How I Became A Sociopath

I wasn’t born a loner – but I was born with a brain condition which almost guaranteed that outcome.

When I was almost three, my Mother gave birth to my brother, a sickly blue-baby which required a lot of care and attention.  I was not abandoned, but I had a lot of alone time, in a neighborhood with no other children my age.  The pattern was set.

A bit of amateur observation and analysis by others, later, in my adult life, indicates that I am probably on the autism scale, a high-functioning Asperger’s.  I could have been charitably described as ‘delightfully naïve.’  I do not read social cues.  I was intelligent, not a hick, or a rube.  I was open, friendly, inclusive – and I got shit on!

The nearest boy my age was two blocks away, just beyond a parkland with a lake in the middle. He regularly played with a boy a year older, who lived next door.  I occasionally hung out with them, but slowly realized that they only tolerated me to use or abuse me.

At our end of the little lake, the cedar trees grew closely, up the embankment, pierced by a few game/people trails.  The far end could not be reached without going out to the street, and around, because of a minor geological formation, and a field of stinging nettle that I regretted finding – until I discovered a way past.

At the far end, there were open areas of tall grass and weeds.  The cedars were in individual, teepee-sized copses.  I stuck my head into one of them, to discover that the outer foliage blocked the sunlight, and the interiors were hollow.  FORTS! Just what every 10/11-year-old boy needed.  I could hardly wait to show my companions.

When I excitedly led them to see my discovery, in the first copse we entered, there was a ‘machine gun’ – a wooden toy that some father had built, with a crank and a clacker on one side.  Suitable for a 6 or 7-year-old, the 12-year-old culprit snatched it up and shouted, “Mine!”

A week later, when I repeated my mistake, we found a homemade hunting knife.  Instead of leaving it for the rightful owner, he yelled, “Dibs,” and grabbed it, too.  Now I felt that I could no longer explore my new play area, lest a resident denizen accuse me of stealing these items.

At the edge of the downtown retail area, there was a dilapidated storage building.  I learned how to slip past the loose rear doors.  Among other things, it contained three non-functioning pinball machines.  Often coming or going, I would slip in and stand at them for five or ten minutes, popping the balls up, and propelling them up, to watch them carom around randomly, and disappear.

When I inadvertently revealed that I knew how to get in, they insisted that I show them.  Standing around, watching steel balls doing nothing, didn’t entertain them.  The older culprit pried the end railing off all three machines, slid the glass covers down, and had me remove all the balls.  Three machines – three of us – we each got five 1-inch ball-bearings.  I accompanied culprit #1 back to his house, on the way to mine.  As I walked across his lawn, I heard him call to me.

His old house had old-style, heavy wooden storm-windows that fit over the regular ones in cold weather, to add insulation value.  For rooms like the kitchen, which might become overheated, you could open the inner window, and the storm-window had a flap at the bottom, covering four round holes that could provide ventilation.

He wanted to know if the balls would fit through the holes.  They did – perfectly.  “You push the balls in, and I’ll push them back out to you.”  So I did.  I soon realized that I was poking in five – and getting back four – poking in the four – and getting back three, etc. until I had none.  Standing there, like the gullible fool I was, I said, “Push mine back out to me.”  “Nope, they’re mine now.” and he closed the flap and the inner window, so I went home with nothing but regrets.

A couple of months later, he wanted to trade comic books.   He kept his pile in a cardboard box just bigger than his comics.  As I was digging down in the box, I realized that all the ball-bearings were along the bottom.  I surreptitiously snaked them out and dropped them in my pocket.  As I was walking away, he shouted through the window, “You stole all my balls.  Give them back.”  I said, “Nope, they’re mine now.”  Even with ten balls in my possession, I couldn’t go back to the amusement site and put them back; for fear that I would be discovered and accused of damaging the machines.

I went to school with him so, one day we were walking together in a residential area that was not ours.   Twenty yards ahead on the sidewalk was a piece of paper.  It looked like an envelope.  I assumed that we would just walk up to it and see what it was.  Suddenly, he dashed forward, scooped it up and started pawing into the envelope.

When I got there, I found that it was a utility bill for a month’s electricity and water – plus enough cash to pay for it.  The owner’s name was clear on the invoice.  I felt that we should just walk over to the widow’s apartment and return it, getting a smile, a thank you, a pat on the head, and possibly a cookie.  Instead of doing that, or instead of offering to split it with me, or at least give me a small portion, he just stuffed it in his pocket.

Perhaps I read too much evil into too small a sample size, but it didn’t get any better when I had to attend high school in the next town.  Mostly I was ignored, sometimes pointedly so, but there was a short bully who loved to sneak up behind me, grab my arm and twist it behind me in a chicken-wing.  It was only because my arms were so short, that he couldn’t get enough leverage to cause me pain or discomfort.  I would ignore him, and he would get bored, turn me loose and walk away.

One day, two of the well-off guys in my class were illicitly sharing a BIG box of peanut brittle.  When class ended, I politely asked if I might have a small piece.  At next class-break, they found me and gave me a piece – which they later crowed they had both peed on.  Even today, I am amazed that people will expend so much time and energy, for no obvious gain.

I refuse to be mean.  I will not be nasty or judgmental.  I will not be an asshole.  I will not be a prankster, a troublemaker, or a criminal.  I know that there are lots of nice folks.  I’ve met many of them, but people like these seem to make up the large majority of the population.  I eventually realized that I didn’t need or want companionship badly enough to seek it from the likes of these.

To those of you who have been kind to me – and others – online, or in person, Thank You!  You are bright and shining stars in a sea of darkness.  I’m glad I could be a loner, with you.   😀  😀

Look Sharp

I recently went off the reservation my diet, and received a lovely parting gift for doing so.

I took my title from an old Gillette TV commercial – Look Sharp – Feel Sharp – Be Sharp.  I used to see them as a kid, when we watched boxing, wrestling or hockey.  I don’t know how old the ad in the YouTube video is, but they’re offering 20 tempered steel razor blades for 98¢, in a metal safety dispenser, with a built-in disposal compartment.  And if you buy right now, they’ll throw in a 35¢ tube of shave cream for free.

When I used to take the wife and daughter to the podiatrist, I got to sit in the waiting room, read a newspaper, solve a crossword puzzle.  Mr. COVID 19 won’t let me do that now.  I drop them off, and have a half-an-hour to wait.  I reward myself by driving a mile to a French fry wagon.  Two visits ago, I had their Nacho fries.  Last visit, I had poutine (above).  This last time I ordered their plain, crispy fries.

On a shelf below the order window, I noticed, what appeared to be a military dog-tag.  I picked it up and turned it over, to discover that it was a tiny folding pocket knife.  I published a post about the Leftovers knives that I possess, and later, made Hash with the ones that remained.  This is how I got some of them – I LOOK – SHARP!

When I showed it to the son, he dismissed it, saying that he could buy a package of three for $5.00.  The maker’s name, Bőker, is etched on the blade.  When I went to their website, I discovered that they call it (surprisingly) a dog-tag knife.  It is high-quality, and the retail price is $56.00 US, delivery extra.  I felt sorry for whoever had inadvertently left it behind, and almost left it there myself, before realizing that, if I didn’t pick it up, eventually, someone other than the owner would.

So, I have this lovely ladies’ purse knife, suitable as a seatbelt cutter, letter or package-opener.  What am I bid??  Offers must include the cost of shipping…. Or – I could use it as a prize in an online contest.  Guess how many marbles Archon has lost this month.   😕  😯

If you look sharp, there’ll be more of this edgy prose soon.  Slice through all those distractions, and come for a visit.  😀

Edison On Religion


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Alva Edison:

…What I have denied and what my reason compels me to deny, is the existence of a Being throned above us as a god, directing our mundane affairs in detail, regarding us as individuals, punishing us, rewarding us as human judges might.  When the churches learn to take this rational view of things, when they become true schools of ethics and stop teaching fables, they will be more effective than they are to-day… If they would turn all that ability to teaching this one thing – the fact that honesty is best, that selfishness and lies of any sort must surely fail to produce happiness – they would accomplish actual things.

Religious faiths and creeds have greatly hampered our development. They have absorbed and wasted some fine intellects. That creeds are getting to be less and less important to the average mind with every passing year is a good sign, I think, although I do not wish to talk about what is commonly called theology.

The criticisms which have been hurled at me have not worried me. A man cannot control his beliefs. If he is honest in his frank expression of them, that is all that can in justice be required of him. Professor Thomson and a thousand others do not in the least agree with me. His criticism of me, as I read it, charged that because I doubted the soul’s immortality, or ‘personality,’ as he called it, my mind must be abnormal, ‘pathological,’ in other, words, diseased…

I try to say exactly what I honestly believe to be the truth, and more than that no man can do. I honestly believe that creedists have built up a mighty structure of inaccuracy, based, curiously, on those fundamental truths which I, with every honest man, must not alone admit but earnestly acclaim.

I have been working on the same lines for many years. I have tried to go as far as possible toward the bottom of each subject I have studied. I have not reached my conclusions through study of traditions; I have reached them through the study of hard fact. I cannot see that unproved theories or sentiment should be permitted to have influence in the building of conviction upon matters so important. Science proves its theories or it rejects them. I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.

I earnestly believe that I am right; I cannot help believing as I do… I cannot accept as final any theory which is not provable. The theories of the theologians cannot be proved. Proof, proof! That is what I always have been after; that is what my mind requires before it can accept a theory as fact. Some things are provable, some things disprovable, some things are doubtful. All the problems which perplex us, now, will, soon or late, be solved, and solved beyond a question through scientific investigation.

The thing which most impresses me about theology is that it does not seem to be investigating. It seems to be asserting, merely, without actual study….Moral teaching is the thing we need most in this world, and many of these men could be great moral teachers if they would but give their whole time to it, and to scientific search for the rock-bottom truth, instead of wasting it upon expounding theories of theology which are not in the first place firmly based. What we need is search for fundamentals, not reiteration of traditions born in days when men knew even less than we do now.

WOW #70

I was recently reading an historical novel.  In it, a commoner performed an uncommon act of intelligence and bravery.  As a reward for this selfless act, the Grand Panjandrum – or Grand Poobah – they both indicate a pretentious or self-important official, like a High Muckedy-Muck, bestowed upon him the reward of a

Carucate
[keyr-oo-kate, (yoo)]

Because I was reading a dead-tree book, I couldn’t just tap the Kindle screen to find out what a carucate was.  I had to play Twenty Questions until I got upstairs to the computer.  Was it a gem – a jewel, like the Blue Carbuncle in the Sherlock Holmes novel?  Was it a lavish dinner in his honor?  Was it a warm, if not willing, bed-companion?  Was it a mani-pedi down at Omar’s Tent and Sail Shop, and Spa?  Don’t ask – don’t tell.   😉 

It turns out that it’s another archaic measurement quantity, equal to 40 acres of land, or a quarter-section – one quarter of a square mile.  It was the amount of land that a team of oxen could plow, and the amount of tilled land that it took to produce enough food for a farm family.

While the measurement is described as square, especially those with water frontage, were a mile long, and a quarter-mile wide, farming spaghetti, or rhubarb.  It was hard to turn an ox-team and unwieldy plow around. It was easier to let the team catch their breath, and just start another furrow in a straight line, for eight furlongs, and this gave more tenants shipping/travel access . Quebec’s Eastern Townships, in Canada are like this, only larger, all fronting on the St. Lawrence River, and looking like a bowling alley on a map. 

Was it possible that this Grand Vizier – Why do all these $3 potentates describe their titles as Grand??! – wanted this potter…. or leather-worker…. to leave the city, and become just another subsistence farmer??  He could sell it, or lease it to a share-cropper.  At least he took his dictionary along, and I learned a new old word.  😀

’18 A To Z Challenge – D

Challenge '18
Letter D

 

 

 

 

 

It was inevitable, destined, pre-ordained, foretold even, that the blog post for the letter D, would be about

DESTINY

Do you believe in destiny?  Do you believe in providence, or fate?  Do you believe in prophesy or divination?  Do you believe in shwarma karma?  Do you go to astrologers, card-readers, fortune-tellers, or palm-, or tea-leaf readers?  See me early next month when I publish my F Is For Fools Alphabet Challenge post.  At the end of it, there will be a $100/ticket raffle for the Eiffel Tower.  Like Stevie Wonder said in his song, if you believe in things that you don’t understand – that’s Superstition. (Click to listen)

Like the belief in the unprovable God, I don’t believe in any of the above.  According to some of the smartest guys in the world, the flow of time is continuous and one-way only.  While a lot of con-artists people have claimed to be able to see the future, and a lot of gullible marks buy into it, no-one has ever proved that they’ve done it.

The Bible and the Christian religion are full of ‘The Prophets.’  I see a bunch of guys who made a lot of vague statements, and then took credit when something obvious occurred.  Even the Prophet(?), Elijah, who ‘predicted’ the birth of Christ, got it wrong.  He stated that the Messiah would be named Emmanuel.  He gave his ‘prophesy’ to a Hebrew king as a guarantee that he would win an upcoming battle.  Instead, the king lost the war, his city, and his life.

Ever the cynic, my Father told me that fortune-tellers made ‘predictions’ like, “You will pass water twice before you return home.”  Well, piss on that!  There are many things in life that we can’t control, but instead of paying some swindler to predict the future for us, we would all be better off getting off our tuffets, (What??  It worked for Miss Muffet.) and working toward something rewarding ourselves.  For anyone who doesn’t, I predict a destiny of poverty and disappointment.  There are profits in being prophets.

I can’t predict that all you lovely readers will return in a couple of days – but I prophesy that I sure would like it if you do.  C’mon, help me turn some profits in my stats.  😀

Note: This was published later than usual for me because of an internet outage in my area.  Please forgive me; I haven’t forsaken you, my lovely audience.

You Want It, We Got It

Junk

The wife and I are Mr. and Mrs. Just-In-Case. Over the years, if there’s been some small, inexpensive thing that could make our lives easier, we’ve purchased it.  As I bitched about in my ‘Autumn Housecleaning’ post, the problem is that we never get rid of things we no longer use.

Living as we have, in the same houses for decades, we have accumulated the greatest collection of ‘stuff’, some of it fairly non-standard.  We lived for a couple of years beside a single mother with two young daughters.  She acquired a long-term boyfriend who was there for more than just the free sex.  Whenever he tried to clean up, fix up or paint up, she never had any/the right tools, so she would tell him to go next door, and ask Archon if he might borrow something.

A tree branch had grown over the driveway where he wanted to park his car. Would I have a saw that he could use to cut it off?  We used to go camping when the kids were young.  How about a small, light bucksaw? Perfect!

Later, he wanted to clear out a lilac bush which had overgrown a fence corner. Did I have a small axe or hatchet that he could cut out the sucker shoots with? See ‘camping’, above.  Weekend after weekend this went on, many requests common, some, not as much.  A circular saw, a hand drill and set of bits, a pipe wrench(?), tape measure, carpenters’ level, (3-foot professional, or foot-long home version?) a pry-bar, (standard crowbar or 8 inch window jimmier?) all quickly, freely provided.

Finally, she wanted to reward him for the things he’d done around her place, by baking him a cake. For this, she wanted a spring-form cake pan.  “Go next door and ask (Mrs.) Archon if they have one.”  If it involves food, ‘Of course we do!’  As I handed it to him, he asked, “Do you guys have everything?”

I guess she didn’t understand the ‘spring-form’ concept. You’re supposed to unlatch the little clip on the side to increase the diameter and have the cake slide out.  Apparently she tried to remove it with a large butcher knife, ruining the non-stick, Teflon coating, and gouging the aluminum pan.  She felt badly, and bought a replacement at a Dollarama store, but it wasn’t the quality that the wife had found.

Loupe

Even now, there are things in our house that I’m sure few other homes contain. The son owns a jewellers’ loupe, that thing that you stick in your eye and hold in place with your eyebrow, which magnifies things 10 times.  He bought it from a local jeweller after he left high school, but can’t remember why.  I’ve used it often over the years to check the detail on some of the coins I’ve acquired.

Mortar and Pestle

Recently, the wife encountered a recipe that called for powdered ginger. We have fresh ginger root, grated ginger and dried, chunk ginger.  We also have a small, powerful little electric ‘thing’ useful for such tasks as grinding coffee.  It would quickly turn the dry chunks into powder, but the wife decided to go a different way.

(To the son) “Call your sister, and ask her if we can borrow her mortar and pestle.  She just bought one that she uses to crush herbs for cooking, home remedies and aromatherapy.”

The son replied, “Why bother her? When she bought the new one, I bought her old one from her.  It’s in my room.”  It now sits in pride of place, below the overstuffed spice rack in the kitchen, groaning under every spice known to man, and a couple only to Martians.  ‘Eat your heart out bland potatoes, Matt Damon.’

Into each life, a little weird must fall. It’s just that it falls a little harder and faster at our house.  😉

Blind In One Eye

Seeing Eye Dog

A blind man was standing on the corner with his
dog when the dog raised his leg and peed on the
man’s trouser leg. The man reached in his pocket
and took out a doggie biscuit. A busybody who had
been watching ran up to him and said, “You
shouldn’t do that. He’ll never learn anything if
you reward him when he does something like that!”

The blind man retorted, “I’m not rewarding him.
I’m just trying to find his mouth so that I can
kick him in the ass!”

***

A friend of mine admitted he’s hooked on brake fluid.
When I expressed worry, he claimed he can stop any time.

***

I married Miss Right. I just didn’t know her first name was Always

***

I had a really funny joke, but autocorrect ruined the lunchtime.

******

A kid is flunking a public school, so his parents
move him into a private school. All the sudden in
the private school his grades skyrocket up to
A’s. Then one night at the dinner table his
parents ask, “Why were you doing so bad in a
public school, and when we switched you to a
private school you did good?” The kid says,
“because I knew they were serious about school.
The first day I walked in they had a guy nailed
to a plus sign.”

******