On being nagging, self-righteous and preachy, or “Do you think my mind is maturing late. . .” (Ogden Nash)
October 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Wisdom does not necessarily come with age. Some of us will simply never be wise. That’s particularly sad if we’re (or so we’ve been told too often in our lives) above average in intelligence. Then we think we have all of these great ideas that are, in fact, small ideas grown large in our own mind.
And they do not add up to wisdom.
The poet Ogden Nash was 61 years old when I graduated from high school. My Junior English teacher in high school had introduced me to his poetry (along with that of e. e. cummings, and I have had the two of them intertwined in my mind since then). Eight years later (1971) Nash died. He was the age I am now. (e. e. cummings died while I was in high school at age 68, a year younger than I am now. He smoked too much—try to find a picture of him without a cigarette.)
I can recite from memory more of Ogden Nash’s poems than those of any other poet (with the possible exception of Charles Wesley, but he doesn’t count because I learned all of his poems to hymn tunes which are what I in reality remember—he lived to be 81).
develops the jaw,
but celery stewed
is more easily chewed.
The cow is of the bovine ilk
one end is moo, the other milk.
One would be in less danger
from the wiles of the stranger
if one’s own kin and kith
were more fun to be with.
Three Nash poems of the many that often float unbidden to the surface of my mind when I wonder why they appear. No, I know exactly why they are there. I want to be clever and funny like Ogden Nash. Celery raw or chewed. Pure (unproductive) genius.
I learned the word “senescence” from Ogden Nash.
And middle age ends
The day your descendants
Outnumber your friends.
I don’t know for sure when I memorized that one. Probably while I was in high school and Mr. Simpson was guiding my intellectual development. Mr. Simpson, by the way, committed suicide the year after I graduated and went off to university.
Until a couple of years ago (see the title of this blog) I gave the word “senescence” little thought. For one thing, I knew I’d never have any descendants, so I was safe. My descendants will never outnumber my friends, so I must not be in danger of my middle age ending.
One of my favorite “presentations” as one (presumably) with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy is “viscosity.” I have no idea what that means, applied to personality traits. Gooey? Sticky? I have a sticky, gooey personality? (Look up Norman Geschwind, the teacher of my first neurologist, and you’ll find the word.) I write here about other more fun “presentations” often. Hypergraphia, increased religious interests—others. I don’t like to think about “increased aggression,” although that could give me some solace about my anger issues.
But I will take solace in—whether or not it’s true—the idea that TLEptics tend to be serious, with a certain lack of humor.
Read my blogs!
I’m serious to the point of being “nagging, self-righteous and preachy” when I think I am right—when I wonder why the hell the rest of you don’t see things my way. I wish it were not so. I wish I could be cheerful and happy and invite pleasant banter about ideas, and exchange ideas freely and joyfully with others.
Sorry. It ain’t going to happen.
Take my posting here yesterday. What a grouch! I said on Facebook that I need a marketing firm to make my little campaign palatable to everyone and get a real movement going. Look! I know most people who read my stuff agree that the Voter ID laws are horrendous. But the laws have been passed, and all that’s left to do is let the ‘Publicans running the states know we don’t approve. In Texas you can do that EASILY by simply filing a protest when you go to vote and they ask you for some form of ID you either can’t produce or that seems superfluous.
I don’t have a clue how to say all of that so that is seems inviting or fun or even like a good idea. There’s not a gimmick or a jingle or a “hook” in my entire mental arsenal.
I hope that’s because I’m TLEptic and not simply an opinionated, unbending old grouch (the old isn’t applicable because I’ve been this way all my life).
Ogden Nash has a poetic gem titled “Lines on Facing Forty.” When I first discovered it, I thought 40 was obviously over-the-hill. The mind of anyone over 40 must be rotting.
I have a bone to pick with fate,
Come here and tell me girly,
Do you think my mind is maturing late,
Or simply rotting early.
Now I’m facing 70 (in three months; Nash didn’t get there). I’d say my irascibility is a measure of my approaching senility except I’ve always been querulous.
So if you’re going to vote for some Republican who thinks gays shouldn’t serve in the military because they would need a massage before going into battle; or if you agree with some pseudo-Conservative talking head who thinks young women should be disenfranchised; or if you go to church to be taught that President Obama has prepared the way for Armageddon, I will, as a curmudgeon whose senility has reached the edge of asperity, frankly tell you that you are an idiot.
Period. And I don’t have a funny or endearing way to say it. I’m both senile and TLEptic. Wait til I’m really old.
If that pisses you off or makes you pity the over-the-edge old grump, well, I’m too senile to understand.