RUDIMENTS, pt. 9
In my own little way, I think I was
a fairly normal kid, Avenel version,
anyway. Never had much; whatever
I did get I had to make sense of on
my own. My breeding was pretty poor,
no special 'knowledge' of anything
was in my house - poor study habits,
lack of intellectual industry. The most
basic level of things kept us going:
entertainment, TV, school. I did all
I could to answer to myself, and anything
deeper than Choco-Crisp or Fruit Loops
I had to dig into on my own, an in my
own ways - [Actually, a weird note
on that one cereal name. It always
confused me. All by Kellogs, there
were 'Cocoa Krispies,' 'Choco Krispis,'
and 'Coco Pops.' Hard to figure.] -
And I did. I always reasoned that if,
say, a regular 'rich' kid with good habits
and proper upbringing and all that, started
out at like number '25', for his course of
life, I began at about 'minus 18.' That
was a lot to make up. I never got there;
just went crazy instead. Art and education
crazy, but it was all in my own way.
There's a name for that, and it's
nothing that has any great reputation
either. Someone called me it once.
'Autodidact,' I think it was. Nothing to
do with cars, maybe more with didacticism.
Anyway, I thought it was a little nervy, for
someone to say that, but it rolled right off
me. It's true enough, I suppose, but it bugs
me to think that part of being well-off
enough to do all that endless right-schooling
and crap is to assume you're better than
others because of it and then to compound
that assumption by truly thinking that it all
makes a difference anyway. It doesn't. When
you're a crud, you're a crud. The rest is all
smoke and mirrors, and who wants to piss
away good money on that. For prestige?
For station? For not knowing how to turn
a screw on a fire-hose later on? (The other
thing was, actually, I had gone on to
'schooling', in various levels too; they were
just too stupid to realize it because all they
cared for were allegiances and initials).
One good thing that came from all that,
as I saw it anyway, was that I could see
bullshit coming a mile away. Part of
being in my station of life was always
that I could yell back at this stuff and
no one would really mind : 'Oh, that's
just how 'they' are' - meaning my kind
of Avenel-level creep. Or I supposed
anyway. Rich people, with all their
proper this and that stuff, they can never
do such things. For the sake of propriety,
dining after the regatta and all that, they
have to stay proper and never blurt out
any real opinions or things. Everything's
by the invisible book, to get things done,
make connections, make the money, advance
the family - even if it means like selling off
your sister to the latest son of the Whitney-
Burnside-Evans mob. Funny how it was
that later in life I ended up for 8 or 9 years
in good old Princeton NJ, where the rich
even sweat rich sweat. A totally different
enclave of a world, and if I had to tell
you about it, you'd never believe me. But
I will, sometime. A lot of those people,
anyway, come from 'other' places to get
there. But they never let on, you just have
to watch, carefully, and it all comes out.
One thing that really got my gourd was the
sort of 'assumptions' that were made. That
worked both ways, actually, because for
the time I was in Princeton a lot of the
people just assumed I was 'one of them.'
Pretty funny how one can sometimes pass,
or almost. All it takes is a nice sweater,
maybe, and good leather shoes. Something
like John Howard Griffin, in his book,
'Black Like Me.' Let's use a for instance : the
phrase 'Final Arrangements.' Whenever I'd
see that in a funeral ad, my red-alert would go
off. The funeral-industry, from way back, is
one of the nastiest and most lobbied industries
there is. 'Final Arrangements?' Final for who?
Certainly not for the dead person, he's already
dead. What they call 'arrangements' is just
really a 'deal, whereby you give them, say,
six thousand dollars, and they give you their
hole in the ground and the rest - all of which
you have no choice over because their
lobbying groups have long ago made it certain
that you cannot be laid out at home, can't even
die there most of the time, and certainly cannot
be buried in your yard. It's all been government-
mandated, pushed along by their lobbying groups,
that this huge scam gets to work you over. 'Final'
Arrangements' for what it's worth should be
called final 'deal.' You don't 'arrange' that stuff,
you just live with it. Or die with it anyway. No
one ever called it out, for what it is - extortion.
Yet when people go to historic hamlets and houses
and all, and see the little tiny graveyards on the
grounds they ooh and aah and get all sweet and
bothered about the wonderful old days.
Without really saying it, when a funeral guy
starts babbling on about all this, with his
stupid starched-shirt degree in Funerology,
what he's subliminally saying is that you've
been suckered your entire life and now, for the
sake of the captive stiff we have in a box in our
cooler, your 'final arrangement' for that person
is to get suckered one last (more) time, for their
(?) benefit. How can that be?
Another one was 'Last Rites.' That was a
Catholic conceit anyway; I don't know about
other religions. It's also called, for whatever
bizarre reason 'Extreme Unction.' Unction?
What gives. I had last rites performed (yes,
they say that, 'performed') on me, twice. I
was told so anyway - at the train accident,
once at the scene and again a few weeks later
when the coma episode wasn't going too well.
Anyway, I know what they mean to say by it
all (it's all a load of crap nonetheless), and it's
probably harmless, but it's so 'churchy' for them
to just assume that you 'go through' these sorts
of church things your entire life, the 'rites' - and
that, here, at the very end, they'll just pop over
and give you one last set of 'rites, by their own
determining, to guide you over to the other side.
Collection basket, please.
I've always believed that people should - in
order to live rightly and with strength believe
in the total rightness of their cause. Whatever it
is. I guess this is an example of it.
More on that point later.