Alone and Palely Loitering

You walk past them at lunchtimes and at smoko, you see them sheltering under eaves in foul weather, you see them in their outcast clusters, you see them and you avert your gaze for fear your concern will offend.

They are many, these persons of all ages, members of an underclass. If they were to unite as voters they’d overthrow governments. If they were to become radicalised we’d tremble in our beds. But no, they do nought to us and all to themselves. These human persons harvest leaves and dry them and chop the dried leaves finely then wrap the product in a cylinder of paper. Carefully, accurately, with practised fingers, they burn the leaves, then hungrily, deeply inhale.

Alone in the animal kingdom these sentient creatures do not flee from smoke.

I see them, I see my friends, who meet my gaze and smile in confession – and I am sorry to see – in embarrassment.

A long time ago my father in law was dismayed when advised by his tobacconist (yes, he saw a specialist, no mere candy vendor) that Chesterfields would no longer be imported to Australia. The tobacconist asked: ‘How many do you smoke a day?’

My father in law told him.

The tobacconist responded: ‘You are a very special customer; we’ll make sure you stay supplied.’

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The very special customer became too breathless to read a bedtime story to his grandchildren. Soon he developed a cough. Suspecting cancer he stopped smoking.

Not long after, the very special customer died of his disease and my children lost their very special grandfather.

Manufacturer Phillip Morris continues to accommodate its special customers. My friends huddle and shelter while I shudder. And I direct my superannuation to alternative investments.

A crunchier cereal than usual

While eating my breakfast cereal this morning I noticed a small brownish-black, curved item, the size and shape of a carraway seed. It didn’t taste like carraway, lacking that distinctive aroma.

As I ate I noticed more of these and removed some. The cereal I favour is GrapeNuts, manufactured in the USA by Post. It is crunchy and malty (and doubtless full of salt and sugar to enhance my hypertension and to speed the onset of diabetes.)
I really like Grape Nuts.
If you examine the packet you’ll notice the letter “K” that signifies its kosher status.
I tried to avoid eating the little brown-black crescents because, although they too were crunchy, and not without aroma, I could not be certain whether they too are kosher*,
Quite quickly I surmised that a mouse had breakfasted before I had and then used the cereal packet as his toilet. While chewing on my compound breakfast I thought of my friend’s brother who had invested all his savings in superannuation over a period of twenty years. One day the manager of his Super ran away with his life savings. My friend’s brother said: “It was only money. It was never really mine: money never is anyone’s – not permanently. It came to me from others and it went to my Super man. Now he’s spending it and it’s going to other people.” I realized that my GrapeNuts were just like that money. Made from wheat and barley, they came from the earth. They passed through my mouse and now they have entered me and will eventually make their exit and return to the earth. Like my friend’s brother’s money, the GrapeNuts were never really mine. Presently they will fertilize new wheat and fresh barley an someone else can have a turn.
Perhaps you will be next.
* Guidance from rabbis or others is sought on the kosher status of mouse droppings. As we know
a Jew may drink the milk of a non-kosher animal, so long as that animal is a human. Can we consume the ordure of another mammal?

GrapeNuts

GrapeNuts