Archive for May 25th, 2011


old coots’ club

Yesterday a group of dead old coots welcomed me into their society: “The Northern Sonoran Desert Eccentrics.” Their notification from the other side of the veil was delivered through my friend Emmett, the son of their leader.

“My dad, the guy holding the Moses’ staff, would want me to bestow membership on you; no dues will be collected, as all members are deemed to have already paid their dues in one form or another,” said Emmett’s e-mail…

…adding that he would have sent this notification as a comment to yesterday’s post except he couldn’t figure out how to upload the picture. (Hell, I don’t know how to do it either in the comments. I need a 10-year-old to show me how.)

If you’ll put yourself in my position, you know a guy who works on parricides all day has to think twice whenever anyone compares him to their dad. But based on past evidence of Emmett’s admiration for his father I could only regard it as the highest compliment. I take it seriously. Thank you, Emmett.

Anyway, I do want to thank the Academy for this honor… but to tell you the truth, I don’t quite know what to think of it. I live in the Chihuahuan Desert, not the Sonoran, and I’m not dead yet.

Also, it’s unclear whether Emmett is in actual communication with these dead old coots, or if he is the last living member of their club. Emmett never did specifically claim to have the powers of a spirit medium; he  just may be a closeted eccentric himself. Workdays he’s an attorney who speaks to large groups of judges and other lawyers. Emmett  owns a lot of neckties.

Either way he’s authorized to have conferred the membership. So it’s official.

I’m a harmless old coot.

Emmett said the thing that put me over the top in my audition was sailing through the checkpoint with an exaggerated waive by the cops; “Such a waive is a demonstration by the cops to you and the world that you are a bona fide weirdo, they know it, and are broadcasting as much to the world,” he said.

“The benefit of such a broadcast is that there is no interest or reason in stopping you because you are liable to launch into some sort of diatribe that is not offensive in tone but simply irrelevant to their TAH [task at hand]; and also because they fear that you might smell as they are uncertain of your bathing habits.”

Emmett is a helluva analyst, don’t you think? He also offered some “continuing education” suggestions for technical refinements based on the club members’ collective wisdom. (Being a cardholder does have its benefits.)

“You will be waived through checkpoints throughout the Big Bend as your ability to radiate ‘simply harmless’ grows. It’s the next best thing to being completely invisible; in fact, once you become ‘simply harmless’ even a bag of weed on your dashboard won’t get you into trouble because they won’t notice it,” he said.

I like the way this guy thinks. He’s got the Jedi thing down pat.

Emmett also warned me about the Kaczynski Effect. “Be careful not to become too reclusive as it arouses suspicion. Best way to put a damper on possible Kaczynski projections is to speak to anyone at any time who will listen to you, especially cops. Next time you see a roadblock, head straight for it as though it was a surprise party being thrown in your honor. Nothing like hiding out in the wide-open.”

Emmett should be my lawyer. He gets it. His advice could keep me out of jail.

Emmett said something that has got me to thinking: “All of those guys were driving before insurance was compulsory, including Orville who never drove nothing but his mule.”  

Old coots remember what it was like before the governmental authority began encroaching on our personal freedoms.

They know nonsense when they see it and can shun it off… maybe even getting away with operating only within the constraints of what we know to be common sense, regardless of whatever some gerrymandered law might say.

The main thing is to avoid friction and conflict. Conflict will only draw unwanted attention.

Yet avoiding conflict does become more difficult when the authorities begin working at cross-purposes with things into which you’re investing your limited time and energy. If you will read Val’s comment to yesterday’s post, you’ll see a good case in point.

I’m trying to encourage Val to invest himself in our particular dot on the map, and the Sheriff’s deputies are creating an environment hostile to young people like him. Patrick so wants to see things in a certain way he can literally smell it. If he knew Val as I do, the thought of making a pot bust would never have entered his mind, much less his nostrils.

We need bright, hard-working, ethical young people to invest themselves in this place and its traditions. What the deputies are doing with their authority here is bad politics and bad economic development. Plus it’s incompetent community policing, which is based on knowing people on your beat and working in friendlier, more informal, and more effective ways.

As a harmless old coot I have learned to sideslip the thorns by denying authority its power. The young, however, cannot avoid the lacerations so easily. They have a greater tendency to defy authority, which creates friction, which unfortunately creates more intrusion and contraindicated heavy-handed policing.

(Or, in a place like this, when they’re old enough the young people simply move away to someplace else where they can become lost in a crowd and explore their limits. It’s usually the best and the brightest who leave first.)

I’m an old coot. I can see it all.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Brad Paisley performing “Mr. Policeman”