If someone told me that I was being lied to on a daily basis by various people, organizations, signage, and advertising, my knee-jerk reaction is no thanks, I'd rather have the truth. Nobody wants to find out they've been tricked. But every day we are bombarded by white lies that I for one am happy to keep. The truth is no one wants to find out they've been tricked, but the tricking often isn't the problem - the finding out is.
Example: I recently saw an article that said that the oscars are not about awarding cinematic accomplishments, but about controlling our view of cinema - basically that the oscars always has an agenda, and apparently this year it's awarding young stars in hopes of elevating them to the level of more mature performers. I have no problem with that on an ethical level, but I wasn't pleased to see the article because I liked living in a world where the Oscars give out awards to the best people, period. I suppose I like living in a world of absolutes.
Take another example: I used to work in a bookstore that displayed the top 40 bestsellers for the store each week. For a while I always assumed that they were the top 40 bestsellers, until I saw the process for choosing the bestsellers. That's right, choosing. Again, I think the ethics in this situation were sound. All the books we listed in the top 40 were at least in the top 50 or 60, but some books got bumped off the list - for example, if a book was assigned for a class, so lots of students came in that week and bought it, it might be bumped off the list since those sales weren't a true reflection of the book's popularity. Also, books that were already extremely popular across the nation, and on the trashy side, were taken off the list because the bookstore didn't need or want to promote them. By omitting these books, some local or less well known books that had done well but were only #48 or #56 would get the opportunity to be promoted by the store - and isn't that what best seller lists are for? To help you discover something popular that you hadn't heard of? The top 40 was never literally the top 40 best selling books, but it was close enough, and I think the customers of that store were living in a happier world with the revised top 40 of solid recommendations.
This tradition of white lies to preserve a more optimistic view of the world extends to personal relationships of course. We all know the rule about complimenting friends and lovers and saying the dress doesn't make her look fat or whatever. But the lies even go as deep as our feelings for each other, and I'm okay with that. If you find yourself in a relationship that lasts longer than 2 months, chances are great that you won't feel the love every day as intensely as you did those first days. You may find that you love your partner about 6 days of the week, and spend a solid day or so feeling neutral about them, or bored, or even not thinking about them. What a sad thought, right? That's why it's another example of a truth I'd rather do without, and be happier pretending it isn't so.
I'm reading Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists. About halfway through the book, two characters are debating whether or not everyone's actions are selfishly motivated, that maybe good people are only good because they want to feel like good people, and that counts as a self-centered motivation. Within this discussion, one character asks the other, "So why do you kiss someone? To give pleasure or to take it?"
I wasn't planning on thinking about this point for very long. I was almost satisfied with simply thinking, "aw, snap!" and moving on to the next paragraph, but then my brain switched on because the posed question is a combination of two of my favorite things: critical thinking and mushy romantic shit.
At first it seemed shamefully obvious that the answer was the latter. I kiss because I want to. We all kiss because we want the erotic pleasure of our mouth on another's mouth (or other body part). So we kiss to take pleasure. But with only a little more thought, it becomes clear that A) there are other ways of kissing besides erotically, almost all of which are to express love, be it romantic, friendly, of familial, and B) even with erotic kissing, a kiss cannot truly be be enjoyed without the kissee deriving pleasure from the kiss as well (unless one is sadistic, and for our purposes we are assuming one is not)--in fact, it is the same in case A; love is not so well expressed or enjoyed if it is not mutual. And it is only in unfortunate circumstances (or, I suppose, circumstances of prostitution) that one is kissing for the purpose of giving pleasure, but not to receive it (we'll file such circumstances, along with sadism, under "things we will ignore for our purposes).
So, unlike so many other things in life, kissing falls under the category of mutual give and take, a perfect example of an act that (except for those few circumstances we are ignoring) breaks open the "selflessness is selfish" argument.* It can only be properly executed by both parties simultaneously wanting to give and accept the gift of physical intimacy. And if your mind is mechanical in the same way mine is, you can see that a kiss is the definition of love. Cue "The Shoop Shoop Song." **
* Devil's advocates: I'm sure if you wanted to debate this with me, we could. Heck, I could debate this with me. But in the end, kissing is awesome, so shuddap.
** Actually, I will cue "The Shoop Shoop Song," because it's an awesome song. Here:
I've (co)written my first obituary - not something one wants to have to do, but nonetheless I considered it an honor.
R. Sherwin Drury, 91, of 112 Stuart Ave., died in his sleep Sunday evening, Aug. 9, in his home after a short illness, surrounded by family. Before his death, Sherwin wrote the following notes contributing to his own obituary:
“He was born at home at 790 Main St. in North Leominster to parents Ralph S. and Florence M. (Farnsworth) Drury, January 9, 1918. He attended Leominster schools through high school class of 1936 and graduated in 1941 from Brown University in Providence, RI. Shortly after graduating, he was drafted, however his stay in the army lasted only nine months because of asthma.
He worked for 40 years at the former Simonds Saw and Steel Co., mostly as a cost estimator in the office of the Fitchburg plant. He was a fourth generation member of the First Church in Leominster Unitarian Universalist. Always very interested in his family genealogy and in local history, he was chairman of the historical committee of his church and produced a 250th anniversary book for it in 1993, plus a troop 1 of Leominster Boy Scout history book. He was formerly a member of the Planning Board of the City of Leominster and for many years has been a member and secretary of the City of Leominster Historical Commission.
He went on to become historian for the City of Leominster Historical Commission, where he was a member for 30 years, until his death. He was instrumental and a contributor toward the 2006 publication of Combing Through Leominster’s History, the first history book of Leominster since 1850. One particular interest was in the history of the Houghton family of Leominster, and of the renaming of North Main St. to Houghton St. in 1874. In 2008 the square at the corner of Main St. and North Main St. was named Houghton Square, and a dedication was held this May to honor the efforts made by Mr. Drury.
Mr. Drury was a unique and beloved man who lived his life, to the very end, with intent and particular attention to detail - in his conversations, his actions, and even his wardrobe. He loved music particularly the big band era. He was always excited to try anything new, whether a new gadget or an interesting food. He was proud to be a life-long republican. Most important to him were the members of his family and the history each is creating. As he said recently while reflecting upon his life, “I am proud of all the things I have done.”
He is survived by three daughters, Ann Drury of Leominster, Judy D. Young of Glover, VT, and Barbara Drury of Westminster, MA; two grandchildren, Sherwin A. Young and Emily J. Young, both of Portland, ME, a cousin Florence “Buddy” (Enholm)Tainter of Leominster, a brother-in-law William Hart Jr. and his wife Mavis of Hanover, NH as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Doris M. Drury, in 2003 and his sister, Jane Graffagnino, of Columbus, GA, earlier this year.
I'm tired of everyone hating on Valentine's Day. I think it gets complained about even more than Columbus Day - now there is a holiday worth hating. Most common reasons to hate Valentine's Day include being single or claiming it as a made up holiday. For those who favor the latter: come on, what holiday isn't made up? This is a ridiculous argument. As for being single, yeah, it can be a drag, but Valentine's Day is a celebration of love, right? I can't think of a more appropriate thing to celebrate than love, arguably the best thing anyone can have. And so what if you're single - love your friends, family, etc. Celebrate unrequited love, because even unrequited love is kind of worth it. Besides, I see plenty of people celebrating St. Patrick's day that aren't Irish. Celebrate St. Patty's if you like drinking and the color green. Celebrate Valentine's Day if you like chocolate and love.
Yes, Emily, but you have a boyfriend, you might say. This will be the fifth year (no, not in a row) that I haven't been single on Valentine's Day. That's 5 out of, say, 12 years that I would care about dating/ not dating people on Valentine's - less than half - and I've still enjoyed Valentine's Day every year. Besides, I'm pretty sure Vincent is in the non-Valentine liking club. I don't know. I'm not really that fired up about it, so I'll keep this short-ish and sweet:
Love is really awesome guys, and you know it and you should stop pretending like you don't love love, just shut up and enjoy it. It deserves a day of recognition. No, I don't mean you have to go buy pink heart-shaped things. Forget the consumerism end, just bask in whatever love you have.