OK, this was the coolest - Ann Cibulkis, fan of WRITE CLUB, was celebrating a 50th birthday with her twin sister Suzan, also a fan of the show. Ann commissioned myself and her good friend David Isaacson (mighty and poly-victorious WRITE CLUB combatant/member of the fearsome Theater Oobleck) to perform a special single-bout birthday surprise command performance edition of WRITE CLUB - in honor of the occasion, the topic: 50/50. As I was stalking my way to the stage, Suzan, the surprised sister, declared: "Ohmygod! WRITE CLUB"
On the face of it, 50/50 would seem to be the most evenly matched bout possible. It is – again, on the face of it – the soul of equanimity, the embodiment of equilibrium, a paragon of identicality. On the face of it, there is nothing for my opponent and myself to grapple with – there is no bone over which to contend, for this is the Even-est Steven there can be. Again I say: on the face of it.
Because for anything to be evenly divided, for there to be an equal split of anything, there is the reality – as unavoidable as it is unpleasant – that there is a shittier half of everything. The perennial futility of debating whether the glass is half full or half empty is beside the point – the semantic sparring over this non-distinction representing as it does the hair-splitting depths of ineffectual academic folly. What MATTERS, the question WORTH asking is this: IF there is anything remaining in the glass, then IS it shitty? If shitty, destroy the glass and shed not a tear. If unshitty, reflect upon the senselessness of everything and grow sorrowful.
When someone hands you half a cookie, you KNOW their half is bigger; as surely as you know that in every set of twins, one of them is… evil. There can be no even split. Of anything. Ever.
It is the same with age. Middle age. PLEASE. The average life expectancy of an American is 78.5 years, which technically means that be of middle age you have to be like 39. TOPS. So, the latter half of life has you in its grip. Upon the sea of this life, aging is time’s undertow – you take yourself to be lithe and trim and fit as you stride in, one foot on the sun-baked sand, the other circled to the ankle in the cool aqueous embrace of the briny sea. One foot in. One foot out. 50/50. Half. And half.
My opponent would have you believe that half is great, half is worthy, half is nearly MOST. My opponent does you a disservice. Truth to tell, my opponent insults your intelligence by suggesting that you should deny the evidence of your senses, and fail to arrive at anything like a sensible conclusion about the nature of things. Which, as if you need reminding, is this: squalor and faltering; rupture and madness and waste.
My opponent is a lily-gilder of the worst sort. He stands before you glibly lying to your faces about the so-called virtues and the alleged advantages of what he claims to be the better half. In so doing, he insults your intelligence – and make no mistake, this is no garden variety insult, but a stinging and resonant wiener-slap of an insult; whereas I take you to be clear-eyed and sharp-witted enough to accept the truth of the situation, my opponent is slapping you right in your brain with his misshapen man-parts.
On your behalf I say this aggression will not stand. I urge you not to be taken in by his pandering assurances that there can be anything like equity or justice in this life. He and his collectivist agenda would have you believe that life will deal us all a fair share. POPPYCOCK. You know it and I know it.
One need only think of Lucy’s mishaps in attempting to divide the Ricardo apartment with masking tape, or the time Ralph and Potsie were roommates and attempted the same thing. HISTORY TEACHES THAT THIS CANNOT WORK. Someone will always be getting the kitchen with its food supply, and someone will always be getting the bathroom, which for most of us is the favored pooping spot.
It is only by abandoning the dream of equality and fully embracing the crookedness and unfairness of it all that you can know anything like happiness, or victory over the systemic failings of life, the universe, and everything. Liberation from the tyranny of the unequal division – of wealth and power and love and time and friends and talent and good fortune and health and good looks and smarts and courage and candor – this liberation is only possible where we accept the certainty that these things, indeed all things, exist in criminally uneven supply.
It is only by cleaving close to this injustice, by keeping constant sight of it and keeping it near your heart with constancy and fidelity – it is only coming almost to cherish this injustice that one can know peace. It is only by keeping the ember of this injustice bright and hot in your heart that you can know anything of bliss.
Push from your mind the fact that your bliss sprouts from the festering soil of unfairness, which rests upon the grievous and harsh bedrock of injustice – this cognitive dissonance in unsustainable. Focus you gaze instead upon your thousand little victories, the countless ways the injustice that fuels this crooked system plays in your favor. For every deficit on your ledger, there is an asset; for every fallow field, there is a harvest, and for every pile of rubble, there is a palace. To gaze upon the sweeping vista of injustice and harm and want is to know madness. Narrow your focus upon the bounty at your feet, for only then can you know victory over this irascible reality, because it is only this confounding Paradox of Plenty that allows us to reconcile ourselves to these teetering Scales of Injustice.
Which is what our milestones are for – our weddings and funerals and birthdays – they are a time to take stock of our abundance, to disregard for a moment the tide of unfairness that laps at our shores, and to know that we are favored by fortune. Our milestones are visits to the pantry of our lives – a time when we may survey the shelves piled high with all things nourishing, and know that the sometimes galling inconsistencies outside are of no consequence, for we know freedom from want, and are therefore rich beyond measure.