GALLOPIN’ GRANDMA: Hello hell, it’s me
JACKSON, WYO – The author Dorothy Parker was known to answer the phone with “What fresh hell is this?”
Now we all know what fresh hell is: It drops out of who knows where and lands on you know who, has perfect aim and never misses. Let’s say that one morning you awake with hair that looks like an exploding chrysanthemum. Your salon informs you that your hairdresser, Mr. Pierre, has run off with the shampoo boy and won’t be back. And no, you can’t get an appointment for three months. In despair, you take the livestock trimmer and shave your head.
Dante wrote in “The Divine Comedy” that there were nine circles of hell. Well he was wrong, there only three and that’s quite enough. The three rings of hell are fresh, every day and future. Sometimes they combine into one single fright, like having to take a coach flight with a six-hour layover at Newark, but usually they are separate.
Our next form of hell is the everyday, ordinary, never-changing crud that defines our lives. Someone once said that our days are like all days, full of birdseed and panic. There are piles of birdseed everywhere and more than enough panic to go around. Today is the dentist, tomorrow the doctor and then your wretched fitness class where you have to weigh in, and the dog has eaten your cell phone and you can hear his stomach ringing, and he is always taking messages.
Hell is supposed to be after-death punishment for earthly sins, but there is no need to wait that long. Future hell is out there and will be here before you know it. Nothing you can do will prevent its eventual appearance.
You know if you have a reunion coming and that little black dress you wore to the last one has now become that great big black dress. And you also know that on that day something that looks like a third eye will erupt on your face and defy all efforts to cover it up.
On top of that, you know that some day your mother-in-law will be coming to lunch. She will appear in a puff of green smoke surrounded by her flying monkeys and she will say, “Is that what you’re wearing?” and “I can’t eat that.”
Someday, you will struggle out of bed, drop the last roll of toilet paper in the toilet, crawl to the kitchen where there are doomed souls moaning that they have lost their homework and are sure that they have some disease and have to stay home from school. Worst of all, there is no coffee.
Divine punishment aside, maybe a calm soothing soak in a boiling lake of fire surrounded by screams of the doomed will be a welcome diversion. Hell, hell might even have a Starbucks.