Unequivocally Ambiguous

satirical cultural critiques

Alarming How Convictions Can Affect Your Brain Health

Everyone is so sure of everything!! Everyone is so sure of the ground they stand on.

In the meantime, I am not entirely sure that this ground is not just a social construct I read about once in a history book approved by overzealous school boards. I can’t be 100% sure that the Earth from space does not look like is full of boobs that have been censored by the powers that be.

As I wrote this, I realized mountains are boob-like but we don’t talk about it enough because it might perturb the too fragile psyche of sheltered children who are lied to about the society they live in and its history.

I want to have that confidence, that focus, that single-mindedness.

In short, I wish I was a simpleton, too.

But I can’t have convictions; not in my line of work.

As a salesman, I don’t have beliefs of my own. I don’t let something as silly as beliefs get in the way of my production. When I’m on the clock, I believe whatever my clients believe in. And I’m always on the clock.

When they ask me, “what do you think of garden gnomes?”

I respond, “well, if they are confined to the garden, they shouldn’t be deported.”

When they ask me, “what do you think of the tooth fairy?”

I respond, “she better have her green card in order, or she should be on Megan’s list.”

When they ask me, “what’s your position on cheese?”

I respond, “I can take or leave it. What’s YOUR position on cheese?”

When they unveil their approval, I respond, “Oh, you love it? Me too! I only told you that I could take it or leave it because, you know, cancel culture. You can never be too careful. But I love it, too. My house is made out of aged Gouda, my bed out of Manchego. My pillow is filled with cottage cheese — it is better than feather quills, and you wake up, and breakfast is ready. Voilà”

If, on the contrary, when they unveil their disapproval, I respond, “Oh, you hate it? Me too! I only told you that I could take it or leave it because, you know, cancel culture. You can never be too careful. But I hate it, too. Leave it to disgusting humans to go around fondling the udders of other species, then squeezing them and suckling what comes out of them. Ewwww! Gross! J’accuse!”

As you can see, I’m very flexible with my beliefs which makes people feel comfortable telling me theirs. It is a priceless skill to have in sales. But I still don’t get invited to many séances.

When people host séances, I don’t get invited to them because they think I don’t believe in them because I don’t believe in the supernatural. And because I don’t believe in them. But just because I’m skeptical doesn’t mean I don’t like a good show

Life isn’t fair, but this feels very discriminatory. It makes me feel excluded. I am just your friendly skeptical family member and friend. Why would I ruin your séance? Remember, I don’t ever bring up the inconsistencies of the afterlife at family reunions, especially not at Thanksgiving because honestly, who cares? I’m just trying to eat my weight in sweet potato pie and avoid religion like Corona — only performatively. So, pass the cranberry sauce, gram-gram.

Both of my parents are superstitious people. They both believe in the afterworld and the supernatural.

My dad is a devout born-again Christian who left a career as an architect to become a minister. At our wedding, he stood in the back and filmed the ceremony while he exorcised our Celtic handfasting my wife and I included while professing our vows. Talk about multitasking!

I’m sure he didn’t appreciate my wife was not a god-fearing woman (she still isn’t) but I’m okay with that because he didn’t teach me how to play guitar because music is of the world and everything of the world is of the devil.

My mom is a one-Sunday-a-year-sometimes Catholic that likes a good ‘mal de ojo’ (evil eye) theory, burning sage to cleanse auras, burying saints figurines in her yard, and keeping a dozen limes carefully placed on a bed of uncooked rice at the top of her refrigerator so they capture all evil spirits sent to harm her.

My mom has victoriously shown me more than once how many evil spirits have been caught by the limes after they have been on the fridge for more than a year. “They are just rotten limes, mom. Unless the curse they are sending you is staphylococcus.”

When she lived in Florida, my pregnant mom would get her fortune readings with all of her Cuban friends. The Santera Lucumi, a Cuban grandma reading the future, she frequented told her I was going to be a politician. I didn’t grow up to be a politician. I don’t think I’ll ever be one.

Instead, I decided to be a salesman. Maybe that’s like being a politician, we are devoid of beliefs, we say what it takes to get the deal done, and we like the sound of our own voices, especially we are not saying anything.

When I was in my teens, I got my fortune read at a fair, and the psychic told me I would be in a car accident and the color of the car would be red. I don’t believe in the supernatural, but I also don’t temp it in case the supernatural believes in me. So I don’t ever get in red cars.

I’ve done an excellent job avoiding getting on red cars to this day. When my Honda dealership gave me a Burgundy Buick while they were servicing my Civic, I reassured my subconscious, “relax; subconscious, Burgundy is not really red.”

I made it home, and I never left until it was time to pick up my white car. Even then, I let my wife drive as I sat on the co-pilot’s seat. No one has forecasted her horrible death for driving a red car. I was outfoxing my destiny.

Mediums are playing the law of averages. These guys are not mediums. They are actuaries with good communication skills, which is still very rare. It is not a supernatural event. But if you’ve ever met an actuary, you know it is rare.

This particular medium also said I would have problems with my bladder; I blame her for instilling a self-fulling prophecy in my head. I have an overactive bladder, and I always have to pee. She must have been right. Or it could be that I may be drinking way too much water. I guess, that like the supernatural, there are things we will never know.

When our family business was struggling, my mom took me to a famous astrologer in San Diego. She offered to pay for my reading. I love readings. I don’t believe in them. I don’t pay for them. But I love when people offer to pay for them. So I happily went on a slow Friday to meet this astrologer.

The astrologist began performing his act after we provided him with perfunctory details like my birthdate, my favorite color, the exact time my mom started crowning, and whether or not she needed an episiotomy to deliver my giant head — head that was diagnosed as suffering hydrocephalus or having water in it. Later we found out, I just had a giant head. A syndrome that has followed me for the rest of my life — physically and metaphorically.

He spent a lot of time talking about my loveless life. How did he know?

After five minutes of following this line, my mom couldn’t take it anymore, so she burst out, “he is happily married.”

At the time of the reading, I was commuting between San Diego and San Francisco, and on the very first day I started that commute, I lost my watch and my wedding ring going through a TSA line. I had still not replaced the ring when I met him and that’s what he based his reading on.

The astrologer corrected the course by saying that my wife and I were in a rocky patch. He never really recovered from there. He didn’t get anything right, not even really generic details about my personality.

We walked out of there, and it was apparent that my mom and I had gone to two different readings. She thought he got me right on the money; I couldn’t think of one thing he got lucky on.

I still called my wife and asked her if there was trouble in paradise. I wanted to give her a platform to express her dissatisfaction with our relationship — a dissatisfaction I wasn’t aware of. She assured me we were on solid ground. That was six years ago, and we are still happily married. I think. I haven’t consulted an astrologer to find out. I guess I could ask my wife but ain’t nobody got time for that.

The other thing this astrologer said about our business was that we were going to come out victorious of a very contentious legal battle our company was going through at the moment. We didn’t. We had to eat our way out of a giant pile of manure — legal, financial, crippling, emotional manure.

My family and friends think I choose not to believe in the supernatural. I didn’t choose to be skeptical. That is a harsh way to look at it. I didn’t choose it. I just stop seeing it. Once you stop, it is hard to go back and make yourself believe again.

There is a lack of common ground between people who believe and people who don’t. It is hard to convince one another because each group is speaking from a different universe.

But nobody chooses not to believe.

Who would, in their right mind, abandon the warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing that everything is all figured out?

When I die and I find myself in hell because I didn’t believe, I would like to ask Beelzebub to telegram god to ask one question, “Why didn’t you make me a believer? Kind of a cruel joke, don’t you think?!”

Okay, two questions.

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