Being Like Bieber

By Jim Hagarty
2013

I just made $100,000 so go ahead and congratulate me.

After reading that a 33-year-old singer/songwriter/idiot spent $100,000 on plastic surgery to make himself look like his idol Justin Bieber, I decided this was a goal I wanted to achieve too, especially since he was born and raised in my hometown and it’s possible lightning might strike twice. So I found a picture of Bieber, held it up to the mirror and took a look at his head and mine. He has two ears, so do I. Check. He has a nose, I have one as well. Two eyes, a mouth, check and check. Chin, cheeks, eyebrows, forehead. So far, the similarities are striking. He has more hair on his head than I do but he always wears a baseball cap and so do I.

So, as far as I am concerned, we’re pretty much a perfect match. Except maybe for that 44-year age difference thing, but as far as I’m concerned, we’re close enough.

So, my $100,000 facelift fund is staying in my interest bearing account where it is earning me a handsome .00025 per cent per annum. Turns out money can buy you happiness as I am happy I am not the singer/songwriter/copycat/idiot referred to above.

A Hamster’s Tale

By Jim Hagarty
2007

It’s not easy to come by a little bit of dignity in this world and it’s hard, for us all, sometimes, to keep our heads up with all the little humiliations we have to put up with in the average week.

But if people sometimes wonder what it is we have to do for a little respect, imagine the plight of the lowly hamster, who, though well fed, has a curious role to play in the scheme of things. As far as can be determined, these little guys are born to amuse – people. Plain and simple. And so they tear around in their little cages, in full view of the members of whatever household they happen to land in, eating, sleeping and, well, you know, in full view of everyone. If they want privacy, they can crawl into a cardboard tube (most often an empty toilet paper roll) or cover themselves up with woodshavings but that’s about it as far as any personal space is concerned.

They run their little ferris wheels so long and hard that they finally collapse in a pile. And let loose outside their cage in their “space balls”, they explore every square inch of their surroundings, leaving nothing out and shaking off the concussions that surely must come from all that bashing and crashing into door frames and furniture.

One such creature, a “teddy bear” hamster called Hammy who has better sideburns than Elvis used to sport, recently took up residence in our home, bringing with him, at the same time, equal amounts of delight and despair.

He’s a better entertainer than half the talent on TV, as he rides along in his big plastic Barbie car, sits on our shoulders and heads and hurls himself off furniture in an effort to go sightseeing – alone.

But Hammy has a dark side to his nature which has us all worried. Though pretty chipper on the surface, it’s apparent he is a pretty conflicted little fellow down deep inside. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that our young hamster has a death wish.

The reason for this admittedly gloomy assessment is the fact that our furry rodent has escaped his quarters four times this week and for such a creature to run free in a house with two murderous cats is just plain asking for it.

The first brush with doom came when the lid popped off his space ball and he broke loose from his confinement. Having not heard the ball in a while, we looked up to see our diminutive dodo ripping around the front hallway with two very interested kitties in hot pursuit. I grabbed the water bottle we keep handy for emergencies and sprayed the cats, but in the excitement managed to give Hammy a good shower as well. He seemed grateful to be returned to his cage.

A couple of similar incidents followed and on Saturday, he somehow escaped from the downstairs bathroom while his cage was being cleaned and headed for behind the furnace which also happens to be the cats’ hideaway. I have sported a gash on my head all week as I slammed my noggin squeezing down to pick up the quickly disappearing prey.

But things really came undone when he ventured too far off a lap, causing our most homicidal feline to pounce, grab the little guy in his mouth and prepare for the final assault. Only extreme yelling and commotion caused the cat to drop his wriggling toy and run for it.

This is where the dignity part comes in. Imagine if every time we went for a walk, we were hunted down by creatures 20 times our size. But it also may have something to do with this. As I was going through some receipts the other night, I came across the one from the pet store for Hammy. Instead of “hamster”, it read “dog food – $8.99.” No wonder he is depressed.

It’s just too bad he’s so determined to fulfil his curious destiny.

When Crazy Isn’t Crazy

By Jim Hagarty
2018
Mental health professionals have been saying for some time that it is a myth that the mentally ill are violent, a characterization that society likes to promote. The mentally ill CAN be violent, but that is not a natural posture for them. If they are violent, that violence is often directed towards themselves. Hence the efforts by caregivers to protect them from themselves. But to portray the mentally ill as “psycho” makes for great movies and literature. Some say it is not even correct to label Donald Trump as mentally ill as it lets him off the hook in this environment. “Not mad, just bad. He knows what he is doing.” Our approach to the mentally ill has not advanced much over the millennia. We fear them and consider that they must be “possessed” by evil spirits. There is mental illness and there is evil. It is possible to be evil without being ill. Evil is a choice, arrived at by calculation. Illness is not. Illness can be treated. Evil is almost always immune to efforts at correction. Mental illness is a temporary corrupted condition of the mind, evil a rotting of the soul.