Skip to content

Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Category Archives: Poetry!

Today is the 10th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

I’ve always been a little baffled by the insistence that we “Never forget!”  the 9/11 attacks.  Personally, I would like to forget.  If possible, I would also like to forget the time I witnessed a motorcycle accident.  In fact, my list of “Never Forgets” — and your list, too, probably — does not include any (!) of the most traumatic, horrifying events in memory.  We tend to want to forget those things.

We  hire therapists to forget those things.

In any case, while I believe it is perfectly acceptable (and perhaps clinically advisable) to forget the horrific nature of that day, I often use these anniversaries to review my state of mind and perspective during that supersaturated day of confusion, fear, and sadness.

Below is a poem I wrote on the night of 9/11.   My goal was to write about the irrationality of what I had just seen using hyper-rational, mathematical language.  It was the only way to begin to wrap my mind around what we now refer to as The Events.

Two Minus Two / by Zach Sparer / Sept. 11, 2001

To explain humanity
or the [lack] thereof
We need not an equation.

Viscous eyes aim themselves skyward
Several sturdy symbols stand tangent
Awaiting their next proudest moment
Like invincible soldiers before battle.

They will stand until x = infinity;
Only the unthinkable could intersect
The glory of these tremendous twins.
A whole number.  Simply.  Two.

Ninety Degree
		angles
Flying like
		angels
Ninety Degrees
But not exactly right
		angles
Since they were minutes apart

Something was off.  Some
thing
was
	Awful

Ruins.
Aged 2000 years
In a few hours.
The proud soldiers now stand
Parallel to the soil.

Semi-Relevant Poem Section:

Nowadays,
it is not uncommon
to see a sign that reads:

If You See Something,
Say Something
.

This is one of the
crazier suggestions
of all time

I see
so much
so maybe
I should be
saying more?

Non-poem Section:

This is the first part of the possibly-one-part series, That Should Be A Thing!  What follows is a list of awkward social situations that I believe are common enough (and awkward enough) to warrant some kind of culture-wide understanding.

The reason I’ve used heading “That should be a thing!” is because these are the words I invariably barf out whenever I’ve decided that there is a simple, universalizable behavior that could be associated with a particular set of facts that would benefit society as a whole.

If you are moved by these suggestions, and if you are inspired like I am to make your day-to-day interactions with humanity even a fraction more palpable (palpabler?), please consider modifying your behavior in these ultra-specific ways.  In addition, if you are ever the passive party in the yet-to-be-mentioned circumstances, recognize and be heartened by any party who successfully follows through with these suggestions.

Unfortunately, unless everyone that you will ever encounter reads — and agrees with! — this entry, I may fall a little short in my quest to completely alter the course of human history.

That Should Be A Thing!

Part I: Open Door Policies

Doors are crazy.

They have many purposes (purpii?), but the two most crucial are polar opposites.

  1. Doors allow people to get IN
  2. Doors allow people to get OUT

Most of the time, this isn’t a problem.

Other times, it is.

And then there are those situations that are secretly not problems at all, but I nevertheless view as serious quandaries and determine with gusto that something ought to be done.

So here I am, seeing something and saying something.

Are You Going First or Number 2?

Problem: Determining bathroom doorway priority between simultaneously arriving entering and exiting parties.

Rule: When two people — one attempting to leave and one arriving to do their, uh, duty —  find themselves face-to-face in a bathroom doorway, regardless of who has opened the door, priority should always be given to the person entering the bathroom.

Explanation: It is important that this scenario is discussed because I believe the determinative, most crucial characteristic of either party garners very little attention during this interaction: one of these hypothetical people has to go to the bathroom.  One person is seeking relief and the other has just finished relieving themselves.

Priority is typically based on a long string of social rules and unspoken hierarchies, but in this scenario, as two parties mirror each other, strafing froward-and-back-and-left-and-then-right-and-then-right-and-then-left, only one thing matters.  Sure, one party needs to leave, but the other needs to go.

It doesn’t matter who gets to the door first or which way the door swings.

Let the pee-ple go!

Exceptions:

  1. Creepy, single-serve bathroom
  2. Priority defaults to any person allowed to pre-board an airplane
  3. Exiting person has power to fire you

The “No-Hold” Unbarred

Problem: Determining situations where the kindness of holding a door open is outweighed by inconvenience to trailing party targeted by good deed.

Rule: If the trailing party is so far back that they will feel compelled to placate you by quickening their pace in order to enter the doorway, it is proper to not hold the door, even if the the trailing party will arrive before the door has fully re-shut.

Explanation: Before I begin, let me get this initial point out of the way: Holding the door is a nice gesture.  I am not against holding the door for people.  It is worthy of a “thank you” and a “you’re welcome” and an occasional, knowing smile.

By default, you should hold the door all the time, for anyone and everyone.

Period.

Exclamation point.

That said, this would-be favor actually becomes an inconvenience if the person behind you feels the need to quicken their pace in order to do you a favor (that is, keep you from waiting in the doorway).

When the trailing member of the duo is forced to giddy up, the result is that two people have earnestly tried — and failed! — to do the other a favor.  Each intends to perform a kind act, but neither actually benefits emotionally from the transaction.

The door-opener (openor?) fails because they have unnecessarily compelled the door-openee to alter their comfortable walking pace, while the door-openee fails because they have communicated their anxiety to the door-opener.

Nobody wins.

I recognize the tendency to feel slighted when a stranger fails to use “common courtesy” as well as the pressure to “do the right thing” in every social situation, but I think we can agree that there are times when holding the door is neither courtesy (common or otherwise) nor the right thing.

Exceptions:

  1. You have already made eye-contact with the person
  2. Priority defaults to any person allowed to pre-board an airplane
  3. Trailing person has the power to fire you

So there you have it.

Spread the word!

Make the world a more tolerable place!

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP huh?
BEEP BEEP what? oh BEEP
BEEP BEEP okay-BEEP-okay BEEP
BEEP okay i’m BEEP up i’m up BEEP
BEE-

breathe in.
breathe out.
breathe in.
etc.

radio on.

a brand new day.

it’s true.

“hope springs eternal” they say
only communicating in cliche
and i buy in, hang on every word
maybe they’re right about today
that the grass smells sweeter
that everyone seems happier
as if we forgot how this story ends
(in heartbreak)
as if we can escape the inevitable
(heartbreak)
and i buying in too
smiling unknowingly

opening day!

it’s true.

i am a motorcycle now! i am a racecar!
let’s drive one hundred miles per hour i say
i want to see the time and scenery fly by
seconds and hours and cornstalks blurred by velocity
like a fastball, a meatball over the plate

i am up!  it’s opening day!  i am ready!
is the world ready?  wake them up!
why aren’t they awake?
wake everyone up, wake them!
tell them anything is possible today!
it’s true!
where are my shoes?  it’s time
anything is possible today

anything.

it’s true.

the first pitch is thrown!
and everyone reacts
as if it weren’t going to happen
“i thought this day would never come!”
you didn’t think that
you couldn’t think that
did you think that?
this day always comes
you remember
ready or not

this day always comes.

it’s true.

RING RING RING RING huh?
RING RING what? oh RING
RING RING okay-RING-okay RING
RING RI- hello?

hello?

(a pause)

hi, zachary.

hi.

are you there?

(a pause)
(a pause)
(a pause)

go to where it’s quiet she says
this is the best i can do i say
i got a call this morning she says
we lost grandma last night she says

(and i want to ask
where did we lose her?
maybe we should start looking
but then i remember
how this call started
the quiet place
she told me to go to a quiet place
just like in the movies
based on a true story
unfolding before me)

as the blood
rushes from my face
like fans for the exits

she’s not lost at all
they found her this morning

anything is possible today.

it’s true.

——————————-

Epilogue: Honestly, I didn’t know whether to submit this to the Faux Outrage universe.  This is literally (yes, literally) the first thing I wrote about my grandmother’s passing after learning of the news from my mother on Thursday afternoon.  It’s personal, not particularly well-edited, and not in line with what is normally posted on fauxoutrage.com.

I couldn’t ignore the fact that I learned of this dreadfully sad news on Opening Day.  I am a huge baseball fan, of course, but I’ve always struggled with the compelling argument that sports are objectively unimportant.  They don’t seem to “matter” in any real sense.  Time spent and thinking about baseball is time that might be better spent focusing on important details of life, like family, like friends, like social justice.  And yet, on the morning my grandmother passed away in her sleep, my mind was laser-focused on baseball.

This bothers me.

Death confuses me more than anything else since it is both the most obvious and most unbelievable part of living.  Death, with great irony, reminds us that we are living.  At the same time, without irony, death reminds us that at some point we will no longer get to hear our alarm clocking beep beep beeping away.

We walk around with this knowledge — we all know that our time is limited — but we rarely feel it.  We push push push this realization deep into the back of our minds because otherwise we would not be able to function in polite society.  Although I wouldn’t be surprised if a society perpetually aware of the temporary nature of life would be much more “polite.”

Rest in peace, Grandma, and say hi to grandpa for me, will ya? 🙂

%d bloggers like this: