Columns » Bob Lancaster

The ass

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It's a sunny day in late September as this column gets underway, and the sky is falling. Large blue slabs of it all over the neighborhood. The big capitalism piece about to come crashing down just a few years after the big Communism piece did.

Lamps are going out all over America, and I'm trying to come to grips with the notion that one of those lamps will be mine.

There's hope yet, but it's the smallish, unlikely kind, more like bravado, and quiet desperation looms over this humble domicile like the head of Putin rearing over Alaska.

Poor again!

Back down swapping toejam tales with Tom Joad and Jeeter Lester. Sad sangin' again with the old luckless and beaten down crew, the one lacking both dollars and sense, named Cotton and Harp and Nelson and Bisbee, named Rhoney and Auston and Duford and Osie and Doyce.

Poor's not an easy thing. It will mess you up, as with dope-ruint R.C., or the Golden boy last seen furiously scolding the 5-inch-tall homunculi, visible only to him, who climbed up out of crawdaddy castles to visit him fortnightly in the gloaming on the lower Saline.

As you read these words in October, if the repo guys haven't already come to haul off our household goods — our goods, bads, and uglies — then they're surely out warming up the truck.

Mind you, these goods are bought and paid for, the house and two automobiles too, free and clear, but you know how firm that foundation is.

If we've learned nothing else from these rascals in these last days, we've learned how easy it is for them to snatch our modest assets to use as parachute gilt.

And they don't want just some of it. They'll hogtie and van off our dust mites. They'd loot the septic tank if we had one.

This is what, back in high school, we called the redass. Usually contracted on down to just “the ass.” Proper name this time would be “the royal ass.” I've got the royal ass. Same as Pap in Nineteen and Twenty-Nine.

 I'm not sure I remember how to be poor.

 Do they take your pets, too? If not, can you use one or two of your food stamps to buy pet food? If not, is there some institution out there that gives free seminars on making pet food out of roadkill?

Are food stamps anything like Top Value stamps?  Do they still have those? We furnished our first pad — back when they called them that — with merchandise from the Top Value redemption center. Bound to be the thinnest furniture ever made. You could hold it up and play music on it like with a crosscut saw.

Do they let you keep a hotplate? If so, is there a public-access electrical outlet where I might be able to plug it in? Will I have to fight off others of the nouveau poor who want to bogart the electricity?

They'll cut our shade trees and try to sell the logs. Knowing they'll lose money on the deal but doing it anyway.  

I'm sure they'll get the commodes, including the nice green one, and  one of my first tasks in the New Order will be raising an outhouse.

Lord, I thought I was through with outhouses in Nineteen and Fifty-Five.

Brother, can you spare a Sears and Roebuck catalogue?

Social security, Medicare, dribs and dabs that we managed to squirrel away — ah, that stuff never really existed in any tangible way anyhow. Somebody said we had it, and nobody said we didn't have it, so we had it.

 And as they giveth, so can they taketh away.

The whole idea of “owning” “securities” now just a damnable joke.

Having to use a mule wagon to go places will take some getting used to.

Especially the hospital and on vacation.

I guess we'll have to grow our own food if we can find somewhere to grow it. My parents were good gardeners — out of necessity, unlike the recreational gardeners of today — but I never got the hang of it.

Here in the middle throes of geezery I continue to think there should be a way to grow Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies from seed. 

Mother canned vegetables and preserved fruits and berries, and Pap usually kept meat on the table, if mostly squirrel. I might remember how to like fried squirrel, as G. Gordon Liddy came to like grilled rat. And Virgil Swilling has already kindly offered to bring us over a pot of his famous squirrel and dumplings, if it comes to that

Sweetness is willing to learn how to wash clothes in a creek, since we don't have a washpot to put in the yard to boil them in, and won't have the money now to buy the washpot, and won't have the yard to put it in, either, or the money to buy the yard.

Probably won't be able to find a creek, either, come to think of it. Or if we do, somebody will want to charge us for using it. And there'll be all kinds of EPA soapsuds regulations, so we'll wind up having to use lye soap in a mudpuddle, like the Huckabees did when they were poor like we're fixing to be.

 

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