Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Americans don't dislike wealthy people; they want to be wealthy people."

Great line from Senator John McCain who is one of my heroes though I'm not sure I could bring myself to vote for him for President. Reminds me of rock and roll variants on the same topic, some by Randy Newman ('It's Money that I Love' and 'Land of Dreams'), Barrett Strong's 'Money (That's What I Want)' (penned by Berry Gordy, founder of Motown) and countless others but to me, the larger point the Senator is making is we want to emulate those whom we perceive as more successful than ourselves and become, in turn, examples for others (and so turns the great wheel).

I'm slowing going bald (with apologies to Canada's Rush). I'm working on developing a comb over the likes of which will make Trump jealous. Why? Because he has a killer 'do and zero other desirable attributes. Who among us wouldn't want to be one Zevon's Werewolves of London, drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's with perfect hair?

We counsel our children to not be jealous of the child next door and her new bedroom set or his new bicycle but we watch the child's parent drive up in a new car/van/truck/crossover (what the heck is a 'crossover'? From what to what? Is it a vehicular transvestite?) and our jaws drop and our eyes water. Ich auch, me too-I want one of those.

It's part of what makes us human, envy. And, anecdote time, it may not just be us. I feed squirrels at my house and from the window of where I work. It's my chance to be an imitation of God.....just arbitrarily intervening in these little creatures' lives on random occasions for my own reasons and then withdrawing as quickly as I came. At times, at the house, I've actually gotten the squirrels to overcome their natural fear and caution and take a peanut from my hand (at those moments, as they waver and hesitate but move forward, always forward, towards the peanut, I flash on the realization that squirrels are, basically, rats with longer, bushier tales and better press clippings).
Some years ago, when I'd keep the peanuts in the right front pocket of my dungarees, we had one squirrel who'd climb up the trouser leg, like I was some form of skin-covered dispenser, to try to get at them.

My point is when I throw peanuts out for squirrels, one will attempt to bully all the others, as if to say 'these are mine, go get your own.' These are creatures who lack pockets and who have a tough time taking more than one peanut at a time. I mention that because it seems to me once a squirrel has a peanut in his/her mouth, the physical danger he/she then presents to another squirrel as he/she runs at them is minimal. He/she cannot bite them, right? On my street that's called 'lack of a credible threat'.

And conversely, no matter how many peanuts are on the ground and regardless of how many squirrels are present, one squirrel takes a nut and scampers off to do whatever squirrels do with their food, and sure enough another squirrel chases the first one. What is that all about? There's plenty of peanuts for all. 'No,' says the second squirrel, 'I want THAT peanut and no other. I didn't travel all the way from Arizona with my friend, Bullwinkle, to get pipped at the post, you bumbling, balding bi-ped. And what have you done with Boris and Natasha?
-bill kenny

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