I think this is supposed to be funny. In its own crooked, mixed-up way, I do think it’s funny, but still, how is the difference between internal chatter from Irma Prattle, pure coincidence, and cosmic whisperings or conks on the head from God (or the universe, whichever you prefer) determined?
The very deepest feeling from God or a spiritual or loving universe is a different subject. I’m writing here about whether God, his minions, or my convoluted brain have a sense of humor. Which one thinks it’s funny to play tricks? God or my sub-conscious?
Example #1 – My mother bought a house when I was fifteen and my brother ten. The move was across town from a respected old neighborhood of working people to a not respected neighborhood on the “wrong side of town.” I lived in that house through high school, college,
and got married in its back yard. My brother lived there through his college years with a couple of years away in his late teens. He walked out its door on his last morning of life on his way to buy a .357 magnum and take his life in the afternoon.
In that house, Mother saw her children leave her in two different ways, worked its garden, painted its walls, paid off the mortgage, grieved for her son, tended her grandson, and spent some years after retirement there. That little red brick no more than 900 square feet on a main and basement level, vibrated the family life of those years off its walls.
The house hadn’t sold when Mother moved to Arizona so when it needed anything the realtor didn’t handle, it was left to me to do. When it did sell I was told to prime the bathroom jetted tub, and make the place welcoming and working for the new people. After accomplishing about an hour’s work I wandered through the house, waxing myself into a nostalgic fervor.
I knew it was time to go, I knew all the business, love, disappointment, joy, anger, laughter and grief for us that was to be in that house was now accomplished. I said my last words to the walls, locked the door and went to the car.
Feeling sentimental and at peace, I turned on the radio. “Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye!” Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo screamed/sung about trying to escape a she-devil. “Oh, I know something about the ways of loving and I tell you, baby, that something’s wrong. Look to the sky above and the mud below, something drives me crazy, got to, got to get away.”
The screaming, accusatory, love-wrenched timbre of the voice and song . . . not comforting. But it was funny and I started laughing. It’s all, all of it, very funny in a teasing pat on the butt and send me on my way good-bye.
Example #2 – My father died in 1984 and was cremated. His ashes have been held by his wife since then in Alabama, but the decision has now been made to spread the ashes around. It was suggested that with the Alabama soil there should be a bit of Utah soil. So, while in Utah last month it was my responsibility to gather and send a bit. During that week in the middle of the night, I was awakened with the idea that the soil should be gathered from his son’s, my brother’s grave in a symbolic, sentimental, meaningful gesture. In my estimation.
It was a beautiful fall day and again I had worked myself into a nostalgic fervor, emotionally commanding myself to make it a meaningful moment and say “Good-bye! good-bye!” to my father and brother. I gathered the dirt and took a little time to wish the nearby residents well before heading back to the car.
Same drill here. I felt sentimental and at peace when I turned on the radio. Blaring is the refrain, “So you’ll come to know when the bullet hits the bone,” by Golden Earring. Only I’ve always heard the lyric as “He was all alone when the bullet hits the bone.” Never a comforting song. One I always turned off and one of many others that have distanced me from that branch of rock and roll. I don’t appreciate the caustic humor or careless coincidence, and there is no comfort.