Being Shy of Perfect Isn’t Fatal

Harry Drabik

A personal story will always fall short of fitting all situations; is short of having universal application. Out here on the fringes of Reader Land I often wonder if anything I say about the Fish Pic or other local entertainments will mean much outside the circles of a few thousand living on the North Shore periphery. A much larger number of readers will grasp words about Hillary or Trump than will get value from Fish Pic observations. But on the other paw quaintness of the Fish Pic can be an engaging plus and less overall depressing than anything I can think to say of either the Big H or Oversize T. (Secretly I favor locking the duo in a vault deep under Fort Knox and then losing the key, but slow starvation in uncongenial company seems too kind a fate compared to one winning and the other losing top spot in the Grand National Gamble.)
In a way it’s funny that I’d fret any over applicability when out there are so very many who at the get go assume that any small thing that strikes their pretty fancy has universal value as something grand and worthy of broad worshipful allegiance. A universal solution or program has charms for its creator that just can’t be replaced by pragmatism or real experience. A grand ideal plays better than a careful analysis. I used to feel bad about that, but then I realized that electing people with grand ideals to high office might keep them from doing more damage to ordinary folk. The caution might be; the loftier the ideal the more distant it should be kept. There is safety in distance, especially when a grand idea bombs.
Any case, being (I hope) more spiritual than religious it seemed a natural course of action for me to look at what some people call sin as potentially in individual’s special gift area. Philandery, as example, is a serious breach of the spousal contract, and no doubt raises hell with commitment and loyalty. But you’d have to acknowledge that a devout philanderer spreads graces and cheer in places it wouldn’t otherwise go. A thing may not be very good, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. In some cases what’s “sin” (or a mistake) for one person might be fairly OK for another. But as Herrs’ Hitler and Goebbels said before the start of WW II; the reasonableness of others was their greatest weapon. I don’t think anything is as simple as Grand Ideas wish and that trying to make things unified in simplicity is a good way to provoke either chaos or tyranny because either the simplicity unravels to tatters on its own or is held together by every greater codes and practices needed to keep it.
Looked at from askew (don’t underestimate the value of the askance) the utility of nice and or peaceful might not be all the mind is told it is cracked up to be. If you demand bland diet in society then it is a perfectly fine broth. But if you want any chicken in your soup a bird must die; its life ending in bloody processing machines that turn a cackle into dead bird quicker than you can say pa-kaw. We sit decorously at the lunch table where it is easy as pie to forget the gore necessary for chicken to get into soup or how many bug parts got entangled in the wheat turned flour for noodles. The processes and facts of life are often messy affairs, more so for the philanderer.
But before I’m out of room I have to head back to the personal story. It’s one I think of often because of the consequences I was supposed to suffer as a lifelong burden being deprived of self-esteem by an adult having power and high standing in my life. When (as I did so often) I drifted aimlessly into the “shop” my grandfather would eventually take note, look up from the lathe and say in a heavily accented outburst “Good for shit and nothing, get out of here!” Spotted and put in my place, I’d skedaddle until the next opportunity.
When I tell this story of assault on my personal esteem I’m usually met with horrified looks accusing my grandfather of abuse. When I add that the old man drank beer more often than coffee or water that info seems to confirm the scenario of drunken abuse. Well, I hope those who think that way will get over it because I sure have. My Grandpa had his way (rough, loud, and thoroughly crusty) of shagging me out of the shop, a place I knew I wasn’t to go without permission OR when work was underway. It was dangerous. Watching the spot welder would harm the eyes. Spalls of sharp steel flew off the big lathe or shot from the milling machine. The shop was not a play area. I knew this. Grandpa (Ja-Ja) Drabik kicked my skinny butt out of there with a wordy kick in the behind I well deserved and needed. I was attracted to the danger of sneaking into the shop to creep around and watch until I got caught. Then out I’d go with the same unflattering string of words damning my self-esteem to “shit and nothing.”
If my grandfather wanted to really harm my sense of self and of worth he’d have wrapped me in bubble wrap and marshmallow crème so I’d be safe, and happy, and functionally useless and unrealistic about what to expect. His manner of dealing with a ten year old “child” may be too crude as seen today, but he was running a machine and not babysitting so maybe the moralizing isn’t as valid as supposed. Was it a cruel and heartless drunk who sent his grandson scooting with harsh words nipping his heels as he fled? Nope. He was not a monster nor was he perfect. He was what he was and I loved every part of sneaking in, getting caught, and running for my life in feigned distress. I’m glad I learned the face of love can also be whiskery and harsh.