Monday, August 11, 2008

Meltdown in New Orleans

Po-boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
The Ides of March
Careful With That Axe, Eugene
And as Caesar was being stabbed, he turned to his best friend and uttered these immortal words: “Et Tu. Brutus?” To which Brutus replied: “No man, I ain’t et nuthin!”----------So much for Southern humor.
We all know about humor, you know, “laughter is the best medicine”? All of us, from time to time have that friend from ‘afar place’ (ashes on their feet?) submitting for our enjoyment an email of their latest laugh. Blond jokes: “I hate M&Ms; they’re so hard to peel!” Religious jokes: “A priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into this bordello…” or “Did you hear the one about the nun and the horny monkey?”
Or the (usually inebriated) genie and the three wishes gone wrong: “Yeah, you didn’t wish for a million ducks, and I didn’t ask for a twelve inch pianist!”
Humor, as defined, comes in categories i.e. irony, incongruity, satire, ridicule and the absurd. Also surprise, exaggeration, defiance, violence and the manipulation of language. The most hurtful of comedy comes from the humor of the human predicaments. Who of us has not had a friend start a conversation with; “stop me if you’ve heard this one…” and then tell you anyway a tale of someone’s misfortune or degradation that they find terribly amusing. Sexual, political and slapstick humor are especially embarrassing to me.
And now we have hurricane humor, sad commentary on the situation of our lives: FEMA, Road Home, our current administration’s (or lack of one) policies and $90,000.00 in somebody’s freezer are all the butt of recent attempts at funny. Chocolate City? The old ‘slip on a banana peel/pie in the face’ gags have been replace with the “did you hear about the guy who got a huge electric bill for his house that blew away in the storm a year and a half ago?” Har, har, hardy friggin’ har!
But what do we have left, what else do we have? I had a visit today from a woman with an unquiet mind. She had her home underwater in the big event, got back into it when she was five months pregnant, developed a fungal infection and miscarried. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had all of her reproductive organs cut out of her, suffered through a nervous breakdown and was the bewilderment of her family and friends. She talked to me; a perfect stranger and we commiserated about how all of us being emotionally, if not physically, scarred deserved, at least, a respected breakdown. Our mantra was identical: “keep busy, keep busy. We won’t heal but we must deal.” She told me that she found humor in telling herself that it was only her reproductive mechanisms. She is going to take up painting again, she’s at school to become a nurse, and did I know where the shop is that might take some of her sewing on consignment?
I stressed to her that she was NOT alone in her condition; a fact that has assuaged my foolish heart on more than a couple of occasions. What do you do when Bunny Matthews’ art can’t bring on a grin.
Did you think that there was anything funny about ‘Comic Relief’? It was kind of sad wasn’t it? I don’t think that humor is going to make things right in our lives, not when jokes do not bring happiness.
My ten year old Labrador was found to be anemic a couple of weeks ago. Now, in a human this is not terribly bad news; however in a canine it is. Subsequently, she was in the dog hospital for eight days before she could be sent home. X-rays, blood transfusions, barium tests, ultra sounds, exploratory surgery, drugs and medicines. Now she is on restrictive physical activity for the next ten days; no jumping, running exercise or long walks. No laughing. She’s lying on pillows at home as I write, she has staples where she was cut open, they look like a zipper up her shaved belly. It is not funny. At this time the core bone marrow samples test results have yet to come back. We have four scenarios to look forward to: fibrosis, a fungal infection, cancer or a miracle. You already know how I feel about that unanswered phone situation at the Bureau Of Happy Endings.
When I come home after a long day, she wags her tail. I hope that’s not considered exercise. Her doctor has allowed her to walk to the closest bar where she likes to hang, one of her many haunts. My sweet companion. When she was in the hospital, it was the longest we have ever been separated and I was sad sad sad. Ten years. I don’t want this to be the year that my dog dies.
However, is it funny that her medical vet is a lot more accessible than mine. Mine being the Military Veterans facility. It takes me two months to get an appointment; it takes Ginger two minutes. It’s also funny that Ginger can get morphine for less than twenty bucks!
My new friend with the ‘Unquiet Mind’ said it was a day and a half before they could get her a bed in the psyche ward. ‘ Sorry Miss, 36 hours before you can have that meltdown”.
These days I need something funny that will lead to healing. At least once a day I have to fight tears. And I don’t need no anti depressants; I need things to get right!
Perhaps there are only a few of us keeping up a good front and nothing more. Perhaps the entire city, after physical, political and infrastructural breakdowns is ready collectively for an emotional rescue, a knight in shining armor. “Hey whatsa matter man, we got some Puerto Rican girls comin’ round the Square that’s just dyin’ to meetcha! We gonna bring a case of wine…we gonna mess and fool around, you know…like we use to!!”
Have I lived in New Orleans all my life? Not yet. Do I remember New Orleans when it wasn’t this gone? Yeah, and in the words of Mick Jagger: “Lord, I miss her”.

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