friendship

Let us all be Friends, and WET OUR PANTS

I love children.

People say that children are our future, which is why I asked my two kids what next week’s lottery numbers would be. Neither of them answered. Well, I don’t think either one did. My youngest responded with a screech and ran to the bathroom where she immediately started peeing, but I couldn’t think of how that would relate to the Powerball.

My point is that children know a lot of stuff that we don’t. Things that perhaps we once knew but have been lost in the misty mists of time. Things like how to go to the bathroom in front of large groups of people. In our underwear. Or how to utterly decimate a room in less than the time it takes for a person to remove the key from an open front door after coming home from a long day of errands. Or even how to be friends.

What? you say. Friends? I can be friends.

Maybe so. But not like kids. My daughter, for example, is known to yell out loudly, “Hey, let’s be friends!” to people passing by up to 3.2 miles away. Not only that, but she keeps doing it until the object of her attention turns around, acknowledges her, and responds in the affirmative. She then lets us know that she has a new best friend, and is euphoric, until the next stranger passes by…at which time she repeats the process and a new new best friend is born. Kids can get away with that, and it’s really amazing. I tried something similar recently, but all I got for my trouble was a couple of very strange looks and a restraining order.

Fine, maybe I shouldn’t have followed the person all the way home, then danced around the house screaming “Be my friend!” at the top of my lungs. But I figured that was what my youngest would have done. I even tried to wet myself, on the off chance that would contribute to the cuteness of the overall scene, but all I managed to do was make some very interesting faces while standing very still. Which just made it that much easier for the police to slap cuffs on me.

See what I’m saying? Kids know how to make friends. Wouldn’t it be cool if the leaders of nations were able to do the same thing? Can you just picture the President meeting with the head of some nation we’re afraid of/don’t like/have it in for, and instead of the two of the world leaders posturing, they both hug, ask “Do you want to play?” and then wet their pants?

Okay, the pants-wetting part is optional. It would probably just confuse things if right after asking “Do you want to play?” the two men’s mommies had to come up with a change of pants. But still, you see where I’m going, right?

When do we lose this ability to make instant, life-long connections? I think it probably happens the first time we go to school and one of the bigger kids comes over and bullies us, which instantly changes our perspective. That’s why I’m advocating that all kids older than me be locked up somewhere. I’d like to be the oldest kid on Kid Island. That would not only make it easier for me to conquer the rest of the kids, but would also make it so that we could all be friends. Because I’d make it a rule that we had to be friends. Or die. I’m a kind and wise ruler like that.

Maybe that’s what we need. Maybe we need a police state (yes, I know, some people think we’re already there…just pretend you don’t think that for purposes of this essay). And instead of it being a police state that is interested in proving that you “don’t belong” or that you’re an “enemy combatant” or that you “are ugly” (thanks, home town, for passing the Anti-Michaelbrent Ordinance of ’06), this would be a police state that exists solely to require that we make friendsies with someone new every single day.

I think that would be cool.

Government Guy: Do you have your papers?

Me: What papers?

GG: Your papers proving you have made a friend today, signed by said friend?

Me: Yes, yes, they’re right here.

GG: Good. Your papers seem to be in order. Lucky thing, or we would have thrown you in our jail for political prisoners.

The jail would be, of course, a bounce house full of cranky people who would have to stay in said bounce house until they had been “reeducated” (aka “learned not to be cranky”). If that didn’t work, the next level of reeducation would be to be immersed in a vat of tiny, cute kitties until you gave in and laughed.

I think that day is coming. I think we’re close to a time where that kind of law gets passed. If for no other reason than if you let an infinite number of monkeys type for an infinite time, one of them would eventually end up writing the entire works of William Shakespeare. We have fewer monkeys (aka “Congresspeople”), and our monkeys have only been working on their typewriters (aka “Writing bills”) for just over two hundred years, but you still have to admit that it’s statistically bound to happen at some point.

So go out. Make a friend. Meet someone on the street. Smile.

It’s going to be a law soon anyway. You might as well.

Posted by mbc@writteninsomnia.com in Life Advice

Faith and Obscenely Large Pickles

I think it’s okay to be afraid of certain things. Like tsunamis, or terrorists, or those people who buy giant pickles at amusement parks.

But it seems like fear is overpowering so many of us these days. I went for a ride in a car the other day. It wasn’t my car; I didn’t even know the fellah (“fellah” is a cool word) who gave me a ride. I was out of gas, and he took me from the gas station (where I paid enough money for a gas can to balance the federal deficit) back to my car.

My wife was practically in tears by the time I got back. Worried about me. And this is from a woman who regularly does daring things like watching horror movies and homeschooling. You know, fearless.

So when did fear become such a part of our lives? When did things become bad enough that we had to worry about taking a five block ride with a stranger? Who DOES make those pickles, and how do they find such big cucumbers?

These are the questions that drive men mad. I think they make women fidgety, too, but I can’t be sure about that. ‘Cause I’m a dude.

Anywho, I wonder sometimes if there is a way to combat the fear that lives around us all the time. I think part of the problem is that to be less afraid, we have to invite more people to help us. Of course, if we let them help us, that almost always leaves them in a position to hurt us, too. And it’s hard to let someone into a position where they might hurt us if we’re scared of them. And we get scared of them because we have no good experiences to balance our bad fears. Viscious cycle. Sort of like the “Hellspin” setting on my washing machine.

What’s the answer, then? How to overcome the fear? How to let people in?

Faith, I guess. Faith that people are better than we fear. Faith to get back up after someone knocks us down. Faith that someday all the giant pickles in the world will be extinct like the dodo bird and MC Hammer’s career.

I like the idea of having faith in people. It makes me all fuzzy inside. But the good kind of fuzzy. Teddy bear fuzzy, not “Hey how long has this pizza been in the fridge?” fuzzy. I like the idea of believing in people, and believing in their infinite ability to be good.

But how can I do that? you ask. How can I believe in the goodness of people when the news is so full of stories of people being evil to one another? SOMEONE has to make those evil pickles, right?

That’s the ten billion dollar question. I don’t know the answer. I suppose the best we can do is be like kids. Not the part where they wet their pants, or where they pick their noses and eat it. No, I’m talking about the ability to be in the moment. Ask what they’re afraid of, and you’ll probably get some answer like “spiders” or “the dark” or “big pickles.” But only when they’re IN the dark, or when they’re NEAR a spider, or when they SEE a big pickle. Ask what they’re afraid of when they’re playing in the sandbox, and you’ll likely get either a “Huh?” or get invited to leave by two husky kids with earpieces and whose toy plastic shovels have decidedly sharp edges.

Kids are afraid, sure. But most of them don’t let the fear cripple them the way adults do. Deal with the fear, then move on. (Or, in the case of my daughter, get someone ELSE to deal with her fear so she can move on that much quicker… I’m not sure if this means she is a great delegator or the spawn of the Evil One, and I’m not sure I want to.)

I think next time I get hurt, I’m going to try to take it like a kid. Meaning that instead of holding onto the thing that hurts me, adding it to my fear like some kind of psychic boulder that I’ll then have to carry around for eternity, I’m going to knock that boulder into sand and play. I’m going to do my darndest to forget the hurt and get to the fun. I’m going to toss away thoughts of big pickles and focus instead on the churros of life.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, other than to say that churros are really good, even if a bit overpriced. And also, let’s be more childlike in our deeds. Let’s pick our noses and eat it. Let’s poop in our pants and not be embarrassed about it.

Let’s make friends as though nothing bad has ever happened to us.

Let’s play like there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Let’s love like only people worthy of that love exist.

Let’s not let fear take us out of the sandbox.

Posted by mbc@writteninsomnia.com in Life Advice