Contemplations from the Marianas Trench

from the Marianas Trench

The Contemplations Continue.....

"Caveats and Mea Culpas"

One of my favorite T-shirts has a cartoon of a single person sitting in an otherwise empty auditorium. The caption above reads, "Convention of Adult Children of Normal Parents". Those of you who read the contemplations surely don't think that I identify with that person, or that my children ever will - and you're right. Not that there is anything wrong with normal - it's just that everyone defines it in a different way. I don't even try to define it any more.

I suppose there used to be a standard of normalcy. A lifelong job, a lifelong marriage, two and a half children (though I wouldn't consider that normal), a station wagon, etc.... No one was neglected. No one rebelled. Bad things were getting caught with the bat after the baseball shattered the neighbor's window.... If normal is to define most of the population I'd bet this is a look through rose colored glasses at any generation. On the other hand, I, like most cynics, do feel life is tougher nowadays - and not because I have three inspirations and bills to pay.

But I'm not going to talk about how tough life is - life is a lot tougher if you take it too seriously. I write contemplations because I don't take life seriously (duh...). I find the sublime in the ridiculous, the ridiculous in the sublime and if I can't find either I make one up - so I'm invariably happy. Which leads me, finally, to caveats.

We may not be the traditional "normal" family - we won't be invited to any conventions of the ACNP any time soon perhaps, but we are not really in an asylum and it's not run by the inmates. We are an extremely close knit family who is not afraid to make fun of our foibles. Well, at least I'm not. I can't speak for the rest of the inmates... uh family. They have not been speaking to me since I started writing the contemplations...

So I'll write them this - I love you guys. Someday you'll have rose colored glasses too and maybe you'll even attend an ACNP meeting... But you'd better make sure all of the contemplations are destroyed before you go or you'll be thrown out - because there are so many times we are sublimely ridiculous! Let others go to conventions, I wouldn't have us any other way.

The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1996

"B Girls"

My brother - whose age I'm not sure he would like me to reveal, has never been married. He feels he's old to be unmarried and doesn't want to be alone. I am recently single. I don't feel old to be unmarried and I like being alone. The other weekend we were discussing these facts and discovered that despite these disparate (no, not desperate) philosophies we are both visiting (no, not frequenting) bars. Neither of us have a great deal of experience bar hopping and we spent quite an enjoyable evening discussing our experiences. My parents may have been appalled by this, but my father, having far more vast experience in these things (he was, after all, a Naval Captain) added considerably to our discussion. Mother continued to do her crossword puzzle, occasionally looking over the top of her glasses with the sort of quizzical, disapproving gaze that says both, "I can't believe anyone would say anything so stupid" and "really?" My mother is clearly an island of sanity the Asylum Sea. We were not drunk. Drinking perhaps, but not drunk.

I love learning - particularly obscure facts. I learned that there is such a thing as a "B" girl in bars. I assumed this stood for "BIMBO" but not so. It really stands for "Bar" Girl. A "B" Girl is supposed to hang out at bars enticing customers to conversation. The customer buys her a drink at full price which the bartender waters down so that he makes more money and she doesn't get drunk (but the customer does and therefore, of course, buys so many more drinks that he doesn't notice that although he can't pronounce words that begin with "s", she is listening as if he is very profound). The bartender splits his proceeds with the B girl. Given the cost of drinks at some places perhaps this is more than you would expect and explains why there are no "B" Girls at American Legions, VFWs or Moose. (What a concept - a "B" Moose girl...) There would seem to be a natural progression here but no, a "B" girl does not necessarily go to a room with the poor sot. That would be a "B & R" girl - "Bar and Roll" girl.

My brother is very taken with these women and I am, of course, jealous that there is no such thing as a "B" boy. The "B" boys I have met at the bar are "Bad" boys. Men you don't offer to buy drinks for, talk to you anyway and think they are profound because they can discuss pick up trucks or Star Wars. Let me hasten to add here that the people I GO to bars with are the most intelligent and charming people I have ever met and they really are profound when they talk about quantum physics, pickups and Star Wars. Anyway, there is evidently not a market for "B" (as in Bar) boys.

Some people believe feminists are those who think women are superior and don't like men. Well, I consider myself a feminist and I like men, but I sure wouldn't use this as an example of equality of the sexes.

The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1997

"Yard Work"

I HATE yard work. As they haven't yet found the gene responsible for LMA (Lawn Maintenance Aversion) I suppose I must blame it on something more traditional - like my parents. My psyche was scarred early on by their abuse which included pushing a manual lawn mower, hand clippers and edgers. Have you seen these things - they are CLEARLY devices designed for torture.

I am no less averse to yard work than I have ever been, but I tolerate it better than I used to. This isn't because I've grown accustomed to it, but because yard work is easier. Some other person with LMA invented better tools. Actually, it's more likely a wiley entrepreneur decided to take advantage of victims of LMA, who, he realized would pay any price to ease LMA. This led to the invention of the self-propelled lawn mower. This is an advertising ploy because if it were truly self-propelled I wouldn't have to walk behind it. I am looking for a remote controlled mower. Because it still takes me three hours to mow my lawn I am also looking for a jet propelled mower.

As the mower is not really self-propelled I am relying on myself-propelling of child-propelling. There are many days I have more energy to "push" the mower than to yell enough to get children propelling it. I have tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to make yard work family quality time. It hasn't worked because my children aren't stupid. I've been assured that if I had a RIDING lawn mower they would be fighting over mowing the yard. But I'm not stupid either. They would be fighting to ride around the neighborhood, not mow the yard. If we had two they would drag race. At least some of the yard would be done.

So until they invent a pill for LMA or a robot to do the yard work I will have to do yard work the traditional way. Yell at my children. Or I can do it the modern way and buy them very expensive toys.

The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1997


Of course the Contemplator spends most of her time contemplating very serious, important and intellectual topics; the meaning of life, trends in the stock market, quantum physics.... However, the most recent topic which has recurred several times in the last few weeks, is hair. The growth of; the loss of; the color of; the style of; the attractiveness of... It seems hair is of great concern to the general population. This would normally mean it is a shallow rather than intellectual concern, but this is the same Contemplator who discovers profound societal influences in MacDonalds...

The interest in hair seems to cross all barriers - sex, age, culture. Recent conversations from the opposite sex have, of course, addressed hair loss. One converstaion was about a gentleman who, in his youth had a tatoo put on his head. He is now a bank executive and is going bald! And the proof (?) that this subject is not sex specific - there are now hair commercials for women's hair loss. There is evidently concern too about excessive hair. One gentleman complained if he didn't cut the hair on his chest it would grow into his beard. I have known women to complain about excessive hair as well - excessive hair on their legs, their underarms, their chins. There are hair removal creams and stuff what enables you to rip hair out by the roots - I suppose they got the idea from bandaids. I'd rather have razor cuts, thank you.

Hair is a major concern of the teenaged Inspirations of the Contemplator's household. What color should it be this week - orange? red? purple? How high should it be spiked? Should part of it be shaved off - maybe in lightning bolts (no, this is passe)? The color this week is orange, the style is skunk (two blonde strips across either side). And lest you think the Contemplator's family is more eccentric than it is - the color and style are on different Inspirations. In fact, the Inspirations are trend setters. Kids are now copying last years doos, so don't be surprised if your neighbohood teenagers are soon sporting the skunk look... If you see it don't blame me, just think that by then the Inspirations will have moved on to something more exotic...

Hair may be of interest to both sexes and all ages - even across cultures, but I doubt it is of universal concern. I doubt dogs or cats note the great head of hair on the mongrel across the street. They are far more concerned about smell... Which is another Contemplation entirely.

The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1997