The Squirrels Are Doing Okay
Two squirrels noisily tangling in a tree while Melissa and Gary duked it out verbally for the benefit of us kids. Gary said they were fucking, the squirrels that is, while Melissa insisted they were fighting. I think both me and Daniel understood right away that the squirrels were getting it on and that Melissa knew this too but that she thought our ears too tender to be told such harsh life truths, and I resented the patronization. Whatever the case, fighting or fucking, it looked about the same.
No, I don’t want to make this be about sex and violence. That’s what the mainstream wants in their books. This is about the squirrels. Cute, bushytailed and generally skittish enough in the vicinity of predators to live another day. We could make this be about lions but they’re extinct if they can’t amuse us, and who wants to talk about losers?
I’ve noticed that outsiders, when it comes to one of the very few subjects in which I could be construed to be a part of the in-crowd, are preoccupied with the idea of cowardice in labeling serial killers. Grieving relatives having their say on days of sentencing will call the convicted a coward, as if rebutting the killer’s perceived silent communication of ‘Oh how brave I am’. And people in less clouded emotional states will often utter the same.
I find these words as empty as Bill Maher found them when they were applied to the 9-11 terrorists (of who knows which year) whose cause they found worth dying for and who were brave in every detail if the definition hadn’t slid since I first learned the word. This in sharp contrast with the U.S. approach to war, where causes in the main are only worth killing for from afar.
“Coward” as bandied about is really just a sour grapes word, and you don’t need to be a Gary Ridgway to get it spewed at you, or a Tommy Walker to feel that a bit of Ridgway-directed expectorant has wettened your own face. All you have to do, seriously, is win a game of online chess and decide it’s time for bed. Winning means that you can have pleasant dreams and that on your way to sleep you can bask. But the loser wants to erase the bad taste and so will ask, neigh demand, for a rematch. Hit the ‘decline’ button and it can be almost as if you were being accused of murder, except that in the real deal scenario, the surviving losers can never really erase the bad taste.
At least I had a reasonably sound body to hide inside so that someone who didn’t know for sure as to my cowardice might have second thoughts about approaching with bad intentions.
I was not afraid of being called a coward, or of calling myself one for that matter. I wasn’t afraid enough of what others would think of me if I didn’t stand up to bullies to act in a way inconsistent with who I was. So who’s the coward now?
“It took immense courage to not only write so openly and honestly about what you thought and did but also for you to see yourself so clearly and honestly. You spared yourself in nothing when looking at yourself. You were clear and objective. Not many people can put aside ego and the self-protectiveness we all seem to instinctively have against exposure, to see ourselves so clearly.”
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