Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants, Noted Literary Scholar, Banana Biter and Poop Flinger
Good day and a belated Happy New Year to you, 3.5 readers.
I would have written sooner but I am currently enjoying a sojourn in Paris. Ahh, gay Par-ee. There’s nothing like taking a nice stroll, checking out the exquisite works of art in the Louvre, and getting a fresh croissant and a frothy espresso. Personally, I prefer to choose a nice, quiet, hole in the wall cafe where I can collect my thoughts and write them down in my journal.
After that, I fling my poop everywhere. Occasionally, people complain but I simply tell them I’m engaging in an avant garde piece of performance art and they leave me alone. The French will always bend over backwards, both in bed and in life, just to avoid stifling your creativity.
Today our lecture will be about John Steinbeck’s seminal work, Of Mice and Men. Of all the books about a jaded, angry prick forced to care for a giant dope with a penchant for snapping the necks of loose women, this is by far the finest.
While the novel itself is short, it begs many questions. The one we will discuss today may be posed as follows:
Do the friends and family who rely on us lift us up or drag us down?
If you did the assigned reading (and please fling some poop at yourself if you didn’t), you are aware that George and Lenny are a pair of traveling ranch hands. George is tasked with being Lenny’s caretaker, an unenviable job to be sure, as Lenny, due to his massive size and strength (and lack of the brains necessary to control it) ends up accidentally wreaking havoc where ever he goes.
Thus, George is never able to settle down anywhere because before he knows it, Lenny has cocked up a good job and he and Lenny must flee out of town before Lenny gets drawn and quartered by the latest person this giant has inadvertently pissed off with his clumsy, numbskull ways.
It is natural for humans to dream and yearn for lives that are difficult to achieve. When we fail to obtain what our hearts desire, it is also natural for us to lash out at those around us. “If you hadn’t done this, I could have done that” becomes a constant refrain in households across the globe.
However, before we chastise one another, we should take a step back and consider whether or not our lives would be any better if we were on our own, devoid of the person who drives us crazy.
The reader gets a sense that babysitting Lenny is a tremendous burden for George. In many ways, it is. Yet, keep in mind that at one point in the novel, George gives us a glimpse into what he would be doing if he didn’t have to take care of Lenny:
“God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool… An’ whatta I got … I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time.”
– George Milton in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
So, to recap, if George didn’t have Lenny in his life, he’d be blowing his hard earned money on hookers, booze, gambling and hotel room service. Way to dream big, George. Way to dream big, indeed.
I can’t say as I blame George. I’ve been known to enjoy a good night of hookers, booze, gambling and hotel food myself, from time to time. I just turn the hotel food into poop that I fling later.
But I digress. Think about that person in your life who drives you crazy. Is this person dragging you down or lifting you up? Would you really be doing any better without this person? Perhaps caring for this person gives you a purpose. Idle hands are, as the old saying goes, the devil’s handiwork.
In short, you might like to think you’d be doing great things without a person who depends on you, but you never know. Maybe you’d just be blowing your dough on hookers and booze. Perhaps caring for another person is, though not ideal, the more respectable way to spend your time.
Towards the end of the novel, George, Lenny and the elderly ranch hand Candy hatch a plan to pool their money and buy a little place of their own.
Sure, they’re three assholes who can’t get anywhere near a cooter without paying for it, but they hope to become an oddball family of sorts. These three assholes will work their own land, reap their own rewards and if they want to take a break and watch a ball game, they can without the boss bitching them out. Even better, since it will just be them, there will be nothing for Lenny to screw up royally.
In theory, co-owning a small farm with two other dudes would be a more respectable life for George than chasing hookers and drinking booze and, though it is unclear if he ever realizes it, it is a life that he would not pursue if he did not feel the pressure of finding Lenny a place to live where he can’t accidentally snap necks with his stupid giant hands.
In the above quote, George is given a clear opportunity to tell us what he would do without Lenny. He does not tell us that he’d be Dr. George or Senator George. He tells us that’s he’d be hooker patron George. Thus, he is, in theory, better off with Lenny because at least with Lenny, he aspires to be small farm owner George.
Here’s where things get dicey. The “Lenny is good for George” argument falls apart when Lenny accidentally snaps the neck of Curley’s Wife while he is petting her hair.
In addition to this being a horrific tragedy, it also becomes clear that George can never have any real kind of a life as Lenny’s caretaker as Lenny is so big and stupid that he will inevitably FUBAR everything he comes into contact with. Even George’s desired life as a hooker patronizing gambler/hotel food eater would be better than having to drag this giant sack of crap around the countryside, constantly on the run whenever Lenny screws the pooch.
So in the end, the question posed in this lecture is not a simple one. Only you know how difficult the person you are taking of is.
Perhaps this person lifts you up without realizing it. Perhaps your life would lack purpose without him/her. Maybe you’d become a degenerate prostitute customer/gambler/alcoholic/hotel food eater. Maybe you’re wrong about your role as a caretaker and maybe you should give this person you are caring for a break.
Then again, you could totally be right and this person you are saddled with is a total assbag who drags you down at every turn and you’d be so much better off with this person, even five expensive minutes with an STD infested lady of the evening and a gross, refried hotel steak burnt till it resembles a coaster would be a preferable alternative.
In that case, you might consider telling this difficult person goodbye. Do just say goodbye. Don’t solve the problem with a revolver as George did.
I suppose I should clarify. If we’re talking about a mentally capable person who is just being an asshole to you, then yes, say goodbye.
If we’re talking about a mentally unstable Lenny type person, then obviously you can’t just abandon this person. Luckily though, in today’s modern age, there are all kinds of programs and professionals that can help you take care of this person. Be glad this isn’t the 1930s and that you aren’t George and the only option you can turn to is a gat.
As a reminder, BQB’s attorney asks me to tell you that this blog’s proprietor does not endorse shooting people. You probably realized that already but we live in a litigious society where crooked lawyers rule the day so everything needs to be spelled out.
What observations do you have, 3.5 readers? Fling your poop in the comments. Class dismissed.