As the years pass, life’s questions have lost their rough edge. I don’t know why. When I was in the fifth grade, adults asked me questions that curdled my blood and clabbered my brain, questions that made the ancient Sphinx’s inquiries seem like first-grade riddles.
Since then, I have acquired a bit of knowledge wrapped in a chronic guilty conscience.
After grade school, parents, teachers and, eventually, wives continued to ask me unanswerable questions. the most pointed of all was a single syllable: “Why?”
If I shot a chicken with my .22, an adult would appear within seconds and demand to know, “Why?”
The question made my brain sizzle. I didn’t know “why?” My interrogators did not know “why” either.
Once, I tossed a large wastebasket full of paper trash out of a school window. Administrators were bound and determined to find out “why?”
They never did.
A cop caught me driving 20 mph over the speed limit. You know what he wanted to know. I told him I had no idea. He wrote me a ticket as long as my arm.
Bailey was a middle school friend of mine. He was smarter than I was. A bunch smarter. He had a genius IQ and the common sense of a gnat.
The big kids called him “Goofy.”
Bailey was always doing something, something clever and dangerous.
He made solid fuel rockets, Molotov cocktails and water cannons. He collected comics and was an ardent Superman fan. After he flew off a shed wearing a tablecloth cape, the doctor asked him, “Why?”
He launched into a long tale of how Superman acquired super powers that made perfect sense in the context of Dell Comics’ astral physics.
The doctor tending the compound fracture of his shin bone told him to shut up and sit still.
I could have answered the doc’s question. The kid jumped off the roof because he was goofy. Everyone knew that.
Of course, I am not the only one plagued with the “Why” question. Bradley Manning, an Army PFC with the face of a fifth-grader, had everyone wanting to know why he wanted to wear lipstick and steal military secrets. A shrug and a mumbled “I dunno” is the all-purpose answer to the question. It’s like a pair of vise grips - it will serve you working on a D-9 Caterpillar or a Rolex watch. It does serve, but not well.
Bradley is now Chelsea Manning. Why? Because he says he is.
Why did Edward Snowden steal a haystack of top secret National Security Agency documents and run off to hide in Russia? Probably because he thought girls would swoon for him once they caught a whiff of his espionage.
Snowden’s father flew to Russia to meet with his son, no doubt to ask him … Y?
Of course, his son doesn’t know Y? Ask Putin.
Why did Snowden seek asylum in Russia? Why did Russia grant it?
Why do the British call the whole Snowden affair “Snowden Gate?”
Why O Why O Why?
The Brits don’t know.
And so do I.
Sen. John McCain snagged an Alaskan governor to run as his VP. Sarah Palin was attractive, sharp-tongued, surely cocked to the right and could see all the way to Russia from her back porch. Maybe she could see Snowden talking to his dad.
Asked why he chose such a lightweight, McCain said, “I unh, mumble, mumble, sheesh.”
Well put, senator.
Not so well put was a letter to the Gazette by Max R. Lenington, a local elected official who called the president a racist, Leninist, Communist, Socialist and Free Silver Advocate. (I made that last one up, but it seemed to go well with the mix.)
The Gazette labeled Lenington’s letter, “Why I hate Barack and Michelle Obama.”
Lenington is Yellowstone County’s assessor, treasurer and county superintendent of schools. We can assume these are piddling jobs, else one man could not hold them all at once.
Why would Lenington slander a president so? Because he believes himself to be a gentleman, scholar, judge of good whiskey and a patriotic Republican.
Or maybe he’s just joking.