Even the absurd and irrational have meaning

11 Aug

Firesign-Theatre-Dont-Crush-That-Dwarf-Hand-Me-The-Pliers-Cover

I drove by a Laundromat where I once washed my clothes and recalled an incident of vandalism in which I participated. It was more whimsical than wanton and did not affect the washing and drying of clothes. In a way, it benefitted the store’s patrons.

At the time I was living with two roommates in a yellow ranch house on a hill. We held two major parties a year. In the summer there was a pig roast with fresh corn and clams, and in the winter an inclusively themed Solstice Party.

The house was on a major road, with a town at both ends. We frequented a shopping center in one of the towns. It had a supermarket, a good pizza place and the Laundromat. Inside the laundry was a 3-foot square sign that we considered offensive. It read:

 

Absolutely no pizza pies to be eaten in this Laundromat.

 

In an attempt to express the seriousness of the message, the type was in red and “absolutely” was italicized. Some signs say “please.” This one did not.

Laundry signThe night before one of the solstice parties there was drinking at the little yellow house. I wasn’t much of a drinker but my compatriots made up for my shortcoming. While imbibing, we were trying to come up with a way to make the house more interesting. This was a time when one of our favorite things was listening to a comedy album entitled, “Don’t Crush that Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.” There was nothing on the record about either dwarves or pliers, and the nonsense and non sequitur of the title appealed to us. We saw it perhaps as a reflection of the times.

A eureka moment occurred around 2 a.m. One roommate grabbed a claw hammer and directed us into his vehicle. We drove to the Laundromat.  With claw hammer in hand, the idea man jumped onto the washers and violently tore down the anti-pizza edict. We drove back to the yellow house and nailed it to the front door.

This was our non sequitur.

In addition to setting the mood for our party, the sign removal was viewed as an act of liberation. People now could freely eat pizza during their mindless waits.

Pizza-Wallpaper-pizza-6333801-1024-768The party went well. In those days the little yellow house drew big crowds. Reaction and comments to the sign were favorable and convinced us we had done the right thing.

After the party we left the sign on the door. It said so much about us.

When the landlord came for a visit, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the sign. He also expressed great confusion. We tried explaining its purpose and meaning but it was like Picasso trying to explain his work to Michelangelo. The landlord was as offended by the sign on his door as we were by the sign in the Laundromat. He ordered it taken down.

Where that sign is today I cannot say. But I hope it is somewhere.

Looking upon wanton vandalism with older eyes, I cannot fathom why someone would destroy something of worth for no apparent reason. Still, I try to remember the laundry sign and the bafflement of the landlord and compare his bafflement to my own. As a result, the past and the present have become a lesson in life, crime, politics, culture and international relations.

The lesson is this: No matter how irrational something appears, deep in the heart of someone or some group, there is always a reason for it.

Lanny Morgnanesi

 

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