Monday, December 04, 2006


Pud is not vindictive; he’s too lazy. See Grave Pissing, for instance. But he does enjoy a little vindication now and then; as we all do.

Pud went on record, in an eighth-grade essay, saying slouching was natural and sitting up straight was stupid.

Forty-five years later, science has confirmed Pud’s assertion, he is ecstatic, and he expresses himself in dance, er, song and dance.

When Pud “dances” he’ll choose a phrase, today it was “I told you so,” and use it, repeatedly, over and over, as the lyrics to some familiar tune; today’s tune was the Canadian national anthem.

As he sings he dances, sort of abstract free form, it looks like tai chi, except jerkier, and the space he fills up is the entire room, plus adjoining rooms if any.

He must have gone through the tune twenty times; one verse he performed with a swiffer thingie and got every cobweb in the house. One go-through would be canonic, the next highly melismatic.

He did a series of four verses, each of which was a single melisma on one of the words. So we heard O Canada sung through with just the word “I,” then again with just the word, “told,” and so on.

Costume changes on-the-fly, lighting changes, a whole mini-production, this is what Pud lives for. It makes me happy just to see him so happy. He’s like a four or five year-old, which I fear was probably the apex of his career.

When he finally stopped and I pointed out all the cockamamie contrarian assertions he’s made that haven’t proved true. “It’s luck,” I said, “like a hole-in-one.”

Pud just scowled, gave me the finger, and performed another five rounds. Good for him.

Well past the age of eighty my mom got news from a radiologist looking at full torso films: my mom had pronounced scoliosis, curvature of the spine, which was a congenital condition.

One of the themes of my mom’s childhood was being told to sit up straight. Her continued failure to sit up straight was judged by her parents to indicate some moral defect, or just stubbornness. Why wouldn’t Loretta just sit up straight?

The scoliosis news provided some vindication for my mom, if somewhat belatedly. There was nothing wrong with her character, there was something wrong with her back.

This is a happy benefit of science’s slog into darkness: conditions thought to come from moral defect are shown to have physical causes.

Stomach ulcers, for instance, were thought to be caused by stress and/or diet with behavior modification (reduce stress, eat bland) as the usual prescription. Then, in the last thirty years, researchers discovered that 80% of stomach ulcers are caused by bacteria, for which effective medicinal interventions were available.

People who sit up straight are creepy. There’s a kind of office-girl (and office-boy) whose back never touches the back of the chair during an hour-long boring presentation around a conference table.

Sitting up straight makes them look proper, and alert, and attentive, when in fact their attention is consumed by the back pain that only increases in severity as the speaker drones on.

It’s a kind of pretend. It’s almost like they’re holding they’re breath till the ordeal is over.

But not just office girls, but yogis and ballet dancers and gymnasts, with their straight backs, make me uncomfortable.

TV footage of fairly primitive Amazonian tribes shows them lying around in hammocks all day, or sitting in the ground slumped forward over their work. Verticality is the exception, and is always purposeful.

“I’m a Yanomami!” Pud exclaims.

This is the least dangerous delusion Pud has had in weeks, so I let it slide.

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