Belaboring the Obvious

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Parables of Ill Influence

Decades ago, someone I knew in graduate school would regale me and others with tales of two brothers from his childhood who, over their growing up years, seemed to be in constant trouble. The older brother was actually the instigator of trouble and was always getting his younger brother into great difficulty (quite the opposite of conventional wisdom, which always says--at least in film and television--that the older brother is always trying to keep the younger ones out of trouble), and yet, the younger brother followed the older everywhere he went. They were seemingly inseparable.

Seen in the context of the events alone, they were moderately tragic, but with a few beers, they were hilarious. The older brother once pushed the younger into a cesspool and the unfortunate sibling had taken in a large quantity of raw sewage in his attempts to surface. He ended up in the hospital with cholera and a couple of other waste-borne diseases.

Then, on another occasion, the older dared the younger to drink a quart of vinegar. Naturally, the kid went into acidosis and spent a few more days in the hospital.

When they were a bit older, perhaps twelve and eight, they were playing at some abandoned old factory or gasworks they had been told not to go near. The older climbed a fixed utility ladder up a wall and his little brother followed him. At some point many feet off the ground, the older put his foot-and much of his weight--on the younger's head below him, "just to see what happened." Physics being what they are, the kid went off the ladder and landed on his head on the concrete below. Upon seeing the great amount of blood pouring from his brother's head, the older brother panicked and dragged his younger brother home to see if he could stop the bleeding.

As with most head wounds, it didn't stop easily, so, the older brother got needle and thread and scissors from his mother's sewing basket, plunked his brother down in a chair at the kitchen table, hacked off clumps of his brother's hair and proceeded to sew up the gaping split in his brother's scalp. And, needless to say, this eventually meant another trip to the hospital to repair the damage.

Let us not forget that Dick Cheney, despite looking like Caligula's grandpa, or, at best, the archetypal pasty-faced old fart, is just a few years older than Dubya....


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