The Uglies

Let’s face it. We all have a bit of the Uglies in us. When I say Uglies, I mean Ug-a-lug-lies.

From time to time, those Uglies have to burst loose. There’s no two ways about it. Oh, sure. Later we’ll do a Flip Wilson and say, “The devil made me do it.” That’s ‘cause we’re embarrassed we let our dumbass show.

When we see others do the Uglies, we don’t let them off the hook that easy. We want them to get their just desserts. Either that or some of that instant karma John Lennon sang about.

This goes even more so for fairy tales. We want the Wicked Witch of the West to melt. We want the mirror to shatter on the Wicked Queen. She wanted Mr. Mirror to give her the fake news that she was the fairest in the land. We want He-who-must-not-be-named to have his name stamped on his rear-end. And not just stamped. Branded. Ouch! That’s got to hurt.

Nowhere along the way do we consider that they may not be villains and that they might have a bad case of the Uglies themselves. If we give them a chance, those Uglies might wear off and these folks might turn out to be decent human beings. Who is to say that Harry Potter didn’t have a very good press agent. Once Voldemort was branded with that He-who-must-not-named label, there was no getting off scot free for him.

It may be that Humpty Dumpty woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Or that the king had the Uglies and pushed Humpty off the wall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put the Dump back into Humpty Dumpty. At least, that’s what the king told the press. And we know the reason the Chicken crossed the road. She was run out of Dodge with her own set of Uglies.

Consider the Cinderella story. We want Cinderella’s wicked step mom to lose. And not just loose, but loose big time. After all, her daughters are real works of art. They’re haughty and persnickety. In fact, that’s their names, Haughty and Persnickety. And Step Mom is not interested in love. She’s only interested in the cash. Bet you’d kick the romantic out of your head if you were as poor as a dormouse and had four mouths to feed.

Let’s just consider Step Mom’s side of things. She marries a guy because he’s got a steady job. Her first husband ran off with the Spoon. He left her with two daughters who were always crying, “Feed me.” She met Cyndi’s dad at the local Parents Without Partners. They hit it off. Before you can say Abracadabra, they did a Vegas and wallah! Problem solved. Then Dad had to go and get himself hit by a truck. Of course, he didn’t have any life insurance. The only income Step Mom had coming in was the alimony payments from her first husband.

Since the girls were about to turn eighteen, Step Mom had to find a new source of income. She got herself a real estate agent certification and started flipping houses. Six months later, the floor fell out of the housing market. About that time, both of her daughters needed glasses.

On top of everything else, Cyndi was a handful with her “just wait till I tell my uncle” attitude. What was a mother to do? This was reason enough for Step Mom to let her Uglies burst lose. There was a ball and she was darned sure that one of her daughters was going to hook up with the prince. Come hell or highwater. And under no condition was she going to allow Cyndi to take their shine away.

For every nickel with a heads, there’s a tails to be considered. After all, it was a rich man who said, “Money can’t buy happiness.” The same fellow who said, “In God we trust. All others pay cash.”

If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it still may not be a duck. It may be an actor who takes his role as a duck seriously. What else can you expect from a method actor? You never know what a person is going through when they are acting out their Uglies.

And, for God’s sake, do not, under any condition, allow your Uglies to burst through the dam. Best thing is to get ready to duck. That guy, who passed you three seconds ago, may have stolen a leprechaun’s pot of gold. The lep is trying to run him down. If you chase him, you may regret it. He could burst your windshield or run you down.

Either that or he has a gub. “A gub?” you ask. “What’s a gub?” That is a whole ‘nother story.

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The way of things

A Japanese woman’s long face, wrinkled with age. Her hair, black and in place. Stern. Mature. Wise. She does not speak, but waits.

She wears her best kimono. It is a formal dark-blue and she has worn it since she was a young bride of only fifteen. It is very appropriate for one who waits.

Soon he will come, the one she is waiting for. She will serve him tea. She is a Tea Mistress and her abode is this tea house, where she waits. This tea house that is seven generations old. But now she waits.

She never smiles for smiling is not in her nature. She knows the things she knows, how her karma has brought her to this life. And she is serene.

She was born to a rice farmer in the north. It was cold there, very cold during the winter season, cold enough to write a haiku about. She remembers the chill of that place, how she could never get it out of her bones, that chill. But that was the way of things there.

When the war took her son, she knew it was the way of things.

After her husband dishonored himself and his Emperor, surrendering his command to the Americans, he committed seppuku, the ceremonial disembowelment. She knew it was the way of things and she was serene.

When she was chosen to be the Tea Mistress of this Tea House, she knew it was the way of things. She was serene.

Now she stands here in her best kimono, the one her father gave her fifty years ago; she stands in this seven-generations-old tea house and she is serene as she waits for him.

Soon the Emperor will come. And he will come to drink her tea. And she will be serene. It is the way of things