Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Wisdom from Stephen King


[Ladies and gents: I'm going to be very busy for the next couple of days, so I will probably be doing some re-posts. I'll try to make it interesting stuff most of you haven't seen. Here's one that I like to contemplate periodically. - HAC]

(Earlier part of rave redacted.)

If you won't listen to me, maybe you'll listen to Stephen King. Stephen King has money and he is therefore accounted a "winner" in this society, whereas I have no money and I am accounted a "loser". Maybe that's the problem. Okay, tell you what. I am going to transcribe here a section from one of Stephen King's lesser-known novels called Thinner, and hope I don't get sued for copyright violation in my wild, flailing efforts to get through to you.

King's protagonist, attorney Billy Halleck, has been cursed by a gypsy and calls on a Mafia boss for help. (It's a strange story even by King standards.) Here goes:

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"He did this to you," Ginelli said at last."This..." He waved a hand at Billy.

"Yes. I don't expect you to believe it, but yes, he did."

"I believe it," said Ginelli almost absently.

"Yeah? What happened to the guy who only believed in guns and money?"

Ginelli smiled, then laughed. "I told you that when you called that time, didn't I?"

"Yeah."

The smile faded. "Well, there's one more thing I believe in, William. I believe in what I see. That's why I'm a relatively rich man. That's why I'm a living man. Most people, they don't believe what they see."

"No?

"No. Not unless it goes along with what they already believe. You know what I saw in this drugstore where I go? Just last week I saw this."

"What?"

"They got a blood-pressure machine in there. I mean, they sometimes got them in shopping malls, too, but in the drugstore it's free. You put your arm through a loop and push a button. The loop closes. You sit there for a while and think serene thoughts and then it lets go. The reading flashes up top in big red numbers. Then you look on the chart where it says 'low', 'normal', and 'high' to figure out what the numbers mean. You get the picture?" Billy nodded.

"Okay. So I am waiting for the guy to give me a bottle of this stomach medicine my mother has to take for her ulcers. And this fat guy comes waddling in. I mean, he goes a good two-fifty and his ass looks like two dogs fightin' under a blanket. There's a drinker's road map on his nose and I can see a pack of Marlboros in his pocket. He picks up some of those Doctor Scholl's corn pads and he's taking them to the cash register when the blood-pressure machine catches his eye. So he sits down, and the machine does its thing. Up comes the reading. Two-twenty over one-thirty, it says. Now, I don't know a whole fuck of a lot about the wonderful world of medicine, William, but I know two-twenty over one-thirty is in the creepy category. I mean, you might as well be walking around with the barrel of a loaded pistol stuck in your ear, am I right?"

"Yes."

"So what does this dummocks do? He looks at me and he says, 'All this digital shit is fucked up.' Then he pays for his corn pads and walks out. You know what the moral of that story is, William? Some guys--a lot of guys--don't believe what they are seeing, especially if it gets in the way of what they want to eat or drink or think or believe. Me, I don't believe in God. But if I saw him, I would. I wouldn't just go around saying 'Jesus, that was a great special effect.' The definition of an asshole is a guy who doesn't believe what he is seeing. And you can quote me."

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The definition of an asshole is someone who refuses to believe what he sees, right in front of him, if it gets in the way of what he wants to eat or drink or think or believe. Not bad, Mr. King. Not bad.

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