The Juice Ain’t Worth the Squeeze

Maybe once – and this is a stretch – I saw camels up close. Even-toed ungulates aren’t animals I remember crossing my path. When I was young, there could have been a time in a zoo when they sauntered up to my thick patterned orange and brown knitted shirt, brown polyester pants, and crooked bowl hair cut … then walked away. Just don’t know. As an adult, certainly any travel overseas can eliminate the possibility of having a dromedary encounter. I’ve never happily humped my way to the Gobi Desert in China, Mongolia, North Africa, the Middle East, or Australia. Speaking plainly here, flying overseas isn’t my thing – not for a camel sighting … not for a whole lot of reasons.

Yesterday, someone I know pulled out a rubber, bendy straw during breakfast. This thingmajig magically appeared out of nowhere in the hands of a young lady finishing off the final 25% of our booth capacity. She’s not one who joins us regularly at our table, but one who is certainly welcome any time. This sucking device is a reusable mouth gizmo designed to avoid using a plastic straw. She had it, I get it. I get the plan, however, didn’t see it implemented. Hot coffee through a rubber straw isn’t the best idea … even among a table of misfits who could ooze their way out of a clown car and nobody would think twice.

As fascinating as that straw was to all of us for the few seconds it bent its way into our conversation, I’m pretty sure it’s not the one that broke the camel’s back. That said, it can still suck just as much as one single, atomically teeny, Whovillian dustball that collapses a stressed-out emotional steampile.

According to Wikipedia, the straw that broke the camel’s back is from an Arabic proverb about “how a camel is loaded beyond its capacity to move or stand”. It is a “reference to any process by which cataclysmic failure (a broken back) is achieved by a seemingly inconsequential addition, a single straw…

We’re all familiar with this idiom … aren’t we? I’ve had a few back-breakers lately. Two minutes yesterday in the car, actually. No need to explain. Suffice to say the phrase, “What the f– is wrong with people?”, should be enough to give you an idea of my mind set. I’m nowhere near perfect and don’t expect others to reach ideal conditions in their mindset when working with me. I can be difficult, but am always … always respectful and kind when expecting certain results from others. “Here’s the plan … do the plan.”

Two weeks ago, I had expectations and communicated them. He understood, or so I thought. Uhm … ‘nuf said. We had a come to Jesus. Today I’m calmer, but am behind schedule. To quote one of my favorite Seinfeld lines, “Serenity now!”…

Here’s the thing. I had a moment to listen to one of my favorite podcasts yesterday to calm me down. Two twisted idioms from callers perked me up: “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”, and “..Playin’ some (emotional} Jenga there.”. In context of the podcast, the caller used a religious reference in the second quote, but I imagine any problem poke in your life would work.

Taking the second one first, my last Jenga piece pulled caused the whole tower to collapse. We do this, don’t we? We build these towers of expectations then, little by little, disappointments and failures in others cause us to pull away. Time allows second chances so we once again place hope on the tower again. We fail, or others fail us … again. The camel can’t hold the last straw, right? At this point we look over all the pieces strewn about and say to ourselves, “Why do I even try? …”

This is why the first phrase is so wonderful. “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”. I love this. It forces us to look at outcomes, not the process. Putting the straw on the camel in the first place could be the problem. Heaping a pile of expectations on top of an already large clump of calamity, sometimes, may not be the best way to ride through life in a barren desert where answers appear as a mirage more than a reality. Maybe, just maybe, some problems aren’t worth the stress we put on ourselves.

I will find a way to get caught up with what could have been done the past two weeks – and wasn’t. We’re always catching up or keeping up, I guess.

As of 4 a.m., my back is still what it is for an older guy who gets up and types away. Yes, there are two disks not working properly sending signals to my brain and legs – like every five minutes – that trigger a pain response. Regular activity isn’t the same as it was. I’d gladly trade this for polyester pants and a bad haircut. Why didn’t we appreciate youth when it was coursing through our low cholesterol veins? Back in the day, as they say …

Back when Forest Zoo in Gallitzen, Pa still had crowds leaning up against posts and ropes looking at animals … smiling, enjoying the summer days. I do remember going there. No camels were smiling back at me as I walked about with my family and friends. Although, I can’t be 100% confident. Just don’t know..

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