Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Big Black Spider

 This is about a big black spider and I’ll get to that in a little while but allow me to ramble a bit first.

My chronic health situation (heart failure) requires me to observe certain routines every day. Others with similar situations will understand. My routine, morning and evening includes taking and recording my blood pressure. The instructions that came with the device I use to measure my pressure instructs that I need to be quiet for fifteen minutes prior to beginning the series of three readings from which it calculates an average. Since I’m supposed to be virtually immobile during that fifteen minutes I don’t even “stress myself” by holding a book and turning its pages. Instead, I think.

This morning I was thinking about the statement that the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, made while speaking to the “red meat” convention held this week in Washington D.C., called CPAC. It is an annual affair that seems to occur more often than that, at which speakers vie with one another to say the most outlandish thing they can imagine about “liberals”, and at which candidates for public office – presidential candidates this year – try to convince the crowd that they are more conservative than any of their competitors and, if elected, would, on their first day in office, dismantle all the liberal programs put in place since Herbert Hoover. McConnell, in his speech, accused the Democrats of coercing agreement to their policies by turning their “liberal thugs” loose on those who oppose them. Most commentators assume he was speaking about Senator Charles E. Shumer and others.

Of course Sen. McConnell is entitled to think of liberals in that way. It would be surprising if there were not some thugs who wear the “Liberal” tag, although most of the thugs I’ve known are very closed minded and self-centered: not at all liberal. He would need to explain that a bit to make it convincing to me.

I want to believe that those who think differently than I do are honest people with good intentions who just need a little more light to make them see clearly. I want them to think the same of me. Then we can spend our time trying to enlighten each other. But when people make incendiary remarks like Sen. McConnell’s – and his was not the only, perhaps not the most egregious, one made at the CPAC meeting – I have a hard time thinking of them as “honest people with good intentions who just need a little more light to make them see clearly.” I’m tempted to think that they, themselves, are “thuggish”; having run out of logic, they turn to invective.

Those were my thoughts as I waited for my heart rate to slow and blood pressure to stabilize so I could measure it for the morning. But in the midst of that reverie I spotted a large black spider sitting on the carpet a few feet from me. He/she was of the black hairy type, about 5/8ths to 3/4s of an inch in diameter, sitting very quietly, twitching ever so slightly as he/she waited for a victim to pounce upon.

I knew what I had to do; I must first of all, remain calm until I got my blood pressure taken. Then I would need to get a couple of Kleenexes and quickly grab the spider, squashing it before its long and poisonous fangs injected me with lethal poison. All the while, as I waited for the torturously slow blood pressure monitor to work through its three cycles – each separated by a minute of “rest” – I worried that the spider would escape behind some things in the corner. I scolded myself for not removing them days ago. I would not feel secure knowing that he/she was still on the prowl.

Finally the blood pressure monitor stopped – Sys=98, Dia=67, HR=58 – not bad for a man under that much stress from watching that devil-spider. I disengaged myself from the monitor and cuff and gathered my weapons. I slowly approached the spider so my movement wouldn’t alert him/her and spoil my attack. My hands were inches from that venomous thug when I noticed that it wasn’t a spider at all. Instead it was the crumpled foil wrapper from a Hershey’s Kiss that I had thrown at the waste basket last night but missed.

As I discarded the “big black spider” – that venomous thug, bent on injecting me with its paralyzing drug, and then slowly sucking the life-fluids from my body – I thought of Senator McConnell and his fear of liberal thugs. Is it possible he might fear them less if he would take the time to get a little closer to them? But then again, some people are just as blind at close range.

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