JUST MUSING: “Use by date…”

Life is somewhat akin to the use by dates on the side of food products.  An estimation, predicting, “best when used by.”  Smelling, poking, lifting, checking color is no different than parenting.   Kicking ourselves for forgetting, tucked behind something else, wondering whether, “still good” – our treatment of friends, love ones, family.  In college, I took a course entitled Chemistry for Non-science Majors, an experiment by the Science Department, in hope of stripping the mysteries and fears of science away.  “Making science friendly again – to make America great again” – no I’m making that part up, digressing early, my apology.

May I continue? – One of the areas covered dealt with food sciences.  The preservation of food, learning about the chemical compounds printed on the side of foods in the marketplace, discovering how plants are genetically modified, understanding how substances change when one molecule is removed, another added.  No different than life.

Years ago, a friend of mine by her fortieth birthday began to read the obituaries in the Houston Chronicle daily.  I didn’t understand what she was doing.  A big city paper, surely Donna didn’t expect to see someone she knew in the paper everyday.  I didn’t understand Donna was lamenting aging, seeing time pass, her use by date approaching fast, wondering whether the “best by this date” was approaching, or even passed.  Lamenting, lamenting, lamenting, reading, expressing anger, frustration, pointing at someone she didn’t even know.

I understand now.  Smelling, poking, pushing … looking for signs of imminent death – like I am going to see some magical clue from the image looking back at me in the mirror.  Expressing condolences, barely able to contain myself, wanting to ask, having to ask, “What did he die of?”, “Oh, I’m so sorry”, “How old did you say he was?” – “My, my, my” wrapped, packaged around my concerns, Donna’s concerns, for the “best used by date.”  Reading the obituary closely, seeing what they didn’t say.  Much like high fructose corn syrup, sodium erythorbate, erythorbic acid, seeing the words imprinted on the packaging, having no concept what I’m looking at, looking for.

“Died how young?”

“Did they say why?”

“Cancer, diabetes, didn’t eat right, didn’t exercise?”

“Oh, died in a car accident.  Good!  Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.”

Seeing the meat in the refrigerator, immediately realizing it was purchased a week ago, knowing you forgot, wondering whether it is past it’s “use by date.”   Reaching to throw it out, remembering your mother’s instruction to drain the meat, wash off the blood, then smell.  Salting, seasoning, smelling, using in a meal, eating.

Smelling the milk, retching, embarrassed at the waste, seeing starving children in River Oaks, before adapting, stirring, folding, mixing with other sour milk for bread.  Remembering the lessons, their history:  never throwing anything away, born during the depression, on farms, surviving, reusing, adapting, saving, feeding their families on little, proud of their resourcefulness.  Developing idioms to explain life problems, life events, reminding their heirs, not to throw away objects – things – people:  “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  “Making chicken salad out of chicken gaga’” (even though the wrong word used, I think you get the point).

The medical profession raves against the over-consumption of anything – salt, sugar – while failing to point us to the operative word(s), over-consumption.  Not ever willing to deny that salt is a necessary nutrient, in turn posting warnings, placing salt on the Most Wanted Criminal List, a criminal, dangerous.  That same profession sits back in shock at our willingness to by-pass substitutes for the real thing, an organic substance.

So label me confused, wondering what the fuss is about surrounding food labeling – much like life.  Finding myself doing much more important tasks, reading the obituaries daily, attending more funerals than weddings, expressing my condolences to get close enough to ask additional questions, looking in the mirror, poking, prodding, smelling, seeing the use by date approaching fast.

“Nope, doesn’t smell like death.”

“Ain’t nothing wrong with you boy!  You need to take a shower!”

Advertisements

JUST MUSING: “Mad hatter like …”

I seldom watch horror movies, refusing to revisit living-color, vivid, life altering nightmares.  Believing the monster on the railroad track still exists, aging ugly, scarier than ever, drinking ditch water, waiting for me, to get me.  No, no, no, I will leave the medium to others.    When I grew old enough to protest, I refused to pay people to scare me, refusing to enter the ridiculously long lines to ride the wildest, scariest, tallest roller coaster in the free world.  Stepping out of line, letting others walk around, never having to reassure myself the decision not to ride was the right one.

“No, no, ma’am you can have my spot.  Please.”

Letting Stephen King scare Stephen King, and his demented followers; knowing my limitations, putting his books down, stopping on page one, paragraph one; cursing him, and the three-eyed monsters appearing early, on page two.  Attempting to sleep, revisiting what I saw, what I read, hearing clanging sounds, suffering an withering attack from imaginary bed bugs, falling, falling, falling, to a painful, disfigured death, emoting my last, predictable words, “My death was caused by Stephen King.  Stephen King killed me.”

Life’s wonderful contradictions continue to play us for the proverbial fools.  Cutting and pasting, lifting faces from different sources and placing them onto another; posting stories as a reliable entity, when caught saying the error was a mistake – casting doubts, creating new truths.  Borrowing copyrighted mastheads, redirecting attention, posting to justify one’s worldview, even if a lie.

A little white lie is defined as a minor, benign lie.  I don’t believe a lie should be parceled into minutia.  What is the contrast?  What is the opposite of the little white lie? –  A big black malignant lie.  Parceling facts, dissecting truth, justifying the lie, birthing confusion, providing a platform for fake new, alt-news, alternative facts is our bold new world.

No, please don’t place me in the category of the folks who disingenuously disrespects the advancements in technology.  Absolutely, the information age has allowed the world to become smaller, more connected, allowing information to travel across the globe, blending cultures, traditions, and peoples.  No longer needing to ride a horse to Boston to declare, “Give me liberty, or give me death”, possessing a printing press within inches, a multitude of presses, publishing at a nominal cost, at will.  A new world which benefits, advantages, disadvantages, challenges, sows confusion, daily.

Lying about the existence of big foot seems problematic to me – cutting, pasting, borrowing pictures around the world, then placing text, and quotes from fictional people and posting the story as true is nothing more than the big lie and should be called out as such.   Posting pictures to make a point, “she looks Angelina Jolie”, hiding identity of the source, scurry under cover of a non-existent entities, false names, is different than Benjamin Franklin’s use of pseudonyms, both male and female.

Benjamin Franklin and Stephen King’s publishers were honest, labeling the story under assigned categories, horror, science fiction, fiction, non-fiction, playing by a set of principles, being held accountable.  The First Amendment protects us from our government, the right of free speech, a press, to religion, creating a freer society, allowing for the exchange of ideas.  The First Amendment protects truth and lie.  No problem here.  I only muse to say we should be more diligent in calling out the lies.

New technology shouldn’t mean we should not filter the lies out.  Free press, free speech means the lies should be exposed, parceled out, and then relegated to the dark web of our mines, the trash bins of history.  Force the liars to become more creative and a tad-bit more honest, labeling their writings as the new futuristic comic books seems appropriate.

“Lies, lies, more lies, up, up and away!”

Force them to admit their writings were borne at a time the free press was at its weakest, under attack externally (loss of advertising dollars, politicians running against the press attacking a fundamental tenet of a free society), and internally (power in the hands of a few; caused by consolidations, closings, unreliable and unpredictable new business models).

Demand power be bequeathed to the entities who now dominate the medium (Google, Facebook, etcetera) (the gatekeepers), granting them publishing rights, forcing the separation of wheat from the chaff; requiring categorization of our new printers, opinion writers, bloggers – fiction, non-fiction, horror, a literary lie.

Oh absolutely I believe there may be problems – times when entities, governments, individuals will overreact, censoring the message disfavored.  There will always be this type of pull and tug.  My concern is different.  The lies are overwhelming, creating an alternative universe, establishing different rules, allowing the purveyor of the lies to avoid accountability.  Mad hatter like, wicked witch evil – untouched – the disfigured man on the railroad track eating little black boys screaming in their sleep, “Mamma, the King has no clothes.”

“Not a black suit!”

“But the suit is black!”

“No … it’s not!”

“I’m sorry, that color is black.  Wait, why are we talking about the color of the King’s suit?  I asked a different question.”

“Dishonest media … dishonest media, when you finally recognize ‘us talking to you’ is a privilege and not a right, maybe then, you will agree, ‘what you see is what you see.’”