Monday, January 29, 2018

"Deciphering The Message"

There are some things that permanently stick in your mind.  That sounds like they’re important.  Some moment of blinding insight where life’s mysteries and confusions become blindingly clear and then suddenly…  (“Oo-aah” Chorus)

… you know.

But sometimes, it’s something more trivial, something that, rather than being celestially illuminating, leaves you perplexingly scratching your head.

By the way, the first one is better.

But if you are, as I am, a person to whom accumulated oddities adhere to you like you’re “The Flypaper For The Bizarre” – and if you are still waiting for life’s mysteries and confusions to become blindingly clear to you – you get the following.  And feel grateful you got anything.

Without these cerebral visitors, your frazzled brain otherwise teams with endless “To Do” lists, replayed embarrassing conversations and where exactly they went wrong, and flurries of impending doctors’ appointments and thoughts of what they possibly might find.

My Personal Opinion:  You are better off with extraneous clutter.

Random Example:  This.

I am walking along singing a song, my bowed head facing the sidewalk – because sometimes I forget to walk straight – and I spot what looks like the face of a pirate, below which is the stenciled confession,

“I Sold Hemp.”

“Odd”, I silently remark, considering, both at once, this sidewalk pronouncement and thoughts of paying more assiduous attention to my posture.

“I Sold Hemp.”

… it says there.

And not just there.  But on subsequent blocks of pavement every fifty or so feet along the way.

“Hm”, I think next.

The “Hm” relating to my speculation that someone, late at night so as not to be impeded or even arrested for defacing public walkeries with pictures of pirates and retroactive hemp-selling confessions… I’m thinking, unless they deliberately stayed up to carry out this nefarious operation, they had to, imaginably, set their alarm clock to awaken them deep into the A.M. so they could get dressed, exit stealthily outside, make their way to the street I am currently perambulating, and stencil away, free of unwelcome public scrutiny.

Sounds like it was really important to them.

But why?

“I Sold Hemp”?

So what?

But that’s me.  Not only because it’s artsy littering – and I do not litter under any circumstances – or because I personally never sold hemp, or because I feared constabulary consequences for stenciling a lie. 

My thoughts beyond myself are why would anyone want to serially proclaim on blocks of concrete that sometime in the past they sold hemp? 

It’s not like a “Promotional Message.” 

“Get your hemp here!”

What it says is, they sold hemp.  That’s placing flyers on porches, advertising a business that has already closed down.  The proverbial – and practically unhelpful –   “past tense” announcement.

Nor is it a proud point of personal accomplishment.  If they had not made The Post, it might be conceivable to find Daniel Ellsberg out there on his hands and knees, reminding pedestrians on that particular thoroughfare

“I stole the Pentagon Papers.”

Not with an accompanying “pirate”, of course.  Maybe a stenciled Rand Corporation logo.

At least that’s something. 

I don’t even know if it was illegal to sell hemp. 

Nobody brags,

“I sold hair products.”

So what’s the big, chest-thumping deal about “I Sold Hemp”?

There’s the possibility they are promoting their exceptional salesmanship.

“I sold hemp!

Implication:  “I can sell anything.”

But for that message to connect would require passersby to get that, at the time, hemp was inordinately difficult to sell.  Like “Willy Loman” explaining, “The (whatever district he was assigned to be a salesman in) was recognizably the worst.”

For all I know, selling hemp was giving away candy.  Without the clarifying context, the public proclamation is meaningless.

Bringing us “full circle” to

“So what?”

It almost feels like some private declaration.  The guy’s out there, stenciling to himself.

“I'm not a nobody.  I sold hemp!"

The lesson for the rest of us, assuming there is one, or making one up to give meaningful purpose to this exercise, may perhaps lie in the area of acceptance. 

Maybe, it can be interpreted, what the pretend pirate was saying, in an oblique manner perhaps characteristic of former sellers of hemp (or perhaps not) is,

“As with countless other things in life – large and small – you will never understand this.”

If only he had said that.

Then I would easily have understood.

1 comment:

cb said...

Just a thought - this caption often appears on images of Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers who grew hemp. Are ye sure it were a pirate...?