Anybody remember the group C+C Music Factory from back in the early 90s? They weren’t around for long, but they had a number of hits off their first album, including one called “Things That Make You Go Hmm…” Don’t know it? Here, have a listen before reading on.
[I’m pretty sure I had a minor crush on the female singer back in the day. Hey, I was a hormone-addled 14-year-old. Sue me.]
As I go through this crazy life, I find a lot of things that make me go “hmm.” Mostly these are silly thoughts. Pointless ponderings. But when my mind gets going, it tends to ruminate on a topic indefinitely, like a catchy-yet-undesirable song that gets stuck in my head and repeats itself over and over. What follows is a few of the random things that make me go “hmm.” I may make this a semi-regular essay as I come up with more. We’ll see. But, for now, these are the items stuck in my craw, so without further ado…
Milking a Cow – This week I’ve been listening to an audiobook on my way to work. It’s called Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King, a collection of four novellas. The first novella, entitled “1922,” has a farmer as the main character. In it, he’s talking about his chores, one of which involves milking his cows. The scene got me thinking about a longtime “hmm” for me: who was the first dude that looked at a cow and thought, “I’m not only going to milk this thing, but I’m going to drink what comes out”? And, after drinking whole milk straight from the teat and finding it to be awful, took it one step further and said, “This is gross, but I’ll find a way to make this taste better and preserve it”? I try to envision being the trailblazer on this, going to the village square and singing the praises of taking milk from a cow and drinking it, then trying to convince others to follow suit. Was that person hailed as a genius? Was he labeled a freak? And how did this become so socially acceptable that no one gives it any thought these days? Odds are if I came to your house, saw that your feline was nursing kittens, and took it upon myself to suckle her dry that I’d never be invited back again…yet if I finished the last bit of milk from the carton in your fridge we could still be friends afterward.
[Straight from the tap.]
Curse Words – Has there ever been anyone throughout the history of time who has had more influence on people than the committee that decided which words are acceptable and which words are curses? If you’re a religious person, there’s God. His Word has stood the test of time, no doubt about it. I’ll give you God as being at the top of the list. But that committee? The one that decided “flower” is pretty and “shit” is not? It’s number two on the list, with a bullet. I won’t even listen to any arguments to the contrary. I would give anything, ANYTHING, to learn how these decisions were made and what the reasoning was. The instances that really cause me to lose sleep are words that can be both acceptable *and* vulgar. Take “cock,” for instance. A cock can be a rooster (good!) or a synonym for penis (bad, bad, bad). Cock can be used in words that sound more vulgar than the base word – such as “cockfighting” and “cocksure” – but you won’t be looked down upon for using them despite their dirty connotation. And why are people who use the word “cock” looked down upon in the first place? Somehow I exude ignorance if I say “cock,” but I’m more intelligent and refined if I use the proper scientific word of “penis?”
[Probably not a good idea to click on this if you don’t like the F-word or are in a crowded place. Otherwise, enjoy.]
Our Fingers – How did the way we hold and fold our fingers come to have any meaning whatsoever? Must have been a subcommittee of the aforementioned Curse Committee (prudish bastards that they were). I mean, some of it I get. Holding up your pointer finger to signify “one,” whether while ordering something or proclaiming a win, seems to be universally agreed upon. But how did the middle finger become so reviled in our culture? What did it do to deserve such condemnation? If I sit down at teatime, lift the cup to my mouth and extend my pinky finger, well, I’m the model of good manners and prissy behavior. But if I find the tea to be too cold for my liking and extend the middle finger, then I’m rude and assholish. What? Why?! As an aside, I’m about to publish a new essay in the Journal of Family Affairs in which I posit that the reason for rampant divorce these days isn’t because of changing morals or people marrying too soon or financial issues or spouses having affairs, but rather that the ring finger sits so damned close to the middle finger. Couples’ rings are in such close proximity to that nasty digit that relationships don’t stand a chance of surviving. I can’t believe it took people so long to figure out that if they just cut off those two middle fingers, they’ll live in wedded bliss for the rest of their lives! You’re welcome, world.
[If Mister Rogers isn’t afraid to talk about middle fingers, then it must be OK.]
Boy oh boy, I could keep channeling my inner George Carlin all day, but I’ll give it a rest for now. Like I said, this may become a semi-regular thing. My mind is always churning. I’m sure there’s no association to my brain’s inane machinations and the headaches I get. Eh, whatever. Who’d want to be struggling over a cure for cancer when I can worry about teats, am I right?!
Until we meet again…