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Patchwork

Are the easy things getting harder?
Are there now reasons the sun rises?

I never bothered with them before.

Are there places on the playground too high to fall from?
Are there people unworthy of my trust?

They all seemed to live up to it when I was short.

Have I learned too much?  Is the world undone?
The picture is in my head.
The pieces are smaller than ever.
The whole was easier than its parts.
I will sing my song,
The sun will smile me home once more.

Overcast

You know the little reel-to-reel symbol that indicates a voice message on many mobile phones? There must be an entire generation of people now using these devices whose members have no idea what that symbol refers to beyond voicemail. It should just be a cloud. And I still see sets of television listings accompanied by a little box with antennae sticking out the top. Who is using rabbit ears anymore? It should just be a cloud. Why is Twitter – or any service – using URLs at all to link people to content? The mish-mash of symbols and alphanumeric characters is really unbecoming; a blight on aesthetically interesting posts. Why don't they just display little clouds that whisk users off to the intended destinations? Map keys and Internet navigation buttons and children's picture books and freeway signs…all would benefit from clouds replacing current iconology. Much more elegant, and much more honest about exactly where our information and relationships live. My girlfriend is doodling in her notebook across the room. She should practice drawing clouds. But I'll bet she's not.

Chew

Morning Edition recently presented a piece about the burden overweight people place on our planet. The problem of feeding flesh instead of mouths is especially acute in the United States. Though we make up approximately 6% of the earth's population, we account for about 33% of the overall weight wandering restlessly over this planet's surface. We can talk about calories and cavemen by way of seeking a solution. Pollan can chide us to eat food, and we can argue about meat fat, carbohydrates, and what the French do all day long. We can even turn our food consumption into a point system, perhaps hoping that our passion for sports will translate subliminally into a winning system for shedding pounds. We have done all these things, and experts tell us that our nation's people are still growing cumulatively bigger.

Let me suggest, unoriginally, that the problem of too much food and flesh should be viewed in a less compartmentalized fashion; that we need to consider the spirit, the psyche, and the entire body, rather than just the waistline. My fellow county-people, on this anniversary of our nation – when alcohol-laden, unfettered feasts surely threatens to push our share of the world's weight to 34% or beyond in a single hotdog-gorging day – let me propose a bold alternative to ever-more obsessive dieting: eat with your mouth. No. Not with utensils. Not with your hands. Put your mouth in your food and chew.

It has long been suspected that the geometries created by silverware, when used for eating, generates magnetic fields. Among other dangers, these invisible arrays probably disrupt the body's natural digestive processes and activate harmful micro-attributes in the food consumed. Furthermore, through a complex series of chemical reactions, metal repeatedly placed into and removed from the mouth siphons toxins out of the liver. When the eating session ends, those toxins are returned to the liver, forcing the organ to perform double duty. And I won't bother going into all the things leaching out of plastic utensils. But all the physiology aside, eating with implements separates you from your food.

Eating with your hands may seem like a viable alternative (and is certainly preferable to the fork, spoon, and knife), but this, too, has its problems. Even if you wash them as well as you possibly can, your hands still function like petri dishes cultivating harmful bacteria and viral matter. Scratching our bodies and touching foreign surfaces while dining is inevitable – and normal! When eating, and especially during social events that involve food, one should never have to feel like a surgeon who has just scrubbed in. Eating should be a rough pleasure, not a delicate procedure. And while bringing food to mouth with your fingers may be senorily thrilling, it also carries a high potential of delivering into your body pathogens alongside the critical nutrients. Beyond threats to your immune system, however, eating with your hands separates you from your food.

You know what doesn't separate you from your food? Grabbing it with your mouth and eating. And this method connects you with food in many respects beyond the obviously physical ones. Psychologically, eating with your face increases happiness. When have you witnessed a child in a high chair who, released from the parental dictates to “eat nicely” or “eat properly,” appears anything less than joyous? Or who does not rejoice on some instinctual level when Randy in A Christmas Story, induced by his mother's question about how piggies eat, smashes his face into the formerly undesireable plate of food before him. His snorting and laughing becomes contagious to everyone literally and figuratively present, as the nutrious food flows into his body unhindered by implement, microbe, or negative emotion. Research in science journals has surely demonstrated that happy eating increases the body's efficient and healthful processing of food, leading ultimately to moderation and reduced weight gain. Imagine being among a table full of adults at your favorite upscale restaurant, all gleefully devouring food like Randy. All knowing that your direct connection to that food will foster a healthy figure.

At an even more basic level, look to the dog or the cat or the alpaca. These and other animals are spiritually connected to their meals. They become one with the things they directly devour. Sure, the raccoon uses its hands, but observe that creature's sour disposition. Or the squirrel's stupidity. Or the chimp's covetousness. No, the happiest animals are the ones who do not aspire to anything more sophisticated than a face planted in something scrumptious. (The great exception may be the otter, who cannot be unhappy with that furry coat and aquatic agility; also who needs the blubber to survive in the cold ocean.) Bodies passing energy in the most direct and present way unto other bodies. This is the way to benefits including, but going far beyond, the mere reduction of weight.

So grab that patriotic potato salad with your mouth, my friends! Rip that hot dog apart with your incisors, just like an American should! Exercise your freedom to chew into that apple pie sans fork! Let's eat like pigs, and enjoy the physical and spiritual benefits that accompany our liberation.

Places to start

I saw a middle-aged man today pressing down hard with his elbow on the edge of his car’s hood. He was wearing a brown shirt decorated with patches, like a boy scout, but too old for that. The car was long and angular and black. He probably bought it when he was in his thirties. Maybe that’s when he got the shirt, too. As my bike approached and then passed him and his car, I could see what he was trying to do. The hood had been somehow compressed, so that it buckled and pulled away from the frame. He was trying to straighten it out with his weight. It wasn’t working, and he gave up. I thought to stop and say, “I saw how that happened to your car.” But I didn’t. I never tell any fun lies like that anymore.

It’s not inconceivable that I eat too much mayonnaise. Especially when nobody is looking.

I don’t smoke. But once, in the middle of a run, I stopped and asked a smoker on a corner if I could bum a cigarette. He lit me up. I ran off down the street sucking on the cigarette and hacking. I was wearing tight red shorts with a yellow stripe down the side. Just like a Chinese Olympian.

People who hate their jobs should stay up much later at night than they do to read and watch movies and distill gin. They should write poetry in small apartment chambers, pretending that they are Emily Dickinson. They should think about how Edgar Allan Poe died, and imagine him coughing violently with his head next to the curb. They should work with tattoo artists to paint their walls as well as their bodies, despite the landlord’s prohibitions. They should rouse their sleeping friends, who do like their jobs, on the phone. And in person if it comes to that. Then give their worst energy to the daytime hours just to see if the American Dream comes true anyway.

If you have plantar warts, an x-acto blade is the way to go.