Rendered Fat Content


Lord Nicolas the German (Donnus Nicholas Germanus), cartographer
Johann the Blockcutter of Armsheim (Johannes Schnitzer or Johannes de Armssheim), engraver:
The world map from Leinhart Holle's 1482 edition of Nicolaus Germanus's emendations to Jacobus Angelus's 1406 Latin translation of Maximus Planudes's late-13th century rediscovered Greek manuscripts of Ptolemy's 2nd-century Geography.
"I preemptively infringe upon my own freedoms so nobody else has to."

By the time someone gets to my advancing age, they've probably produced a long list of personal ProHibitions. Some came from well-intended professionals' advice, but most evolved into being, based upon emerging convictions and experiences. I learned at seventeen that there's nothing much worth discovering at the bottom of any bottle of Southern Comfort, the most misleadingly named beverage in the history of human civilization. I learned how to smoke before I learned how not to. Learning not to proved way harder, as it seems for many things. Bad habits are first good habits, or, if not necessarily good habits, they universally seem like good ideas at the time. They show their insidious side later, after they've weakened your resolve. They might do it that way for the sheer entertainment of it.

I've been collecting cautionary experiences since I started experiencing.
I finally stepped on enough honeybees to convince me to wear shoes when walking on lawns. I maintain a strict ProHibition about walking around unprotected in the sun, though I inherited this one from my mom, who had some skin patches carved off her to deal with nascent skin cancers. Melanoma didn't kill her, but it caught my attention anyway, enough for me to observe a strict ProHibition as an avoidance strategy. When I hear people speaking of their freedoms, I tend to start thinking of my many, many, many ProHibitions I've concocted. I figure that my personal freedoms need a few self-imposed boundaries to be meaningful. Unbridled freedom seems unnecessarily perilous. I believe, and firmly, that the primary difference between humanity and a jackass might be that there are some things no self-respecting jackass just won't do, regardless of the circumstances, and so I try to model my personal behavior more after jackasses than humans. (I intended that as a joke, but since I felt the need to explain it, it didn't work.)

I read Judge Penfield Jackson's anti-trust ruling against Microsoft, so I decided to avoid Microsoft's products. I watched the damage from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and read about the shameless way Exxon weaseled out of their responsibilities, so I give their gas stations a wide berth. I will not shop at Walmart because I do not want to support their business model. I worked with one of their suppliers and I learned all I ever wanted to know about predatory capitalism. I won't watch anything broadcast on any Fox station, news or not, though I grant myself a pardon when they monopolize World Series coverage. I gave up a couple of my favorite series when I set my Fox ProHibition because I thought and still believe that their corporate philosophy was and remains poisonous. I believe history's validated my conviction.

I delay dinner until after I've meditated, even when my schedule gets turned all sideways and delays preparation until eight, nine, or ten o'clock. Some days, my ProHibitions seem like all I've got left. It seems as though, should I abandon those, I wouldn't know who I was anymore. I believe myself to be more civilized than I ever was before, thanks mostly to my many ProHibitions I observe. Please do not speak to me of all the stuff you do just because you can. Tell me stories of how you to came to choose not to do what no imperial mandate could ever forbid. Complain all you want about executive over-reach infringing upon your presumably God-given rights. Complain as if any of that really matters. I felt a certain pride that when the mask mandate finally came down, I'd already gained that habit and couldn't in good conscience walk around bare-faced anymore. I preemptively infringe upon my own freedoms so nobody else has to.

As I age, I find some reassuring solace in formally acknowledging my limitations. I consider my ProHibitions my most defining traits. I understand that they might make me seem awfully picky, but they represent who I've finally become. Through this interminable lockdown, I've noticed my ProHibitions expanding. Places I once felt no guilt about walking into have become forbidden, though they're still open for business. I watch others enter, feeling some distress about their choices, but I long ago learned that I dare not attempt to impress my personal ProHibitions on others. They remain free to enforce their own as I maintain my own liberty to forbid whatever I damned well please. Sometimes, I'll get sideways with someone and sort of write them out of the script. I usually feel remorseful about having done it, but I go ahead and do it anyway. I'm just trying to stay safe. Step on a few honeybees and even I concede to wearing shoes when walking across lawns.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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