Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Article

I doubt too many of you have been avoiding cracks in the sidewalk in order to prevent your mother's back from breaking. I know some of you, in fact, probably walk UNDER the ladder on purpose, and may even open your umbrella indoors just for spite.

Often, however, we can get seduced into thinking that some little thing we're doing is buying us some favor, or extra protection, or a spiritual benefits package from God.

My latest article, Fishy Business, concerns the issue of subtle superstition. You can access the article here: Fishy Business. Take a read and let me know what you think.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Blob

There's a new look to Christmas this year, at least all around my city. Here's a sampling of the unique decorations on my very block, in front of the homes of my own neighbors:

These decorative touches were captured in the middle of the day, of course. Occasionally at eventide these characters get full of themselves and enjoy life for a short while, but it doesn't last long. I came by one house the other night just as someone pulled the plug. The magic of Christmas ebbed and hissed out of the Holiday Snow Globe Carousel Featuring Real-Looking Snow, Authentic North Pole Figures and a Musical Merry-Go-Round with Actual Revolving Motion. It sputtered and sagged away until there was nothing left but a Christmas Blob.

It's a dramatic visual for a common problem: Christmas deflation. Christmas takes a lot of work. It's not easy staying bouyant and jolly for days, especially with the guilt-producing demands of family and friends and culture and tradition. It's all great - but it takes a good deal of oxygen.

I've seen people in the malls and in the Walmarts and on the streets who share the same posture and bearing as the Christmas blobs in front yards. Christmas demons have come and taken the wind right out of them, and they've decided there's nothing left for it except to fold into themselves and surrender. So they lay swaddled with good intentions and overwrought conditional love.

There's only one solution to keep from becoming another saggy Santa or pooped penguin: stay plugged into the Power.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Old Quote

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.

Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Coming Out


I've been putting this off too long. I've been in the closet and looking out on the rest of the room through a crack in the door, but I'm getting claustrophobic in here, and my feet are numb, and I can't sit down because it hurts. When I stay in the same position too long, it's really hard to get moving.

Coming out is not easy. I have to admit that my desires and needs are much different than I've let on. I have to come clean with the cold truth. I think it's for the best, and I hope my friends and family will stay by me, support me, and help me. I hope they will forgive me for waiting to reveal the awful reality. I hope that the following will not be a disgraceful, embarrassing revelation, but I don't know how to ensure that it won't.

I've known the truth for a long time, but as life goes on it gets harder and harder to keep up with the lies. Things are happening now, circumstances beyond my control, and keeping this dark secret is getting near impossible. People have become aware of the truth, and I'd rather just come marching out of the closet on my own than be "outed" by some activist organization (we all know who they are).

I am sorry - more sorry than you can ever know - and I wish there was something I could do to change. But I am now convinced it's just not possible. I believe what is true about me is built in, a part of who I really am, sewn into the DNA string that makes Ron Benson. There is really nothing I can do about it. This is the truth about me:

I am getting old.

Linda gave me a haircut recently. I loathe going to a mirror afterwards, not because she does a bad cut - she's a great barber - but because every time my hair is cut I can see patches of bare skin up there. My follicles are mounting a good fight, but they are losing the war, and each skirmish in the battle leaves patches of scrabbly, war-zone scalp, evidence of a complete failure of diplomacy and reason.

Hair lost from my head appears other places. Like my eyebrows. The two strips of untamed agriculture above my eyes seem to have taken on a life of their own. There are weeds growing in there. They are prolific, unmanageable, undisciplined, and LONG. I have to trim them. I thank God they have yet to decide to join in the middle, but I fear, because of the sheer volume, it will happen, and that it won't stop until my forehead is forested, an ugly mass of random, rebellious, wiry hair.

Ah, but it gets worse. There is hair popping out my ears. And my nose. Where will it end!? Will I one day look in the mirror as I'm brushing my teeth and discover a new sprout there along the gum line, or find a fresh GRAY hair growing between taste buds on my tongue? What new place will this curse choose to erupt? My imagination goes wild, and I refuse to put it to print.

(Please skip this paragraph if you are at all squeamish).

I have purchased, and now am forced to use, a "personal hair trimming device." At one point in my life, not that many years ago, I actually had to ask someone what this particular appliance was used for. Now I stick that thing up my nose once a week. It buzzes away, tickling my nostril to the point of sneezing, which is not pretty when you have a razor stuck up in there.

Now I know what "olfactory" is: it's a hair-producing factory for old people.

I thought I was old when the nose hair showed up. But when I trimmed the hair, and it decided to revolt and go ingrown, that's when I started pricing nursing home packages and shopping the web for hot deals on cremations. It's bad enough I've got hair growing out my nose, but now it grows back into my nose, making my proboscis more prominent, red, and bulbous. That's probably why people open doors for me all of a sudden, and offer to get me a motorized shopping cart at Walmart. The "greeter" sees me coming and says, "Look. He's got ingrown nose hair. He's old. Let's everybody be nice to the old guy."

I'm not sure where to go to complain. While I am confident that everything in life has a purpose and that God doesn't make mistakes, I'm at a loss to know what He was thinking when He invented nose hair like this. I know, nose hair helps filter out bad stuff - I'm good with that. But the filtering materials stay in the nostril. The growth now coming out is not filter material, it's twine, rope, braid-able. The last time I used my personal hair trimming device, it strained, smoked, and chortled at the task of slicing down one of these sturdy strands.

They say that if you stay alert and keep learning, you will age more gracefully. I am learning new things everyday. For instance:
  • You can go to the Senior Adult Center in my city and play billiards or cribbage when you're fifty years old. I qualify, and by golly, I'm gonna go. I think they have canasta down there, too.
  • AARP is a recruiting powerhouse.
  • I now know where the term "old fart" originated, but I don't think it's appropriate to talk about it here.
  • You know those little fungi people you see in those commercials? I've got a family of them knocking on the door of one of my toenails.
  • Asking for a "senior discount" is not all that embarrassing once you get used to it.

So, I'm out of the closet. Hope you can still love me. If you see me, be kind. Offer me a chair. Look past the little hair eruptions and find the curmudgeon within. And please clip out the senior-saver coupons for me.