One of most enduring memories in my life is when I won a key chain at a county fair. I acquired this key chain by no small feat, as it required me to accurately guess which of five pigs would win a race. I chose Pig #1, and Pig #1 ran its little bacon-flavored heart out for me. In the end I won a glorious key chain that read "Heinold Pig Racing Team," which was a travesty because I was four and didn't own any keys. If I did own some keys at that age, then winning that pig race by proxy would have been a shining example of everything in the universe falling into place perfectly.
Winning the pig race created an anachronism in my life. There was this key chain for me, yet there were no keys for me. I would have to grow and mature to be able to make use of this trinket, thereby investing a large percentage of my future into a small piece of county fair memorabilia. I was not ready to use the item in my possession, and there was no guarantee it would hold any emotional value to me in the future when I matured enough to handle the responsibility of unlocking things with keys.
Life is full of countless failures and shortcomings, and that's the order of things. The passage of time is a gigantic puzzle, and the pieces are jumbled all over the universe, constantly being resorted. Sometimes the pieces are in the right place, and other times they are crudely forced together, revealing the childish frustration that often underpins existence. The celestial hand that guided Pig #1 to victory had no idea what the celestial hand that awarded prizes to 4-year-olds was planning. It's chaos up there, pure chaos.
In times of internal turmoil I often write messages to Dr. David Thorpe, because he owes me for making me feel guilty about liking music as well as sounds in general. He set out to cheer me up from my slump by advising me to think of bad things. He then helped out with some ideas for bad things of his own, and together we created a bulleted list of bad things in general. Read this list and remember that no matter how bad things are, at least they are not included on this bulleted list.
A duck with no friends, alone in a pond of infinite potential
A baby panda who skinned his knee and daddy is too busy to kiss it
A little kid with polio writing a letter to god but then running out of stamps
An octopus using its eight tentacles and 1,600 suction cups to type several lengthy suicide letters at once and its ink to print them
A rake that doesn't know it's a rake and tries to get a job
An island with two palm trees but no coconuts
A porcupine getting married to a nectarine
A domino coming short of knocking down another domino
A mommy continent getting separated from a baby continent over a million years due to shifting of tectonic plates
A census taker who doesn't even know his own family
A lighthouse keeper who realizes that he is trapped in a Thomas Kinkade painting and quits his job to build the hillside cottage of his dreams.
A tramp who gets rich and buys a lycra bindle and a ten-million-dollar bottle of whiskey
A bunch of kids stealing a condor
A beaver dam made entirely out of sacred Indian totem poles
A continental divide that tears a hammock in two
A rope trick that is too realistic and scares a man into sobriety
A falconer with a fancy for stealing wigs
A man who becomes an angel the day after bells are outlawed
A time traveler who can't stand to be wrong, constantly time traveling to fix his own dumb mistakes
The man who would be king stuck in a long line at Arby's
A trampoline in zero-gravity
The biggest jumbo screen ever for the man with binocular eyes
A manatee driven mad by baseless guilt and shame
A revolving door tired of being the center of the universe
A monkey too old to bust open a walnut
A walnut living in a glass shell
A Tone Loc t-shirt in a thrift store with nobody around to appreciate it
A blindfolded mailbox being executed for refusing to talk (mailboxes cannot talk)
A hairdresser giving the best haircut she'll ever give in her life to a man who will be decapitated the next day
The most unique traffic cone in the world lost in a sea of identical traffic cones lining the edge of a road.
A man misses the bus and never sees his son again
The bus that hits that man's son, the future President of Sealand
A dozen turtles crawl across the road only to find out the promised land is all dried up due to a clogged storm drain
A man who falls asleep thinking about true love and has a dream about being eaten by a bear
The man who dreamed about being mauled by a bear once shot that very same bear's true love while robbing a convenience store.
A beekeeper who lost his legs to war trains a hive of bees to act as new legs, learns to run again, enters the Olympics, and gets stung by a wasp an dies.
An abused child who grows up until he's finally big enough to take on his old man, and then his old man drops dead of a stroke
A turtle too afraid to come out of its own shell due to acute agoraphobia trigged by post-traumatic stress disorder.
A kangaroo who lives in a house with really low ceilings
A boy who wakes up one day and realizes for the first time that he no longer "gotta have his Pops."
A bunny rabbit so tired of poor TV reception that he uses his poor wife's head to reduce static
A clown who cries so much that thirsty birds peck at his eyes for moisture and laughs
A bulleted list update
In closing, bad things aren't so bad when you consider the hypothetical alternatives, and there are many.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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