The other day, in the dentist's office, I ran into Jasper, a 25-30-ish man with a determined thinness and a righteousness that can't still the doubts that righteousness attempts to paper over. I had known Jasper from my days on the Saturday morning peace picket line and, as we sat waiting our turns in the dentist's office, he wondered why I hadn't been out standing on the picket line.
"I'm getting old and fat and lazy," I explained lightly.
"There are a lot of people there who are older than you are," he replied by way of mild accusation. The implication was that they made the effort and I should too. He didn't know how old I was (or much else about me) and somehow it was not incumbent on him to gather the facts before he came to his conclusions.
"I try not to tell others how to live their lives," I countered.
But the observation sailed by Jasper. Righteousness makes little or no room for deviation from the one true path. I ought to know ... I've been there too. But the burnished certainty of this twerp annoyed me nonetheless. Jasper is smart as a whip and talkative as a magpie and the effort of righteousness is to imagine you can out-think and explain and control this unfolding life. Righteousness is like talking to a latter-day Republican ... even when they're Democrats.
It's a load of shit, but there is no talking someone who is determined to sit in shit out of it. So I imagine we were both grateful when our names were called and we headed off for our respective dental assignations.