Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Another mark of my incomparable genius: I invented the word, bonal. As in, Bonal strength is stronger than tendon strength. I’m submitting it to Funk & Wagnall.

I have a buddy who has unreliable inlaws. If we’re lucky, and wise, we chose wisely in our love. If we’re lucky, we have a choice. Once we’ve done that, we accept the bother of new relatives. The love and faithfulness that we receive, and give, to our beloved, cancels out the crap. Such inlaws are the manure out of which grew our rose. To look at it any other way is to see thorns rather than petals. For the sake of her love, let’s say, we remain patient, and kind, and generous.

My mother remains a very foolish person. She was a bit shrewish to her latter husband, scornful and disrespectful, and that was something I pointed out on some number of occasions. He deserved better. My theory is that she did it out of guilt. She knew it was not appropriate to be squandering her savings, and his, on one of her nearly ne’er-do-well sons, and thence on her grandchildren. This particular brother of mine was a truly rotten kid, and I have no problem at all believing, still, that he should have been tied to a post and publically flogged, repeatedly if not unendingly. Real sadistic scum. Perhaps you think I am harsh? I call it justice.

Point is, now, these scores of years later, and even as a younger adult, he is a pretty nice guy, if of a pretty weak character. Be that as it may, he remains a taker, and not a repayer. And my mother, sucker that she is, and falsely loyal, squandered her retirement on that branch of the family. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Frankly, were it not for my efforts, she would have lost her house. I have conflicted feelings about all of them. But our actions have to be clear.

Yes, I am aware of the apparent hypocrisy of that statement. My father is a topic for another time. I do not respect her dishonesty, her duplicity, her manipulations to get her way, to enable a dysfunctional family and protect it from the harsh corrections of reality.

I myself have been harshly corrected. I remain loyal. I hope to God I am no longer stupidly loyal. I probably am. But I do try not to be stupid, anymore. Part of maturity is knowing the need to walk away. As for the timing, that takes more than maturity -- it takes wisdom. In any case, circumstances conspired some years ago to teach me all about powerlessness, and loss, along with lessons of corruption and incompetence and the casual cruelty of indifference to injustice. This is now what I think the world is. Perhaps I learned the wrong lesson?

Regardless, what I know is that there comes a point when generosity becomes enabling, and kindness becomes weakness, and patience becomes an encouragement to evil.

Debts that remain unpaid do not become gifts. They become cancers. The distinction must be asserted and maintained. It is not for the person who owes, to determine the difference.
I have decided that your loan to me is now a gift. To acquiesce is to partake in the fraud. It is the nature of corruption to spread, like a creeping fungus. The bitterness, as found in my own heart, at having been the perpetual sucker, until it was too damn late -- better to have been forthright in the very beginning, or shortly after.

Over the weekend I heard an NPR radio show -- because there is no good talk radio on the weekends -- about psychopaths, and the test for those traits. One segment focused on a CEO, sixth worst ever, who was notorious for his enjoyment of firing people. His mansion's topiary was of carnivorous beasts. Lots of huge sculptures of panthers and alligators. He took the test, and did not score as a psychopath. All the soft little Lefty nebbishes on the NPR show took the test too, and scored a zero out of 40. Very empathic, you see. As opposed to remorseless, which makes for a psychopath, but is not diagnostic as such.

There are two ends of the continuum; at one, the psychopath, and at the other end, the nebbish end, we find the highly neurotic. Consumed by self-doubt and anxiety and apologies, as opposed to being fearless, confident, aggressive, bold. Ah. Oh. It’s not a continuum then, but a spiral, that returns to itself, only on a different level, of increasing or decreasing health. Leadership or manipulation, confidence or arrogance, justice or cruelty. Patience or sloth, tolerance or decadence, compassion or cowardice.

Generosity, or castration.

Maybe I’m just full of advice. That can get old. I certainly keep my mouth shut more than I used to. Nowadays I don’t even bother to form private opinions about a fair number of things. I’m so sick of theories anyway, about how things should be.

Things are the way they are. We have about as much say as a boat in a storm. Sails in, hatches battened, steer straight. So I’m not full of suggestions, about how anyone else should act. I look at my own family, and just shut my mouth, mostly, and try to remember to breathe, and recite a sad little mantra, about how stupid they are, and me too, somehow, for being stuck with them. My mother has yet another dog now, sweet but just a member of the pack, 5 or 6 now, that pisses and shits inside the house and barks all night and sleeps all day and is completely untrained and useless except to keep a foolish old woman company -- which is good enough, if that’s all there is.

And, if the family curse is correct, as my father prophesied, that is indeed all there is.


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