Saturday, April 16, 2005


Reminds me of that old Mug root beer commercial: a room full of vikings all chanting "Mug! Mug! Mug!" Realizing that one viking isn't chanting, his fellow turns to him and says, "Why aren't you singing our drinking song?" The viking replies mournfully, "I don't know the words." Then the chanting continues "Mug! Mug! Mug!"

I think that story explains everything, as good stories do.

At my poetry workshop today, F. Selma and Rebecca's Mom (not their real names) really liked my most recent piece. The assignment was to write an insult poem. So. perfect. One of the other girls in the class, who I don't have a nickname for, seemed embarassed about composing a great tart kiss-off about her ex-girlfriend. I had no such scruples.

I do worry sometimes that I don't have enough morals. This despite a thorough religious education which included daily prayer in school, so don't get all christian right on my ass. Some things never seemed wrong to me. Lying, for example: for many years, I thought lying was a perfectly acceptable way of communicating, just another way of stringing words together. Nowadays I'm much more fond of the truth, but who knows whether the pendulum will swing again in several years. Even with my fondness for truth, I believe the importance of Telling a Good Story supersedes any silly loyalty to What Actually Happened.

Certainly I have enough morals to know certain things are wrong. Killing, raping, stealing, waging war, refusing to fill legitimate medical prescriptions, mixing stripes and plaids, selling your children into slavery, overcharging for smoothies in SoHo, making of fun of someone when that person is within earshot. (In Rabbinics class, we learned that humiliating someone in public is almost as bad as murdering them.) Me, I don't murder, and I try not to humiliate. I've never so much as shoplifted. I jaywalk with pleasure but that's different: this is New York City, after all. The blind jaywalk. People jaywalk with infants in strollers.

At what point do you realize your moral system needs a tune-up? And how do you effect that change? Food for thought.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I don't know if you have a current dilemma, but I know you you can ask:

Andrew Ironwood said...

One of my cardinal rules has ever been that 'the good story' *always* beats 'reality' (except maybe when you're talking to a health care professional, of course, of course...)