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Shell Shocked: Best things in life are free…or are they?

By Staff | Jun 10, 2015

Remember the song that goes “the best things in life are free”? Maybe they were at the time of Adam and Eve but certainly not these days.

The air is free but in some countries you need to wear a mask that covers the nose to filter out the stench. Also free air comes at a price; tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, hale and acrid odors from the neighborhood slaughterhouse.

Water was originally intended to be free but no longer is. In fact, there’s not enough of it in various parts of the world. Our water bills are getting higher and yet we’re urged to drink eight glasses of water a day by health experts. In some areas we need to ration water and in other areas there is too much water. In the U.S., parts of California are undergoing severe drought while not too many miles east entire communities are being destroyed because of severe flooding. What’s wrong with this picture? Free water? Tell that to the residents of California who must now cleanse themselves with Diet Coke.

Love is also supposed to be free unless you happen to be paying $5,000 a month in alimony to allow your ex-wife to keep up her karate lessons and her affair with the pizza delivery guy. You offer to help find her a new husband but she graciously demurs. She tells you that after being married to you there could never be anyone else.

Walking for transportation or exercise is also on the list of “the best things in life are free,” but if you needed to purchase a walker to get around, maybe walking is not so free. The song also makes the claim that the moon belongs to everyone. Neal Armstrong hailed the occurrence as a giant step for mankind when he became the first man to walk on the moon since Fred Astaire.

Yet once Donald Trump got wind of the fact that there was open real estate available on the moon, he immediately applied for the rights to build a casino, golf course, race track, hotel and nightclub. He’s also planning to add a major league baseball franchise on the moon which he will call the Trump “Moonies.”

The song also refers to robins that sing as a free blessing. Blessing, indeed. Personally, I’m tired of the songs robins sing and prefer bull frog harmony instead. Robins don’t even sing on key and they hurt my ears. It cost me hundreds of dollars to soundproof my windows so that those boring robin songs won’t invade my eardrums every morning.

The flowers in the spring are also free according to the lyrics of the song. Free? Ha. Do you know how much I spend on a landscape service to take care of my flowers every month? And what about the pesticide and herbicide sprays to keep those nasty insects away so that they bite only those folks in less well-to-do neighborhoods? You’d think that flowers would at least have a decent mortality rate but not my flowers. It seems that as soon as they’re planted, they go off to flower heaven. If flowers in the spring are “free,” as the song lyrics say, then I’ll just visit the nearest botanical garden instead.

What else is supposed to be free? Where are those lyrics? Oh, yes, the stars and sunbeams. What a laugh. Yes, on a clear night those stars are indeed a sight to behold. But what about the alien space ships emerging from those stars hell bent on coming to earth and taking off with our women and iPads? NASA is aware of all this, just as the Men in Black were. But does anyone in official government ever warn us about these startling developments? Not a peep out of them.

And sunbeams are free also? What about the multiple basal cell carcinomas that most seniors get for taking in those free sunbeams when they were in their twenties? Those growths that show up on the least welcome places on your body cost you every cent of your Medicare to remove. Do me a favor and keep those free sunbeams out of my sight. I’ll stay indoors and maintain my pallid, ultra-pale complexion and avoid periodic visits to the dermatologist.

The only remaining free thing out there is a prison sentence. Now that’s worth thinking about. Imagine, you get room and board and all your needs taken care of. You might be required to help manufacture license plates, but that part is a small price to pay for living in the “free” world and paying rent, income taxes, bridge tolls, alimony, tuitions and blackmail. Prison time is truly free and presents a most welcome respite from civilization. But how does one get there?

I think the easiest and safest way to get into a minimum security prison is to commit a very light crime. A Ponzi scheme will do. Selling shares in the Brooklyn Bridge may be the way to go. But you’ve got to get caught in order to get indicted and convicted. Imagine the frustration of committing a crime in order to land in prison and not getting caught. How self-defeating is that?

There’s another expressions that goes “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” I respectfully disagree. A prison lunch may not measure up to a meal at Four Seasons restaurant, but it’s definitely free.

Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.