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Do This, Don't Do That, Can't You Read the Signs?
Join Me for Some Reflections on Life
“Signs, Everywhere, there's signs Blocking.
out the scenery Breaking. my mind Do.
this Don't! do that Can't! you read the signs?”
My thanks to the Five Man Electric Band for that introduction.
The song, “Signs,” was, of course, a metaphor about a person spending their life following instructions and being told what to do, rather than living free and easy, which is what the Eagles wanted us to do.
Welcome to the mind of a writer. I was sitting at my desk this morning, minding my own business, when that song popped into my head. No sooner had it done its popping thing than reflections followed, reflections about the structured way most of us live our lives
I know all about structure. In fact, for me it is a matter of life and death.
A bit dramatic you say? Allow me to explain.
I am an alcoholic. For me, the most dangerous real estate in the world is the six inches of property between my ears. I call that area the “Danger Zone.” I have had to learn the hard way over the years that I need structure to keep my mind from wondering, because once my mind is left to its own devices, I can make a typhoon out of a glass of water.
And then all hell breaks loose for Bill.
So I live a structured life. Up every day at the same time; in bed every night at the same time. I do quite a few things each day on schedule and rarely deviate from that schedule. Luckily I am married to an understanding woman who allows this to happen. Many have tried to change me with disastrous results.
Anyway, today we are going to take a trip on the wild side. I’ll use a little free-form writing to delve a little deeper into the lyrics of the song “Signs.” I hope you enjoy the journey as much as the destination. And for those of you unfamiliar with free-form writing, please, don’t tell me in a note about some grammatical error. I fully intend to break a few rules of grammar in this article.
Pop Goes the Weasel
Out the birth canal we go, slimy, slippery as a greased pig, pop goes the weasel into waiting arms, wash us off, dry us off, and thus the journey begins. Mommy and daddy, loving eyes, loving words, protecting us against all dangers. Must not do that, they say, baby will get hurt and those owies can pain you something fierce. No, no, darling, don’t touch that. No, no, darling, don’t go near that. Come over here and play, close to mommy, that’s a boy, now, isn’t that better? Well no, mom, it really isn’t. There’s a lot of fun in them thar hills, if you’d only let me crawl over there but damn, mom don’t speak no baby talk and I just can’t get her to understand.
I know what I’ll do….I’ll scream. Screaming’s good…screaming gets results. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but screaming is always good for a reaction, and a reaction means I’m being heard, so here goes…..WHAAAAAAAAA!
Hush now baby, don’t you cry, mommy is here and everything will be all right, so we hush, and we whimper, and sleep envelopes us in our new womb of blissful rest.
And the Years March On
Wear your helmet, Billy, and not so fast, Billy, and if you trip you’ll skin your knee, remember the last time, Billy, it wasn’t so fun, was it now? Well no, the skinning wasn’t much fun, but man alive I felt alive, the window blowing through my hair and me fast as a scorched rabbit, defying the odds while risking it all for one rush, one mind-blowing journey on the wild side of life.
Gotta go to school now and get my smarts, learn it all now son, be smart now son, do the homework now son. Get with the program, learn those times tables, conjugate those verbs, diagram those sentences, make us proud, Bill, make us proud, and don’t forget to wipe your feet when you come home. Be home straightaway from school, don’t you be dilly-dallying with your friends, dinner is at six and don’t be late, mom worked hard over the stove in her dress and high heels, cooking and slaving so you could eat better than those starving kids in Africa, and for God’s sake say your prayers at bedtime, don’t you be forgetting your maker now hear me, son?
Them’s new clothes now, Bill, so take care of them and no roughhousing. For the love of God, would you act your age? You’re getting older now, son, and you can’t be acting like some five year old. What will the neighbors say if they see you acting like some damn clown? Tuck in your shirt and comb your hair, then go mow that lawn. If you want to play then you gotta pay. That’s the way it is in life, so might as well learn that lesson now.
The last ringing of the last bell, and it’s out of school we go and hooray, hooray, the last day of May of the last year of book learning, now let’s get out there and be a fully-functioning adult in a poorly functioning society. Make your mark, Bill, tote that barge and lift that bale, and always, always pay those taxes on time. A man don’t shirk responsibilities and it’s high time you learn that, so be a good little soldier and go get a job and start contributing to the economy, a good little worker bee among millions of such bees, all looking for a piece of the action.
Nine to five, suck it up and pay more dues, and if you’re lucky you’ll retire a few years before your body gives out, and won’t that be a miracle?
Green means go and read means stop, and don’t forget that caution color, and caution is the word of the day, the week, the month and the year, careful where you step cuz you don’t want to be stomping on another man’s toes, or stealing his thunder, and thunder means lightning and sparks like the sparks when a man meets a woman, kissy kissy, I do, I do, marriage license in hand and a bun in the oven.
Now you’ve really got to work, Bill, you are now part of the system, two kids, two cars, debt crushing you down and the only answer is to keep working, keep working, keep working. Make those payments on time, be at work on time, make love not war on time, your whole damn life is now a punch clock, clock in, clock out, day in, day out, marching to the tune of suburbia and the endless drudgery of a self-imposed prison.
This is your new home now Bill, don’t you love it now Bill, we think you’ll be very comfortable now Bill. Meals are served at nine, twelve, and six, every day, the schedule is posted on that wall over there, but if you forget we’ll have someone come and get you for each meal. Don’t worry, now, everything will be taken care of for you, just sit back and relax, watch that soap opera and don’t forget to wear those slippers while in the building, because our staff works real hard to keep things neat and clean and we don’t need no scuff marks.
Oh no, Bill, you can’t go for a walk by yourself. That just wouldn’t do. What if you got lost. No, no my friend, we’ll have someone come get you when it’s time for exercise. Just look out that window now and everything will be all right. These rules are to protect you, don’t you see that, don’t you comprehend that? Of course you do, so be a good soldier and just let us do our jobs the way they are supposed to be done.
There, there, now, everything will be all right.
A Note from the Author
Hey, that would be me. I hope you enjoyed the journey through the Land of Signs. Come back real soon now. Feel free to drop by any old time. I promise not to make you follow any rules during your visit.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)