(Editor’s note: Due to circumstances beyond his control, John Bartus was not able to put pen to paper this week. Please enjoy this re-run from 2013.)
The other day, while occupied by a less-than-inspirational activity, I pondered the concept of Hell; more specifically, what my own Hell might be like. Before we get there, however, let’s review some basic ideas of what Hell is.
According to the world’s religions, Hell can be a place for intense physical suffering involving fire and brimstone or intense freezing cold. It can also be a state of being apart from divine love and being contrary to God’s will. Some religions purport that Hell can be a temporary or transitional stop along the way back to God’s good graces, while others state that damnation is indeed eternal.
I liked the version of Hell dramatized in the movie “Little Nicky.” For those who remember the movie, all I have to do is mention Hitler and pineapple in the same sentence.
So, you may be wondering, just what was I doing that precipitated thoughts of a not-so-pleasant afterlife? And why would I even picture myself as a potential inhabitant of the Underworld?
If I am indeed bound for Hades, it’s because of my foul mouth. When inanimate objects don’t cooperate with me, I let ‘em have it. When certain “projects” yield nothing but frustration, I sound off. Mind you, I never ever get the urge to spout off like this at actual people. Wouldn’t even think of treating a human or animal in such a fashion. And I usually hope that not many actual people (or animals) are around to hear me recite some occasional coarse language.
How bad could it be, you wonder? Sailors, bikers, even fishermen call me up for cursing lessons. I can string together multiple epithets into a single outburst like no one’s business. It’s nothing I’m proud of, but when even the simple things seem to conspire against me, sometimes my safety valve releases a burst of steamed language that far exceeds the seriousness of the situation.
One of the activities that tests my limits is putting together pieces of assemble-it-yourself furniture. I’ve put way more than my share of these “pieces” together, and I can safely say I’d rather play “Freebird” five times a night than assemble one more desk or bookshelf. Combine several chunks of various sizes of wood or wood-like product, myriad fasteners, screws, nuts, bolts, and a special wrench ill-suited for the job with a set of instructions horribly translated from its original Asian language text and diagrams that bear no resemblance whatsoever to the furniture you’re assembling.
That was the activity that got me thinking about the sort of eternal damnation in store for me should I be deemed unworthy of salvation. Mornings would consist of putting together tables, chairs, bookcases, shelves, wall units, and more, all on the special Sauder-sponsored non-air conditioned level of Hell.
Afternoons would consist of another of my favorite activities: gardening and yardwork in the heat and humidity – especially dealing with Washingtonia palm trees and bougainvillea. Now I know that there are those who find digging in the good earth fulfilling and rewarding. I personally find not much difference between digging a hole and digging a ditch, except one is longer. Let me get this straight: you dig a hole. Plant a tree. Water, nurture, and care for the tree so that the tree grows tall and mighty. Spend the rest of your time cleaning up the yard because of all the stuff that falls out of the tree. What a concept.
Evenings in Hell would find me setting up and tearing down musical equipment. Wrestle it out of the truck. Haul it to the stage. Lift speakers onto stands. Run cables after untangling them. Set up amplifiers and mixers and monitors and lights. Then, without actually getting to play one note, I’d have to tear it all down and pack it up.
Now that I know what potentially awaits me, I should probably clean up my foul mouth, darn it to heck!