Thursday, September 13, 2007

Labor Day

3.9.2007—Labor Day

Hot again, almost 80 at 800 and I’m only three miles from the ocean. Quiet, too; usually the exit door to the street two floors beneath me starts slamming (needs to be adjusted) at 430, continuing until I get up at 630. But today is a holiday.

Ironic that we still celebrate Labor Day at a time when unions are at their lowest ebb in this country, thanks to Reagan and the Bush Dynasty. Unions were, are, always will be socialist in their design and purpose: a living wage and decent conditions for repetitive, normal work that needs to be done, thereby guaranteeing the existence of a middle class. In my youth, I was a member of the Teamsters and the Steelworkers union and was glad for both. They had to ask me to work two eight-hour shifts in a row and I could refuse. If I assented, I got paid time-and-a-half for the second shift, disability insurance if I got injured on the job and could no longer work. The unions did that, along with guaranteeing us two 15-minute breaks in the shift, as well as 45 minutes for lunch. “The Union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah . . . “ Everybody sing. Dickens sure did—that’s what Christmas Carol was all about, along with another of his that I can’t recall at the moment. And in Carol, Scrooge was the middle class, not Cratchett. The latter was at the bottom of the economic heap. No health insurance for his boy, either.


Re-reading parts of Life Before Death by my friend Larry Meredith: whew! What a writer. This man is a genius cloaked in the humility and humor of East Texas. You’d never know just by meeting him briefly. You gotta be there awhile, wait for him to down several Dr. Peppers, get rolling. Or go to a football game with him. But reading his book is to be undertaken seriously, even though his humor slips up on you:

“When men want to be in control, they rape. When they want pleasure, they allow themselves to be controlled. Just ask President Clinton.”

See? Told you. Pick up a copy. Available from Humanics Publishing. I am honored by his reference to me in his Acknowledgements: . . . “and William Dehning, whose neurons fire in harmonic convergence of music, sport, and ectomorphic id.”

He sure has me pegged, especially the id part. My therapist would certainly agree, even though not a fan of Freud (what an odd name for such a dour man—German for “joy.”) I’m not proud of that—it has caused many who have loved me much pain, including myself, who still manages to love me, despite all, though it ain’t easy at times. Since my separation from my wife of over 40 years, for which I was the active agent and the proximate cause, I have had a lot of time to consider my 50% of that upheaval and am beginning to forgive myself. That ain’t easy, either. Many, many former friends have found it to be utterly impossible and have written me off without a word, putting 100% of it all on me, which is their privilege. Even my daughters have a problem with it from time to time, while acknowledging that I was a wonderful father.

But that’s all I’m going to say on the topic of hurting, therapy, divorce, and id, at least mine. You want more, read John Updike’s Rabbit books, you get plenty of that, plus much more, including far more biting social commentary than I could ever summon, acerbic, skeptical and observant as I am. I have always avoided disappointment by viewing the cup half empty. I think I will now try pursuing pleasure (that’s for you, Larry) by living Life before I Die, by practicing what I preach and enjoying the rehearsal more than the performance. Except life ain’t no rehearsal, is it? It’s the Game. So I’ll concentrate on the game, try to enjoy that. Concentrate on the hoop, enjoy the shot.

Scoreboard be damned. Ain’t no scoreboard in life. Is God the Referee calling fouls?

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