Squid Man VIII

Episode Three Hundred Two: Squid Man VIII.
In which we elder-up.

1 comment:

  1. I moved in to my apartment about a decade ago, and at the time the city had already adopted a 911 addressing system. The idea was to logically map the existing buildings to an emergency response db that would facilitate accurate, well, emergency response. Shortly after I moved in, police rang my doorbell asking for a name I'd never heard of. I shrugged, and they backed up started examining the mailboxes. Shortly after that, I began redistributing packages that had my address, but my neighbors' names. Then, when my neighbor two doors down moved out, my Internet and power got shut off.

    My building is four units, townhouse apartments, side by side. I'm in the rightmost unit with the address of (let's call it) 43. The neighbor on the other side of my wall is 45. The neighbor next to them is 47. And the landlord lives in 49.

    I learned that the 911 scheme had changed the addresses of the entire row, treating it as one building with four units. So, emergency services, and, now, the electric and cable companies, and Amazon, all now saw the addresses as 43 Apt. 1 (for me), 43 Apt. 2 (for my immediate neighbor), etc.

    I went to the landlord to complain about the inconvenience of having my power shut off, and of being made the building's mailman. He was not interested in updating the addressing. I explained that he was most likely to be harmed by a delay paramedics might encounter. Still uninterested. I spoke with the city clerk, who brought the fire chief, and even he was unable to make headway.

    Around this time my landlord's daughter moved on site to give him assistance with a health issue. She confided in me that, among other problems, he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and that continuity was important to his state of mind. He had lived his entire life in just a few houses, all on this very street. This might account for the resistance he was displaying.

    Recently I asked how he was doing, and she noted that he was enjoying MLB, but was always thrown by the pitchers' long hair. I laughed because it was such a quaint complaint, and noted that with my kids it's not their hair but their pronouns, and the deeply set assumptions about reality pronouns reflect, that kept tripping me up.

    So there's a parallel here between my landlord, struggling with a grasp on reality and requiring that everyone accommodate his need for continuity, and my own grasp on reality as it manifests in the constantly shifting rules around gender and sex identification.

    Apropos of which, I was looking up Janice, potentially my favorite Muppet, a lefty guitarist and, feminist icon, and saw that 'trans' was the second suggested search result. I thought this funny, and pointed it out to my kids, who then responded that her being trans was 'canon'. This sent me into a minor tailspin as I worked through a bit of trans / homophobia, albeit puppet-based. All paths led to absurdity because a) she's a puppet b) my opinion has no bearing on her existence c) why should my 'Crying Game' reaction affect how I feel about this puppet anyway? (She's still the same cool chick.)

    And yet, and yet. Everyday, all day, on Twitter, folk having that same reaction about living humans, and their response is not to say, 'well, it's absurd – I'll work on accepting it'. Rather, they feel the need to make clear they feel there's a wrong that needs to be righted - often through violent words and actions. Somehow, they're missing the absurdity point.

    So the comic is about this ongoing feeling that there's something fundamentally wrong, a disconnect between how the world 'should be' and how the world 'is'. This sense seems to be so prevalent, and is often expressed via paranoia and denial. And our attempts at processing it, as expressed in the last frame by that massive change of subject (yet, still on subject in a way), are failing. As I write this, an unprecedented heat wave is killing thousands in Europe and there are still some arguing the cause. We are all demented, seeking continuity.



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