Nobody knows de lousely troubles I's seen

     Most educated people remember Robert Burns’ poems, who amongst many memorable verses and lyrics, wrote “Auld Lang Syne”, which is sung at midnight on New Years Eve in so many places around the world, having become a ritualized part of many a country’s culture, transcending it’s lyrics and verse into a classical verbal tradition.  Yeah, it was along time ago, and the dude was Scottish and talked (and wrote) in a weirder than all hell version of English, or even in what might have passed as Old English…but he was a prolific poet and indeed needs to be included as part of American and certainly, all English speaking countries’ education, as he was a significant writer, indeed. (check out: for the source whence cometh this particular one of my usual snide and idiotic comments and/or critiques, this time having the nerve to do so of his very famous poem: “To A Louse:On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church” (1786).  Heck, I was just a kid back then.  But I remember my Dad quoting the last verse of this poem, as his mother often did to children as an illustration that sometimes a person’s appearance, does not that person make; or maybe, no matter how refined a person seems, he or she has unfortunate problems like we all do; or given the span of this work, perhaps when we get too proud of ourselves, for what ever reason, we are not always viewed by others in this same fine and positive way.  Here’s the last verse:

     O wad some Power the giftie gie us

     To see oursels as ithers see us!

      It wad frae mony a blunder free us,

     An’ foolish notion:

     What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e  us,

     An’ ev’n devotion!


     When I raised my daughter, if and when I used that verse, it was simply a very entertaining way of reminding the little idiot not to trade hats with the other little buggers at elementary school, as there was the possibility of one, if not many of her friends traveling with  these lousey tiny parasites that tended to hop from one head to the other, if only for variety’s sake.  Besides, as all parents of little rug-rats know, there will come a day, when as you comb out your beautiful princess’ hair (in my case this was so long ago as to seem an abstraction, however lice are always a popular subject in our local newspaper to remind me of their reality) one day you will go completely bonkers at the sight of one or many of these tiny terrorist head lice; in order to rid one’s family of these interlopers, they must be ‘treated’ immediately or the whole family will travel with a tribe of tiny parasitic hitch-hikers upon all heads.  Also, and perhaps the most fun part of this situation, is that all bedding, clothes, and the beds themselves must be washed with hot water and strong detergent, and/or sprayed down with something particularly toxically specific to kill head lice. All this must be done (along with the rather nasty application of a foul but innocuous (for children) shampoo, and the ever popular nit picking (always a favorite) fine-combing the hair free of the lice in their larve  or egg stage) or the little jerks (your kids) just get reinfected;  so getting rid of these nefarious parasites it is a hassle indeed… 

      I am a great believer in the encouragement of early-onset microbe-phobia, to say nothing of  the promotion of fear of all nature’s disgusting or revolting realities, regardless of their particular ‘color, creed and codes’ and their consequences. These must all be openly and repeatedly brought to the attention  of all, when raising said rug-rats, er…kids.–Who says this instills fear and or neurosis?  Too bad. Those GD things are real, and so are other horrible germs, bacteria,  and some of those other little friends can be extremely dangerous too, in some way. Take it from me, I used to be one, many years ago and in a far away land.   And as for “creeds and codes“: this is a big “No No” or you could end up with a house full of computer geeks coding like crazy–this must be stopped as well. (just kidding about that, there is no safe haven for that problem.)Yowsa.        

      For example the first time I heard the TV Character”Monk”ask his assistant for a wipe, after shaking hands or having handled something or someone of a dubious and questionable nature, I didn’t get the humour implied.  It seemed a perfectly reasonable request,( and although I have no assistant, with the exception of my imaginary friend, Mrs. Tiesdale) and a perfectly acceptable act, indeed. Not that most wipes would save you from all gross stuff, bacteria, and/or lice for instance, but it’s a good start.

     I am in digression yet again, however, I recently read the currently discussed whole poem and pondered it’s real meaning to me, and how I could relate to this predicament in these days and times; I discovered that even though, the ‘fine Lady’ in the poem, who had seemingly gone to such trouble with her visual appearance was not aware that Burns viewed the louse on her bonnet; and his seeing these unlikely compatriots in tandem, his comparison between them, was unquestionably with out a likely trait. It is totally obvious that he was grossed out by their relationship; and quite  disturbed, as she, although oblivious to the lice, was obviously feeling about her self and her appearence in a positive way.  And then Burns set’s off on a strange and delightful dis”ing of the louse for homesteading on this fine lady, and not some gutter snipe, of whom he deems a more fitting and likely candidate.

     However, now I can say from inside my own experiences, that a lady could look reasonably presented, nicely groomed, or even richly turned out in designer threads and such, but have a mind full or horrible thoughts and experiences eating themselves out from the inside of her head.  Such thoughts  tend to come out at unfortunate times,  such as when writing a blog about what was supposed to be an amusing take on this poem.  I remember being questioned by the checker at the local grocery, asking me ‘what was wrong and could he be of service?’ ?  I must have had a horribly bothersome and revealing expression on my face at the time, one indicating worry or dissatisfaction, as I was actually at that time in an internal debate with the ideas of Nietzsche as opposed by Kant, both German philosophers and both developmental in existentialism.  I was trying to remember which one of these ner’do well German dudes came up with the idea of ‘ that which harms us makes us stronger.’ This being, and always was, to my mind, a quadruple thunk up load of shit from the first time I heard it till today, some 50 years later.

     But how was I to gather these ideas and opinions together in a way to answer the grocery checker’s question of ‘how I might be helped?’  I was speechless, until the idea came to me that someone waiting in line at a grocery store with this sort of  internalized mind-daemons in action, was obviously over-educated to far beyond the level of her native intelligence and in the first place has (1.) too much time on her hands, (2.) needs to review her philosophy notes and books before hitting the grocery store, (3.) needs to be made aware of the need for a serene untroubled facial continence, (4.) or learn to think quick and come up with a relevant question, such as:” Where is the salt?” or “Do you have any paper bags,” under these circumstances.

      Admittedly, I went over the top with that, but the point being: what can be worse than lice outside the head, is to be in the act of destructive and unanswerable thoughts of such a powerful negative nature as mine were, at such a time, when innocently facing the grocery clerk.  One is better to live in the present and the now, (by the way, where was the salt?) than to be thinking of such no-matter, snowballing, unanswerable, irrelevant and unseemly questionable philosophy’s in the first place.  As for example, though Carl Marx, another acclaimed ,though long deceased, philosopher managed the writing of” The Communist Manifesto”, and gained world wide fame, never having experienced a job in his entire life.  What the hell gave him the nerve to think on this scale, with so little life experience?  And why have I lost that kind of nerve, myself?  ‘Having been kicked to my knees so many times by life’s boot, that one of those knees had to be replaced by a prosthesis.  To my mind, the grocery clerk was probably the smarter person and certainly the more responsible, doing good honest needed work.  Carl Marx was a blow-hard that probably spent time in internal debate in line at the grocery (actually a far too mundane thing for him to have done…)

     I answered the grocery clerk’s question by reconfiguring my facial expression to a sheepish smile and shook my head, indicating no.  Hopefully, during that non-verbal answer, no head lice were detected or spread by my gesture, and these mind deamons are not contagious, unless expressed to others. He was a lucky guy. 

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