Any guru will tell you that wisdom begins with your rummaging through the front hall closet of your brain, searching for a particular piece of junk but stumbling over something completely unexpected and going “Hmmm.”
If that statement doesn’t speak volumes then perhaps the front hall closet of your brain has been remodeled into a powder room. Not only does this seriously weaken our metaphor, it raises this question: exactly where in your oblongata do you keep your figurative “coats and hats” and all that other emblematic flotsam you’ve stuffed between your ears since forever?
At the very least it calls up the unseemly spectre of dozens of “strange coats” — which may be defined here as stray thoughts, ranging from unlikely get-rich-quick schemes to fantasies involving Rachel Ray — dumped on your allegorical bed during parties. Often, after the last “guest” has taken a coat and left, you find an inebriated uncle, naked and snoring away on your personal pillow.
Keeping the metaphor alive, the naked uncle represents the naked truth. The snoring is the brain’s “can’t-handle-the-naked-truth alarm.” The pillow can be tricky to interpret. It may be the large shiitake mushroom, covered with onion dip, that you swallowed whole during the party. Or it’s the memory of swallowing the car dealer’s kowabunga and buying the five-year extended warranty that covers everything but parts, labor and anything involving the engine or glove compartment.
Anyway, we were talking about wisdom and the front hall closet. I’m addressing this to men, by the way, because women were out in their gardens the day the wisdom truck came down the street; most of the men were in the house in their underwear, belching, scratching and watching “Fast and Furious 6” and liking it.
Let’s say that you and your first wife — who, by sheer coincidence happens to be your current wife — are invited to a wedding that you really don’t want to go to because you can’t remember who the people are who are getting married and couldn’t care less.
Weddings require you to dress up: collared shirt (worn fewer than seven times since last ironing); never-worn birthday gift tie with tiny red and blue poison dart frogs that sometimes seem to move; formal church pants whose pockets are stuffed with olive pits wrapped in crumpled tissues (from the last wedding, or possibly post-funeral reception); a dark, muted-plaid sports coat, so named because someone is sure to look at you and say “Hey sport, whose coffin did you steal that from?” Finally, you must don the appropriately colored (i.e., black) wingtips.
So often in life, it comes down to the wingtips — the largest species known in the feets taxonomy. Bigger than a breadbox, yes, but not so big they can’t fit into a pair of Winnebagos.
Let’s say you’ve put on the left wingtip but you’ve looked everywhere and can’t locate the right one. Hence your foray into the “front hall closet” where you dig through a “box” of old ice skates, gloves, golf balls, mufflers, hundreds of loose Legos and, voila! a shoe.
The good news: it’s a black shoe and it’s for your right foot. Bad news: it’s not a wingtip. It’s a sharply pointed Italian crotch-kicker that secures to your foot with a shiny buckled strap. Sadly, it hangs by a thread.
And here is where the seeds of wisdom (the Legos) blossom into a sublime truth worthy of Confucius or Gimli, son of Gloin. As bold as it is ridiculous, this truth cannot be denied. You’ve been to weddings, you’ve been to funerals, you’ve been to branch bank openings and all of them can be summed up in one undeniable reality:
Nobody ever looks at or gives a crap about a guy’s shoes.
You smile as you slip on the deadly stiletto-shoe and fasten the buckle with electrician’s tape. Not even your current love interest notices as she reviews your uniform. “You look like the pro at a Zombie country club,” she says, “but at least you’re dressed.”
Now, if some guy at the wedding should say “Do you realize you’re wearing two different shoes?” you can offer the perfect comeback: “I’ve got a pair just like these at home.”
Even more perfect, you simply let the stiletto do the talking.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.