Yesterday afternoon, I was in a bookstore. Not newsworthy. The bookstore is located close to my home, and bookstores are my candy stores. I can’t just walk by. When I step inside the doorway, the employees at the front counter wait for me to say, “I’m just going to look around. Can’t buy anything today.”
The bookstore workers are too polite to laugh or make smartypants remarks.
That store has a business subscription to Sirius xm Radio. Yesterday it was Channel 73, in case you’re keeping track of those things. Nearly twenty-four hours have passed, and I can still hear The Andrews Sisters singing Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree.
It brought back memories, even though I wasn’t around during WWII. When I was a teenager in the 1970s, my father used to sing that song with slightly altered lyrics. He replaced apple with a word that sounded similar. You get the idea.
It got me thinking. Sadly, in this world, a lot of us LIVE under the Asshole Tree. It’s in bloom year-round, too.
I know just a little bit about the science of our ecosystem, and how even the ickier things in nature, including the Asshole Tree, are necessary to keep the rest of the world in balance. By the 70s, we hadn’t done nearly as much damage as we have since then, but we were seeing hints that the environment was reacting badly to something.
I grew up in a hill area of Oakland, California, east of San Francisco. The neighborhood was about a thousand feet above sea level, and the couple of times during the 1960s when we had snow at that elevation it didn’t stick to the ground. It snowed a little more often and did indeed stick to the ground during the 70s, though. We also had a two-year drought during that decade.
I cannot tell a lie. I cut down the Asshole Tree when I was sixteen. I knew it was wrong, but believed my actions could be justified by blaming the victim. I didn’t want to live under the Asshole Tree anymore, and the damned tree wasn’t letting go. The way I saw it, I was the true victim.
There was no law against cutting down that tree. I couldn’t be prosecuted, but the stigma was tremendous. Everyone knew what I had done. I became a social outcast, which was really dumb because the tree grew back soon after. It was a resilient little fucker.
The tree I cut down — and mistakenly thought I had removed from my life — was hauled away, and later its fate was described to me. Without going into specifics, I can assure you it was used to make the type of printed material which is sold everywhere, including the classy bookstore where they can’t keep me away.
Okay, I may as well come clean here. Very soon after I did the unspeakable, the premier issue of US magazine hit the stands.
Cutting down that tree was the worst thing I’ve ever done.