Thursday, January 10, 2013

ON THE AVENUES: Shelter from the Strom.

ON THE AVENUES: Shelter from the Strom.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

I’ll begin this week’s column with a robust act of good will by saving the little people of New Albany the trouble of griping, grudging trips to their attics to locate moldering thesauruses last consulted during the Ford Administration.

In England (the country, not the ex-mayor), “crackpot” arose several hundred years ago as two separate words, first hyphenated as cracked-pot, and then later joined together as one: Crackpot.

Then as now, something broken or faulty was cracked, and as far back as the Middle Ages, one’s head or skull might be called a pot. Literally, a cracked-pot was a “faulty head,” similar to one of my personal favorite derogations, numbskull, which I’ll always associate with the Three Stooges even if its prevalent usage goes much further back in history than the advent of Larry, Moe and Curly on celluloid.

Which is to say, I ran into one the other day – not a Stooge, but a crackpot.


In retrospect, there were warning signs on the road ahead even though the conversation began sensibly enough with a generally benign chat about various aspects of American history. I should have known better, seeing as my point of view tends to differ from the 50-year-old white male demographic, and yet fleeing was not an option. I’d only just bought a beer and lit a cigar, and damn it, it was a clean and well lighted place.

Instead, I shifted into autopilot and imagined myself reading old telephone books and electronics manuals. It’s a sanity defense mechanism of long standing, reflecting too many years of listening to the beer-fueled babblings of barflies.

Soon we arrived at a crossroads of sorts. He’d already made a fleeting reference to the “mistake” of American women being granted the vote. I ignored it, but it was only a matter of time; his tone of voice subtly was changing, and a sense of agitation gradually was becoming palpable. Obviously, we weren’t quite finished with the female franchise, and when it finally arrived, requisitely red-faced, his argument proceeded roughly like this.

Women are innately different from men, which is to say that women are innately superior to men, this being because as opposed to men, women are both “compassionate” and “nurturing.” Precisely owing to the superior nature of women as compassionate and nurturing, they should not be allowed to vote, because voting is about government, and not only should government never should be about compassion or nurture, but it is a misreading of the Constitution to suggest otherwise.

I waited in vain for the punch line, and heard only crickets chirping. Then with resignation, it came to me. The guy was dead serious.

Frankly, this revelation shouldn’t have stunned me. I had expected some manner of illogical utterance, but the fellow fairly pole-vaulted over the bare minimum comprehensibility. In my everyday world, such an argument would have been openly, blatantly satirical – a gag, a joke, a late night talk show skit making the rounds on YouTube, or an anonymous posting at Kitchen Fable.

In fact, if his rant had been uttered in the context of the Seventies-era sitcom “Barney Miller,” Det. Harris surely would have made the usual deadpan remark to the Captain:

“Looks like we have a new customer for the enchanted kingdom.”

The guy was absolutely sincere. I thought to myself, hmm, maybe I need to get out more often.

Or: Never go out, ever again.


In truncated form, the preceding anecdote duly was posted on Twitter, and I smugly kicked back my heels to receive the inevitable plaudits from all my like-minded friends who hang out there, except that Bluegill promptly answered by going me one better. Seems he’d been having chats, too.

I was told male dominated gun ownership was the only fair thing do given that women have so much power to murder via abortion.

Now I’d been thoroughly pole-vaulted, both deflated and forced to concede that yes, in the comparative struggle to quantify cluelessness, the derision implicit in the assertion reported by Bluegill rendered it far more disturbing. At least my guy had something good to say about women in the general sense.

Abruptly, I realized that the last time I’d heard such an observation equating women with murder, it had emanated from a woman, one who probably supports her own right to vote.

But perhaps a woman in opposition to abortion would agree with a male who favors stripping women of the vote, seeing as any “real” woman imbued with compassion and nurturing wouldn’t ever choose abortion, anyway, although wouldn’t this stance imply that such anti-feminine traits like “murdering” children actually make her more masculine, thereby entitling her to both guns AND the vote?

If so, would her possession of both guns and ballots prevent a preacher somewhere (Christianity only, please – we’re ‘mericans, not rag-heads) from deciding under which circumstances she might have sexual relations and bear children?

Once again, surveying the world of crackpots, just staying home really began sounding like the best idea of all.


Most expository writing instructors would suggest that I come to a conclusion at this juncture. Insofar as any closing point can be reached, mine comes in the form of a memo to my fellow white heterosexual male Americans.

“I know you’re feeling all forgotten, marginalized, excluded, neutered, angry and terrified of a changing world, but seriously, you really need to stop embarrassing me, okay? You’re going to have embolisms and coronaries if you don’t chill out. Worse, you’ll fall off the planet into space like the dinosaurs did. Watch some golf, listen to your old rock & roll records, and have a drink – even ice cold swill’s okay if it calms you the $%@# down.”

Thanks, fellows. I won’t keep you any longer. After all, the ferry to Fantasy Island departs very, very soon.


Karen B said... Wasn't there a senator or congress critter late last year who sort of suggested women should never have been allowed to vote? Is this going to become the new general talking point? Constitutional convention anyone?

Iamhoosier said...

Perfect old TV show references.

As for the main point, I've nothing better than my Twitter reaction. "Wow"

Melissa Badger said...

Holy Christ on a cracker. Really. I have no words.