Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Get Me Fig Leaf, Stat!

As it happens---I have no control over it--I'm more interested in looking at naked men than naked women. This concerned me back in the '70s when I thought it was important to be open to any experience, and I thought it was probably a character flaw that I didn't get the same feelings about girls that I did about boys. But after a while you grow up and realize your feelings are nothing more than your feelings, and you're better off being honest about them, and why not drink beer at ten o'clock in the morning? Ha ha! Oh wait, that's a different subject.

Anyhoo, nothing much has changed, and if I'd rather admire David Robinson from behind at the free throw line than watch an ice princess doing triple spatchcocks in flesh-colored Spandex, I've come to accept that about myself. I like the entire human lineup, basically, but I hew more to the masculine form. And not just because most men can pick me up like I'm a tortilla chip. Even so, it's not the genitals that attract me. In fact, I'm not even that interested in looking at the junk.

I mean, it's weird. You've got all this smooth muscle going on and that lovely shoulder form and taut neck and those hairy forearms and the chiseled, um, stern, and then there are all these squishy bits flopping around amidships like a tiny mutiny going on. They've got no control over it at all. Can you even imagine that? I mean, maybe half of you can. It's like there's a whole puppet show going on in your crotch. The underpants are just the curtain. The main character has a face, but it's not a poker face. Nuh-uh. The supporting cast members are bobbing up and down like Muppets in the floodlights. It's nuts! Some of it is nuts.

Well, it's entertaining, but it's goofy. I do find it interesting, and it gets more interesting the closer you examine it--I've found--but that's like turning over a compost pile. You don't know if everything's going to be inert, or if something's going to be wiggling around in there.

But it's not really, if you don't mind my saying so, handsome.

I can well appreciate that men are nervous about what other people are going to think of their sporting equipment, but they shouldn't worry. No matter the proprietor, it's all sort of silly-looking, if endearingly vulnerable. I've got nothing against any of it, at least at the moment. But it's nothing I feel like I need to see.

Which brings us, as everything else does, to the current horrifying state of the world, to situations so appalling that I, like many of you, have had to cut back on my news diet just to keep from wanting to pin myself out for the vultures. We have to walk that fine line between keeping ourselves informed and contemplating slit wrists as a cure for insomnia. It's bleak. But it can get even worse. For the second time in four administrations, we are looking at the real threat that someone, somewhere will tell the press what the President's junk looks like. Lord, have mercy. The powers that be have always wanted to keep us ignorant. Please, please, don't let them stop now.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Support Hamster

I would have been inclined to scoff at the notion of emotional support animals were it not for the example of our cat Tater. Tater is not an emotional support animal herself: she's good company, but we do okay without  her. She's always willing to climb on Dave's lap and grab a knee when he's feeling down, but since she also does it when he's tip top, it feels like a bit of a stretch to claim she's emotionally intuitive, rather than just a little chilly or wants her butt scratched. For a long time we all recognized the guide dogs for the blind as being your prototypical support animal--you can tell them by that furtive apologetic glance they give you that says "You look nice but I'm not allowed to play right now"--but there've been some interesting additions: dogs that clue into blood sugar levels, that detect seizures before they happen, and other amazing things.

Tater is not in that league. But she has a support hamster. Her support hamster is very important to her. It is not a real hamster; it's a stuffed plush hamster. Also, it's not a hamster either, but "support gerbil" sounds ridiculous. Although she'll run after almost any toy you throw for her, she will ignore you completely if you toss her support hamster. It's vital that you not know how special it is. And when she's under stress, which would be every time Dave leaves the house, she starts yowling and picks up her hamster and moves it somewhere else in the house to keep it safe. We guess that's why, anyway. The hamster has been relocated at least once a day for years and there isn't a tooth mark in it.

Around Portland, people have been claiming support dogs for years now, but they don't even have to buy the little vest anymore. Merchants have given up. Dogs get to go anywhere they want to. They can even go on the merchandise and the storekeepers write their Lysol and mops off their taxes. A support dog doesn't have to be a basic Lab or a German Shepherd. He can even live in your purse and guard your Kleenex stash.

We have a neighbor who feels very strongly that her dog, who is outside barking anytime between 4am and midnight, is a support animal. She has pointedly refused offers to help with training or purchase a bark collar and says the barking makes her feel safe. Although the only people likely to be a threat are her sleep-deprived neighbors. There's a dot or two she ain't connecting.

But there are support dogs and support rabbits and now, famously, a support peacock named Dexter who was turned back at the gate by employees of United Airlines, with good reason. You'd have to give a support peacock the middle seat and Aisle and Window would have to vacate every time he got a little peacock boner. (That's just an expression. Peacocks don't have boners but they do get wide when they're inspired.) It's nice to see an airline take a stand on this issue. I used to take our dog Boomer on flights back in the '80s but she snoozed in a crate in cargo. Nowadays she could fly right alongside me as a support animal, but I don't know. Seems like if we had myriad support dogs and support cats and support parakeets sharing the same airplane, and I guess we do, they'd kind of be obligated to bring back the smoking section, wouldn't they?

Anyway, I'm not likely to take advantage of the airlines that way. The critters that really bother me on airplanes are those damned viruses. I'm packing my support bacteria just in case.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

All Night, All Day, Watching Over Me

Here's the thing about birds. They're always doing something you should know about.  They're beautiful, even the ugly ones. They're all over the place. And if you pay attention to them, you will find yourself several notches happier, effortlessly. Besides, they're paying attention to you.

And yet most people pay so little attention to birds that they can't identify more than three or four. Here we are, under constant surveillance, and we're walking around completely oblivious to it, like the birds are Homeland Security or Facebook or something.

So I've advised people over the years to get in the habit of noticing birds. The noticing of birds is its own reward. After a while you're paying more attention to their troubles than your own, which is healthy, and cheering on their social conquests, and whacking neighbor cats on their behalf, and you're getting to know where to look for individual ones and what kind of nest they might be cooking up, and you're driving your car with your head out the window staring straight up, which can get loud and exciting too.

You could see someone special.
I might be amazed now at how unaware people are of what is all around them every day, but I used to be pretty unobservant myself. I remember thirty years ago Dave and I noticed that crows kept flying over the house heading southwest right around beer-thirty. That was the extent of our scrutiny. We didn't know where they were going or if it was just a little group of them going to Book Group in the next block or what. Years later, when we were paying attention and doing a lot more walkabouts, we realized they were going downtown for the night, and they were gathering in big groups, and we did a little research and found out they like to roost together most of the year and only stay in their home trees during nesting season. And we began to admire them more and more. Their roosting place varied. Sometimes it was the south end of town, sometimes north, sometimes midtown. They'd fly around and make a bunch of noise, and we'd be home before they turned in proper.

A lot of people only notice birds when they poop. A while ago a woman wrote a letter to the editor. She'd encountered massive amounts of bird poop on the street and sidewalks and was incensed that the city didn't clean it up more often. Disease! Pestilence! Dry cleaning bills! She was het up. Sugar? You're in a city that owns one snow plow and employs a single pothole dude with a bucket. We aren't going to have a poop removal force. That's what rain is for.

So now I'm constantly watching crows and reading up on them and using words like "tactile rictal bristles" without embarrassment and, in general, thinking I know some stuff. And then my own oblivitude rears its baffled head yet again. I'm downtown for my monthly date with my friend Pat Lichen. I'd walked around a bit in the dark, vaguely taking in an interesting polkadot pattern on the pavement, without giving it much thought. When I meet Pat, she asks if I'd seen the heroic amount of bird poop on the street. Shoot! Of course. Usually when you see a bunch of bird shit it's all in a row under a light post or something, but this was all over evenly, like a Jackson Pollock painting, so it hadn't registered for me. "Don't look up!" I joked.

Learned that lesson more than once.

But we couldn't help it. We looked up. And there, in the dark winter silhouettes of elm branches, for blocks and blocks, with the starry sky beyond, were large black shapes, sleeping crows, thousands of sleeping crows, motionless, presiding over us heedless goofs below with our blathering and our headlights and our traffic and our pointless noise. A soft stratum of feathered life, a blanket over us all. We both knew about the roosts. But we'd never looked up.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Quantum Alchemy

I'm obliged to frequent commentatrix Knittergran for pointing me to the amazing Crystal Light Bed. The Crystal Light Bed allows you to cleanse, balance, and align your energies, and if you go to a reputable dealer, you can even commune with certain curated angels, arranged alphabetically from Ariel to Zadkiel. As these things go, this sounds promising to me, inasmuch as my favorite state of being is horizontal.

The Crystal Light Bed is used by various practitioners around the world although it was invented by someone named John Of God, who sounds plenty qualified to me right there. One such is Kalisa Augustine (Kalisa Of Brooklyn), who, according to her website, uses spiritual technology and quantum alchemy to detoxify and purify the electromagnetic field, and Lord knows somebody needed to do that after all these years of neglect. Quantum alchemy is best left to the most certifiable masters of charlatanism, so it is comforting to note that Kalisa is quite blonde and has a nice set of credentials on her.

The basic idea of the Crystal Light Bed is simple. The client lies down on an ordinary massage table, facing up, and seven quartz crystals are set dangling twelve inches above his seven major chakras, pointy side down. Edgar Allan Poe probably had a bed just like it. The seven chakras are aligned, ideally, at various points along the body's median strip from crotch to bald spot, so the crystals are arranged like track lighting. Oh, they're also lit up with colors that match the accompanying chakra color, and polished with a holy shamwow. I would imagine the array concentrates the mind wonderfully, especially the crystal hovering above the Root Chakra. (Don't bother googling the Root Chakra. You all know perfectly well where that is.)

Ms. Augustine of Brooklyn goes on to explain that a crystal's natural structure is a six-sided prism with a terminated end. You definitely don't want the kind of end that goes on and on. This is not actually accurate with regard to any number of crystals I can think of, but it does describe quartz, so we'll let it go this time. She says crystals share this configuration with water and energy molecules.

[Energy molecules are principally composed of excitement atoms and zest, and remain mysterious to science to this day.]

In a nutshell, Kalisa's crystal bed is a "multisensory, meditative, cleansing experience that takes you into greater realms of depth." In fact, you can't really get much deeper.

I am not by nature wooful, but I accept that I too have at least seven chakras, in the same way I accept that I harbor a spleen, somewhere. I'm not intimate with them. The meridians are the pathways for the qi between the various chakras, as I understand it, and it's important to keep them reamed out so you don't clog your life force. This is all somewhat more challenging for me, because one side of my chest--for the moment, we're going to refer to these as "sides of my chest"--is much bigger than the other side of my chest, and that throws off the meridians, which have to make a little pivot halfway to my brain. In general, any sort of reboot of my spiritual body is going to be problematic, because I haven't even taken it out of the box yet.

They don't have a crystal light bed for every possibility. Some believe there are as many as twelve chakras, and the extraneous ones are located outside of the body. For instance, the galactic chakra (#11) is located just above the solar chakra, somewhere above your head where the lightbulb would be if you had a thought, and allows you to transcend space and time and even access the Akashic Records, the library of all that was ever or will ever be human. This is not as big a deal now since the Akashic Records went digital. The Universal Chakra (#12) is even farther out. Theoretically, with the universal chakra you can achieve enlightenment and operate all your devices at once, but it never works as advertised.

Basically, the 12th chakra is out there with Pluto, and I hope they're having a good time. We're not going to worry about it now. It's not practical to make a Crystal Light Bed for all the chakras that might potentially be found. You'd end up sleeping inside a geode.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Festerive Occasion

I'd just taken my friend Ruth to the doctor's office for a routine appointment. She emerged apologetic. "I know you don't have all day," she said. "But the doctor wants me to get an X-ray. He's hearing something in my chest he doesn't like, and my left arm feels funny."

Ruth is 93, in honkin' good health. I was alarmed. While she was in X-ray, I thought about my other friend who's sick. And my other other friend who's even sicker. Suddenly I felt like I was in danger of being pulled underwater. I decided to call my friend to see how she was faring. My phone didn't work.

That snapped it. I felt tears pushing up. Which is ridiculous. I'm upset because my phone is balky? It's like I'd been jumping from stone to stone over a surging sea and lost it because my socks got wet. Get a grip, dude. Quit feeling sorry for yourself.

That's when I saw the man looming over the horizon and headed my way. There's no one else around. Oh no. He's going to be a talker. I am not ready for a talker.

There's this one old guy over in Dermatology who prowls the waiting room looking for veterans to talk to. He's a Korean War vet and he wants to relive it all day long. He'll talk to me for a little while but neither of us is into it, and after I thankhimforhisservice he's off to find a fresh mark. I went to the dermatologist three widely-spaced times and he was there every one of them. I don't know if you count as homeless if you live in Dermatology.

This other man--I'll call him "Clyde," because that's what the nurse called him--has now wheeled himself over and is pointing at his knee, which is just visible under his belly. He is enormous. Planetary. He explains that he can't walk because his knee is a mess. He gestures at the knee in question with his coffee-cup hand and sloshes coffee onto his sweatsuit.

"They won't give me a new knee until I lose all this weight," he explains cheerfully, "but I can't lose weight if I can't even walk, can I?" He's grinning.

Ruth is back now and we nod in sympathy.

"And even if they do replace that knee, this one is about to go too," he goes on, launching coffee at the other knee. "It's had all that work to do to make up for the other one. Plus it hasn't been right since I got that massive open sore on my thigh. Went to sepsis, that did."

Clyde is clearly in a pickle, but I'm still not sure I want to hear about it, and I glance away. You're never sure how long this is going to go on. Ruth is much nicer. She wants to know if he's in here for the knee.

"Oh no. I'm going to have them check on this." He holds up a fatly bandaged finger. "Took the tip off with a table saw," he said. We were horrified. He shrugged. "I don't even feel it much.  I have diabetes." He gestured at his purple toes and a bit more coffee set sail.

"So I see it got some of your middle finger too."

"Naw. That one was years ago."

Oh. So were they able to reattach the finger this time?

"Yeah. But that's the thing. They don't know if it will stay on. And I'd like to know, because if it isn't going to take, I'd just as soon they leave it off. You know? Like when a woman is raped, she ought to be able to have an abortion, if she wants one. It's a matter of choice."

I'm perking up. "So you'd like the freedom to choose whether or not to keep your fingertip?"

"Sure. It's not a big deal. I've been fine without these--"

He waggled the fingers of his other hand, three of which were shorter than the original set.

"Table saw?" Ruth asked.

"Naw. Got 'em caught in a hoist chain at work. I heard them coming off, and I thought: oh, brother, not again. I knew just what it was."

"Maybe you should stay away from heavy machinery," Ruth said.

At least until you've mastered the coffee cup, I thought.

Suddenly I realized I'd cheered right up. After all, this fellow was jolly enough. Sometimes that's what  it takes. Sometimes it takes hearing about someone else's troubles so that you can appreciate your own good fortune. Sometimes you need to get that different perspective, consider the wider world. This is what the mature person is able to do.

Naturally, that's not what I did. I started visualizing what would happen if our new friend sticks around any longer. Things are going to start flying off him like Jiffy Pop. Boop! Boop! He'll go off like a grenade. Things are going to cave in, bubble up, plink off. There'll be Clyde shrapnel everywhere! It'll be awesome.

Remember, it's Ruth who's the nice one, not me.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Decrepitator

Oh, you shiny young people! Yes, you can get up out of a chair without gruntulating. Yes, you can herd the Internet through the ether using only your retinas. Yes, you have tiny adorable pores. Good for you! But you know what you can't do? You can't age somebody fifty years just like that.

We can do that. We do it all the time. It's awesome. Just the other day I saw a picture of a little old man who turned out to be one of the Monkees. Not the cute one, or the other cute one, or the super cute one--the smart one. I happen to know exactly what he looks like, with his little knitted hat, because he's right there in my head. I'd recognize him anywhere. And he went straight from that little knitted hat to this little old man, the kind you'd see fumbling in the grocery line trying to swipe his card four different ways before the clerk does it for him, and not like a Daydream Believer at all.

Sometimes the rocker types continue, in their seventies, to dress in their underpants and eye makeup and scary hair like they're still twenty, and they look like twenty-year-old burn victims. And it's not as shocking. It's what you'd expect. If you're a kid in the '60s and you try to imagine your Monkee fifty years older, you'd give him a receding hairline and a saggy chin and draw some lines on his face, but somehow you'd miss the true picture. Ultimately, he was recognizable. Respectable, even.

I remember watching TV with my mom and dad when June Allison or somebody else I'd never heard of came on hawking diapers in a commercial and both my parents went Whoa, what happened to her, as though whatever it was hadn't happened to them too. I thought: Why would anyone be surprised by what a little old lady looks like? She looks like a little old lady. Naturally, I assumed little old ladies were born that way, so the process of transition was pretty theoretical to me. It was not, at any rate, something to take seriously.

It's thrilling to witness an abrupt fifty-year aging. It's the kind of thing high school reunions are famous for, and it's remarkable how fast you get used to it. You're all, Whoa, dudes, what happened to you? And then a minute later it's Oh Hi Steve Linda Gary Debbie, and everyone settles down. Somebody will show up looking like Jane Fonda does at eighty, which is not natural, and you're mature enough to shrug and not take it personally.

You young people can't do that. You can't suddenly see your friends transform into old people. Closest you can come is that age-progression thing you might see on a milk carton where they take some little kid who's been missing a while and try to computerate him into his current age, but it never looks right. It looks like weirdly artificial skin deterioration, as though the kid has aged for real and then gone in with a grade-B photo editor and tried to smudge himself up. But that's the best you can do. You know, unless your friends are on meth.

The thing young people don't quite get about us old ladies is that we still feel all fresh and new and spongey inside our old lady suits. And then we peer out our eye-holes and BAM our friends are suddenly fifty years older. It feels like having a superpower. We're, like, The Decrepitator!

It's a few minutes before we recognize the flaw in our outlook. That we're really more like Superman, tracking in a little Kryptonite on our booties. Uh-oh!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tales From The Zymoglyphic

Jim Stewart is a lucky man, but not just because he has a Root Worm living above his garage. This is Portland. People are pouring in and rents are unaffordable and a lot of folks are falling through the cracks, and if you have a room above your garage, odds are you're going to get a Root Worm in it sooner or later. And all of its friends.

Mr. Stewart is the chief instigator of the Zymoglyphic Museum, located in a room above his garage, in which are displayed numerous examples of artifacts from the Zymoglyphic region, such as that root worm. In fact, Jim probably has a corner on the market. The Zymoglyphic region exists at the intersection of the whole world and the space between his ears. He apparently began collecting museum-worthy items as a boy, and the discovery of glass eyes and glue set him on his current path. The thing about the Zymoglyphic is it's real easy to overlook, for most people, until you start noticing it. And that's what makes Jim lucky. Noticers are acquainted with joy.

He's lucky because he can go anywhere and find Zymoglyphic curiosities, and most people can't. Some people can get a little bump out of life by trolling the thrift stores for salt-cellars, or tin boxes, or thimbles, giving them that narrow but true joy of the collector, but Jim is a generalist. Which makes his joy broad in the beam.

I remember going on scavenger hunts when I was a kid, and it was a gas. It's hard to understand why it's so exciting to find and check off the items on the list--a feather, a rubber band, a clothespin; after all, many of us spend large parts of the day trying to find crap we know we put down somewhere and we can get pretty cranky about it. But scavenger-hunt items are random and irrelevant to anything but the hunt itself, and it forces us to look, and to see. To notice.

We have wonders all around us, yet many of us maintain a tedious existence merely by failing to notice them. Noticing is a habit we can develop, though. That's what birders do, after all. These are merely people who have learned to pay attention to what is all around them, and any minute, anywhere they go, a choice rarity might drop by. Feather! Rubber band! Clothespin! If you're not somewhere with a lot of birds around, you should really move. It's not good for you.

Wandering Burial Urn
Unfortunately, many people believe it costs money to enjoy yourself, and what with one thing and the Republican party, that means they're out of luck a lot of the time. But the best things in life have always been free, and certainly everything in the Zymoglyphic museum was. Dioramas of creatures from the Age of Wonder; conglomerations from the Rust Age; all Zymoglyphic artifacts began as noticed objects, requiring some assembly and reanimated by intuition. Here's a fungus that is lacking only its eyeball; there's a swashbuckling lichen two seed-pods and a leaf gall away from full sensibility. When you're scouting for your museum, you're not wondering what's wrong with your knee. You're not worrying about the performance of your portfolio in a downturn. You're alive. You're curating your own enthusiasm.

And in the Zymoglyphic Museum, even the dust is archival.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Good Book

I took a little stroll through the Bible the other day. I was familiar with it as a child but you never know if your literary tastes hold up into adulthood. I thought I'd just flip through but instead I got completely caught up in the first book. Talk about your pacing!

Right off the bat, humans started screwing up, starting with disobeying an admittedly arbitrary rule and then plunging right into murder. Some of the action is off-screen: for instance, you've got your two humans who are supposed to get the population ball rolling, which means their kids are going to have to get fruitful either with each other or their mom, but we soon learn this kind of thing is totally normal in Genesis. Anyway God looked at the whole mess and called for a do-over, with good reason, and sent down ark instructions and invented the rainbow. (Noah, the one God had taken a liking to, had three sons and a vineyard, and one day he got drunk and blacked out in his tent naked, and his sons carefully covered him up without peeking at him, and for some reason this really ticked him off. Whatever.) The three sons ended up populating the whole world.

Which brings us eventually to Abraham. He and the Lord conversed, leaving Abraham in fine shape. He traveled to Egypt with his wife Sarah but worried that the Egyptians were going to want to have their way with her because she was so beautiful, even though she was at least 65 at that point--people didn't let themselves go so much back then--and he told her to tell everyone she was his sister, so they wouldn't kill him. (It's bad to steal another man's wife, but murdering him is okay.) And sure enough he palms her off on the Pharaoh, but it falls apart eventually when the Lord sent plagues to punish the Egyptians for all this; but Abraham is in no trouble at all with the Lord, and they leave and get rich again. They pull the exact same sister gambit later on with the king of Gerar. And not only that, but when Sarah, who really was his half-sister but who's counting, fails to have children, she suggests he help himself to her pretty Egyptian maid, and soon enough Abraham is a first-time dad at 86.

God was cool with all this and looked favorably upon Abraham and told him he was going to be the father of kings and nations, and all he had to do was snip off a bit of skin around his then-99-year-old penis and do the same to his son and his slaves and any other males in the vicinity. That had to have gone over well. And not only that, but it was going to be Sarah having the anchor baby for the nation-building. Sarah overheard this and chuckled at the Lord, which you should not do. "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" the Lord demanded, rhetorically, and maybe no thing is, but he made Sarah bear a child at age ninety, and that can't have been easy.

Meanwhile, their nephew Lot had decided to move to the greater Sodom area, which was a bad move. Abraham found out Sodom was doomed and asked God if he'd really smite Sodom if there were fifty good men there, and God said he wouldn't, and then Abraham, who thought he had a good rapport, bargained him down to ten good men, and probably thought he'd done well, but God didn't look too hard and stuck with his plan to take Sodom out with fire and brimstone anyway.

God decided Lot was okay and encouraged him to leave Sodom but he didn't, so he sent some angels that looked like men after him to close the deal. The wicked men of the city wanted to meet the new "men" but Lot, being a good guy, refused to make the introduction, instead generously offering to send out his two virgin daughters for them to do with as they wished.

Then the angels dragged him and his wife and daughters out and told them not to look back while God smote the city, but Lot's wife did, probably because her other kids were still back there, for Pete's sake, and she was promptly mineralized for her maternal instinct. Lot and his daughters scampered off to a cave and his daughters drugged him with wine and got themselves knocked up by him--their own dad--without (wink, wink) even waking him up. All that was fine and dandy.

Then, the Lord popped back to Abraham and suggested he murder his own son Isaac to prove his devotion, and poor Abe got all the way to the point he had his kid trussed up and on kindling and a knife at his throat before the Lord went all, ha ha, just kidding, take this here sheep instead. Isaac in turn grew up and went to a new town, where he started telling people his beautiful wife Rebekah was his sister, just in case the men in town would be inclined to kill him in order to ravish his wife. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar. But the jig was up when he was caught sporting with her, and the town king said she must be his wife, because no one would ever sport with his own sister, there's no precedent for that, and the king promised Isaac he'd kill anyone who touched his wife, and everything worked out great because the Lord blessed all this and wanted them to be fruitful.

So Isaac and Rebekah had twin boys and those two went at it with each other before day one. Whoever was first out of the womb got the birthright (cows, goats, honor and glory and such) and apparently they knew this in utero. This was troublesome to Mom who had the audacity to ask the Lord why things had gotten so rough and unruly in there and the Lord explained "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels."

Women really do not get much of a break in this book.

Esau squeaked out first but fairly promptly sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of lentil soup. Basically, Jacob wasn't that nice and Esau wasn't that bright. Also, they kept trying to kill each other. Eventually, Esau married two women from out of town, but nobody including God liked foreigners, so any thought of getting that birthright back was out of the question, because it was important to keep those lines of descent pure, if incestuous and homicidal.

We are not thirty pages into this tome. Already I have the vapors. I swan.