Saturday, March 6, 2004

It's a Good Thing

I'm distraught.  Really bummed out!  How can I face Thanksgiving and the other holidays without Martha to guide me?  How will I know how to set the perfect table, prepare the perfect meal?  I feel like a rudderless ship heading out to an unknown sea.  And then there are those dreams.  Scenes of Martha decorating a federal prison cell, convincing the Warden to let her have a go at the yard, have a few words with the mess hall cook.  Perhaps she can make him into a chef.  Perhaps she can make it all perfect which, after all, would be "a good thing."

People love Martha, people hate Martha; few are neutral.  Her conviction of a crime most lovers and haters believe she committed is seen as another metaphor for a world of excess gone awry.  A strong statement that no one, even iconic Martha, is above the law.  All true, but in some ways all at the periphery.  When you watch Martha demonstrate and pontificate on TV, you can't help thinking that no one, least of all yourself, could get it that perfect — every time.  And that includes Martha.  There is a large staff behind her to insure that illusion of perfection.  No matter.  The whole idea here is aspirational, not what we can reach but what we hope to accomplish.  That's the problem.

It isn't merely that this illusionary perfection doesn't exist it is that, in a deeper sense, it just isn't human.  I consider myself a pretty good cook, but perfection simply isn't in the cards.  Certainly not Martha's kind of blemish-free perfection.  There is nothing like a good stew.  They say stews come from of a world of poverty which for many of us is not even a memory.  Yet stews remain popular because they are forgiving.  A little more onion. wine or whatever really doesn't matter.  So too with life which, if we want to survive its ups and downs, has to be forgiving.  Whether it's setting a table, making a meal, relating to one another, bringing up kids or doing our jobs, the perfect is not only unattainable, it's downright unattractive.  A little flaw in the diamond makes for the memorable, the real.

So goodbye dear Martha.  I know there will be appeals, attempts at rehabilitation, perhaps even a cookbook from jail (if it comes to that), but you're history.  Personally, that's sad.  I'm sure you're kicking yourself (hope you're kicking yourself) for a stupid act of greed.  But, regardless of what happens to you, the myth you have been selling is history.  To give you the last word, "that's a good thing."

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