Life is so full of Little Ethical Decisions.
Nothing that will change the world, you understand. Nothing like whether to use the atomic bomb on our next military adventure (Dumbfoundingly, some do consider it.)
Nothing like whether to supply condoms to young people or just preach abstinence. Nothing like whether to use animals in medical tests to help cure Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s. Nope, nothing so important as those.
And nothing unimportant either, like which shoe to put on first in the morning or which half of your sandwich to eat first. (I always cut mine unevenly and start with the small side.)
Nope, I’m talking about the kind of decision I had to make on the spot recently, when MHTB and I went back to his 50th college reunion. An elderly professor (by elderly I mean he had 20 years on us, which still makes us middle-aged, right?) remembered I had sung in the college choir. Naturally I was flattered, when he said fervently, “And I will never ever forget how gloriously you sang the solo in ‘Beautiful Savior!’ “
The only problem was this: I had sung several solos in that choir (oh, certainly all of them well enough to be remembered 50 years later!), but never the solo in “Beautiful Savior.” In fact it was an alto solo, and, as the signature number for the choir, it was gloriously sung by a succession of excellent soloists.
However, none of them was ever me.
Little Ethical Decision coming up. Should I tell him that I had never sung that solo, and make him feel foolish, not to mention doing me out of a compliment I can always use?
You call it.
Several years ago we were guests at a dinner party with another family we had never met before. It was quite a nice dinner party, and there were two forks at each place. The lovely little pre-teen across the table looked dubiously at the table-setting and then asked her dad, who was next to her, “Which fork do I start with?”
He told her the wrong one.
Little Ethical Decision coming up: should I correct him and make him look like an idiot and me like an over-bearing know-it-all? Or keep my mouth closed and allow her to mature into a beautiful, delightful, very sweet, wrong-fork-using young woman?
You call it.
This spring a robin built a nest on our front-porch light. Don’t ask me why. Any robin with an ounce of common sense would have noticed while she was constructing the thing that there was a lot of disturbingly close traffic in and out every hour or so. Not to mention the very foundation of her home sometimes lighting up in a suspicious fashion at night.
But none of this fazed her at the time. The nest was too high to look into, but it was obvious that the usual egg-to-fledgling process was about to begin. So I taped off the light switch in the house and cautioned MHTB to to open the door VERY QUIETLY every time he went in or out. Still, she flew into the yard with a flurry of wings and a pathetic scolding cry every time we ventured out.
Little Ethical Decision coming up: should we use the back door until everybody grew up?
You call it.
Life is so full of these miniature moral milestones. Or, as somebody once said, “It’s s not the mountains you have to worry about in life; it’s the molehills.”
When you’re sharing an armrest in the theater with someone else, who gets to put his elbow on it first? And for how long? This is especially dicey when it’s a stranger; but even with a spouse you can significantly sour the hour by hogging the thing.
Are too many afternoon naps over the weekend unfair to the family? Or was Dagwood Bumstead right to regard it as a preventive health measure when he told Blondie, “Being lazy keeps me from getting tired?”
Some years ago, our phone number was similar to the number of a local lumber company. Once when we got home from a long vacation, I found a 3-week-old message on our answering machine with a large order for lumber and other items. It included her phone number. Should I have called her back at that late date and told her not to expect us to fill it any time soon?
We had a mouse problem for awhile, so I reluctantly put out mouse poison in the food cupboard. I stored the extra poison up in the bathroom closet for awhile, until I discovered one day that the mice had gotten into it.
Should I have moved it to a more protected spot?
Okay, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer.
I didn’t. I didn’t again. We used the front door and the robin family grew up to fly away happily after making a terrible mess on the front porch.
Take turns. One nap a weekend. I didn’t. And don’t be ridiculous.
I tell you, life is not easy.
Or is it just me?
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.
Life is so full of Little Ethical Decisions.
- Maude McDaniel - Living
July gotcha down? Maybe these will help
•In a hospital's Intensive Care Unit, patients always died in the same bed on Sunday morning, at about 11:00 a.m., regardless of their medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought it had something to do with the super natural. No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11 a.m. Sunday, so a worldwide team of experts was assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11 a.m. all of the doctors and nurses nervously waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books, and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits. Just when the clock struck 11, Pookie Johnson, the part-time Sunday sweeper, entered the ward and unplugged the life support system so he could use the vacuum cleaner.
Hiccup cure you may find hard to swallow
Let’s give a cheer for one of the things in the human experience that the scientific researchers haven’t fully figured out yet: how to cure hiccups! Somehow it kind of restores your faith in the world, doesn’t it?
But don’t think they haven’t tried.
She learned to laugh with relatives’ help
Sometimes there are people in our lives whom we have never credited with all the influence they had on us when we were growing up.And now it is too late to thank them personally. I am about 50 years past due on this one (or two) but maybe somehow, somewhere they will get a hint of it — and — smile. Fondly, I think..
Signs of aging and what comes with it
It’s been awhile since I last informed you of new signs of old age, and meanwhile none of us have gotten any younger. (I’m working on it, I’m working on it.) I find one of the best things I can do to stay young is to read the obituaries. It reminds you that you are still alive and there are times in one’s life when that can be a serious concern. Of course, the trick is to avoid reading the obituaries for people you know, first checking the pictures for familiar faces. But for the folks you never met, they are remarkably invigorating, especially if they were older than you are. It gives you a goal in life — and we all need goals, right?
Torn between failing in two different fields
Which do I like better, singing or writing?
That's a tough question to answer.
Singing's got it all over writing as far as when I started (at about 5 in the church choir) but writing is certainly a close second. I have somewhere a collection of poems that I wrote from about eight on and I have the feeling that they are lost for a reason! As I remember, they were pretty awful, not at all the kind of effort an aspiring writer would be proud to quote 75 years later!
Bad habits are hard to eliminate — but try
Somebody mentioned smoking on these pages recently, so I thought I'd put in my own two cents on the subject. I started smoking in college, during exam week. The problem was that I was too busy during the rest of the year ever to stop and study for my courses — at least that is what I told myself — because I worked almost every night on the college newspaper. So when exam time kicked in, I threw some all-nighters for study. And the best way to stay awake all night (especially if you don't regularly smoke) is to, well, smoke.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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