Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Poo, Tobacco, and the Wisdom of Burt Bacharach (or, Nobody Likes a Chatty Damnus)

To have a horror of tobacco is not to have an abstract standard of right; but exactly the opposite. It is to have no standard of right whatever; and to make certain local likes and dislikes as a substitute

-G.K. Chesterton

On a day last week it was warm and I was driving with my window open through the countryside. My pipe was lit and I was especially enjoying the smoke. The radio was playing What the World Needs Now is Love.

I pause here to acknowledge that some among traditional Catholics will hold that listening to the music of Burt Bacharach is itself a compromise with the world and indecorous for the Catholic gentleman. The potential accuracy of this position is beyond the scope of the current discussion and not the point of the story, so kindly stuff it.

Indulging in a moment of uncharacteristic levity, I was feeling good about nearly everything and pondering Mister Bacharach’s bold claim that love (sweet love in particular) is the only thing that there’s just too little of.

How wrong you are, Good Mister Bacharach, I thought and said aloud. Prudence, I thought, is in short supply; so I shouted that out. And good government! Feeling giddy and boisterous, I shouted “And Canadian Bishops with two fully functioning of those bits as are proper and unique to men!” only in far fewer words and with alliteration.

I was warming to the subject.

Alas, my pleasant country drive and attendant merriment was quickly to come under attack, and unexpectedly. I realized to my terrific distress that my pipe was now spent and the only thing that there was just too little of was tobacco in the tin to light it again.

At that precise moment, the radio station lost reception and picked up another signal. Mister Bacharach was intruded upon by some, I suppose, horrible pop-strumpet of a vacant bottle-blonde starlet singing something every bit as unfortunate as she was.

You can imagine my dismay then, when at once, the gloriously agreeable lingering aroma of buttered rum was overcome completely by the wholly disagreeable stink of poo (precisely to which barnyard animal it belonged I could not say).

Still boisterous, but decidedly less giddy, I swore, turned off the radio, and closed my window. This order was deliberate as the sound on the radio offended my senses more than the smell in the air; the latter being only a risk inherent in country drives and it wasn’t like it was on my shoe or anything.

But let it never be said that the demons cannot cobble together a little concerted effort now and then.

But I digress.

Returning to tobacco and a standard of right I had meant to say something about the filthy commies that generally run things working to ruin all the best and harmless vices like tobacco smoking and fistfighting whilst ignoring or normalizing or promoting and funding all the really soul-destroying ones. Concerted demonic efforts, you see. Even Catholic parents fall into it, and I do wish we’d keep our attention on the things that really aren’t harmless.

You may say that pipe-smoking isn’t harmless, what with tongue cancer and whatnot, and yet even those who love me best will see in the removal of my tongue, little evil.

Besides, if a man’s to have a vice (and I don’t think I trust one who isn’t) it’s better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having, say, your cancer-free tongue still in your head, to be cast into everlasting fire.

So pluck it out, Brother. Nobody likes a chatty damnus.


Steve said...

Excellent post. I need to dig my own pipe out and have a good smoke.

bearing said...

Well written, even though smoke makes me sneeze.