The Supposed Troubles of Jonah Scrimshaw

Ignorance is bliss…if you’re dumb.

Jonah Scrimshaw was never too keen on the whole earthly model of “Born, live and die.” It sounded too much like a rejected state motto. He resented being subject to the karma of a world he neither asked to be born into, nor had any say in how it was run. Revolutionary thinking? Hardly. It was simply the old Colonial quarrel of “No taxation without representation,” whereby the King (God) taxes us from afar as he sees fit, and we the people (souls) have no vote (influence) on how our fate is determined. As Jonah considered the implications of this argument, his heart raced, his mood soured and he developed a supremely unhip outbreak of jazz hands. Then he thought, “Maybe it would be better if I didn’t drink a 4-pak of Red Bull so close to bed.”

Jonah abhorred the downside of anything and much preferred the giddy thrill of pleasantly residing deep within one of God’s near-flung kingdoms where butter was always at the right temperature. Spreadability was important to him whether it was in the butter he ate or the women he dated. More discerning than he really needed to be, whenever music was playing he’d volunteer to anyone who’d listen, “I’m so vain. I probably think this song is about me.” Against a backdrop of crushing self-consciousness and a condition his pediatrician diagnosed as “Lazy Scrotum,” he soldiered on and did his level best to live both a productive and an examined life.  

He found the accommodations of life maddeningly vexatious. Something as pleasant as going to the movies became a chore when the author had to write “Scrimshaw saw “Shawshank Redemption.” Even as a fictional character you were too aware of him. Jonah railed against nutritional labels on water bottles; explaining to anyone who’d listen, “There is no nutrition to label. It’s water!!! And yes, I purposely said that with 3 exclamation points.” He was suspicious of high altitude cooking instructions too, finding them just another form of government intrusion (How do they know what altitude I live at?). In fact, he’d sometimes undercook his dinner just to try and fool them. But mainly he despised always having to breathe. Inhale exhale. So predictable. Inhale exhale. Alright we get it! It was like he had a gun to his head. Breathe or you die. There was no choice. Much of the process was controlled by involuntary muscles and that galled him. To Jonah, respiration was like being on suicide watch all the time. Big Brother was watching. The seeds of this belief were planted long ago when he would shadow his mother around the house looking for validation. Finally his exasperated mother would turn on him and beseech “Jonah! I’m so aware of you.” And this was when he was in his early thirties. Awareness is usually a good thing, but unchecked it can hinder us as we try to navigate “the collective hunch” known as reality.

Despairing beyond measure, Jonah complained that even something as awesome as orgasm involved some amount of clean up. Like most spiritual midgets (I mean “spiritual little people”) he wanted transparency. He found it hypocritical that one could see through air, but one couldn’t see what people were really thinking. It was always blacked out or, if you were a lawyer, it was always redacted. He wanted to avoid the inconvenience of the earthly paradigm and live in a world where everything had new car smell and comb overs were stylish. More importantly he was really, really hoping accommodations would be made so he could test out of Earth and be skipped ahead to an AP (Advanced Placement) universe more suited to his level of awareness. In his ideal world there wouldn’t be a need for the song “Don’t Stop Believing.” There wouldn’t be anything to not believe in. There would be no downside to anything and worry would be that thing kept in a jar by the door.

He did not Suffer Himself Gladly. In fact…

Jonah had a plan to shed the angst he wore like a protective coat and to achieve some degree of cosmic consciousness. His plan was simple. To rid his world of idle worrying and fashionable gloom he would become a more agreeable person. That was it! And through a process involving fermented blackstrap molasses and mindless chanting, Jonah achieved his goal of soothing agreeability. But there was a price to pay, as there always is in this world. As he became more agreeable, his thumbs became less opposable. Oh cursed karma. Somehow his thumbs took their cue from his sunny personality and lost their grip on reality. They would no longer oppose themselves. This made it difficult to drive and almost impossible to masturbate (so I’m told).The only way he could grip a wheel was to generate great hostility thereby causing his thumbs to once again oppose themselves. And to masturbate all he had to do was watch FOX News. When Jonah was unable to grip his steering wheel anymore, he’d call himself a cab; usually in a quiet way unassuming way so no one would hear him. Jonah is a cab.”

The Back Story Replete with Jokes

The Scrimshaw’s were a geneticist’s Holy Grail. Instead of a genetic code featuring double helixes of uniquely patterned nucleobases, they had inelegant strands of binary code randomly flapping in the nucleus. For better or worse they saw the world as a series of ones and zeroes. They were either on or they were off. The Scrimshaw’s manifested one of two emotional states – the imperturbability of the Roadrunner or the freneticism of Wile E. Coyote. Nothing in between. This poster family for genetic mutations also suffered from an uncommon malady known as Up’s Syndrome, whose symptoms included extremely round eyes, crisp enunciation, dexterous motor skills and of course, weakened opposable thumbs.

For purposes of this story, they lived in an old Sears kit house not far from old Eartha Kitt’s house. At one Thanksgiving gathering, Deacon Grunty tells the assembled throng, “Costco had these really big turkeys…” Jonah interrupted to say, “Deacon Grunty, you never have to say ‘Costco had these really big turkeys’. Just say ‘Costco had turkeys.’ We know they’re really big.” A visibly indignant Deacon Grunty was taken aback. He later took a leg and some mashed potatoes in addition to a back. Deacon Grunty regained his composure and asked, “Jonah, when you and the missus travel by air, do you fly United?”

“No,” replied Jonah. “Usually we sit side by side.”

A conversation with him was like trying to whistle and smile at the same time or sneeze and keep your eyes open. As the Thanksgiving dinner proceeded things become disjointed. Jonah’s mother, the former Prudence Goodwyfe, secreted herself into a darkened corner where she held an intimate conversation with the gravy boat, which, due to her ministrations, soon became self-aware and steamed to the table under its own power. In the distance the reassuring voice of Bing Crosby begins to croon, “I’m Dreaming of a Brown Thanksgiving. Just like the one at Louis Armstrong’s” At this point confusion is rampant. Pervasiveness is rampant, gravity is everywhere and a collective realization occurs whereby the Scrimshaw’s sense that the Roadrunner is in mortal danger. They urgently text him, “Roadrunner, the Coyote’s after you. Roadrunner, if he catches you you’re through.”

The Quinn Martin Epilogue

It was then Jonah had his milk-left-in-the-trunk-moment, causing him to exclaim: “I understand that all things must come to an end, but I was really hoping they’d come to a conclusion instead.”

“Get a grip on yourself son,” his mother pleaded.

“I can’t mom,” he explained. “My thumbs aren’t opposable right now.”

“Oh, Jesus Jonah,” his mother sighed. “I’m so aware of you.” 

“Well if I don’t toot my own horn,” he offered, “things will never come to a conclusion.”

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