Friday, March 28, 2014

Defending Oscar Madison from The Odd Couple

My sister was the one who first called Jim and me Oscar & Felix with me in the Oscar role.  This was around the time we got married in 1969. Since that time I have noticed that there are a fairly high amount of Felixes who are my friends. Felix of course is the uptight, anal retentive clean freak while Oscar is the slob.

Most people are less insulted to be called Felix than they are Oscar because who wants to be called a slob? Well, I guess I do.

Sometimes when we get together with friends this puts Jim in touch with other Felixes we know. So listen up all you Felixes out there, when you Felixes get together, you need me, Oscar. I can almost time how long two Felixes put up with one another when we come together. Usually that is around an hour. Then their fussiness starts getting on one another's nerves. All of a sudden, I start looking a whole hell of a lot better as a friend since I am not freaking out over say a wine glass with dishwasher spots.  I am just drinking the wine and enjoying it.

How can I spot a Felix?  It's easy.  I will be with a Felix when all of a sudden he or she notices something out of order.  This could be the way the windshield washers are ejecting fluid onto the glass, or the way a leaf remains caught under its blade, or a magazine inadvertently left out and open in one's otherwise pristine living space or a cigarette being smoked even though it is outside on the public sidewalk.  The list goes on and on.  And what do I, Oscar, say about any of this?  Until the Felix in question brings it to my attention, I have never noticed this gross and glaring aberration to all that is holy in the civilized world.

My Felixes are now used to my not seeing these flaws. It is not that I am missing standards of my own but rather that I am applying them to other things. The question most commonly asked me is, "How did you manage to finish that huge art project?"  My answer is that because I don't see that other stuff, I am able to focus on such a project entirely.

It is actually relatively new to society that there can even be Felixes. For most of human history, we had to put up with a fair amount of dirt. This includes our homes in caves, tepees, log cabins and the like as well as the grime that lay over everything because of the coal used for heating and the emissions from the mills and plants.  Until the invention of electricity and its installation into homes, people could not even see much dirt because houses were so dark inside. Then when they traveled, it always entailed one's person picking up the dirt from the method of transportation, whether that was from the coal engines used on trains or the dust of then roads.  That is why bathing after a journey became common. Today you arrive in the same cleanliness state as when you left, barring some dolt's dropping something onto you. If you feel dirty after riding in today's cars, planes or trains after a journey, then what you are is a Felix, not dirty.

Fortunately, you Felixes in the senior set will be able to finish out with fuels and utilities which make such cleanliness standards possible. Your progeny, however, will probably not be as fortunate as alternative sources of energy will have to be used, no matter how disgusting to the Felix in question.  If the waste of certain critters is used to fuel things, I only wish I could be present to see a Felix face being presented with fueling his car, say, with chicken feces. And if droughts get worse, there is going to be a lot less of the Lady Macbeth style constant showering and washing.  Could I, Oscar, handle these changes?  But, of course.  I would not notice these new things until they hit shall we say a reeking state and I doubt it will be that bad. But the Felixes of the world will be close to having a breakdown with these lowering standards in the state of the world. I can actually see these Felixes in therapy for having to adapt to such a new world.

But I am not complaining about the Felixes of the world.  No, you balance us Oscars perfectly. Certainly an Oscar could never live with another Oscar. They might be very comfy together but they also might not get the front door open due to the pile up of stuff flung hither and yon. And our wet swimsuits rolled up in our swim bags might never emerge to dry without some outraged Felix proffering such bag like a pile of refuse to the negligent Oscar.

So, yes, we are all Odd Couples, whether we are married or friends.  Or as Woody Allen said best in his Annie Hall, "I need the eggs."

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