The Rip Post


RIPOSTE
     
by RIP RENSE

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CITY FOOTNOTES
10/23/02

    You find them everywhere. Blowing down sidewalks, crumpled up in bushes, rumpled and stained in curbside gutters. Bits and pieces of daily lives, discarded or lost, there at your feet. Each one a chapter from a story, somewhere in the middle of a human book. Call them city footnotes. . .
         City Footnote # 1: Valentines' Day
         It was very far from Valentine's Day, literally and figuratively, for the Valentines (whose first names will be omitted here.) The crud-encrusted remains of their marriage lay in a Santa Monica gutter, one gray October day.
        "Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County. . ." the 1995 document began. "IT IS ORDERED setting Hearing on Petitioner's Motion re: Sanctions, Continuing Trial, Extend Date for Business Valuation Experts to Complete Appraisals, Respondent's Motion for Attorney Fees and Sanctions, Respondent's Motion to Compel Petitioner's Participation in Vocational Evaluation for Oct. 23 blah blah blah. . ."
         Ah, love!
         City Footnote # 2: No Homework
         A piece of lined notebook paper, ripped out of a theme book, this item bore exactly two sentences, printed in a script not unlike gang graffiti. It emerged underfoot in West L.A.:
         "I HAVE NO STRESS CAUSE I DON'T CARE. F*** THIS."
         While I don't think this is a recipe for success in life, it does have its applications.
         Evidently, the young author---let's say a male, based on the bold script---had been given a homework assignment to write about stress. Evidently, he had found the assignment. . .too stressful.
         City Footnote # 3: Discarded
         The talking bear on the front of the "Tender Thoughts Greetings" card spoke to me from a lawn.
        "There's one advantage to sending belated birthday cards," he said.
         Okay, I thought, I'll bite, and picked it up. Inside:
         "They always arrive on time!"
         Ho ho. And underneath, in hasty handwriting:
         "Sorry this is late. Here's a little something to help keep body and soul together. Love, Martha."
         I figure if the recipient was having trouble keeping body and soul together, the card might have been later than Martha thought.
         City Footnote # 4: Syringe Benefits
         Next to a recycling bin:
         A copy of a memo, or series of memos, from Kim to Alex, forwarded to Dean from Kim, forwarded from Dean to Peter, who wrote back to Alex, "cc'ing" Dean, Roderick and Michael.
         Good God! It was the bureaucratic labyrinth, embodied! The Gordian Knot of human inertia, encapsulated! The reason, at least symbolically, that I can't get my dumpster replaced!
         "Alex. How are you enjoying the job?" wrote Peter. "I got a call today from Lou ____, a medical consultant who is doing some work for the SurgicaCorp (a start-up?) in Sacramento. They have an Alzheimer's drug in early clinicals which sounds like it is administered through an indwelling catheter. . ."
         Indwelling catheter? Good name for a band. . .
         The memo went on: "Currently, the end user (nurse/doctor?) fills a hypo syringe with saline, but it is critical that the syringe exterior be sterile, so they don't have to open a bulk package of these syringes and take one out."
         I don't know about you, I don't want "end users" anywhere near me with a syringe. And it sounds like they want to wipe down that syringe and reuse it just to save money on opening "bulk packages." Yikes!
         Pete's handwritten response:
         "Discuss further. It sounds like they really do not know what they want."
         Bravo, Pete! Except uh. . .why are you answering your own memo? Perhaps you should volunteer for the Alzheimer's clinicals, yourself? (If you do, be sure and "cc" Kim, Alex, Dean, Roderick, and Michael.)
         City Footnote # 5: Damning God
       "Dear God," the printed note began, there on a sidewalk near an L.A. high school, "Maybe you don't know this, or maybe you do."
          It was from "Ariel L.," and she was one despondent kid. The rest, verbatim:
         "I am very unhappy maybe you do not know why. You probably given up on me and you sent all the bad demons after me. I don't know but I had enough I am going to give up on you because you showed me no hope. Why do boys r so mean? Why don't they keep their comments to themselves. You probably made me by mistake and made me one of satans demons. Maybe you should have thought more closer of how you let people out into the world.
         "Not truly yours, Ariel L."
          There were two P.S.'s on the back of this single sheet of notebook paper:
         "You already know what the nasty comments are." And. . .
         "Why me? Why not someone else. Maybe you picked me because I am ugly?"
          Could be the benign musings of a typically troubled teenager. Could be a suicide note. Could be the anguish of a child just before raiding Dad's gun cabinet. I don't know what one could say to poor Ariel, except that she is a sensitive girl going through a sensitive time, and the world isn't as bad as all that. But that would be typical adult prattle.
          Perhaps better to say that people are mean, and they deliberately hurt one another. And yes, God should think "more closer" about the kind of people He lets into the world. Beginning with "mean boys," demographers and Madonna. And  two more things: Ariel's sensitivity and questions about injustice and cruelty demonstrate clearly that she is not one of "satans demons," but, if anything, angelic in her outlook.
          And that's about as far from ugly as you can get. 
          I took Ariel L.'s note to a high school counselor in hopes that someone might offer her comfort, but, I'm not optimistic.
          For more City Footnotes, watch this space.
      

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