The Meme of the Week, and something I've been participating off-blog, so to speak, is the Teachout Cultural Concurrence Index. Me, I scored 58%, although the first time I did the test, I answered every either/or question even when I didn't know both items and had a higher score of 63%. Full disclosure and all that.
I suppose I could add some of my own questions to draft my own CCI, but prior to Terry's post, I'd given some thought to what I call Immutables--those elements of individual tastes that will never be swayed, never be altered no matter who tries to do so. And to take things to perhaps an extreme level, if you attempt to be friends with someone who doesn't agree with your Immutables, then the friendship is doomed.
In fact, this past week I alluded to what may be my biggest Immutable in the "Picks of the Week" section by awarding one of the slots to Shel Silverstein's UNCLE SHELBY'S ABZ: A PRIMER FOR TENDER YOUNG MINDS**. Why did I call this book a "friendship or relationship deal-breaker?" A couple of reasons. For one thing, if you've been a longtime reader of the blog, you essentially know I consider Shel to be a genius, someone who managed to excel at practically anything he put his mind to--cartoons, songwriting, plays, poems, children's books, the occasional short story. Although my instinct is to designate his entire oeuvre as Immutable, that's simply not possible--even I don't like every single little thing he ever did (for example, I'm rather ambivalent about THE GIVING TREE, but then again, so was he.)
But ABZ encapsulates the essence of what I love about Silverstein's work--the gleeful subversiveness, the way he manages to take something completely innocent and twist it all the way around. The original edition of the book did not say so, but the reissue clearly states that this is meant for "Adults Only." No wonder, when in this alphabet, "K" stands for kidnapper, DR_ _ _ rhymes with INK, and people play hopscotch with real Scotch. And every time I read through it--I've lost count now--I never fail to laugh at the punchline of "O is for Oz."
ABZ is Exhibit A of my sense of humor. It's sick, perverse, sometimes subtle and other times obvious. This book has won some of the most stubborn minds over, and if it hasn't, well, chances are they weren't a good candidate for friendship in the first place. I still remember showing the book to a former roommate; she was puzzled by it for the first few letters, but a third of the way in, she started to giggle a bit. Then she hit "O" and burst out laughing. By the end she shook her head and said, "I get it, and it's totally you. But don't you dare show it to your kids when you have them."
Yeah, it's totally me. But the day a child of mine turns oh, 12 or so, they are getting this book for their birthday. So, what are your Immutables?
**The link is actually to the original satire that appeared in Playboy in August 1961. What was later published by Simon & Schuster was an expanded and slightly censored version (for example, "J is for Junkie" did not make the cut.)