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Story Time (previous tales)


Organize It:

I have a degree in Philosophy. I usually keep that fact to myself because announcing it is like farting in church. It captures everyone's attention. And not in a good way. It often leads to eye-rolls and mocking: "Oh...Philosophy."

It wasn't always that way. Once upon a time philosophers were held in high enough esteem to be enemies of the state. Like Socrates (that's Sock-ra-tease and not So-crats please) who, in 399 B.C., was tried and sentenced to death. His crime? Asking questions of his students that caused them to doubt their state's religion.

Philosophers have always had a bad rep for destroying their students' belief in God (or gods). It is true that youngsters tend to emerge from Philo101 with dented faith. A newly-found understanding of the difference between knowledge and belief can be hard to take. My mom once blamed my lack of faith on my philo-education at the Lutheran-Church-affiliated Thiel College. But it wasn't true. If anything, what I learned illuminated how much I depended on faith to navigate my world.
 
Though, Mom didn't have it all wrong. Philosophers aren't always the best folks to hang with. Consider Alfred Rosenberg. He was a German philosopher who used his ideas on the relationship between the individual and the state to help legitimize the horrors wrought by Hitler's Nazis. Like Socrates, Rosenberg was executed for exercising his beliefs. Only in his case it was for the support of numerous atrocities severe enough to constitute "crimes against humanity." Genocide is bad. That's a tautology, y'know.

Herr Rosenberg might have saved his life, and perhaps not influenced the world in so terrible a manner had he learned one of the most important lesson of philosophy. It was taught to me by one of my Thiel professors on a day when I was struggling to reconcile people's actions with the way I thought the world should behave. "Don," he exclaimed, "you should never take any of this too seriously!"

Then what good is the study of philosophy?
My pal, Gus Amolsch, who helped me graduate from college, called it "organized bullshit" and that's fair enough. Anyone can bullshit. It's the organization that's difficult and that's what you need to learn. Time has shown me that being able to study ideas is one of the most useful skills I possess. If nothing else, it helps light the flaws in my own way of thinking, allows me to appreciate more than one point of view, and enables me to understand more Monty Python jokes than just about anybody else I know.

My professor was right: The love of wisdom is a good thing, as long as you don't take it too seriously.

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Can we buy real poo next time?

 

So... This morning I get into the shower.

 

I’m carrying a brand-new bottle of shampoo. My favorite brand. I use it all the time. Really. It enables what little hair I have to be soft and glowing. Sure does. Yep. I saw it in a commercial. So it must be true.

 

I’m in the shower. I’m soaking wet (no surprise there). I snap open the lid of the shampoo bottle and hold it over my upturned hand... Nothing comes out. I squeeze the bottle. Nope. Nothing. At all. I unscrew the cap. Beneath, I find a plastic seal.

 

What the heck? On my shampoo? A plastic seal? Against what? Shampoo thieves? Shampoo diluters? Shampoo adulteraters?  Shampoo switchers with hair removalers?

 

What's this world coming to? I bought the same brand and size bottle a couple of months ago. There was no plastic seal. Probably some Homeland Security rule or something. The Shampoo Czar declared an orange state of emergency for all bottles. I shouldn't joke, I know, I'll end up on the watch list - if I’m not there already.

 

I try to remove the plastic seal. Should be easy, there's a little tab to pull. I pull on the tab. The tab pulls off. The seal stays on. I curse (out loud) at the wonderful engineering behind such a design. Now what? I’m nekked. Soaking wet. In the shower. What might I have that has a chance of piercing a plastic seal? My teeth? For a shampoo bottle? Even *I’m* not that dim.

 

I have a valve at the shower head that lets me turn off *most* of the flow, to save water while I'm soaping up. I don't use it, of course, being a Wasteful American, but it's there nonetheless. I manage to rip open the shampoo bottle's plastic seal using the edge of that shower head valve-handle. A couple pieces of plastic manage to escape. They hurry down the floor drain. To wait several months before causing a clog. At the worst possible time. Plastic's bad that way. Ornery plastic. Mind of its own, plastic has.

 

I screw the cap back on, trying not to get any water into the shampoo. That'll change the composition of the shampoo. And, somewhere, give a shampoo chemist bad dreams. I hold the shampoo bottle up and, with vim and vigor, snap open the top.

 

Hold on... What's that coming towards me? It's a big blob of un-watered-down shampoo. Heading straight for my right eye.

 

!! BLINK, FOOL !! My brain screams.

 

"Who, me?" Asks my eye. My eyes are sort of slow, sometimes. They've been headed downhill ever since I started wearing bifocals.

 

Blam! The shampoo lands right on the lashes of my right eye.

 

!! DON'T BLINK !! My brain screams.

 

"Who, me?" Asks my eye. And it blinks. I told you they were sort of slow, didn't I? My right eye is now filled with searing shampoo-lava. It burns. With a big B. And a big URNS, too. I hear a shampoo chemist giggling, somewhere (later, when I’m thinking more clearly, I'll put some water into the bottle to get even). I stick my face into the shower stream to flush the chemicals from my eye.

 

Now...

 

I don't know what mornings are like at your house. But here, it's a whole lot of people vying for limited resources. That's why I’ve always crawled outta bed first. No matter where I’ve live or whom I’ve lived with. I want to be at the top of the schedule. The first in line. I always want to kick off the schedule. It comes from being a second child. Really - ask any second child you know. If they say it isn't true, they're fibbing like a sack of (sham)poo.

 

Top of the schedule I am. Still, during mornings, everything has to run like clock-work. Everything. It's like the tides at Normandy on D-Day. The orbits of the planets on a moon launch. Everything has to be lined up just so. Bing. Bang. Boom. Including the amount of time *I* spend in the shower.

 

It's not that somebody's waiting to use the shower. Nope. But. There are only so many butts and only so many commodes, y'know? And, in a house this old, butts, commodes, showers, and faces are all connected by pipes. All in one nice, neat, sweet, perfectly connected string of events. Like the co-incidences that brought you to this point in time.

 

I'm running behind my regular schedule because of the sealed shampoo. And my face is in the shower because I’m rinsing shampoo-magma outta my eye. My right eye. My left eye wonders what's going on.

 

Somebody else, somewhere else in the house. Lifts their butt from a commode. Relieved at finishing one of their first tasks of the day, they push the flush handle... I feel a drop in the water pressure - the cold water pressure.

 

!! FACE...BACK !! My brain screams.

 

My face (which isn't nearly as slow as my eyes) pulls back from the soon-to-arrive flash of heat. I even manage a step back and away. Some reflexes, huh? Of course, it takes an instant before the water rises to scalding temperatures and another instant before I realizes that the course of the shower spray is now aimed directly at what some would politely term my “naughty bits.”

 

My brain screamed something at that point. I don't recall what it was. Except it started with bad words and went on with bad words and ended with bad words. I think I used every bad word I know. That's a LOT of bad words. Trust me. Lots. Luckily I was ‘way too busy dancing around the too-hot water to listen very much to what it was I was saying.

 

I was kind of tender toweling off. My shampooed right eye looked as if I smoked a bale of weed (perhaps I should say what I have read a bale of weed eye would look like. Homeland Security and all that). My left eye looked more angry than anything else. And slow.

 

Stupid shampoo.