Back in the day when I was getting my rear end regularly handed to me by the admissions committees of medical schools, someone offered the following analysis: “They’re not staging the Olympic Games. And it’s not all about you.”
Meaning, the mission of a medical school is to supply a steady stream of doctors and other health care professionals to the communities that the school serves. In the case of a public school, the communities served are also the communities that support the school with their tax dollars. That mission is generally aligned with rewarding good grades and high MCAT scores, but it’s not exactly the same. It’s a distinction that I think I understood all those years ago, and that I certainly understand now, and that seems to be lost on the six rampaging jackasses that make up the majority on the Supreme Court.
As for that case involving the Christian web designer who refused the business of a gay couple, I arch my eyebrow indignantly in response to the news that the gay couple in question might not actually exist.
We’ve now arrived at the part of this essay that was going to be very depressing.
The Fourth of July is on the horizon, and I was going to write about how I was not looking forward to the Big Anniversary, apart from the pleasantry of a day off. I was going to trot out metaphors of a flag with torn edges from abuse and faded colors from neglect, and exit wounds and gunpowder marks from mass shootings, and so on and so forth….
But, no. I’m just not in the mood. I said my piece three paragraphs ago (see jackasses, rampaging) and I have no interest at the moment in feeling dejected or defeated at the loss of So Much That I Hold Dear About My Country, with future losses seemingly on their way. So instead, I’ll claim victory if you—that’s right, I mean you!—are reading this essay, whenever, wherever, and whoever. I don’t care if we have been separated by a dozen years or a state line or two, or by religious ideology or political temperament, or whether you are the dearest of friends or an utter stranger, or if you prefer to oscillate between. Consider this essay a pirate’s swing on a long rope, cutlass clenched in teeth, ginned up to rescue the innocent maiden tied to the mast. Utter madness, especially at my age, but when you’re down a knight and a pawn in a match against Boris Spassky, the best strategy is SURPRISE…and hope for the best.
So now, here comes an awkward and completely inappropriate transition to stand-up comedy. You might want to pretend that you’re changing channels on television.
Cue the Seinfeld, pop-pop-pop music.
Have you ever wondered how they come up with the names for candy bars? I don’t mean the classy British imports in aisle three. I’m talking about the cheap junk on display by the cashiers. They’re all the same stuff—chocolate, sugar, maybe some nougat or nuts, then more sugar, and I suppose more sugar after that. So the name has got to hook consumers into a purchase, am I right?
I think Twix is a good name. Sounds like “twig”, but with that snapping “x” sound at the end. Kind of like the sound of a Twix bar when you snap it in half. Nestle’s Crunch is also good, for the same reason. The candy delivers on its promise. Three Musketeers suggests a little bit of adventure, something old fashioned but stylish. Snickers promises an embarrassing giggle or two.
The all-time best candy name, in my opinion, is M and M’s. Which is even shorter on the label: M&M’s, with the ampersand. It’s not M’s singular, mind you. The “and” is very important. It shows you get more than one.
I expect that M and M’s were named by whoever dreamed up the candy, and not by some corporate committee. Can you imagine that conversation?
Suit One (noshing on the prototype): Not a bad product you got here, Jenkins. What do you call it?
Jenkins: M and M’s.
Suit Two: Really? They’re like chocolate aspirin. What do they have to do with the letter M?
Jenkins: Well, um, we want to print a lower-case m on the shell.
Suit One: That’s it? You could print any letter you want, couldn’t you?
Suit Two: Yeah, the whole alphabet.
Suit Three (thrusting one arm excitedly): I’ve got it! We’ll call it “Alphabet Pills.”
Suit One: Brilliant! Kids can spell words with the candy before they eat it.
Jenkins: Rude words, too?
Suit One (aghast): Of course not! We’d put a warning on the label.
A while back I was in a bowling tournament against Yoda. You know, from Star Wars? After a few frames, Yoda is just wiping the floor with me. He’s chalking up strike after strike, but his form is really bad. He launches the ball clumsily off that spindly green hand of his, then the ball rolls really slowly and zig-zags all over the lane. At the end, maybe it glances off the 10 pin, but then Yoda flares his nostrils and all the pins come crashing down instantly.
“Yoda,” I shout, “you’re using the Force to cheat at bowling!”
“Hhhwoooaalllm,” says Yoda, “Force all around us, it is. Very strong with the Force, I am, yes. Use it I do always, even to brush teeth and pick nose.”
“That’s just great,” I tell him. “But we’re in a league bowling match, and the rules say you’ve got to follow the principles of Newtonian mechanics!”
So you know what Yoda does next? He uses the Force against my game! I’ve got this lovely curve going, right into the 1-2 pocket, and when the ball hits, it crumples into a heap of black dust while the pins don’t move at all. And I look at Yoda and he’s got his bent finger in the air and this insufferable grin on his face.
“Best two out of three, you up for?” he says.
The next day, I went to see my new dentist, Darth Vader.
“You have advanced gum disease along your molars and incisors,” says Darth Vader. Wheeew—sheessh! “I am afraid periodontal surgery may soon be required.”
“Geez,” I tell him. “Isn’t there something I can do?”
Then a ghostly old man appears in mid-air, and he speaks in this ethereal voice.
“Luke,” he says, “Use the floss, Luke! Use the floss!”
“My name isn’t Luke, dumb ass!” I yell back.
For a present, my mother gave me the book version of “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” which was an Internet show produced by and starring Jerry Seinfeld. Dang, I wish I could have been on that show. Jerry would have come get me in a 1967 Ford Mustang, ideally dark green with a hardtop. This was my father’s car, back then, and it was sporty and sophisticated, certainly more so than our other car, which was a Rambler station wagon.
I’d say to Jerry, “Look, it’s bucket seats! Why did we all buy into that name? The seats are not buckets, and a bucket is not comfortable. But oooh, look, it’s bucket seats!” This is an old routine, not original, but I imagine Jerry laughing sincerely and picking up the conversation.
In the news, President Biden is looking for ways to sidestep around the Supreme Court decisions, and so are colleges and universities. An all-female run abortion clinic has opened in Casper, Wyoming, of all places. A quote from one of the staff: Women have always tried to help each other.
Here at the house, the 6-year-old is enjoying his birthday presents, including a build-it-with-magnets kit, a Spiderman-branded Connect Four, some water balloons and silly string, and a light-up display of the Sun and planets (Pluto included!) The 18-year-old high school graduate is working his part-time job at the local tourist attraction, hanging out with a young woman who seems to enjoy his company, and generally enjoying his last summer before college. The new dog continues to have accidents, but she’s getting better and seems to be fitting herself into the household.
The date is now Monday, July 3rd, which means the fireworks go off tomorrow. OK, sure, go for it. Happy Fourth of July, to you, and to us all.