just traded my entire harem for an oak tree?”
Isn’t it defeating the purpose to have MAN-datory sexual harassment training at work?
Seriously, what is so cool about sunglasses? Don’t give me that “air of mystery” nonsense. (“I can’t see his eyes! They might be open! They might be closed! They might be brown or blue! The possibilities are endless! Ooooo, what if it’s Foster Grant eating at the volunteer fire department supper behind those Foster Grants?”)
“Let a smile be your umbrella.” Is somebody trying to destroy the entire rain-gear industry? “Let a raised eyebrow be your galoshes. Let a wink be your poncho.” Somebody is drinking something strong- er than rain water.
I know about generation gaps. But, apologies to Bob Dylan, what’s the deal with “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand?” I would feel ridiculous ranting about things I can understand. (“Darn that infernal Pythagorean theorem – it’s so clear-cut now that my professor explained it! And I simply loathe the freedom of assembly – it’s just so freakishly self-evident!”)
Finally, why does small talk have to put so much pressure on you? You know, like an old acquaintance asking, “You keepin’ ol’ Bubba straight?” If you’re lucky, you can get by with a grinned, nonspecific affirmation. But a persistent questioner can saddle you with a real guilt trip. (“You aren’t??? You scumbag! Now he’s doomed to spend eternity with the alligator pool guy!”)
Danny Tyree’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc.