Ode to the Crapper, Snake Handlers, and Reality Bites

bigger vehicle winsI had an ’88 VW Fox that was similar to this car, only mine was a 4 door, and I knew better than to run it into a tank.

I am not your friendly neighborhood optimist.  There are times when I wish I could be, but I was the kid who asked the catechism teacher* (*but NOT any of the teachers who were also nuns) where the bathroom is in heaven.  I’m probably the only person on the planet twisted enough to ask that question, but it has a rational foundation.  It’s always wise to know the proximity of the nearest crapper, and as much as I would hope eliminatory functions will not be necessary in the next life, I figure if there’s toilets in church, then the need for commodes might just transcend the Great Beyond.   It would be my luck.

old time crapperThey would probably be cool old-style Victorian era crappers like this one.

There was indoor plumbing in the late Victorian era, but only rich folks had it.  Poor folks had to use the outhouse.  My grandparents didn’t get indoor plumbing until the late 1950’s.  No, I am not that old.  I wasn’t born until the late 1960’s, so I don’t know about their  particular outhouse from personal experience.  The closest I ever got to a real outhouse was having to use the latrines at the Girl Scout Camp and the State Parks and/or Porto Johns.  That was bad enough.

poemI’m glad I don’t have balls.  I do wonder, though, if it’s so nasty, why are you lingering long enough to pull out a Sharpie and make commentary on the Porto-John wall?

For the uninitiated, outhouses may contain snakes, spiders, biting insects such as wasps and hornets, raccoons, mice and possums, or a combination of all of the above.  Non-venomous snakes don’t really phase me.  I have a ball python.  Jerry has a rather tempermental red-tail boa.  But pythons and boas are constrictors.  They can bite you and that’s not fun, but generally a bite from a constrictor will simply leave you with a few puncture wounds- not much worse than a cat scratch.  It’s rare for constrictors that are handled to bite unless they’re hungry and you smell like food.

ball pythonThis is a ball python. Pythons are NON-venomous snakes.  I have one just like it, and I have no problem picking him up.  He eats juvenile rats.

Venomous snakes are quite another matter.  I pretty much know what the “harmless” snakes, such as garter snakes, ball pythons, boas, rat snakes, etc. look like.  Rattlesnakes and copperheads are NOT snakes to be handled unless you know what the hell you’re doing, and even those people get bit rather often and sometimes die from it.

snake handler church

Perhaps I shouldn’t mock the snake handlers, but I think the Lord gives out something called “discernment,” and He would rather see people use that to avoid doing dangerous things, instead of people doing irrational things that increase the chances of them earning their Darwin Awards.

The thing I never really understood about snake handling is how is it any different from any other risky behavior?  Did Jesus tell people to get drunk and drive, or to run with scissors?  It just doesn’t make much sense.  Thankfully the snake handling tradition is obscure and it takes its origin from the long ending of the Gospel of Mark, that does not occur in all of the original manuscripts:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:16-18 (NRSV)

snakehandlingchurchI wonder if this disclaimer would hold up in court?   Does it also apply to the coffee, or are Pentecostals allowed to drink coffee?

I don’t take that snippet from the Gospel of Mark as a directive for going out and deliberately picking up rattlesnakes and copperheads or swilling poison for something to do, but I wasn’t raised in Appalachia or in the Pentecostal tradition.   I was raised with old-school Catholicism, which is plenty scary enough, even without venomous snakes or cyanide being involved.  We had to deal with nuns.  Most of the really creepy stuff associated with Catholicism has to do with the whole business of praying to the dead, people getting the stigmata, and exorcisms, and other way out supernatural freaky kinds of things.  I don’t disbelieve in the supernatural, but I do believe that when the spirit world makes itself known here on earth that it’s usually demons and such behind it, and I’d rather steer way clear of that noise.

the-exorcistI have my share of problems, but at least for now my head is screwed on straight, for what it’s worth.

So, maybe I’m the only one to have made the inquiry regarding the necessity of the loo in the Great Beyond.  Maybe not.  I’m not the only one who wondered why people’s clothes stayed clean on Gilligan’s Island even though they didn’t have either washing machines nor access to Tide.

Gilligan's_Island-003They are simply too clean.

tide-detergentMaybe there was some of this under the seats in the Minnow or something.

 

It’s “Be Thankful It Isn’t Any Worse” Day!

With a tip of the hat to my fellow cynics and assorted other ne’er-do-wells like me, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should set aside a day to be thankful that things aren’t any worse.  For instance, if for some bizarre reason I were single and decided to troll the wonderful world of online dating, something like the above picture would be bound to show up, less the dog of course, as the dog would be his only redeeming feature.  I can just imagine the troll that some dating service would inevitably choose for me would actually look somewhat like the fashion-challenged ginger above, but would have a profile picture that looks something like this:

So much for truth in advertising. Of course, if he really did look like this, he’d have to be gay.  Straight men are never that hot.  So I should be grateful that Jerry is not nearly hot looking enough to be gay.  We all know what happened to the ugly gay guy. He had to date girls.

I am also thankful that I am sitting here in beautiful Central Ohio.  The weather here usually sucks to some degree, in some sort of way, but one thing we don’t get here are tsunamis.  If there were ever to be a tsunami massive enough to hit Columbus, rest assured that most of the rest of the world has been knocked out too.  We do get floods (frequently, but localized) and tornados, and snow storms on a regular basis, which can be bad enough, but even in the worst of the recent Downtown floods, I’ve never seen anyone in German Village floating on their house ten miles out at sea.  Granted, the Great Flood of 1913 was really bad, see the pics here , but that was before the Army Corps of Engineers built the series of dams and reservoirs on the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers.  I have seen Infiniti Q45s towed in filled up to the belt moldings (where the window glass meets the door) with poo-filled sewer water, and a whole shipment of used Corollas acquired in a rather shady auction deal with bizarre electrical problems and shift consoles packed in flood mud, but that’s pretty piddly compared to what’s going on in Japan.

There can be earthquakes in the Midwest, but generally the Central Ohio area is a geologically stable zone.  We likely wouldn’t get severe damage if the New Madrid Fault were to generate earthquakes as it did in 1895.  It would, however, really suck anywhere along the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers.

At least I’ve not gotten motivated to get these memos (yet):

I haven’t descended into that dark a level of depravity.  It would be fun to see the expressions on certain people’s faces should they receive such a memo though.

I am thankful for flush toilets and for not having to use them outside.  The thought of having to use an old time latrine or outhouse like we had to do at the Girl Scout camp is downright frightening.  There’s something most off-putting about having to a.) use a flashlight to get to the latrine, then once you find the latrine you have to b.) shine the flashlight in and around the hole to check for unauthorized insect, arachnid and reptile life, and c.) smell the acrid stench of hundreds of other people’s decomposing urine and feces.   To add fuel to that fire, I’ve not entirely overcome my fear of flying and crawling insects or wayward arachnids.  Reptiles never really bothered me, probably because there aren’t very many venomous species in Central Ohio.  Usually on the rare occasion anyone happened upon a snake, it was a small, harmless garter snake.  There are copperheads and rattlesnakes, but both copperheads and rattlesnakes are fairly rare and are found mostly down south.  Nothing terrified me more as a child (and everything terrified me) than flying, stinging insects.  I hated them- bees, wasps, hornets, anything with wings and a stinger- and there is no shortage of any winged stinging insect around here in summer, especially mosquitoes- believe that.  I can thank my sisters for that hyped-up terror, as they found it most amusing to throw flying, stinging insects in my hair.  

I’m thankful that not too many people would find it amusing to throw live wasps in my hair today.  Cougardom has its advantages.  So does short hair.

I’m thankful I don’t drink anymore, therefore I am not subject to hangovers.   I am still subject to Jerry’s “drunk and stupids” followed by the sappy, lingering,  pathos of his hangovers, but there is humor to be found in that, so it’s a wash.

I am also thankful that there will soon be a day when we no longer have to hear about Obama.

I am thankful that there will be a day when Steve-o is out of school, gainfully employed and fully financially independent of the parental units.  The sad part about that is he will probably move down South and then I’ll only see him on holidays.  But that will give me an excuse for a road trip and somewhere to go on vacation, so that has its advantages as well.   I might not be terribly averse to retirement in the South, as long as he doesn’t move into some backwater holler straight out of Deliverance.   I like living in the city despite the crowds and traffic.  You can find things like food and medical care and employment a whole hell of a lot easier in the city.

I don’t get to travel and stay in hotels, therefore I don’t have bedbugs.

I have three nice warm dogs who love me even when everyone else on the planet is screwing me over.  I think I saved the best for last.