Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Mama-Socks-And Hoping to Die at 75

Look at these great socks. Princeof Wales Check—Prince of Wales Plaid—Glen Plaid—Glenurquhart Check—Glenurquhart Plaid. 
When was the last time you saw a pair of these? Never. That's right.
Seems that there are lots of names for this pattern. And the nuancified, overwrought cataracts that differentiate these definitions/characterizations are tedious. Honestly, who gives a sh_t? It’s a pattern just jaunty enough to dodge boredom and variable enough in its repitition to sidestep redundancy. 
Domesticated Wildness. Think about it. As long as the Glen is woven within reasonable color combinations and scales, it conveys a rather civilized and, especially in our current world of slovenly dress, cleaned up—buttoned up—casual formality.
Yet blow the scale up and contrive it with other outta scale caca and what have you? A damn clown outfit.
Now don't get me wrong. You can play with color and scale to a fair degree and still avoid clowndom. Todd Hogg Howell teeters on the edge with his overcoat.
Here’s another example of what happens when you take traditional patterns and make 'em fuzzified beyond good measure. This abusive goat rodeo of pattern inbreeding broke out in houndstooth and there's nothing domesticated about this wildness. It flat out jumped the fence and started shamelessly licking front of everyone, right in the middle of the road. Best thing that could happen here is for a car to come run over it mid-lick. Lordy. Just wait till you see what I do with the Glen hose. Shut up.
Kind of a Domesticated Wildness this Glen thang is. Yep. That’s it. Sorta like the Beatles’ North American debut strategy. Domesticated Wildness. Jackets and ties on the Ed Sullivan show. None of that hippie ass beatnik-alated kit. Suits. And ties. Yet accompanied by head bobbing mop top hair that American parents found off putting and American girls found irresistible.
Here's the Beatles' third appearance on Ed Sullivan's show. See for yourself. 
And Chelsea boots. Not those usual shoddings that accompany suits intended for the City, Church’s cap toed whatevers from their home country. Not for these boys. Chelsea Boots—boots that conveyed keeping your daughter out past curfew, having been let into the Colony Room Club in Soho because your dad knows Francis Bacon. Oh, and their pants were ever so slightly slim. Not tight. Not in a pecker protrusion way. Remember, this was 1963 and the Jim Morrison leather britches potato in the front routine woulda never made it onstage at the Ed Sullivan Theater. But their pants were just so-so enough  to just piss off dads and intrigue dad’s little girl. Nice boys but watch them. They'll shag your sister.
How did I get this far off course when trying to extol the whateverishness of Glen Plaid? I’ll get back to it but final thang about the Beatles’ strategy. History assigns its inception to their first manager, Brian Epstein. “Epstein took the raw energy of generational conflict and made it acceptable.” The caged heat at the Beatles' Shea Stadium concert offers evidence of their strategy's efficacy.
And let me also clear up something about the genesis of one of the names of this pattern. The Prince of Wales Check or Plaid. It’s been assigned to both Princes…later to become Edwards VII and VIII.
Some are more prone to assign it to the Duke of Windsor but Bertie wore it long before that little whippersnapper Nazi understudy took it on.
And others have worn it in fine form. Not the least of whom is my sartorial brother in peaked lapelled contrivances, fellow drummer Charlie Watts.
Oh, and I met up with Charlie the other day on Savile Row. I kid you not. 
I’ll write a proper story about it someday soon.
And here I am several decades ago in a somewhat tame version of the glen whatever pattern. Rather attenuated compared to my later fuzziness. Same with the woman.
“Oh no, ADG, punter of all things fuzzy, the ONLY version of this pattern that’s truly, authentically, artisanally, curitorially the Prince of Wales check is the blue/brown combination”. Well let me just head off at the pass you sartorially autodidactilated, no life, still living with your mama, smartass anonymous commenters. Save it. We don’t care. And by the way, that particular combination is the ugliest version in the line-up. Go ask mama for an advance on your allowance and get yourself an outfit made from this legacy version, ok? And be sure to ask for the Jethro Bodine, Thom Browne shrunk up pattern. It’ll be sick. Shut the ….
Bottom line is that the assignment of this pattern to either of the Princes of Wales, later Kings Edward has been wrong all along. Truth is that the pattern was named in honor of Prince’s 1978 Wales tour. Prince and his hoochie coochie retinue played forty-three concerts in twenty days. “It was my most rewarding tour” said Prince. “The travel time from one concert venue to the next was easy-peasy”. I still can’t believe that Prince actually said “easy-peasy”.
Ok, I’ve done my duty regarding sartorial subjects. Seems that this blog used to be about such things. But I now want to point you to Zeke Emanuel’s article in the Atlantic, Why I Hope toDie at 75. And please, if anything pisses you off (other than the aforementioned rant about the Prince of Wales pattern caca) to the point of wanting to rage against me with a comment, please read Zeke’s article first.

My mother has now been back in the ICU for a week. And  my brother and I this weekend—our fifty-seven year old sister, a critical care nurse by training, is too incapacitated amidst her own struggle with lupus to either come and help us or offer objective input—are discussing the discontinuation of antibiotics for my mother’s intractable infections and working out the logistics of getting her back in the home that she’s been running for fifty-one years—the last year, from a hospital bed in the den. Hospice and palliative care are the only tactics we are willing to now discuss.
This is my sister and me a year and a half ago...saying goodbye to our mom the first time. I'm tired of saying goodbye. And we know that we aren't special or unique in this journey with our mom. Thousands of other siblings are amidst the same right now, all over the world. But we are exhausted. My mother has been toying with death for a year and a half now. I’m tired to the bone and weary of this eighteen month roller coaster of emotional whack-a-mole. The toll that it’s taken on me, physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially is alarming. I’ve never been pulled in so many directions simultaneously by forces that are so intensely demanding. And the guilt associated with under delivering on each demand has been paralysing. (My reasons for using the British spelling for paralyzing are twofold. One is that I just returned from England. The other is in honor of those Americans who affect in their writing, some connection to England by using “colour” instead of “color” and say herb—like “Herb Alpert” instead of herb—like “urb”. Here’s the deal—unless you have at least on British parent or you went to school in England for more than one year, stop with the Anglo Sycophancy. I gave up the practice as soon as my Aunt Tootie and Roxanne Burgess called me on it. So now I’m calling you out. Stop it.) 
Ok, back to my mama. I say the guilt “has been” because I’m over it. At least I am trying to be. I didn’t drop everything this past week and run to South Carolina to participate in the vigil yet again. I can’t back burner my life here to do it this time. My mom and I are rock solid and she knows that I’ve been there in service to her as much as physically possible over this last year and a half. I’m suffering from sympathy fatigue and I’m exasperated at the thought of selecting the next appropriate emotional state to check into only to have the universe once again tell me that I’ve selected the wrong damn one. Again.

Modern medical interventions don’t always prolong life. They forestall death. And the interim between what was a decent quality of life and  the reaper’s rap on the door is a rather hellish stretch of ennui. Nobody loves their mother more than me and my sibs. But if we are brave enough to disentangle ourselves from the tentacles of maudlin sentiment, my sibs and I should without guilt, face up to the reality that our mom should have died a year ago.

Had we been citizens of Germany or several other very countries who offer better overall population based health management than we do in the States, my mother would have never survived the initial incident a year and a half ago. Why? Because independent of advanced directives, they would have never put a feeding tube down her nose. We don't do a good job of having healthy dialogue about end of life issues here in the States. We don't do death very well. Countries that have a euthanasia option utilize it, surprisingly to me, not that often. But what the option allows is the platform for more candid discussions regarding end of life decisions. I'm not advocating it for the States. I'm just saying that we need to rethink how we manage the life journey.
And I can’t tell you what a tempest of every describable emotion I’ve had to work through to be able to say out loud and put in print my belief that it would have been better if my mom had passed on back then. I’m getting nauseated just typing this even though I’m resolute in my opinion. Why? Because my mom and I have had some lovely and humbly instructive moments over the last eighteen months. Laughing, eating barbecue, reminiscing, being humbled—both of us as I’ve put her on and off the bedpan and wiped her. But the cost has been too high by any and every measure one could use to assess the upside.

I’ve been to church more times than most of you who read my stuff. So please—don’t offer me that ethereal hall pass/permission slip bullshit that supposedly gets us off the hook for having to answer such tough existential questions. “It’s just not in our hands, Dust. There are higher powers at work here and we as mere mortals won’t know why things play out like they do till we get there.”  Folks, it’s the god given tools and intellect that allow mere mortals to perpetuate in the name of humanity, this cowardly and discourteous end of life shepherding process so don’t hand me the bullshit about how we are not in control of this journey. Yes, you can believe in a higher power and not subjugate your common sense as a condition of belief. 

The shepherds, or at least the committee that wrote the Standard Operating Procedures for the end of life shepherding process, should be fired.  And if after this; my admonishment to you, the mind numbingly naive members of the doctrinally impertinent, you still insist on offering me solace along the god’s in control lines, I’ll drive to your house—I don’t care if you live in Outer Vulgaria—and deploy my pimp hand or maybe even a closed fist, right in your pie hole. Until you've wiped pee from the maternal conduit through which you emerged...until you've locked eyes with your mother while doing so and realized that in her eyes there's shame and in yours, embarrassment, don't even try to school me. I mean right now. I can hurt you.
Let me tell you, if anyone is going to get “there” it’s my mom. And five gets ten that both of her husbands and her eight brothers and sisters already in residence up “there” are going to say “What the hell took you so long?” And her answer should be… “Well I was more than ready eighteen months ago but the United States of America’s Medical Industrial Complex wasn’t quite yet finished fiddling with me, my wallet, and the physical-financial-spiritual reservoirs of my kids. Oh, but for all those costs, I was able to dictate to Dusty the recipes for his favorite things that I’ve cooked for him these last fifty years. And I taught him to make stove top white trash cornbread in a cast iron skillet. You know he always did love that. Oh, and the last time he was home we shelled butterbeans".
Yes I’m exhausted and frustrated and deciding whether or not to select door two or three of the bereavement-depression-letting go game. But either way, I’ll be wearing some kick ass socks.
Onward. Two  Glenurquhart adorned steps forward. Three back. And listening wholeheartedly to Zeke Emanuel.