While, as I have said, my father was no philosopher king. He did say four things in my presence, if not directly to me, –folk or class wisdom, I guess I would call it—that stuck with me over the years and that have given me reason to ponder in an attempt to understand my father’s zietgiest as well as my own.
Once, he sang:
Skeeter fly high, skeeter fly low
If that skeeter bite my peter
That skeeter ain’t gonna fly no mo
Well, this isn’t wisdom exactly, but I pondered it wondering when a person would give a skeeter a chance like that to bite his peter. We forget so easily! Our own Heritage. These are the verses of a people accustomed to pissing outdoors in thick skeeter country. Like Orlando, Florida, in 1955. The land of a thousand lakes, or as we dubbed it on our swing through in 1955, the land of several trillion skeeters.
He also said:
“Same shit, different bucket.” This is a saying of rather universal dimensions, seeing that it can be applied to any two things—or pieces of shit—that are the same but have different packaging. This might be said for example of whatever difference there is between a Big Mac (piece of shit “a”) and a Carl’s Junior burger (piece of shit “b”). Or of most so called celebrities say, Brittany Huston (piece of shit 1) and Hilton Simpson (piece of shit 2). But I feel it most effectively applied, as my father did at the time he spoke it, to the two political parties. It bespeaks, when coming from the mouth of a working person, the great distance he feels between the affairs of his daily life and the mucky-mucks up there on capital hill who cannot tell shit from shinola.
“Shit’s like cream. It rises to the top.” Considered aesthetically, the co-mingling of turd-like brownness with milk like whiteness (along with the suggestion that one might accidentally drink a turd along with one’s milk), this statement is somewhat disgusting. But it is a point well made, even more so in our present day, where well packaged shit dominates the movie industry and men of the lowest, shit-like qualities, appear to run the country and the globe. In fact, the theory expressed in this saying seems so representative of experience as to be irrefutable.
Finally, and mostly sadly and stocially:
“Life is making the best of a bad job.” In the literature I have read, working class people are, over and over again, described as realists. This saying would certainly take the wind out of the sails of any idealist. And once again, the distance of the working class person from the forces that control his destiny is suggested. He works a job he did not create. He did not plan it, he did not finance it, he will make no money from; he knows moreover that the job is ill-designed, tossed together, constructed from inferior materials, and probably completely unnecessary. The one hope one has is a personal hope. If one is not to be irrevocably stained and ruined by the bad job, if one is not to lose all dignity, one must do one’s best. If there is any honor, that’s it.
Perhaps along with my tooth pick legs, and my great regularity, I inherited from the old man, as representative of his class and times, a dark realism that when brought into contact with my idealism produces an admixture of rank pessimism.