Ah, HumanityCurmudgeonSongs

September 27, 2011

I’m On a Little List

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I’ve got my sugar ration down to just fruit.  I had to do something.  All my summer play clothes are loose and diaphanous.  With the recent chill in the air I tried to pull on some real clothes and the biggest thing in my closet was tight.  Not for the first time.  For some of us, it’s always a struggle.

But now that I’m off sugar, I feel so much more energetic.  I feel capable of anything.  My joints ache less.  It’s wonderful to be alive!  I could go on and on.

Except I’m now on a list.  Actually I’m on several lists.  I come up at least twice on the Lord High Executioner’s hit list in the The Mikado.  But that was written in 1885 and some attitudes have changed since then.  Maybe.

In the story, the Mikado has declared flirting to be a capital crime.  In the town of Titipu, the authorities have frustrated the new law by appointing Ko-Ko, a prisoner condemned to death for flirting, to the post of Lord High Executioner.  They reasoned that Ko-Ko could not cut off anyone else’s head until he cut off his own. Since Ko-Ko was not likely to execute himself, no executions could take place at all.

The Mikado retaliates with a decree that unless someone is executed within a month, the town will be demoted to the rank of village.  So someone must be executed.  Ko-ko has a list of people no one would miss:

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed, who never would be missed!
There’s the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs,
And people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs.  .  .

The list goes on in the ensuing verses: The banjo serenader, the piano-organist, people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face, third persons who insist on spoiling tête-á-têtes, and “that singular anomaly, the lady novelist.”

The song ends like this:

The task of filling up the blanks I’d rather leave to you.
But it really doesn’t matter whom you put upon the list,
For they’d none of ’em be missed, they’d none of ’em be missed!


In the spirit of filling up the blanks, I’ve got my own list:

People who should be put in cages for two years until they get over themselves

People who have discovered yoga

People who have learned to meditate

People who have stopped imbibing caffeine

People who have become vegetarian or vegan.

People who have discovered the runner’s high.

People embracing the New Age belief system du jour.

People who have “found the Lord.”

People who have stopped eating sugar.


W.S.Gilbert was just cranky and looking for words that rhyme but my list has a thread: people whose self-congratulation has infiltrated their sense of what it means to be human.  Not that everyone who takes up yoga is insufferable about it, but I speak as someone who has made my own list several, ok, many times.

It’s fine, it’s good to cultivate healthy new habits.  Except in the case of spiritual experiences, it’s good to be pleased with ourselves.  But we’re alive and life trumps stoicism.  Actually life laughs at it.

For one thing, there are People.   A student brings in a piece of birthday cake she saved just for me. A friend needs a ride to the emergency room because he is bleeding profusely during my meditation time.

Now I’m cranky because I just remembered there’s sugar in chocolate.

I feel better because of my sugar ration and I hope my winter clothes start feeling more comfortable soon, but I am too old be stoical and I have never been a perfectionist.  I will do the best I can and this spout of virtuous living will last as long as it lasts.

This attitude is what gets me off my own list.  It’s what lets you out of the cage.  If you live in Titipu, you’re on your own.




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