Cumberland Times-News

Maude McDaniel - Living

July 14, 2012

Life can be unfair, maybe even tragic

The world is not fair; that’s all there is to it. Life is full of tragedy for all of us. And that’s, as they say, so too bad. Still, some tragedies are more interesting than others, and many of them you can just chalk up to the fact that people are — so often — dumb. And many of these dumb people are — well, criminals.

Did you read last year about the bank thief who called the bank ahead of time and told them to have $10,000 or so of dollars ready for him so he could leave right away, after he got there. They did, but he didn’t.

Then there was another would-be bank thief, who got into the locked bank by posing as a flower delivery man. Only trouble was, he stole the idea from someone who had been in the papers for trying it the week before, and the banks were on to it. They nabbed him right away, and he never even got back the price of his bouquet. I guess he could have chalked it up to overhead. These business expenses will kill you.

Maybe this one is more dumb than tragic — a couple years ago, a Utah man with a considerable criminal history held a woman hostage in a motel for a “tense, 16-hour standoff’ with SWAT teams, Meanwhile he kept the world updated on the situation in Facebook. All in all he made six entries and added at least a dozen new friends.

But you don’t have to be a lawbreaker, or even dumb, to find out that life is unfair. I know of a church organist (not a criminal) whose legs were too short to reach the pedals She had this occupational hazard of falling off the bench during the livelier hymns. Not a moment too soon, she became a voice teacher. Rather a good one, actually.

Then there’s this one I picked up the other day. Some sixty years ago (the date, August 17, 1957 according to the newspaper story I hold here), the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the New York Giants. Baseball, you know. Richie Ashburn, Phillies center fielder and a future Hall of Famer, was in the batter’s box. Phillies fan Alice Roth was in the crowd. He hit a line drive right into her nose, breaking it. Play was halted while the medics did their thing, and started carrying her out of the stands on a stretcher. At that point, play resumed, and Ashburn fouled off the next pitch — and hit poor Alice again, as she lay on the stretcher. My newspaper clipping doesn’t tell much more about that moment in history, except to point out that “We have no idea what’s in store for us in the morning.”

My point today, of course, is that life is not fair.

It is unfair that all the female teenagers these days are beautiful. I just got a graduation announcement from a young cousin who graduated from high school — your usual sort of girl, nice and all — and , folks, she is, well, gorgeous. I’m thinking of not sending her a gift. Because it isn’t fair that, back in our day, it was just the opposite. We were traffic-stoppers and I mean that in a bad way. I, for one, was forbidden to go anywhere near a major highway in the daylight, and my friends had the same problem. Okay, but you know what I mean.

And of course, there are more ordinary tragedies than that — enough to go around.

I think it is unfair that (I’ve mentioned this before) sugarless candy has almost as many calories as the sugary stuff.

I think it is unfair that most of us feel pretty much the way Scarlett O’Hara does in “Gone With the Wind” (”I’m not going to worry about it today — I’ll think about it tomorrow.”) But none of us look anywhere near as good doing it.

This one’s pretty tragic. I sang the National Anthem to open the Cumberland Fair, oh about 35 years ago. Did a bang-up job until I got to the rockets’ red glare — and forgot the words. They came out something like “And the okems said gair” and I was never invited back again, even though I actually recovered quickly, somewhere around “the bombs bursting in air.”

So life is not only unfair, it can be cruel.

Overweight is cruel and unfair, although we all try to do what we can to take it off. A friend of mine always sucks in her stomach when she steps on the scale. “That won’t affect your weight,” said another friend. “No, but it lets me see the numbers on the scale.” (I stole that one.)

Well, as the poet Reed Whittemore once wrote, “It is not clear/ Where we go from here/ Or for that matter/ Who we’re.”

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.



Text Only
Maude McDaniel - Living
  • Trivial questions you don’t have to answer

    Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.

    April 20, 2014

  • Rusty writes about the nature of doghood

    I am a dog.
    Therefore I bark.
    I don’t understand why it is so hard for humans to understand this.
    I mean, there are certain things that come with the territory, right?

    April 5, 2014

  • Free-range reminiscing and occasional nostalgia

    When I was in grade school, (many more years ago than when either of you were in grade school) my daily winter (fall, spring) routine included walking to school across a railroad track.

    March 22, 2014

  • Beatles return us to what might have been

    Here’s a a free gift from Goldy (to your left), and it should get us going with a good laugh, that both my readers will approve of. Then, after that (fair warning) I am going to turn a little sour.

    March 8, 2014

  • What’s missing in TV cooking shows? Lots

    As if badmouthing cupcakes isn’t bad enough — I have to go on and say this: I think the plates of food that are winning so many of the prizes on the Food Channel are well — boring.

    February 22, 2014

  • Only one person doesn’t like cupcakes

    Cupcake-wise, the last four or five years have ballooned into a huge plus for almost any bakery that attempts them. (Not to mention the ballooning of many of the individuals involved.) You could call cupcakes the up-cakes of our time. Well, you could, but I guess only I would, and even then only in a column on a very good day, when everything else was go!

    February 8, 2014

  • Some of us are ‘privy’ to certain information

    Outhouses used to be an object of fascination for me. (and in fact I wrote a column about them in 2007. Since we have all forgotten that, I decided to write another one this week.

    January 25, 2014

  • Just the right thing for very cold weather

    Beginning the new year with a tasty recipe always seemed like a good idea to me. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it should be a healthy recipe, and I’m a little short of those. It turns out that the period I learned to cook in (the 40s and 50s) was not noted for its general nutritional values. Although, of course, we thought we were pretty much on course there. Later, the next generation informed us that we were way off track and what did we mean by raising them in such unwholesome habits. (Foodwise, I mean. They arrived at certain other unwholesome habits on their own.)

    January 12, 2014

  • Who thinks these things up, anyway?

    Here are some of the best jokes (of the email world) in 2013. Have a Happy New Year, as I plan to!

    December 28, 2013

  • How do we compare with rest of the U.S.?

    I recently purchased “The World Almanac 2014,” reviewing events of this year, energy, government, science and technology, past and present celebrities, U.S. and world history, nations of the world and sports.

    December 14, 2013

Latest news
Must Read
House Ads