I was too young to be thinking of such things, maybe 12. I clearly remember where exactly I was on the sidewalk when I pondered the amazing accomplishments of mankind. Jet airplanes and ice cream, art and microwave ovens. And yet, throughout history, the smartest of our species have clutched passionately to such eye-watering stupidity.
The Greeks believed that wind was caused by trees waving their branches. You don’t want to open a Wrigley’s factory in Turkey. A large segment of both the Turkish and Hungarian population feel it’s bad luck to chew gum. There’s the standard old wives’ tale about a black cat crossing your path creates misfortune. Not making this up — ditto with eating seaweed soup in Korea the night before an exam. In Spain, eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight brings a year of wonderful luck.
Really? Does a Spaniard, who ate the dozen grapes and stumbled through a year of disaster where his wife AND mistress left him, lost his house and beret, was gored by a bull then became a stuttering leper, do the math?
“I ate the grapes. What went wrong?”
The crazy thing is that decade after century, how the smartest people in a culture line up to follow stupid.
CHIEFTAN: “It’s spring. Gotta throw a virgin into a volcano so the crops will be most bumper.”
PEASANT: “That doesn’t really make any sense, does it?”
There was a news story last week and I’m still not sure what the holy heck to make of it. Supposedly, America’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, released new guidelines for how to behave during all-out planet-destruction Boil The Elastic On Your Underwear nuclear war. That daft damn Russian socialist Nazi putz Vladimir Putin invaded the Ukraine and threatened the world with a possible complete nuclear response should the West intervene in the slaughter of their neighbor.
At ready.gov, the Department of Homeland Security website, there were — allegedly — new snappy ideas about linking COVID etiquette with instant mass extinction. The tips included contacting your health care provider, or 911, if you were feeling under the weather.
Tomorrow’s high is a million-six with 40,000 mph wind gusts from the east and yeah. I might be sensing a lack of energy from a vaporized skeletal system. The directive noted that if you think you might have COVID, “…put on a mask before help arrives.”
Uh-huh. There’s more:
“Many people may already feel fear and anxiety about the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The threat of a nuclear explosion can add additional stress.” The federal Post-it also cheerily reminded to respect social distancing and try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people, which can be hard to measure if your eyeballs just melted.
FEMA just issued a vague apology/written response, which I’ve read 50 times now. I have no idea what the hell was in the clarification about whether FEMA DID update their protocols to include social distancing in a 5-by-5 and we’re not talking miles underground concrete igloo, no offense to the Eskimos for cultural appropriation in using the name of their winter vacation homes when I’m not an Eskimo.
Check out this response, from FEMA spokesbabe Jaclyn Rothenberg: “It is not true that the COVID social distancing language was updated in response to the situation with Russia-Ukraine. COVID protocols were originally added in 2020, and pages are now going through reviews to update that language based on new (Centers for Disease Control) guidance that was just released.”
So. In one sentence about 23 inches long, FEMA said that handy suggestions about dealing with using sunscreen during all-out atomic war and the flu, the guidelines were NOT UPDATED but the guidelines are going through reviews to UPDATE them. She further clarified that any updates can be traced to “broken links.”
I’m hoping she means “sausage.”
I find myself shaking my head and repeating a question oft asked of lawyers, bureaucrats and our current Warner Brothers Cartoons daft president of the United States: “What the hell did you just say?”
Begrudgingly, I have to confess. I so wish I would have taken a different path in my youth and become a government booger-eating desk monkey, merrily filing forms in quintuplicate and randomly stapling bologna sandwiches. How much joy could I have brought to the grinning gods of passive aggression by typing endless guidelines?
Form 987-b-38aa64pi-r-squared: Procedures For Putting Index Finger In One’s Nose. “During emergencies, and, frankly, what isn’t, the procurement of aluminum siding heretofore and mitigationally bipedal, is of the utmost, or, possibly, not so much, adhere to right angles. Atomic bomb. No blay Watusi. Run for the exits, pushing over the elderly and/or knocking over baby carriages. Or was it ‘run FOR the entrances.’ We’re gonna need a blue-ribbon study. Whatever. The public is urged to mitigate safely. Remember — We’re talking to you, Bozo — no matter what happens, asteroid strike, deep chasms opening in the Earth’s crust and dinosaurs slithering out to retake their rightful rule over a wicked planet, Joy Behar of ‘The View’ and her one dangling brain cell becoming the next president, the public should also be advised to remember to wear masks. Not just COVID masks, but Halloween masks. Culturally appropriate Halloween masks so scratch that. Cripes. When’s the next federal six-day weekend? Don’t tell us this is your federal employee union dues working for you. Furthermore, in the event of cold and flu season and planet implosion, remember to open the FEMA survival packets which contain the lyrics to the rock tome, ‘Cat People.’ We just love how David Bowie’s voice goes real deep and sexy when he sings: ‘I… can… stare… for a thousand years…’ Yup. That’s our song, baby. If that isn’t the anthem for government bureaucracy, we don’t know what is. Well. That’s it. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.”
How can man invent both soup AND nuts?
John Boston is the most prolific satirist in Earth’s history. Visit his bookstore at johnbostonbooks.com.