Most of us, whom have this desire to be labeled as something instead of just ‘being’, will also, inevitably, label some-thing instead of just letting it ‘be’.
(Make sure to click the links embedded throughout this blog for ‘extra detail’)
Before my wife and I were married, she worked as a teacher’s assistant for the medical school she’d just graduated from. She was well liked among the students she helped. Unfortunately for her, she had to quit her job in order to fulfill her role as my eternal love slave, cooking me 3 squares a day, raising our tribe of wild spawn, preparing the virgin lambs for slaughter and the candles for the séance, and appearing by my side any time I ring the brass chime infamously known as “Mr. Bell”… because that’s how I roll. Besides, what do you say to a woman with two black eyes? Nothing… You’ve already told her twice.
She received many parting gifts from her students the day she left the school. Cards, balloons, syringes filled with random bodily fluids. However, the gift which stood apart as a glorious beacon of awesomeness from the rest was the Automatic Label Maker by Dymo.
Thanks to this shiny new nifty electronic contraption, no longer are we required to rely entirely on our memories to recall the names of common household items.
“Yes, that’s a ‘DOOR’. I practically mistook it for a porcupine walking a dog.”
“Why, thank you. I may have forgotten this is ‘MRS. COFFEE’, our previously unnamed coffee maker, if it weren’t for this giant label glued to her bosom. She greets me every morning with her hot, sexy, steamy gurgles of caffeinated eroticism.”
“Whew! Good thing I didn’t stick my face in that tank filled with ‘¡Pescados del Asesino!!’”
“Hey babe? Is this bean dip or tuna fish in the Tupperware bowl? Oops, never mind. The label says, ‘Mayonnaise’. Want me to make you a sandwich?”
“I’m sorry… I know you’re one of my kids. But which one are you again? Here, put this label on your shirt.”
…Plus, plants & other inanimate household objects take on somewhat anthropomorphic quality with monikers depicting the sort of spirit which might be destined to inhabit such places.
At least plants stand a better chance of being watered regularly if they possess a human name…
Blaize is a healer; an aloe Vera cacti with an attitude… thorny, horny, and ready to soothe your sunburn in exchange for a possible prick on your finger.
Lacuna was a transplant from the mason jar of water which once sat on the window sill of our previous apartment (another parting gift from the students). It’s an ironic nod to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Claude just looks like he’d be better suited on the nightstand of a retirement home bedroom. Grouch.
Tina is a fat lard and needs to eat some ham.*
Danielson is a bamboo growing in the shape of a heart, with the mind of some kid from Racita, California, who gets beat up by bullies daily.**
Herb grows basil, cilantro, and parsley out of the soil filled ports in his pot.***
And then we have a family of authentically-wooden, synthetically-Aboriginal masks from Pier One, the Hyde Park Street Fair, and a few thrift stores in Garden City. Each has their own purpose for being as well. Why? Because ye whom controls the label maker controls how things are labeled. If you can control how things are labeled, then you can sway the vote.
Manny, Moe, and Jackie are retired DJ’s. I once owned a 100 disc CD changer. I’d press the button labeled ‘Random’ and the Music God’s would decide which genre of song would be played next.
Manny loved the dark stuff but had tendencies to take control of the selection (much to the other’s disapproval). A huge control freak, he is. It wouldn’t be uncommon to hear long ballads from Tool, followed by more Tool, and then some remixed Cure songs.
But, every now and then Moe would slap Manny’s celestial hand and take the power back****. Being the Basshead he was, Moe couldn’t get enough of Mariah Carey, Boys 2 Men, Destiny’s Child, or Justin Timberlake. Not my cup of tea, but hey, who am I to disagree with mystical wooden deities hanging from a nail on the front room wall?
Manny & Moe were alpha-God-males, so they butted heads frequently. They weren’t above chivalry though. Both of them were fully aware of the old adage: “If the female in the room isn’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy.” The two would take turns allowing Jackie a chance to spin The Cranberries, Sarah Mclaughlin, Norah Jones, and Jewel. This made her very happy.
In the back corner, Omar, (an overly-circular, yet finely polished mask) watched them with disdain and an occasional sarcastic Sniff, while Jaysen (a purple Aboriginal statue standing on the table over the magazine rack) is tired of the bickering. He only wants the problem solved. Often times we’ll use Jaysen to diffuse our disagreements by taking turns holding him while we’re in a mood to scoff at each other. We’ve discovered this: It’s sure tough to keep a sour face when you’re holding a wooden man with a long multicolored feather mullet in your hand.
It’s true. If it weren’t for God inventing the electronic label maker, I’d have no way of knowing if I were reading the Bible, Everybody Poops, or The Anarchists Cookbook. It quickly becomes all too easy to look at some thing’s (or some one’s) “Label” and assume you know everything there is to know all because of the Word printed on it.
Oddly enough, you can’t really make labels for human beings without it backfiring. You’ll successfully create a strange reaction within the minds of the wearer as well as the minds of people who walk by and read them. Soon, the baseline for our judgments relies almost exclusively on the labels we read. The highly scientific (made-up) theory goes: if you slap a label on your forehead, telling the world what you’re all about in one Word, the Word literally comes alive and wraps itself around your psyche. Suddenly you ARE whatever the Word says you are. And, the longer you wear the label (either yourself or someone else has made for you), and repeat the Word to yourself daily as you look in the mirror, the deeper within its trance you are swept.
Our tendencies to label every emotion, lifestyle, and thought have found a good home within social networking sites. With the invention of ticking predetermined information boxes and a fill-in-the-blank mentality, it only takes a few quick mouse clicks to buy a one-way ticket to a soapboxing 15 minutes (or hours) of fame. Folks who wander over to your profile will read the labels, look through a couple self-captioned pictures, and flip back through the status updates, quickly drawing the conclusion on what they believe you to be all about. We subconsciously disregard that it’s only a label (or a group of labels) after all, which can be dynamically altered depending on how opinionated, sassy, or reclusive the day, month, or bowel movement may have swayed us. But, perhaps that’s just my neurotic spin on it all. Sometimes being consistently inconsistent throws your ‘fans’ off the scent of what you’re truly all about. Sometimes I’d rather not take the whole mess too seriously. Sometimes labels should be taken with a boulder of salt instead of being interpreted literally.
I enjoy changing my personal labels on these sites to things like:
- Atheist (or agnostic… depending upon my mood for the week)
It’s funny how I probably would have received a warmer welcome coming out of the ‘I’m Gay’ closet, than the ‘Non-Theistic’ closet. Of course, A Sin’s a Sin is a Sin to religious fundamentalists, but nothing seems to cause people of faith to anticipate a lightening strike faster than a nearby atheist blathering on about improbabilities, scientific ‘theories’, and no ‘evidence’ to support any of their religious myths. Being gay is still frowned upon by many in our society (particularly those who feel like someone else’s sexual preference somehow affects them directly), but if you don’t believe in the likelihood of a deity in the sky watching your every move and you question subjects which are labeled in the Taboo category, then you’re going to burn in hell (and those representing God are quicker to damn you there than God himself), or your soul is in desperate need of saving.
You can be just as self-righteous and ignorant with an agnostic/atheist label as with one for Christianity. Just because you believe in a higher power doesn’t mean you’re beyond committing atrocities. Just because you don’t believe in a higher power doesn’t mean you have no moral code and feel like you’re above the rest.
Labels give birth to their definition by osmosis through the interpretation of the beholder. Simply slapping a Word on an item limits it from becoming anything beyond what you’ve determined it to be. And, until that nasty label is peeled off and that item seen openly for its beautifully raw qualities and imperfections, you’ll never get past the Word you titled it.
You may as well grab a couple extra packs of batteries and some more ribbon for your label maker and start creating reality exactly as you see fit.
*obscure Napoleon Dynamite reference
**obscure Jackson Browne reference
***not an obscure reference to anything really important
****obscure Rage Against The Machine reference