please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ad Astra Per Aspera

It is the season again where the salmon head home. They battle hundreds of miles upstream to spawn and die, and hanging around the pools where they do so is always of interest.
There's a place in Washington state simply called Salmon Falls, where you can stand there all day and just watch them jump up and over. In a few weeks, woodland pools all over the place around here will be filled with the white skin and bones of happy, deceased fish. They've gone and seen the bigger world, went home to do what they ought, died.
Just went to see the movie "Elizabethtown" this evening. It tries to be too many things. Love story, mediation on the importance of family, love letter to America...Filled with lots of awful generalizations about location, and what it does to people.
The movie opens with a typical aerial shot of Portland. Our protagonist is on his way to the headquarters of an international shoe company, where he is about to be fired by (Alec Baldwin, it turns out, playing the role he almost always plays these days). Then he finds out that his dad has died.
Dad died in Kentucky, and son is from the Northwest, see, and doesn't understand Emotion, and the Importance of Family, and How to Have Fun, since he's not from the South, which his stereotyped relatives are, and...
Aw, I hate that shit. I've met folks from all over, since I live in the city everyone else moves to. Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast. All of them have their charm, all have their flaws, however deep, and all seem to somehow seem people, regardless of the inherent greatness of wherever it is they are from.
One of my favorite people in the neighborhood right now is from Kansas. I have yet to meet a Kansan who spends all their time away from home crowing about how wonderful Kansas is. A Kansan trait? I wonder.
And I hate the Northwest/Southeast dichodomy worst of all. I have known (and dated) enough people from the south to know this drill, and was well over it before I saw this stupid movie. Yes yes; "Y'all are too mellow out here on the coast, y'don't say what y'really mean, and you can't barbecue for shit..."
Yup. And if I ever move to the Carolinas-by choice-and spend all my time bitching about how awful Atlantic salmon is (and it is), I give full permission for someone to shoot me in the head.
Far more importantly though: what passes for behaving in a lady-like manner down south has always struck me as a giant lie. As far as I've noticed, it just comes down to an extremely ritualized passive aggression, where you eviscerate others with your words, Charming Hostess smile fixed in place the whole damn time. I hate it.
But even though we say what we mean out here, do we really? Are we also just passive aggressive, and worse, are too used to letting folks make asses out of themselves so we don't have to do it for them? We put on a guise of tolerance so we don't have to deal with the inherent pretty pet hatreds everyone has? Or we actually try to work through it like adults, and don't just start shouting the minute someone decides to get honest?
I dunno. Like I said during my four years of exile in an undesirable place (Washington state), nativism and territorialism are always the enemy. Wait; no I didn't. I got so sick of people shit talking Oregon that I sang the praises of this, the greatest of the lower 48, often, and reminded the pasty, depressive mean people I lived around (and dated) that they didn't know shit.
At least part of what makes people around here what they are is good old Scandihoovian stoicism. We've seen how nasty it can get, and don't abide a whiner. We also view you as deeply suspect if you seem to be trying a little too hard to be friendly, as opposed to actually being that way. This is why we dislike Californians.
Funny thing is, around the time when my ancestors settled on the north coast, the Klan around there seems to have been a buncha Norwegians. They kept on telling my Finnish great-grandfather not to let the sun set on his...Yeah, I know: They all were white. And they all hated each other. Bloodthirsty and stupid, and all speaking (with the exception of the Finns) roughly the same language.
Old Finn saying: "On the gallows, the first night is the longest". This pretty much right there sums up their world view. It's a nod to Norse mythology on one hand (for reasons I'm not going to get into here), and on the other, it wisely posits that perhaps the truly happy ones don't expect too much. Then at least you're surprised when good things actually happen.
The movie also touched on a lot of themes of familial responsibility, a can of worms which I'm not even certain I can even pull the top off of. There is an old friend of my father's (and grandfather's) who tends to show up to Thanksgiving dinner, gets drunk and starts berating me for not fulfilling my historical duty as a Bachelor and becoming a journalist. Last time he did it, he was drunk on the bottle of whiskey that I had brought.
"Hey Rich! Gimme some more o' that...Mooker's Make, or Marker's..." he said.
"No George, you drank all that," I said, and looked at my grandmother. To her I said, "I've never been a bartender, but I know how to cut people off." Truth is, I still had some Maker's Mark, and it was mine, dammit.
I think I need to head East tomorrow, settle things a bit with some family members. I might come back with a full report, or I might just keep it to myself. The Lady MacBeth is in Georgia attending a wedding, and I have her car, so I can. Maybe I'll just get outta town, which I love doing, as you all know.
But above all else, I sense that some heavy responsibility is coming my way soon, and I want to be ready, know what I'm getting myself in for.
Lady MacBeth's last boyfriend (of the last ten years!) never would get out of the damn car and come into the airport to greet her, whenever she was fresh off the plane from Maryland (wher she is originally from, though she considers herself an Iowa girl), or wherever. He considered his role to be the one that circled the airport in ever-increasingly angry circles, ultimately blaming her for the plane being late, or whatever. I assured her that I won't be doing that. I'll park the car in Short Term like a real gentleman would, and greet her with hugs and kisses, as is only right and proper.
She credited me the other evening with giving her the best airport kiss she's ever received.

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6 Comments:

Blogger jgaoehals14962 said...

Rich,
I've responded to your post over at my site.
Blessings

4:25 PM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Alas, for the moment, I'm out of words. Just wanted to visit. Charming, well-written, interesting, witty. I could go on and on. You KNOW what you are...

Who won that damn lottery!

6:36 AM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

What am I again, Ms. Jacqueline?

7:04 PM  
Blogger Jacq said...

You are my HERO... ;P

5:45 AM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Er...RB is my hero...

5:45 AM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Oh, you removed that karate dude from here. Good for you!

11:40 AM  

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