This I Believe

Aza - Santa Cruz, California
Entered on January 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in tangential expression.

I had purchased Mousy six years ago (the best friends are often purchased) when I had more pounds in my wallet than under my shirt. Mousy was exposing an awful lot of yellow fur, considering he was purchased in Scotland, where the people rarely glow and the sun rarely returns the favor. Scotland is noteworthy for its quirky and androgynous apparel, but don’t insult a Scotsman’s skirt, or he’ll rip a five inch butter-knife right out of his soccer socks and knife you till you turn into the bloody hell of his entire life. While the rest of the world’s clothing habits were maturing, Scotland was the experimental eleven-year-old boy, giddy in its mother’s wardrobe. Then it looked outside, and remembered it hadn’t been sunny for nine months, and the sheep of its town were more attractive than the native “females.” That could wipe a smirk off any face. I am part Scottish; therefore, in the same way gays have taken back the word queer, I am reclaiming the act of haranguing people of Scottish heritage.

Now, to contextualize, we are not in Scotland, we are in my room, which is actually much like Scotland in terms of general climate and attractiveness of resident females. My brother, Ben, had been dancing Mousy around on my shoulder for the last thirty seconds. I had allowed Mousy six years to recuperate from his birth and early childhood in Scotland, redevelop his self-esteem, and now felt that a little fatherly love could further his maturity. “Stop it, you frickin’ mouse,” I said in irritation more at my brother than at my cotton filled mousy. There I was, sitting at my computer, attempting to further my intellectual development, but as with every budding scholar, there were the skeptics—those who believed my prowess started and ended in the realm of mouse-voice-impersonation. I can’t argue with my brother’s reaction. From his viewpoint I had neglected my mouse for six years straight, and it was about time I paid some attention to my so-called son. Practical science has never hindered my brother’s imagination; he can create entire worlds of imaginary crossbreeding organisms, in which prepubescent young adults can give birth to five inch yellow mice. He must be Scottish.

He decided to put my actions on trial. I was convicted, tried and sentenced all in the course of an hour. The crime should be obvious to any astute reader: using a word similar to the F-word in the presence of one’s offspring. I was unaccustomed to the procedure of animal courts, but apparently my brother was a veteran. He alerted me to the crime I had committed, and began rallying up a full courtroom of enthusiastically condescending stuffed animals for my trial. His animals, which had been exhumed from their box minutes earlier, were apparently so caught up in seeing the light of day that they had no qualms about serving jury duty. Bomb-a-rack and Black Bear agreed to work as co-judges. Colorful Bear, Rocket, Give-a-Mouse-a-Cookie and Cheddar Cheese manned the four-animal jury. Two of the jury members claimed to be directly related to Mousy, including one who was physically inseparable from his cookie, and another tangerine colored, who looked like he came straight out of the rodent generation of iPod commercials—Mousy’s supposed family contained an incredible amount of genetic diversity. This jury selection process apparently didn’t discriminate on the basis of prejudice, relationship to defendant, or association with other jury members, but only on the basis of physical composition, favoring those belonging to the textile family.

I was led to my outside porch where I met the deciders of my fate. I smiled weakly, attempting to give a good impression. My brother, speaking through Black Bear, told the court room to hush up. Court was in session. I suppose I have purposefully eliminated the proceedings from my memory because of the sheer terror I experienced. My brain has a way of doing me that favor. I do remember my sentence, however, and on that note I suggest the faint hearted readers skip ahead a paragraph. I was to receive twenty lashings by means of a leather couch pillow. I had deterred the judges from using more crude methods, namely dumping a bucket of water on my head, purely by virtue of my swift tongue, partially aided by my 100 pound + weight advantage. I reminded them that they were some of the last bears in California not on the Endangered Species list, and I would love to keep it that way, provided that all complied with my terms and conditions. Despite my tongue, Mousy was to be taken out of my custody and into the sanctuary of my brother’s rodent-infested bed for two weeks, at which point my progress would be assessed.

I whole heartedly (or what is possible for a Scottish Jew) believe that all worthwhile interactions are not predictable. I believe we all process life tangentially and we should express that randomness to one another. I follow the motto which I devised three seconds ago: Say what you think and don’t think about what you’re saying. I love my brother because when I swear at my stuffed animal, he feels no hesitation telling me I deserve to be punished by an animal court. Seemingly random association is the basis of human brilliance; hence, once tangential speech is suppressed, tangential thinking suffers as well. Dull speech is a sign of laziness and/or insecurity and cliché writing is in the same category and indicates the same traits. We all owe each other the extra twist in our remarks, to show that we care enough about others to give our interactions with them actual thought. Filtering is for my internet parental control (as far as they know), not for my human interactions. So next time you see a Scotsman, tell him it looks like he’s wearing a skirt, because that’s what is going through your head—plus, he really needs an excuse to use his butter-knife.