Okay, so a few weeks back, I found myself surrounded by death and dead things and things that reminded me of death and dead things, or at least personalized the events for me, to some extent.
I felt both compelled to comment, and compelled to hold off on commenting, for at least a little while. Let the flames die down a little, as it were.
So, it all started on a Sunday that I was not at work. I was able to go to church, and since my wife won't let the kids go to church with me because they are Catholic and I, most decidedly, am not, the little boogers get to spend the day with my mom, which opens up a whole afternoon of possibilities for me. This particular Sunday was reserved mostly for home teaching, which is one of the few true joys I have.
Anyway, the family I visit is considerably younger than I, and has four young children, ranging from young to really young, to just out of the oven fresh young. My kids are not so young anymore, and I had a toy kitchen set that they have long outgrown, which was in need of a good home. So, I went home, strapped it to the roof of my car, and off I went.
I had a good time, with an appreciative and receptive "class," and when I was done, I picked my kids up and brought them home.
This is where the death part of the week starts.
When we got home, they scattered to their various hiding places, and I went to get my daughter's hamster out of his cage. Now, mind you, my daughter had begged for six months to have a hamster, and last year, for her birthday, she got a hamster. She didn't so much pick him as he chose her: When she put her hand in the tank, to grab one, he walked right up and started licking her fingers, which is common enough for a puppy, but not so much for a hamster. And if a hamster does it, there's a pretty good chance that a nip is about to follow.
But not so with Foo-Foo, as she named him. He was the sweetest tempered rodent I ever set eyes on. He would even come when you called him. My last dog, Stupid, wouldn't do that. He would stand in the middle of the cage on his hind legs and reach up when you put your hand in to grab him.
Anyway, I went to get him that Sunday, and when I called him, nothing. I was hoping he was sleeping, but when I went to grab him, he was cold and stiff, which is never a good sign for a hamster. Not so much for people either, come to think of it.
So, this Sunday, which had gone so well, except for an embarrassing Browns game (and aren't they all at his point), ended with wailing and crying. And the kids were pretty upset, too.
The next day, we had a funeral for Foo, and buried him in his hamster wheel, which was his favorite place to sleep. Then we took a trip to the pet store, where we had an argument over why we were getting neither a rabbit, nor a ferret. My daughter finally settled on a guinea pig, though not the one that my wife had absolutely fallen in love with, so we now have TWO guinea pigs. My daughter had already picked a name out, Marshmallow, and wanted a white guinea pig to go with it/ So now we have Marshmallow and Hershey, who is dark brown and looks like a bad toupee. I want to get a third, tan guinea pig and name him Graham, but so far that has been vetoed.
Anyway, the very next day, my area made national news. I went to get a haircut, because I didn't want to look like a smelly hippie, then gone to work and started my day quite nicely, thank you. About six o'clock, one of my co-workers asked me what I knew about the plane crash. Well frankly, I didn't know anything at that point, but as it turned out, a small jet had crashed into an apartment building just about half a mile from my house. It's on the road that I drive almost every day to work, and within a half an hour of the time that either I'm going to, or my wife is coming from the hospital.
Well, I figured they'd have the road closed that night, and they did, and there is no really good vantage point from which to view the site other than the road right in front. For the next week or so, they kept that road closed, until the investigation had been completed, and all the wreckage had been cleaned up. I thought this was a tad inconsiderate, because who wouldn't want to see a wrecked plane? I don't need to see dead bodies; I see enough of those at work. But a wrecked plane... That would seem to be far more interesting than a wrecked blimp, which I have seen. (Picture a big gray blanket thrown over a bunch of trees. Yawn.)
Anyway, as if that weren't enough death for one week, my kids had decided that, the fact that hamsters don't live much more than a year or two, my son's hamster, Ted the Battle Strategist (I know, right?) needed a friend to play with, now that Foo-Foo was gone. So, on Friday night, I took my big dumb dog out for a walk at a local Metropark, and then decided to go see if I might find a replacement for Foo-Foo. Along the way, I heard on the radio that there were several terrorist attacks going on in Paris.
This might not have affected me directly, physically, but it had an interesting emotional response. While everyone else on Earth was trying to figure out who this American band, The Eagles of Death Metal, were, my first thought was, "They're still together?".
A little background. It's no secret I'm a long-time metalhead. I like headbanging music, and I like it loud. I love to go to live shows, and I've certainly been to my share. I have to say that, at this, point, my bucket list of bands to see has pretty much been completed.
So, in 2006, I went to see Guns 'n' Roses (The lineup that was current at that point. I like to call it Axl's Freak Show, because the musicians he surrounded himself with were all amazingly talented, but also a little odd. See:Buckethead as an example.) in Cleveland. One of the opening bands was, in fact, the Eagles of Death Metal. They had one of the absolute worst shows I've ever seen, and I've seen hundreds, The sound was like a wounded dog howling over a bunch of guitars being smashed.
It was one of the few times at a concert that I've ever been concerned about actual violence. (I don't include the numerous mosh pits I've been in, or in the case of GWAR, slave pits: those are more, in my view, a healthy way of releasing pent up aggression without actually having to hurt anyone.)
Five years earlier, Cleveland had learned a lesson: Don't give fans beverages in bottles. (I was at that game, as well. Go figure.) So, while I didn't have to worry about getting hit in the head with a full bottle of urine, there were cups of ice and Coke flying stage-ward, and the boos grew increasingly angry. I truly thought that a riot might break out.
When Guns 'n' Roses finally took the stage, they started out with three songs from Appetite for Destruction, and then Axl started talking to the crowd: "So, How'd ya like the Pigeons of Crap Metal? (Only he didn't say crap: This is a family website!) That was their first show opening for us, and let me tell ya: It's going to be the last!" Huge cheers from crowd, end of opening act job for the Pigeons.
So that explains why my first thought was, "They're still together?" I hope it also explains my less-than-charitable second thought; "I'm glad that's not MY last concert ever. I wouldn't know where the show ended and Hell began." Then my even-less-charitable-than-that-prior-uncharitable-thought thought: "If they take out every one in the theater, the death toll could reach double digits, or maybe even a dozen." Of course, sadly, there were more people than that in the theater (My wife's reaction: So they're like the Jerry Lewis of rock bands. Wow, French people have bad taste.)
And so we laughed, not because what happened was funny, but because sometimes it's the only thing you can do to keep from losing what little sanity you have left in an increasingly sanity-free world.
You know the kind of world I'm talking about: One where a U.S. President can stand in a foreign capital, the scene of a vicious mass shooting, where hundreds were gunned down, and claim that mass shootings only happen in America.
A world where we can see video of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts and the reaction of the half the country is to blame the people making the videos, not the people chopping babies apart.
Where Black Lives only seem to Matter when it's a white law enforcement officer taking them, and then only if it doesn't conflict with a democRat winning his election.
And speaking of Black Liver Mattering, Planned Parenthood and democRats, a world where those the black community cab stand with the other two, who are purposefully committing genocide against the black community (look up Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and eugenics.) and curse the people who stand against infanticide as "haters."
How about a world where, after a deliberate, planned terrorist attack (with guns) in California, a sitting U.S. Senator from California can talk about how their strict gun control laws worked.
Or a world where, after that, and let's face it EVERY terrorist attack, we're told that it's US to blame that we just don't have enough appreciation for the culture of the Religion of Peace.
(Now I'm sounding like Movie Trailer Guy; "In a world...")
I totally understand how John McClain cracked wise through all those Die Hard movies. How all of Schwarzenegger's action heroes can let out those one liners in the face of almost certain doom. If it weren't for that release, I suspect the horrors of the modern world would probably drive us all insane.
Or maybe I should say MORE insane.
P.S. One of the most memorable songs I've ever heard was at that Guns 'n' Roses show, when Ron Thal played a guitar solo that turned into a version of 'Don't Cry' so beautiful you almost had to. I don't remember the audience singing along that night. What I remember is a crowd that was as silent as I've ever heard that many people be. It was mesmerizing.
This one isn't that one, but it's also very nice:
P.P.S. You might have noticed I like to occasionally use song titles for the titles of my posts. A lot of times, they are too NSFW to post here, but this one is not:
P.P.P.S. Turns out Ted the Battle Strategist isn't the little boy hamster we thought she was. That was an interesting moment of discovery for all of us. So they don't get to play together after all, lest we find ourselves inundated with more hamsters than we can handle.