Cohabit

Cohabit: (v) to live together

Even though, like any “Frosty poet,” I enjoy a good walk in the woods, there is something that interfaces with me as I feel pine needles under my soles: all the creatures of nature are a little bit frightened of me as a human being because I’m a horrible roommate.

I don’t honor my space. Sometimes I’m late on the rent. I cook up things and leave dishes behind.

And I spread my trash everywhere, assuming that it will be taken care of by either other beings, or time and chance.

So there is a look in the eye of the racoon and a squint from the squirrel that tells me they have no intention of relinquishing their right to the ecosystem. They will fight like hell if I attack their nest or if I suggest they should be ousted from their dens.

There is a palpable defiance mingled with a pleading in their glance.

“Come on, you dumb shit. Can’t you just get along? Can’t you co-habitate with us? Do we have to growl, bite, and escape all of your plans to eliminate our species?”

Nature is kind of pissed with human beings. Why?

  • We decide to blame God, even though there’s a natural order which was put in place billions of years before any of us urped up our first mother’s milk.
  • We are so pretentious.
  • We are so easily offended.
  • We are the Mother-Earth-children of all brattiness.

Because the truth is, we aren’t satisfied with scrunching salmon and terrifying tigers. We start doing it to each other–using a color code. Sometimes it’s based upon evaluating genitalia.

But because we can’t cohabit the Earth with the turtle, we suddenly find ourselves very intolerant of those of our own race–who like to take things a little slower.

 

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Chopsticks

Chopsticks: (n) a pair of small sticks used as eating utensils, especially by the Chinese

I’ve taken the precaution of donning my suit of armor, which, by the way, already has quite a few dents. I’ve also calmed my spirit and satisfied my soul that all is well.

I must do this every time I launch into the cultural “holy of holies” and begin to make fun of sacrificial lambs.

Chopsticks are stupid. Worse than stupid, they’re pretentious.

Unless you were born in China and have never heard of a spoon or fork, using chopsticks is your way of establishing your superiority over those around you, who
insist on eating the cuisine of another country while using God-fearing American utensils.

I will be honest. I haven’t even tried chopsticks. What I have done is watch other people attempt to consume a meal while balancing the food on tiny wooden surfaces. Eventually what happens is, the bowl is picked up, brought close to the mouth, and the sticks are used as a shovel, to thrust the delicacy onto the tongue. So to use chopsticks, one has to break every other universal law of table etiquette. Once again, fine if you live in China, but not really required at the Main Street Chinese Buffet.

Pretension is bigotry done with a smile, and offered with over-explanation.

I don’t like chopsticks. Chinese people are fine. Chinese food is okay.

But chopsticks are Step Three in a process of ten in learning how to consume food more effectively. In other words, it began with fingers, went to hands, moved to chopsticks…

By the time you get to ten, there should be a damn fork.

 

 

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Chihuahua

Chihuahua: (n) a small dog of a smooth-haired, large-eyed breed originating in Mexico

I will not bore you with the standard patter about how tiny and stupid looking Chihuahuas are. This has been long established by many writers preceding me.

The creature is obviously a rat that was exposed to radiation–perhaps near Los Alamos–grew in size and lost its hair. I am completely
satisfied with this explanation.

Today I would like to focus on the bark. Pardon me. It is not worthy of being called a “bark.”

  • It is a yap.
  • A yippity.
  • A yonk-yonk.
  • A vocal snap.
  • A sound conceived in the depths of hell by a satanic cherub who was trying to get people to hate dogs.

I don’t know if there’s anything more aggravating than walking through a store and coming upon some hapless soul holding one of these creatures, and being yapped at for fifteen or twenty seconds, as the owner pretends he or she has control.

Comical as it may seem–the dog thinking it has any dominion–it is still annoying that such a pretentious piece of animal flesh thinks it has any purpose or right to spark out its opinions.

If they were pleasant dogs, you could associate the word “cute” with them. When you came upon their tiny frames, you could say, “Isn’t it cute?” and it would look up at you with its little doggy mouth and oversized eyes, moist with affection.

But not the chihuahua.

It literally is a large rat on speed.

It has a bad attitude, it tries to overcompensate for its size by being obnoxious, and if I lived in Mexico in the State of Chihuahua, I would demand that they rename the dog.

As you can probably tell, I have never owned a Chihuahua.

But I will confess that I have considered accidentally letting a few of them out in traffic.

 

 

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Café

 

Ca: (n) a small restaurant selling light meals and drinks.

All of my life I have been surrounded by friends who enjoy discovering out-of-the-way, little cafes.

I won’t even mention the fact that these establishments usually last about six months before someone finds one down the street that’s
“cuter.”

I am a big person. (By big, I’m referring to the size of my body, not necessarily my soul.)

So these little places are tedious, if not arduous, for me to negotiate. The tables are tiny and the chairs provide a landing area for only one of my butt-cheeks.

Then there are the toy meals:

Croissants–which can be consumed with three bites.

A Danish–which doesn’t really taste that much better than the one I once ate at a flea-bag motel off their free Continental breakfast.

And of course, the over-emphasis on the coffee and tea.

My friends sit there, cross their legs and chat with one another, munching on the tiny provisions as if they have found a precursor to heavenly bliss.

I am uncomfortable. I am misplaced. I am a dog at a cat rodeo. I am an apolitical advocate who finds himself at a get-out-the-vote rally.

Over the years, I have learned ways to excuse myself from such awkward pretense.

So now when I hear the word “café ,” my brain just naturally translates it into “caf-nay.

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Bureaucracy

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Bureaucracy: (n) a state in which a few decide for the many

I find it extremely audacious and perhaps even pretentious to believe that I have any idea what’s best for me.

I may rail and scream, demanding the right to make poor decisions for my own life, but in my saner moments, free from vanity, I’m completely aware that I am inept at planning my own peace.

And it becomes nefarious to think that I, as a mere mortal, would have any goddamned idea what would be best for you. Yet for some reason, like early Spanish explorers who apparently believed that the world was created for them to pillage, when we get finished screwing up our lives, we feel mission-driven to spread that message of disarray into the affairs of others.

That is bureaucracy: malcontents determined to make other people just as miserable as they are–whether they do it in politics, by passing numbskull laws which are ill-suited to solve the aching need; or in religion, where they preach a God of love who is more picky than your Aunt Myrtle.

Bureaucracy is where we discover we are impotent… but decide to hide it under seven pairs of pants.

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Bravo

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Bravo: (exclam) used to express approval when a performer has done something well

Yes.

“Bravo” is more than a television channel of gay men going to art museums while discussing the perfect French croissant.

“Bravo” is a statement.Dictionary B

It has been meticulously segregated off from “nice job, you killed it, you the man and give me five.”

Rather, it is a highbrow declaration still unsullied by common culture, expressing devoted admiration.

It is unlikely that you will hear “bravo” spoken anywhere except among those who don tuxedos, over-practice their musical instruments and insist that their art is great because so few people appreciate it.

  • I have never heard “bravo” spoken at a football game–nor any sport, for that matter.
  • It is not commonly used at a hip-hop concert.
  • And though appropriate, an encouraging wife does not utter the word to bolster the confidence of her ever-learning lover.

No–it is reserved for uptown situations, where a certain quality deems it necessary for us to pretentiously speak our “attaboy” in a different language.

So what, in my environment, is worthy of “bravo?”

I don’t have to look very far.

Bravo for that sunrise.

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Bailiwick

Bailiwick: (n) one’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest.Dictionary B

The English language is in hospice, dying of the cancer of over-simplification.

All language is now based upon whether we like it, understand it or can easily write it down, rather than whether it is accurate or just plain beautiful.

For example, take the word bailiwick.”

I have personally never used the word in a conversation for fear that someone would think I was trying to be pretentious. But it is a gorgeous word.

And even though I do not use the word, I know what it means, so when I do hear some articulate human being express it, I am able to comprehend the meaning.

But as a writer, I find it necessary to sit down at least once a week and listen to a group of teenagers talk. After all, they are deciding where the English language is headed.

Occasionally I throw a word or two at them which I think is fairly common, only to be startled by their bewildered faces as they wonder why I decided to speak as if I were reading from a dictionary.

This may sound like a lamentation, but I will tell you that by no means am I a stick-in-the-mud who thinks America is going to hell one discarded word at a time.

But I do believe the preservation of certain language, and the ability to write with a bit of literary flair, cannot be completely estranged from our everyday efforts or we will eventually be a society that breaks everything down into initials, acronyms and slang.

So here’s to the use of the word “bailiwick”–at least every once in a while.

And also to the gentle patience which will be required from those who use it … to explain to the surrounding, dumbfounded hearers.

 

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