24 November, 2010

Turkey Is A Dumb Word

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those only of the author and may only coincidentally reflect those of Mystic Metals, its employees, or associates. All responses should be posted as comments here, or mailed directly to the author, A. Robert Basile, at ihatebasile@gmail.com. Mail sent directly to Mystic Metals will not be read.

Turkey Is A Dumb Word


There is a movie that was made that I saw this time last year. This movie might be the third or fourth worst movie I have ever seen. What’s the first? “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.” This isn’t about “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.” (Damn you Patton Oswalt for bringing it to my attention.) This is about “Thankskilling.” Seeing this movie made me firmly believe that I will never, ever, never, ever, ever, never get a screenplay made because there are studios reading scripts like “Thankskilling” and saying to themselves, ‘This is gold; we have to make this.’

But it (and the holiday that appears this week) make me mindful of things for which I am thankful. Yeah, I know; it’s totally hack and bush league to write a Thanksgiving blog about thankfulness. But I’m going to do it anyway because it’s equally wonderful and sad that we reserve our thankfulness for one day in the year.

Friends and family, of course. The first characters in your pre-turkey prayer. My family is the greatest creation by God. That and the cut fastball. My mother and father, my sister and cousin. These are examples of God’s masterful work. The patience that these people exhibit with me is remarkable. The ability to make decisions, to have opinions, to hug and look and listen with a certain comfort that only people with the same blood can. Go hug your mother and father and siblings and say thank you.

My friends. I’d like to name them all, but I know I’ll leave someone out, and that’ll speak to some bullshit subconscious whatever that the omitted friend will take the wrong way. But friends. Jim and Jenny. Chris and Matt. Steve, Dan, Marjorie, Krista, Theresa, Jay, Becks, Izzy, Steph, Emmy. Sam and Marquis too. Dave (which is kind of unfair because he’s in the family category as well). Amanda and, of course, Amanda. Even Sean and Ben and Brendan, all of whom will never know about this because they haven’t ever read my shit in twenty-five years of friendship. These people are very important characters in my life; they are plot moving characters, characters that cause conflict, cause resolution, cause important context. You have these characters too, kids. Maybe their names aren’t Jim and Jenny, but you have them. Tell them they are important, because they are. There are also characters that we have forgotten about. There are characters that will appear in the credits of your life, and right now, maybe you don’t remember that episode. Tricia, Eileen, John, Mike. Be thankful for them too, kids. They were an important plot moving character once.

Imperfection. I am thankful for my imperfection. We all know that I was made poorly, that if I were a meal you ordered at the diner, you’d have sent it back because it wasn’t cooked properly. I am thankful for my flaws. Were it not for my flaws, I wouldn’t write. I wouldn’t play the bass. I wouldn’t know any of you kids. If I were born correctly, I’d have cared more in school, and in turn, gone to college and been successful. But I wasn’t. I was born fuct up, and because of it, my attention was divided away from things like school, things that didn’t seem too important when I know the next day a doctor was going to touch me in my bikini area. But thanks to my imperfection, I write. I share ideas. I create characters who have interesting lives and points of view. I suppose that in the thanks section of my books, ‘Spine’ should be first.

I am thankful for strangers who smile and hold doors. I am thankful for altruism. I am thankful for arguments and different points of view. I am thankful for the subjectivity of beauty and morality. So frequently we are mired in our own shit; we are holed within whatever it is that is causing the walls around our realities to crumble. A breakup, unemployment, a death in the family. What is interesting to me is that, as I sit here at the coffee shop, each person scurrying passed me, each one holding a Christmas list and frantically spending money, or the ones sitting with a magazine and taking a breath away from an otherwise stressful day, or the ones seeing a friend for the first time in months and sharing an uproarious salutation, each one has a reality that I am not a part of. Each one has ideas of comfort and stress, of sorrow and joy, of happiness and beauty. I am thankful for them even though I will never experience life through their lenses. I am not always, trust me. Some days I am more inclined to sit in my basement in the dark and rock back and forth like a lunatic. But when I can take pause, I remember that these people are beautiful, and we are all more than just animated corpses.

I am thankful for beauty, and I see it on every face I look on, and every living creation that decorates the world around me. Some days are harder than others to see these things, but what’s interesting about beauty is that it is always there, waiting to be seen but never asking to be seen. There’s an inherent humility in beauty. There are beautiful people all around you, but they will never know that you know that unless you tell them. Their beauty sits quietly, smiling and looking on you with the same assumption; we are all beautiful. We have decided in our society that saying things like ‘Excuse me, you are beautiful’ often comes with some sort of ulterior motive that inevitably resides in the realm of creepy. That’s a sad concession to make since it is very likely that most of those strangers around you right now haven’t heard that they are beautiful today.

Baseball and fat cats. Art and loud music. Big Macs, cigarettes, and coffee. Slap bass and background vocals. Women who choose sensible shoes. Survivors of a tragic thing, and those who have lived without strife. I’m thankful for all of this. Mostly baseball. I am thankful for your ability to do something that I don’t know how to do, whatever that may be. I am thankful for phone calls from friends that comfort without once talking about what’s bothering me. I am thankful for my readers and their happiness. I am thankful for the love my friends have found in others, and the love they’ve created in their children. The sound of a homerun, key changes in songs, stretched lobes, the most comfortable hoodie in the world that I wear everyday. Sleep and dream and the invisible groove of a bassline that makes you move without realizing you’re moving at all.

What’s the point of all of this? Being thankful is something you ought to be everyday. Being mindful of beauty is something you ought to be everyday. There’s a certain melancholy in the idea that we reserve the third Thursday of the next to last month of the year to bring that to our attention. We can do it on the second Thursday of the third month too, kids. Or even the first Wednesday of the eighth month. Or any day of the year. I am not one of those people that ask you to look on someone else to provide a certain context to why your strife is less valuable. That’s a bullshit and unfair thing to make someone do to themselves. In your reality, your strife is chief and important, and you don’t need someone telling you to think about kids with some disease in some country somewhere in order to make you feel guilty for having your own woe. You’re allowed. What I am saying is that you ought to look on those strangers and not think ‘At least I’m not in his shoes,’ but rather think, ‘We are in the same shoes, and I am as beautiful as he is; and he is beautiful.’ Go thank someone for being. I thank you for being, kids, and I look forward to meeting you over a cup of coffee and conversation about nothing specific. I’m thankful for you. Stay beautiful.

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  1. As usual, I couldn't have said it all better myself. I miss you.