Scenes in the Font of Life

Scenes from the Font of Life: A play in 15½ scenes and 0 acts. There are no acts because it's all real.

Scenes from the Font of Life: A play in 15½ scenes and 0 acts.

The following is a compendium of unrelated scenes and observations demonstrating why this world is the kind of place you’d like to settle down and raise your cholesterol. Think of these scenes as thin slices of life served up on a bed of roses, or on a bed of nails; depending on how rose-tinted your glasses are. This anthology (now upgraded from a mere compendium) is formulated with your privacy choices in mind. Should you wish to opt out and decide not to read them, I will not share your personal information with any of my subsidiaries, affiliates or nephews. However I do maintain certain files that include pictures of you smelling something really funky when you thought no one else was watching. It may be the only leverage I have to persuade you to read this appetizer-sized literary snack. I’m not blackmailing you. It’s called scent-shaming and I’m not afraid to use it. By the way, do you prefer your scent-shaming in Pumpkin Spice or Stinky Pinky?

In any event, please place your tray table in the upright and locked position. Put your head in airplane mode and enjoy these complimentary in-flight observations. Remember: life is about the journey so whether you paid full retail for your seat or used your Frequent Fretters’ miles, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Caution: These observations were produced on equipment used in processing peanuts, tree nuts and dairy products. Consume them judiciously.


Scene I 

“Make sure you take an umbrella,” reminded practical Jack.

“I don’t need to,” said Pollyanna. “If it rains I’ll just do what I always do.”

“What’s that,” asked Jack?

“I let a smile be my umbrella,” tutted Pollyanna.

“But you’ll get all wet,” reasoned Jack.

“Well only if it rains silly,” smiled Pollyanna.


Scene II

The 92nd Street Y in New York City presented a lecture by Professor Edwina Cutwater of the Columbia University Department of Biomedical Sciences on the rarely discussed topic of bipedalism (walking on two legs). It soon becomes apparent Professor Cutwater had enjoyed a few too many pre-lecture Chardonnays:

Friends, colleagues and fellow organisms; there are those who look at where we are today and say “The 92nd Street Y.” Not me. I look at where we are today and say, “The 92nd Street Y not.” And to those who wish their membranes were more permeable, what can I say: Capillary Action does not discriminate.

Now, as to walking upright. I’ve always viewed bipedalism as the wrong form of human locomotion and I think all those that do favor it should stand down. If man were meant to walk erect…umm…I know there’s a Viagra joke there somewhere. I mean bipedalism is just not sustainable – eventually you’re gonna start slouching. The Tendency to Slouch would’ve been Kepler’s 4th Law of Motion had he ever bothered to do some real research – 16th century astronomical lazy bones. I mean 3 universal laws of motion? That’s it? Thanks a lot Johnny. Enjoy the Dark Ages.

Anyways, I’m in favor of stability in our ambulation and I believe man should walk, if not on all fours, then at least on most fours. Then again, I think there should be a sequel to the Steve Martin movie All of Me, called Most of Me. It’s the same with the movie All About Eve. It’s too much. It should’ve been 20 minutes shorter and titled Most About Eve.

But what do I know? I’m only the god-damned Chairwoman of the Columbia University Department of Biomedical Sciences. So don’t take my word for it. Go visit and fall down your own rabbit hole.

I’m sorry folks. I don’t mean to be so angry. It’s not me, it’s the microphone. Really.

And with that, the lights dimmed and a large butterfly net was placed over the good professor as she was led gently into the wings.


Scene II.V (2.5)

The Trouble with Spit 

It’s difficult to conjugate the verb “spit.” For example:

I spit.                               Present Tense

I spat.                              Past Tense

I spitted.                          Very Imperfect Past Tense

I have spat.                      Drunken Past Tense indicating you recently “made a spit”

Yes. We have spatted.     Past Perfect Tense signifying you’ve had sex


And now I’m afraid to even attempt conjugating the word “sh*t.”


Scene III

Ruminations on the Bald Eagle

No alcohol was involved in the spontaneous generation of these ruminations. Actually that last sentence should read: No. Alcohol was involved in the spontaneous generation of these ruminations.


I saw a slow-motion video of Bald Eagles plucking fish out of a lake and thought: shouldn’t we just stop everything and have an international day of recognition where we deeply consider the profundity and grace of this practice. Here’s an airborne creature that by all accounts speaks no English and yet gets the greater portion of its life-sustaining food, not from the air, not from the land, but from the sea. This seems to be inimical to survival. Yet it does survive and thrive. It dives down from 100’s of feet, deploys its steely talons and then swoops in to deftly pluck an unsuspecting fish straight from the water. I don’t know for sure. Maybe the fish suspected a little. I mean sometimes a fish might feel a little dangerous and decide to swim close to the surface knowing it might not be a good idea. Just like we humans sometimes thrill to having unprotected sex with strangers – at least from what I’ve read.   


When a Bald Eagle calls up its cable service provider, there is no button to press for Eaglish and so they’re already at a disadvantage. They have to navigate the phone tree  with their poorly adapted steely talons. And they soon find that what was so adaptable for fish-plucking is not quite so handy when it comes to channel-surfing. I’m told they’d line up in a convocation (that’s what you call a collection of eagles – a convocation) if they could only get the Audubon Channel. But they can’t. And that my friend is why Bald Eagles have so much money – they don’t have cable. They’re completely off the grid just like we all were until some smartypants decided it might be better to stay put and begin hunting and gathering. This eventually led to Stonhenge and then Toyota Sales Events. Funny world.


Did you know Bald Eagles are piscivirous; meaning they eat primarily fish? If the Bald Eagle’s divinely aerobatic food-procuring adaptation isn’t enough to make you believe in magic, I don’t know what is. There is no app for dive-bombing a salmon. The Bald Eagle just does it and is paid nothing.


Scene IV

I’ve Seen Life from Both Sides Now

There are some things I simply won’t discuss with other people: my afterhours kidney dialysis parties, my butter-cream frosting cleanses and lastly, my sneakers. I’ve always contended that the ideal sneaker configuration happens about 2 weeks into breaking–in the new pair. Through a process of stomping, proper lacing and tongue pulling (the sneaker’s not mine), I’m able to take the sneaker on and off using only my feet. The sneaker’s laces will sometimes remain tied for the duration. That is until their donated to Goodwill or tossed in the trash after stepping in dog sh*t or on a copy of the National Review.


I always enjoyed the smugness of certain euphemisms like Nike calling a simple sneaker; a shoe. Or the way an uneducated gun takes an AP class and suddenly it becomes an astute firearm. No one buys a used car any more. You purchase a pre-owned vehicle. Renaming things imbues them with a classier cachet or an elevated sense of what it’s pretending to be. Sometimes it doesn’t work though – like calling Doctor Dre a physician or Yoo-hoo a beverage.

Scene V

A Broken Trust

Did you ever notice that in the earliest Seinfelds, Jerry had a different father? Then the new father showed up and nobody said anything. That’s when I realized it was just a TV show and not real.

I should’ve known though. This happened before. ABC pulled this same stunt in 1969 by switching the 2 Darrins on Bewitched. But how long am I supposed to keep my defenses up? It’s no way to live.


Scene VI

The Price of Stardom

I believe it is derogatory to refer to Mariah Carey as Mimi. She should be called by a proper name that befits her stature – Miss Big Tits. She really advertises those things now. It’s gotten to the point that when she’s introduced on talk shows they simply say, “And now, here they are – Mariah Carey.”


Scene VII

The Need for More Consideration of Me

If there were no such thing as Lookie Loos or Rubberneckers, I’d have back 38 hours of my life.

“Oh so that’s what a rear quarter panel dent looks like on a 2010 Toyota Camry,” she thought as she crept by the accident at 2 mph.


Scene VIII


When Def Leppard’s drummer lost his left arm in a car crash I think they should’ve changed their name to Not-so-Def Leppard or maybe 3-Pawed Leppard.


Halftime: Nothing to see here folks. Keep it moving. No Lookie Loos. No rubbernecking. Let people get on with their lives.


Scene IX

On the Perils of Aging

Screw expensive cosmetic surgery. I’m just going to get laminated. I’ll be like a neatly pressed flower every day. Of course I’ll have to deal with a 2-dimensional face and FES (Flat Esophagus Syndrome), but won’t my skin look great.


Scene X

Phantom of the…

I have this friend who lost an arm (no, not the Def Leppard drummer) and now he thinks he’s real smart. And the thing is, he’s not. But he pontificates like a professor. I tried to convince him it was just a misplaced sympathetic response. That instead of experiencing phantom pain where his arm used to be, he was now experiencing phantom intelligence where his brain should be. It’s true. If he was a car, his idiot light would be on.

Anyway. He got pissed off by my observation and the upshot is that now I have to trim my nose hair.

This is probably a good thing. Who wants an angry one-armed guy wielding scissors near your nostrils?  


Scene XI

Less than Trifling Minutia (if that’s even possible)

Fully 90% of salt shakers are top loaders. The remaining 10% are bottom loaders and fully 90% of those are one-piece ceramic salt shakers. These salient facts were also referenced in Mrs. Winchester’s will as criteria for divvying-up her collection of heirloom salt shakers among her nieces. Rumor has it she also divvied-up her heirloom tomatoes – but with a knife, and ate them with a fork.


Scene XII

Double Reverse Psychology

I told my daughter: “Until the pouting stops the stuffed animals will continue.”


Then my know-it-all wife chimes in with, “Michael, we don’t have a daughter.”


“Then who is this little red-headed girl with pigtails I’m talking to,” I countered.


“It’s your stuffed Wendy’s mascot doll. You’ve got to stop collecting these things Michael,” she admonished.


“OK, I will. But only if you’ll tell me who Michael is. I’m Steve dear,” I said, thereby showing her who’s really living in an imaginary world.


Scene XIII

Admission of Mental Slippage

In the last 4 months I’ve twice left my grocery cart to grab something, then returned to it and continued shopping. About a minute later I hear a lady say, “Sir, sir, I believe that’s my cart.”

It’s understandable though. I mean what were the chances we were both buying Kaopectate and Ex-Lax on the same day. It’s confusing. Sometimes I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.


Scene XIV

The Greater Good

It has often been said by responsible people (the kind who clean their dryer’s lint trap every time they do a load) that if I was a public works project I’d still be surrounded by cones. Now, I’ve always thought of myself as a work in progress but this is ridiculous. The upside of this incompleteness is that I give really good cone.


Which brings me to my second point. Why is it that PG&E or other service vans must place an orange cone or two near their parked company vehicles? Are their vans radioactive or tainted with anthrax? C’mon now. These work vans are benignly parked at a curb like a million other vehicles. They pose no greater danger than Mrs. Hoopsh*t’s 2014 Dodge Caravan that will occupy the same spot an hour later? She’s the one who should be coned. And not only when she parks, but when she drives! In fact, I have it on good authority that she sometimes skips one or two loads before cleaning out her lint trap (if ya know what I mean ;-). Oh, c’mon. I’m talking about the one in her dryer.   


This type of forced vehicular cone-age is probably the result of litigation or maybe intensive lobbying efforts from the Orange Traffic Cone Manufacturers’ Association. Lobbying is a filthy business and they’re not one to air their dirty laundry in public although I’m told you wouldn’t want to see what’s in their lint traps either.


Scene XV

An Aaah Haaa Moment

With my windshield wipers on warp factor 8 and thumping away so violently they look like bad Claymation, I find myself driving down a bumpy highway on a rain-swept night. I’m a little stressed-out by the circumstances; and if not white-knuckled then I’m certainly pink-knuckled. But because I’m familiar with these conditions, the anxiety of the situation doesn’t fully register. That is until I unexpectedly hit a smooth patch of newly paved road under the protection of a welcoming bridge. Suddenly everything becomes quiet and peaceful. The rain stops. The pavement is like carpet and I think: “Man, this is sweet. I could get used to this.”


Then I have my aaah haaa moment. I recognize that this is what death must be like once we cross over. Where captious background circumstances disappear and the majesty hits you like a deafening silence or with jarring clarity – one of those deals. And as you revel in this newfound rapture you realize:

Aaah Haaa. I was putting up with all that sh*t and I didn’t even know it. I was so immersed in my predicament I never knew the difference and didn’t realize existence could be this good. Jesus. Death is sweet. It’s like life, but without the stupidity and fear. No rain. No triglycerides. No “Breaking News.” It’s just bad ass serenity – I’ve got to tell the others.


But it’s no wonder happy, disembodied spirits aren’t allowed back to earth to describe the joys of crossing over. The multitude of preoccupied earthbound creatures (us) couldn’t deal with it. If undocumented ghostly souls were allowed back in to convey the august riches of the afterlife, everyone here would opt out of this well-intentioned extravaganza and there’d be no one left to genetically modify the plants or be intolerant of lactose. You see what I’m saying? The show would have to close and the promoters would lose everything and since they control the theater, that’s not going to happen. And they’re certainly not going to allow no-name understudies to fill all the abandoned choice parts. No, there’s something greater at work here that my poor pen (my laptop actually) can’t describe.  


Instead of unvarnished truth, I’m trying to convey a rose-tinted truth by looking into a mirror and describing the murky shadows I see on a Lo-Definition screen that may or may not represent what in the hell is actually happening in the first place. Poor, poor pitiful me. Not really. The game is fun as long as you’re not in pain or taking it too seriously.


A cautionary aside as to why souls are not allowed to return in spirit form to advertise the prized kingdom in the after world:

There was once a very cool guy who came back to tell us all about the treasures of the afterlife (the many rooms in his father’s house) and look what happened to him. Maybe I better shut up and collect my pension before people rally around me like I know something and somehow appoint me their leader. Maybe I’ll “go viral.” I do have an infectious personality so it wouldn’t be impossible for me to go viral. Better cool it. Forget I even said anything about how “must-see” death is. What do I know? I bought Enron stock at $90.


And to think this entire scene was generated as a result of passing under a bridge in a rainstorm. Imagine how overawed my insights would be if I was inspired by scripture, love or LSD? There isn’t a font known to man that could contain those magisterial sentiments. OK maybe in Lucida Calligraphy font, but that’s it.

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