Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Look at those stars. Don't they look like a herd of stick animals?

Our friend Jack (not-his-real-name) underwent a quadruple heart bypass last week. He came out of it doing very well, in fact his family was delighted at how quickly his recovery started to pick up steam. The success rate of such operations tends to make us believe that it is less dangerous than it is, I think, so the fact that he is doing so well, so quickly, is wonderful.

I did think... Wait. Before I go on... This whole “not-his-real-name” thing is becoming an issue in and of itself. Not-his-real-name Jack is related by marriage to not-his-real-name Walter and I have a suspicious feeling that assigning the name Jack to a family member is going to cause NHRN Walter's issues to resurface. He does not love his alter ego and I'm sure he thinks Jack is a much more manly sobriquet. I, on the other hand, really like the name Walter, which is why I gave it to him in the first place! Oy. But, I will not falter, brothers and sisters, never fear. Walter it is and Walter it will stay.

As, I was saying... But wait, more on the not-his-real-name front. It turns out my longtime friend Not-His-Real-Name Peters has changed his name and is now legally called Bob Peters. Oh,man. See... What I've always said proves true once again- no good deed goes unpunished, although I'm not sure the whole fake name thing is up there with the least of Mother Theresa's acts. So, to all my friends in Idaho, which Peters assures me is growing steadily... Peters is THE Bob Peters of television evening news fame.

As I was saying, Not-His-Real-Name-Jack (now I'm just grinding it in) went through a serious operation and came out strong on the other side. But, it did get me to thinking about how we talk about the human heart and how we have come to view the term “heart broken” as defining anything but an injured heart. Right? When our friend went for his operation, his wicked smaht sister, NHRN Walter's wife, didn't tell me, “Jack's heart is broken and he needs an operation.” Not even close.

Someone, at some point in history, presumably a poet, decided that the human heart should be assigned properties which made if susceptible to injury from non-physical affronts. If the heart was, well, truly, obviously heart-shaped, I would still wonder what that has to do with anything, but at least I would see some basis for using it in situations involving emotional damage. But it doesn't. Maybe, if you put it at some impossible angle and connect the dots to show the heart shape... But, to me, it's like looking into the night sky and saying groups of stars look like... anything.

Take Leo the Lion, for example. You tell me you see a lion, if you don't have the lines and/or dots to connect. At best, it looks like every stick animal drawing you would find on any preschool class wall.

And don't get me started on Ursa Major, or Minor even. How does that look like a bear? Someone looked into the sky a thousandty-eleven years ago and said, “Look, honey. Doesn't that random assortment of stars out of the millions that are up there look like a big bear? It really does, right? It's like that cloud your Uncle Octavio saw the other day that looked just like a duck.”

So, maybe amidst the people who named the various constellations, was one who decided we needed to tie our body parts back to our emotional state and decided, “Hmmm. Emotional upheaval. Hmmm. We need to make that seem more real by giving it a bodily attribute.”

Then, no doubt, the great debate began. A broken liver? Nah. Kidney? Nah- you'd have to assign different types of pain to each kidney. Lost love would be a broken right kidney; grief a broken left. And, since as EVERYONE knows I have two of them, let's not even mention spleens.

So, the heart it is and I suppose it always will be. Look, I know there are plenty of you out there who could explain this to me, and explain it so it made sense. Please don't bother, and, by don't bother, I don't mean to be rude, I just don't really care. This whole column is about venting frustration and worry; concern over the health of my friends.

If someone you know has a medical heart issue, you know how worrying that is. And, let's face it, there isn't really anything we can do about it. So, join me in raving and fist shaking.

In the end, after all, I have a feeling all I'm really doing is raving and fist shaking about my own situation. As far as I know, no one invokes the term cancer for other than what it is, unless it's to name something so ugly/horrific that cancer becomes the only word that will help us describe just how hideous something is.

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere