Grasshopper Soup: Confessions of a serial writer
What a spectacular Memorial Day weekend, although it rendered impossible all hope of a summer without sirens. To this day, whenever I hear sirens I think about the nuns from my grammar school years, and what they always stopped to do, and told us to do, whenever they heard an ambulance or a fire engine. They made the sign of the cross and said a little prayer for whoever was hurt or in trouble.
I don’t think I have ever heard a siren in 50 years without being reminded of the importance of thinking of others. I am eternally grateful to those nuns for planting that seed, which was nurtured by all the other great women in my life like my mother, both grandmothers, and also many aunts and others who were adamant about being sensitive to the suffering of others, and always thinking of others first. Although it wasn’t necessarily the best way to prepare us for life in a highly competitive, unscrupulous, dog-eat-dog capitalistic world, but we sure made that world a little better here and there.
I took the lessons of the nuns so much to heart it has been like beating my head against the wall trying to avoid being stepped on by all the jerks of the world. I’ve even tried to be like them, but I never had the stomach for it.
However, when I sit down to write a column, I am under no obligation whatsoever to edit or censor myself out of concern for every single possible negative reaction people may or may not have. Someday the government might force me to include everyone else’s opinion in my column. That will be the end of freedom.
No self-respecting writer in a free society is under any obligation to cater to the hypersensitive emotional needs of every humorless, thin-skinned habitual complainer. Believing I am writing to the smartest, most understanding, unbiased open-inded people in the world means there is no reason for me to feel guilty about offending people who don’t fit that description. I am too naïve to think they even exist. I would give them the shirt off my back if they needed it, but they are on their own with Grasshopper Soup.
Starting with the best possible opinion of my readers allows me to share my ideas and convictions confidently, knowing you will give me the same respect in return. In that atmosphere of trust I am free to write unencumbered, as if I am talking to friends. And, I have more fun writing than an entrepreneur selling carbon credits to Al Gore.
Recently one of my best friends was angry as hell fire at me. He wants me to be more like the Dalai Lama, so he hung up on me when I told him I didn’t think water boarding was torture. I woke up the next morning and realized he was right, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I realized, in the light of dawn, the absurdity of my claim, I couldn’t believe I was so far off base. Water boarding is torture. No doubt about it. But, my ignorance didn’t surprise me. It certainly wasn’t the first time I had been wrong. After all, I am only human. I had strayed far from the lesson of the nuns. Sometimes it takes awhile for the truth to penetrate my thick skull. There is only one Dalai Lama, and I’m not him (but I hear he laughs like hell when he reads Grasshopper Soup).
I learn more from my critics than my fans, like my exemplary friend, who made me realize water boarding is, in fact, a form of torture. And I want him, and all of you, to know how much I appreciate you. I would do anything for you, including lay down my life, no matter what you think of me. And, if I knew you were in mortal danger, and I knew it was the only chance I had to save your life, you can rest assured I wouldn’t water board anybody to save you. I would try to find a professional to do it, and pray to God that, for your sake, it didn’t take too long.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.
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An older friend I made when I began here in 2016 called the other day to talk about the paper. I hadn’t heard from her in awhile and, well, I’ve been here just long enough…