Tag Archives: Random Comments

Dreaming of Better Days–Or Reasonable Canadian Real Estate

24 Oct

by Roger White

 

Sometimes dreams are just dreams—simple brain-dumps of the day’s events, snippets of the recent odd encounter, short reels of hazy memories, a sweeping up of the mental flotsam bobbing betwixt the lobes, all stirred together, jumbled and spiced by the bit of bad pork tenderloin you had that day. So if you’re spending a great deal of your waking hours trying to affix deep meaning to the fact that in your dreamscape the night before you were a naked submarine commander delivering the eulogy at Edith a-dreamBunker’s funeral while stray dogs with marshmallow fur licked your bare feet, you may be wasting your time. Just a silly dream. A bit disturbing, but just silly, nonetheless.

 

But other times, I do lend credence to the notion that our dreams are really trying to tell us something. Case in point, the other night. I’d resigned myself to slumber after attempting to digest as much of the national news as I could stomach. As with 99.79 percent of Americans today, I went to bed somewhat emotionally dyspeptic. How did we get here? How has this country’s public discourse plummeted so far as to be steered by intellectual quayleknuckle-draggers and emotional toddlers? I drifted off utterly dismayed by the realization that today’s political arena makes the likes of Dan Quayle and George Dubya look like cerebral giants.

 

In my dream that night, I was walking up a hill, in an urban setting. Much of the cityscape was in the distance, and the pavement was steep and difficult. Suddenly, a disabled person whizzed by me, in a motorized wheelchair built for speed. The young man yelled at me to get on, so I climbed aboard and off we went. I could barely hang on; this guy was motoring. The next thing I knew, we were in a college classroom. Students were milling about, reading the campus newspaper, waiting for the professor to appear. The guy who’d given me the wild ride invited me to stay, so I did.

 

When the professor walked in, he immediately challenged the students reading the paper. “Do you think what you’re reading there is the truth?” he asked. “How would you know?” From there the conversation sparked, a lively discussion ranging from ethics, motives, and circumstantial morality to the varying definitions of truth and self-preservation to the power of mob mentality. The concept of meaningful compromise was entertained, and it was then that the discussion landed and remained on politics. “Compromise,” the professor said, “has become a dirty word among politicians now—and, sadly, it should be their most powerful, useful word.” Especially, he added, when in many cases we’re talking about means, not ends. For example, everyone wants to be safe, to live in a safe society, he pointed out, no matter what color your state is. Some see the proliferation of firearms as a threat to our safety, he noted, while others see those guns as the very protectors of life and liberty. The fact is, we want the same thing—we just don’t agree on how to get there. There are many real differences among political factions, but in so many cases, the professor said, if you climb past the rancor and attempt a horizon view of the issue at hand, you see that we’re aiming for an equivalent or surprisingly similar end result.

 

Students freely joined the conversation, and the debate, though at times heated, was thoughtful, the level of dialogue reaching higher, connections of reason and belief growing deeper. The classroom veritably glowed, I saw, with meaning. It was thoroughly inspirational to me, and refreshing. I awoke feeling uplifted, hopeful. By God, we can work together. We can reverse this course.

 

Then I turned on the TV.

lord

“You’re the puppet.”

 

“No, you’re the puppet.”

 

“Racist womanizer.”

 

“Wrong. Nasty woman.”

 

Hmmm. I hear time-shares in Vancouver are pretty reasonable, pre-election.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, an obese but mannered dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

Are We Not Men? We Are Creatures! (Of Habit)

12 Sep

by Roger White

 

I sometimes wonder when I’m in private places—like making my choice-of-urinal decision in the men’s room at work or standing buck nekkid in my closet pondering the day’s wardrobe selection—if I’m being secretly spied upon by sociologist types through two-way mirrors or microscopically sized drones or what have they. I sometimes wonder this not because I’m of the mind that sociologist types are pervs necessarily (though they very well may be), but because I believe sociologist types could glean much human behavior information from observing everyday folks in their solitary moments.

We are creatures of habit, and nowhere are these habits more noticeable than when no one is noticing. Wait. Did that make sense? (writer breathes into cupped hands here, smells no whisky, continues on)

Take, for example, the urinal selection process. At my workplace, there are three urinals in the bathroom. Whenever I heed nature’s call at work and I see that nobody else is in the can at the moment, I instinctively go for Urinal #1 or Urinal #3. Urinal #2—the one in the middle—is never an option, unless

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

urinals 1 and 3 are caked in hideousness and chewed gum and random bits of human effluence. This natural selection process takes place on a subconscious level, I believe, for 91.73 percent of males because the great majority of males do not prefer to stand directly next to other males when doing their business. It’s a personal space issue.

My theory on this matter seems to be verified whenever I am Guy #2 in the john because Guy #1 is almost always at Urinal #1 or Urinal #3, leaving the other end urinal open so his personal space is not violated, either. The 8.27 percent of males who blatantly flout this societal convention and unashamedly bare their wares at Urinal #2 are for the most part raging extroverts or adamant alternative lifestyle proponents. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I have a PowerPoint presentation on this theory available for viewing if you’re interested. I wonder if women experience a similar phenomenon with stall selection?

The buck-nekkid-in-my-closet-pondering-the-day’s-wardrobe procedure also bears out my creatures-of-habit theorem. Try as I might to vary up my workaday wardrobe, it’s always the same: Monday is my dour brown checkered shirt/black slacks; Tuesday is the infinitesimally cheerier light brown checkered shirt/black slacks; Wednesday is humpday blue and gray decisions-decisionswith the faux cashmere socks; and so on. It can’t be helped. And truth be told, there is a bit of comfort in the consistency. Somehow, I feel that all is right with the world when it’s Wednesday and I’m standing at Urinal #3 in my faux cashmere socks and Fred is at Urinal #1 intentionally avoiding eye contact with me and my wares, as I am with him and his boys.

Now, the problem arises when one is contentedly minding one’s business, following creature-of-habit protocol, and someone else—no matter how unintentionally—ignores or outright runs roughshod over one’s creature-of-habit comportment. Hall passings are a good example. At work, we have these inordinately long hallways. They’re a pain when trying to get from place to place—say, when you’re making your way urgently to what you hope is open Urinal #1—but in reality, these extraordinarily lengthy halls are conducive to maintaining creature-of-habit equilibrium. When all are cooperating, mind you. We all know that everyone walks on the right, with opposing traffic passing on the left. If, for some reason (e.g., texting one’s daughter to get the hell up and get to class; looking down to double-check proper fly closure; etc.), you find yourself walking on the left, these long, long hallways give you plenty of advance notice to get back to the right before oncoming traffic on-the-rightcreates confusion. The difficulty arises when an opposing hallwalker is not observing the stay-to-the-right covenant. When clearing of the throat or dropping one’s keys fails to alert this wrong-way yahoo, options immediately become either (a) zipping to the left, which usually causes the wrong-way walker to parry your move and results in an awkward dance; or (b) walking so far to the right in an attempt to protect your lane that you actually begin generating heat and friction against the wall.

My habit in this situation was almost always to hug the wall—until in one instance the terrible friction actually caused my faux cashmere socks to catch fire. What I do nowadays is pretend to forget something and beat an immediate retreat.

Is it just me, or are these things universal?

Oh, btw (which, for you dinosaurs unfamiliar with social media, doesn’t mean “bob tickles wimmen”—it means “by the way,” I think), grand prize winner in our semi-quarterly Quizzical Quotes contest last edition was Mr. Greer Tedford. Or maybe it was Ted Greerford. I forget. Congrats, anyway. Greer won some wonderful parting gifts and a lifetime supply of Aunt Mildred’s Dehydrated Water in Cans.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

 

 

Phil at the Alamo and Starbucks on the Moon. Really.

20 Jun

by Roger White

 

So have you been reading lately about the papyrus scroll uncovered by some Harvard professor a few years back? The prof claimed this scroll proved that Jesus had a wife. Yeah. There was supposedly a Mrs. Christ. She apparently didn’t say much, according to the scroll, but she dutifully followed Hubby and the gang around, making sure the Lord washed his Hands after healing lepers and imploring Him to go easy on the water-into-wine business on weeknights. I do believe Mrs. C would be the only person on the planet who could exclaim “Jesus Christ!” and not be accused of blaspheming. She could merely be telling the Almighty to get his Big Feet off the coffee table. (Caps for reverence, of course.)

Jesus' Old Lady

Well, come to find out the scroll was a fake. Some hustler in Florida somehow convinced the Harvard academic that it was the real deal. The tipoff was probably the college-rule blue lines and the three-hole punches found on the papyrus. I guess Ivy League standards aren’t what they used to be.

 

Even though The Gospel According to Mrs. C was proven to be a hoax, it did stir up my dandruff a bit. So I conducted some keen investigative snooping around on my own. And wow. You would scarcely believe what sorts of little-known truths are out there on the interwebs. Herewith, then, are just a few of the Spouseman’s Little-Known Historical Truths Found on the Interwebs (SLKHTFOTI):

  1. John the Baptist was really a Methodist. John, whose middle name was Wesley, actually used the “sprinkling method” with Jesus, and later they had covered dishes and cake. They took a dip in the Jordan simply because it was really hot out that day. (This was the Middle East, you know.) –from http://www.cletusbiblesalesandtractorparts.com
  2. Former Genesis drummer Phil Collins was indeed at the Battle of the Alamo, as he has insisted. Two sketchings—from two different witnesses of the famous siege—have come to light, both of which show a bald man with rimless spectacles and a baseball cap peering over the The Philimofront wall of the old mission. In one sketch, he appears to be holding a flintlock rifle, but in the other he’s holding what look to be nylon-tipped drumsticks. Additionally, as Santa Anna began his assault and the Mexican buglers played “El Degüello,” which signaled that no quarter was to be given to the Alamo defenders, Texican defenders responded with a rousing chorus of “In the Air Tonight.” –from http://www.larrythemystic.com
  3. When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon in 1969, they discovered several alien artifacts—all evidence of which has been kept secret by NASA ever since. A deep-net website run by an anonymous former NASA restroom cleaning technician contains a grainy image of what appears to be an alien drinking vessel held in Aldrin’s hand. On the vessel is a bizarre inscription—ΔÇ ξ  ⊗⊇⇔  ∂♥♦∧∧—which has been translated by cryptographers as the Martian equivalent of “Starbucks.” –from http://www.interstellarjanitor.com

moonbucks

There’s more, but I have a home and a family.

 

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we had a couple of winners from the previous edition’s Quizzical Quotes Contest #16A: Mr. Leonard Baumel, who opted not to share his mailing address with me (and can you blame him), so he forfeited his rights to a goody package; and one Kathy Berry, who did share her mailing address, so Kathy will be receiving some terrific oldspouse parting gifts, an old jury summons, some overdue parking tickets, and whatever else I can scrounge from the junk drawer.

 

I could take up a lot of space and give you the answers to the QQ quiz, but if you didn’t happen to read the contest questions from the last edition or you don’t care a quarter of a whit, then who gives a rat’s patoot. If you do give a rat’s patoot and are burning for the answers, you can e-mail me at roger.white@tasb.org. Put the words “Rat’s Patoot” in the subject line so the Spouseman will know it’s not spam or more naughty photos from that scary lady in Vermont.

 

Until next time, kids. Keep the freak flags flying and don’t cut your hair unless absolutely necessary.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

The Squirrel Who Came in from the Cold

24 May

by Roger White

 

My spidey sense tells me of late that the critters in our attic are not Rocky Raccoon and his pals this time around but creatures far more cunning and insidious: squirrels. Yes, those habitual loungers and loiterers of college campuses and street darters who run straight in front of your car and then suddenly become bewildered as to their destination. That’s right, those squirrels.

 

Three clues have led me to determine that these little bushy-bottomed, nut-chomping rodents have replaced the raccoons as our most recent non-rent-paying top-floor dwellers: (1) the scratching, nesting, wire-chewing, and squirrel squatterscurrying sounds are more lightweight and frenzied (but still as annoying as a Twisted Sister album); (2) that high-pitched chittering and jabbering can be coming only from squirrels—or my mother-in-law (I can’t tell whether the critters are having wild parties or heated family disagreements up there); and (3) they have a spy squirrel who sits on the roof, tipping off the squirrel squatters when it’s safe to come and go.

 

I’ve gone over every square, round, and triangular inch of our humble abode’s perimeter, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how these tiny little tramps are getting in. I do know, however, that they employ that scout squirrel on our roof. Not unlike a tower guard, scout squirrel sits there keeping an eye on the human enemy. He chatters out signals decipherable only by other squirrels as to our whereabouts.

 

“Chich-chip-chich-chipchip-cheech!” scout squirrel screams when I near our bedroom window. Two pack members in the grass nod. One of them gives the “OK” sign, and they dart off giggling into the woods.

scout squirrel

“Get lost, ya little snitch!” I yell, banging on the window.

 

Scout squirrel sneers and runs away, chattering. “CHIP-CHICH-CHEEP-CHIP!!” Which sounds much to me like the squirrel version of “Your mother!”

 

And if you don’t think squirrels and other animals are smart enough to act as spies, think again. I read in the news not too long ago about a vulture that flew into Lebanon from an Israeli nature preserve and was captured on suspicion of spying. No kidding. An Israeli game warden who kept tabs on the bird tracked it to a southern Lebanese village. Then the Israelis started getting reports that the bird was being held by locals who suspected it was a spy because it had Israeli tags and devices. Turns out the vulture was part of a conservation project to restore the raptors in the Middle East and had a GPS transmitter attached to its tail. The poor bird was finally released when the locals were assured it was “not carrying any hostile equipment.”

 

OK, not a spy but it could have been. Just like the time last year when the Palestinian group Hamas claimed to have captured an Israeli dolphin equipped with spying devices. They knew it was an Israeli dolphin because of dolphin spythe waterproof yarmulke on its head. All right, I made up that part. The Israelis denied that the animal was sniffing around Palestinian waters on porpoise. (Insert groan here, if you will.)

 

But get this, declassified documents from the 1960s revealed the CIA’s attempt to wire a cat as a listening device, using its tail as the antenna. True story! The project, dubbed “Acoustic Kitty,” was abandoned after the cat was sent into a park to eavesdrop on purported bad guys but was run over by a taxi before it could get into position.

 

And then there’s this: In 2007, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported that they had broken up a British squirrel spying ring. Fourteen squirrels were reportedly captured by intelligence officers in the border region of Iran, each allegedly sporbrit squirrelting listening devices. The British Foreign Office reacted characteristically, stating “The story is nuts.”

 

Aha! I would bet good money that our home’s scout squirrel is a surviving member of that British squirrel spying ring! Now that I think about it, his chattering has a certain accent to it, and his teeth, ooh….

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Did You Remember Siblings Day? Hmm?

12 Apr

by Roger White  

 

I generally make it a point to remember special occasions and days that have deep meaning to those around me. Ya know, like our kids’ birthdays, our anniversary, Bulk Trash Pickup Day, Hunter S. Thompson’s birthday, Texas Independence Day, Saturday. However, a special occasion sneaked up on me the other day and clonked me on the cranium. I think it left a scar. I was greeted with a hale and hearty “Happy Siblings Day!” by my older sister Karen. And verily I say, I was flummoxed. Gobsmacked even. Smacked right in the gob.

right

Siblings Day? First of all, is that the best term they could come up with for one’s brothers and sisters? Siblings. The word puts me in mind of little, tiny baby otters not quite formed into otters yet, so they have to stay back in the otter nest until their appendages grow and form into real otter appendages. You can just hear the National Geographic voice-over guy in his proper British accent as the camera zooms in on the otter nest: “Here you see the unformed neophyte otters—siblings as they are known—struggling to find nourishment…”

 

Anyway. I had no idea that April 10 was National Siblings Day. Did you? I felt immediately guilty for not remembering it, and then I felt immediately embarrassed by thinking my leg was being yanked upon. So I looked it up, and lo, spake thus Google:

“Siblings Day (sometimes called National Siblings Day or National Sibling Day) is a holiday recognized annually in some parts of the United States on April 10, honoring the relationships of siblings. Unlike Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it is not federally recognized, though the Siblings Day Foundation is working to change this.”

 

the empireThe Siblings Day Foundation? Something tells me this whole kaboodle is underwritten by Hallmark greeting cards. Hallmark was surely the brains behind Grandparents’ Day and Children’s Day, too. I must chortle. Children’s Day? EVERY DAY is Children’s Day!

 

Again, anyway. I apologized to my older sister Karen for not commemorating uh, Siblings Day, and therewith wished her the happiest of uh, Siblings Days. My oldest sister, Kathy, did likewise. I figured, ya know, being siblings, we should celebrate like siblings should. So I sent Karen a photo of some chewed gum. In all my childhood days with middle sister Karen, the memory that stands head and shoulders above them all is that Karen would become violently ill at the sight of chewed gum. No one knows why. But Karen and I fought like rabid weasels when we were kids—and vestiges remain. I figured it was appropriate.

 

She returned the favor with a copy of that damned photo of me urinating in their closet during a sleepwalking episode from my prepubescent days of high anxiety. Well played, Sis. Well played.

 

So. My point is this: I forget. No, wait. Do your best to stay apprised of upcoming days of commemoration and specialness. Or something. To help you along, I give you the upcoming special days of April:

 

  • April 15 is Income Tax Filing Deadline (ITFD). Send your accountant a nice, handy implement. Like a spatula or an earthworm. If you don’t have an accountant, go to the TurboTax website and under “Contact Us” insert the link to the Charlie the Unicorn video. They will appreciate this.

 

  • April 15 is also Father Damien Day, observed in Hawaii. On April 15, 1889, Father Damien died of leprosy on the island of Molokai. He cared for sufferers of this disease and continued his missionary work on the island until he was little more than a shrunken torso. Damien was also the Son of Satan, as portrayed in “The Omen.” Connection?

 

  • billApril 18 is Patriots’ Day in Maine and Massachusetts. Patriots’ Day marks the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were fought near Boston in 1775. Patriots’ Day should not be confused with New England Patriots Day, which celebrates the under-inflating of footballs and stealing of opposing teams’ signals during any given Pats game.

 

  • April 21 is San Jacinto Day, celebrated here in ol’ Tejas. If you don’t know what San Jacinto Day is, then you need to move to Oklahoma.

 

  • April 22, speaking of, is Oklahoma Day, observed at Barry Switzer’s house. We need to do more research on this occasion, but I think it involves great stacks of $20 bills and brand new Corvettes.

 

  • April 25 is Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. This is the day that 17 rednecks, all cousins, get together and celebrate the last vestiges of slavery by yelling “Yeehaw!” at the top of their lungs and shooting shotguns at small mammals.

Dead tree with curved branches in Denmark

  • April 29 is Orthodox Good Friday. It is also Arbor Day, which is observed as a state holiday in Nebraska, where they worship the one tree that grows in the state of Nebraska in a field in Hickman, south of Lincoln.
  • April 30 is the last day of Passover. What I know about Passover involves hiding matzoh crackers and drinking wine. I do know some of the Jewish food of the Passover season is darn good. My wife concedes that gefilte fish is basically the Jewish Spam, but don’t knock the matzoh ball soup.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a mildly obese dachshund, and a middle-aged cat with Esptein Barr Syndrome. For more of “This Old Spouse,” visit www.oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Spot the Spurious. That is, Find the Fake.

1 Feb

by Roger White

 

Ah, my catatonic cohort, I know many of you have been waiting with bated breath (and yes, it’s bated breath; “baited breath” would involve halitosis of the earthworm variety) for the next installment of the Oldspouse Quasi-Periodic Spot the Bogus Story Contest, otherwise known among Oldspousifiles as the OQPSBSC. Well, wait no more, my addled adherents, for it’s time once again. I got chills. Gooseflesh. Exciting, huh? You got chills? OK, Gary, when you jump up and down like that, it bothers the people around you. I see you there.

 

If’n you don’t remember the rules, worry not. Just read the five (four, sir!) four news snippets below gathered by the crack Oldspouse staff from the five (four, sir!) four corners of the globe. One—and only one—of the stories is, how we say, counterfeit. False. Fake. Phony. Not on the level. Made up. Contrived. Bogus, as Mr. Spiccoli would say. The other three, believe it or else, are legit.

 

Be the first, third, or 74th person (we accept goldfish, too) to e-mail our Oldspouse staff demographer (roger.white@tasb.org) with the correct answer regarding which of these tales is purely fiction, and you win $3, yes 3 US dollars (one of which may even be an Eisenhower silver dollar) and a genuine Oldspouse-endorsed “Jesus Is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. I’m not joking. This is my job.

 

OK, here goes. Spot the Bogus Story:

 

Story No. 1: The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research to the tune of more than $500,000 to see how sick shrimp compare to healthy shrimp on a treadmill. Their conclusion—a half a million bucks later—was that the prawn feeling a tad puny didn’t perfBNPS.co.uk (01202 558833) Pic: Collect An experiment into fitness & illness involving a shrimp on a treadmill has become an unlikely internet hit after footage escaped from the laboratory of Prof David Scholnick.orm as well as their healthy counterparts. One of the head labcoat scientist persons explained that the experiments help humans better understand the effects of pollution on the little guys’ defenses and, thus, survival of the species. And since survival of the little shrimpies affects the seafood industry—namely, the makers of shrimp cocktail sauce—and thus has ramifications on the success or failure of countless dinner parties worldwide, then you can grasp the import.

 

Story No. 2: In another NSF-funded study, researchers spent 21 days—and about $330,000 of taxpayer dough—to determine if spouses are more prone to violence when they’re hungry. During the three-week study, 107 couples were given the opportunity, at various times, to shove pins into voodoo dolls that represented their significant others. The Captain Obvious conclusion? Spouses with low blood voodoosugar rammed more pins into their hubby/wife voodoo dolls than those same spouses when they were full. Jeez, give me 3 large, and I could have given you the same results. I’d include pie charts and everything.

 

Story No. 3: To celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funded—to the tune of just under $250,000—five New York artists for the purpose of making plaster casts of the buttocks of athletes from various sports. The artists made impressions of male and female athletes buttcastfrom basketball, baseball, football, track, hockey, volleyball, and swimming to compare musculature and definition. After viewing the exhibition at a Manhattan gallery, one NEA administrator quipped, “These are the bums of the gods.” What a bum deal.

 

Story No 4: Scientists recently appropriated approximately $300,000 of NSF grant money to study how humans ride bicycles. Really. The study, initiated to determine just how humans ride bikes, was created to determine if bicycle manufacturers could design bikes that would be more comfortable, more bobby bikeyaccessible, and easier to ride. The reasoning behind this study was that if bicycles were easier to ride, then more people would use them and would thus impact healthcare costs worldwide. Ride, captain, ride. Yeah.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spouse, two precocious offspring units, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

It Could Have Easily Been ‘The Old, Rugged Noose’

14 Dec

by Roger White

 

Leave it to the creative mind of Gene Roddenberry to send me into yet another mental wormhole. And I warn you from the outset, this particular “thought experiment” may be potentially upsetting to the less open-minded, strenuously dogmatic, sense-of-humor-challenged, and/or excessively pious of you. You’ve been warned.

Curled up on the comfy couch watching an episode of Roddenberry’s original “Star Trek” series recently, I was thrown quite unceremoniously into a fit of conceptual conniptions by a particular scene from the 1968 episode entitled “Bread and Circuses.” My TV-watching fare of Shiner, Fritos, and . . . er, certain aromatic herbal nourishment may have contributed significantly to the wormhole process, but I digress.

This Trek episode, in which Captain Kirk and crew are forced to fight in gladiatorial games on a planet where a modern-day Roman Empire rules the land, juxtaposes the culture, garb, and traditions of ancient Rome with Caesar Packing Heatcontemporary technology. Hence, you have emperors, senators, and proconsul types handing down edicts over loudspeakers and gladiator contests broadcast over network television.

However, the scene that shoved me down my own little space-time porthole of pontification was the one in which Kirk and company are captured by Roman guards wielding submachine guns. Woah. (And this episode came out in ’68, mind you—two years before Andrew Lloyd Webber armed his Romans with automatic weapons in Jesus Christ Superstar.)

Anyway. That’s when it hit me: What if the Romans—our ancient Romans—had possessed such technology? Of course, the mind reels with infinite possibilities (like what if Spartacus had had access to F-14 Tomcat air cover). But what I became fixated on was the impact on Christianity—not the religion as a whole, mind you, but merely the symbolism involved.

You see, the universally recognized metaphor for the Christian faith is, of course, the cross. Why? Because that’s how Jesus was put to death; the sign of the cross symbolizes His victory over death. But what if crucifixion hadn’t been the means of execution for the Roman Empire? What if, for example, electrocution had da chairbeen the execution method du jour? Think about it. Gold necklaces worn by faithful folks around the globe would have little electric chairs dangling at the end.

Or what if execution of criminals had been accomplished by hanging, for instance? Nuns far and wide, instead of making the symbol of the cross when they prayed, would arch their necks at severe angles and pull on imaginary nooses to display their piety.

Or consider lethal injection. Churches from Brownsville to Bozeman, instead of featuring outsized crosses on their steeples, would display great hypodermic needles to call the faithful to worship.

OK, wait! Hold it. Wait a minute. Put the pitchforks down. Douse the torches. I’m not demeaning Christianity by any means. I’m not poking fun. I was raised Southern Baptist, for crying out loud, by a God-fearing momma in the heart of the Lone Star State, here in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. All I’m doing is saying “what if.” In an alternate universe somewhere just east of Andromeda, who’s to say one of these scenarios isn’t playing out this very microsecond?

Who’s to say that on an alternate Earth right this minute Alternate-Earth Christians aren’t gathered in their houses of worship singing their praises thusly: the noose“At the chair, at the chair, where I first saw the light…” Or maybe country-and-western singers on Ganymede are paying homage this very moment to “The Old, Rugged Noose.”

And consider traditional sayings and adages. “It’s not my cross to bear” on Europa might be more along the lines of “It’s not my chair to sit in”— or “It’s not my chamber to enter.” Whatev.

No! No, please, put the garden tools down! I’m just saying “what if,” that’s all! It’s just a thought bubble!

I gotta quit doing Shiner and Fritos with “Star Trek” so late at night.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious offspring, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.