Fundamental Truth

Here I was, casually reading my email, racking my brains for a suitable subject. Something vaguely humorous, maybe even slightly informative. And then – in a manner of speaking – it struck me – I was sitting on it. The ideal subject. Everyone has one. And it gets far less attention (generally) than it deserves. So – on to the research stage.  Getting to the bottom of things, as they say. And here is the result:   The Fundamental Truth about Tushes.

The actual moment of inspiration came from an email: A friend from northern climes wrote about the unscheduled return of winter. Her words are classically evocative.  True 21st century verismo.  Absolutely priceless:   “Some of the tree leaves have turned to fall colors again.  Talking about color changes – my arse starts off rosey pink in the mornings; then I leave for work and by the time I get to work it’s a greyish-blue  yep – confirmed – I’m freezing my arse off here in APRIL!!!

You can immediately tell she’s true Anglo-Saxon, with South African overtones. Calls it like it is.  No wishy-washy Yankee ‘ass’ – this is a full-blooded, proudly British ‘arse’.  And a true-blue one, according to said self-description.  The sort of sentence that makes a male friend realize this is an appropriate time to ‘stare at the ceiling, and think of England’.

But I must remember to commend her for the artistic juxtaposition of autumn colours with . . . you know what. Very evocative, you must agree. From the sublime to the . . . derrière?

Anyway, a few moment’s quiet contemplation sets off a chain reaction of association . . . and raises a number of philosophical questions. Among other things – how would YOU like being the butt of every joke?  Let’s face it, it’s a bum job, being a bum. Literally.

The Human Sit-Upon, the bit that devotedly follows us around, goes by almost as many names as it has shapes and sizes. Most of them humorous, some crude, and not a few quaintly euphemistic (never mind obscure). Test yourself – how many do you recognize:

arse, ass, backside, behind, bottom, bum, buns, buttocks, butt, can, cheeks, derrière, fanny, fundament, gluteus maximus, haunches, hind end, hindquarters, jacksy, keester, keister, nates, posterior, prat, rear, rear end, rump,  seat, stern, tail, tail end, tooshie and tush.

‘Ass’ BTW is the bowdlerized American version of the good old-fashioned British  ‘arse’; while derrière  – borrowed from the French, famous for their delicate turn of phrase – seems to be currently out of fashion. Great pity – inspired some very witty wordplay where London derrière substitutes for Londonderry Air a.k.a Danny Boy.  The medical profession employs the ponderously Latin ‘gluteus maximus’ a.k.a ‘glutes’;  and your rear even has a technical name: ‘nates’. Bet you didn’t know that one.

All said and done – your posterior has nearly as many names as Eskimos have for snow. As Reader’s Digest has been saying for years – it pays to increase your word power.

Some terms are used to describe real life situations (involving both people and events) – these are fittingly called: a pain in the butt.  There’s a whole world of truth in that innocuous little phrase, as you will see later.  And, incidentally, more than one piece of ‘sublime’ poetry is titled:

“An Ode To My Butt”

(I kid you not – Google it. And while ‘sublime’ is entirely a question of taste and opinion, no-one can argue that the subject doesn’t tackle the fundamental issues. Maybe not of Life, and the Universe, but, if you can’t sit down for a cuppa, or anything else . . . well – just think about it.  Life As We Know It would cease to exist. Haute cuisine, concerts, theatre, going to the movies . . . nothing works unless you can sit down. I rest my case.)

On a more practical note, it’s an essential part of each of us, but seldom gets the recognition it deserves. Unless it’s boudaciously curved, and either very over-exposed, at the beach, or posed provocatively in some flatteringly figure-hugging, attention grabbing piece of fabric. I leave the rest to your vividly fertile imagination.  (I decided to forgo use of suitable pictures to illustrate the point, and these would distract from a serious discussion of a serious subject. Then there are the eternal, confounded copyright issues.)

But, let’s face it, even if one does have a tush that evokes the green-eyed envy of Latina lovelies and causes traffic accidents – one’s rear-end spends its entire existence exactly there – bringing up the rear. It follows us where-ever we go, willy-nilly, without comment or complaint – except for the occasional impromptu remark. After all, a bum is a bum, what can one expect?  And you can’t really say something like “typical – you can’t take it anywhere” (Though quick repartee has been known to save the situation).  Shakespeare got a lot of mileage out of quips with phrases like “thereby hangs a tale” and “wind instruments”.

And, when all else fails – blame the dog.  Possibly another reason why they are known as “man’s best friend”.  As in other things, on this score women are a breed apart – silent, but deadly.

Thinking back, I realized that the last time I really paid attention to my backside was in high school.  In those halcyon days boy’s schools featured corporal punishment. It was absolutely free, part of the culture, and believed to be very character forming.  I’m not surprised our current crop of political leaders are such a pathetic, wimpy lot – I bet you none of them has ever been sent to the head-master for six of the proverbial best.

Amazing what the prospect of pain can accomplish. An excellent way to learn the art of speedy negotiation.  And stoic, manly endurance, should the worst-case scenario ensue.

The procedure was business-like – On the command “Next!” one walked in.  On the command “Bend!” one did exactly that.  This was followed by a swish, the instant sensation of a red-hot line being burnt across one’s posterior, and, a micro-second later, the sound of a whack! One then straightened up, and attempted a dignified exit.

Pity this idiot (a callow second former), who got into a queue outside the vice principal’s office, and on hearing “Next!”, made his entrance, bearing a message from one of the teachers. On the word “bend” – he bent.  (This was no place for the slow-witted. Events moved fast).  There was a meaty sound: Thwack, thwack. Bulls eye both times. (The vice head also played cricket – a great batsman. All that off-the-field practice).

Straightening up, said pimply boy squeaked “Sir! I was asked to bring you this message. Why am I being caned?”  Vice head glanced at the said note, digested its contents, and with just the tiniest hint of an evil grin grunted: “that will teach you to wake up – and speak up. You now have a credit balance . . . . Next!!”

“Next” happened to be me. A reasonably well-known visitor. Not quite a “frequent flier,”  but certainly battle hardened.  I looked the vice-principal in the eye. The image of that shocked, outraged, pained young face lingered in our visual memories.  I assumed the required position. By now we were both laughing . . . I truly can’t remember feeling anything.

Visited the old school years later – chatted with “Sir” (now promoted to head without the vice) over tea, and we roared with laughter over that memory.  School IS a great place – to come back to. Wonderful memories.

Just goes to show:  humour is the best medicine. And also proves the “mind over matter” principle. And that we never forget moments of intense emotion. I can understand why Nitrous Oxide was once so popular, and not just for visits to the dentist.  But, we digress.

If you really want to renew your relationship with your posterior, go horseback riding. Enjoy the countryside, the fresh air, the feeling of man (or woman) and beast moving as one with nature. And – no sissy stuff. Try all the gears – trot, canter and gallop.  For best results, make it an all day event.

I guarantee – you will never take your butt for granted ever again. 

Columbus was right – the real world is NOT flat. Anything but.  Click link below to download PDF.  This could save your ass . . .

Butt

Advertisements

O tempora, O mores

Once I used to go walking with an old woman who knew the name (in Zulu and English) of any plant, tree or shrub you cared to point out. And, with a little prompting, she would reveal its secret properties, medicinal and psychic. Roots, flowers, bark, tubers, were not just cures for fevers, aches and pains. Photosynthesis was just one of the tricks plants had mastered.  They were alchemists, magicians of a chemistry that had a pervasive, subtle affect on people’s feelings, relationships – life itself. Eat the wrong one, and you could be instantly dead. Use the correct ones, and one could be loved, successful, at peace even with one’s enemies.

Granny Laughter was her name. And we’d talk about the world. Not so long ago, things changed very little, even over several lifetimes. Short of something cataclysmic, the natural world just got on with its business. Time was measured by the life of trees.  Wild animals walked their age-old paths in the forests. Food, clothing, housing – all recognizable and familiar, decade after decade. What you learned in childhood came mostly from grandparents – accumulated and passed on over generations. And it remained useful through an entire life. So different from the present time, where exponential advances in technology make “knowledge” and “expertise” obsolete overnight. When last did you need to use the commands for DOS? A technology that controlled the computer (and business) world, less than 30 years ago, and was the start of Microsoft’s meteoric rise to fame and riches.

When I was small my grandfather taught me all about ingenious little contraptions that worked with clock springs, or gravity, or a combination. Not far from perpetual motion. Now things work with software, a set of instructions that starts off written in simple English, gets converted into strings of ones and zeros, and is processed by tiny electrical impulses acting on a sliver of fused sand. It is said the next advance will be to use biological computer processors. Imagine using your pot-plant to surf the Web. Will there be any curious side-effects if one uses poppies, or Indian hemp? The mind boggles at the possibilities.

Whatever transpires, one thing we can predict with certainty: today’s technology will be as obsolete as buggy whips and manual type-writers. All good and well, unless this relentless progress is dogged by the Law of Diminishing Returns – reliability decreases as complexity increases.

Does this incessant rush for newness increase our longing for a world where things were dependable, where change was measured in the growth of trees. Does overwhelming change cause us to hold dearly onto our memories. Is the past sweeter in the mind because it is transient?  Each instant of time crystallized as a snowflake whose exact likeness will never be seen again?

Can humanity go on like this – or will we become so rootless that nothing matters except the here and now.

I for one like moss. The stuff that rolling stones don’t gather. I need to walk in the woods, breathe air alive with the subtle wizardry of the plant world. It’s timeless.

.