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Zen for the Hot and Bothered, a reading from the book of the Brow Beaten





Windsor is next to Detroit. I'll pause here to let that sink in. In the late '80s, there was a rash of incidents in Detroit where kids were attacking (and some times killing) other kids for their trendy clothing. For a while, the ultimate prize was a leather jacket that said "TROOP" on the back.


Joseph and His Leather Troop Jacket


A reading from the Book of the Brow Beaten. This is my guess at the story of Joseph and his leather Troop jacket. Joseph was a good son to his father Israel. He tended his father's used sheep dealership and never thought it was cool to carry around a concealed handgun spear, unlike his brothers. Now Joseph had a dream and made the big mistake of telling his brothers about it, for if there is one thing more boring than hearing about other people's plague symptoms it has to be hearing about their prophetic dreams.


Joseph said to his brothers "I had a dream that we were out in the country gathering sticks into bunches."


Ruben cut him off. "Why were we gathering bunches of sticks?"


"I don't know," Joseph said. "It's a dream. The more obscure the imagery is, the more likely it is to come true."


The other brothers urged Ruben to shut up. Joseph might have dreamt about the winning numbers in the Philistine sweepstakes.


Joseph continued. "Anyway, my bunches of sticks rose above yours, which gathered around mine."


The brothers stared at him.


"Is that all?" they asked.


"Sorry," said Joseph.


The brothers went away, angry they didn't get any hints about the Philistine Sweepstakes but angrier at the obvious interpretation of Joseph's dream. He wanted to be king over them!


One day, Israel sent Joseph to find his brothers in the town of Shekham. They went there to buy up a lot of used sheep in a police auction but they had not returned. Near Shekham, the brothers saw him coming and they talked about him.


"Here comes Precious. Our father's favorite son. How come he gets to lick the bowl after dad makes intestine cakes? Why does he get that leather Troop jacket while we have to put up with these bed sheets with head and arm holes cut in them?"


They were very resentful. They planed to do harm to Joseph.


"Let's jump him from behind, tie him up, put him in a dress, and sell him to the Hippolyte navy," Judah urged. But Ruben had a better idea.


"Let's throw down a well and not bring him up until he dreams about the winning numbers in the Philistine Sweepstakes."


Judah didn't like to be upstaged, though. "Suppose his dream doesn't come true?" he queried.


The other brothers answered Judah's question. "His dreams always come true with stunning accuracy. Remember when he predicted that the moon would swallow the sun and then spit it out? Well, that came to pass."


Just as Joseph was drawing near the brothers saw a caravan of diet book authors and decided they would sell their brother to the traveling hope merchants. The authors drove a hard bargain but agreed to pay twelve shekels and ninety-five centimes for Joseph after the brothers threw in a digital watch. But the brothers kept the Troop jacket, blew a hole in it with one of their handgun spears and covered it in sheep's blood.


They brought the jacket back to their father and said, "your son Joseph is dead. He died while trying to hold up a liquor store. Sorry, dad."


Israel mourned his son's loss by putting on sack clothes, tossing ashes in his hair, and marrying an Onassis.


Now Joseph was brought to Egypt and sold as a slave to Pontifar, the captain of the Pharaoh's guard. He was put in charge of the house but never thought of escaping because in those days being a slave was akin to taking a job at McDonald's. It was something most everyone did to get some real job experience.


Anyway, Joseph looked particularly appealing to Pontifar's wife. But Joseph refused to sleep with her. Her ego crushed she screamed rape and had Joseph arrested. Because Joseph was a Hebrew he couldn't get a fair trial and was locked away.


In jail, Joseph behaved so well that the warden made him the chief of the prisoners. The warden trusted Joseph and knew he needed not monitor him. Again Joseph did not try to escape. In those days the chance to sit around in a jail cell was like a vacation in Florida. You were always in the cool shade, away from the burning desert. You could spend your time moping around in a hay-filled room, instead of being in the burning desert bundling sticks for no good reason. And the conversation was exceptional.


It happened one day that the Pharaoh's cup bearer and his baker were thrown into Joseph's cell. They were troubled by dreams they had and they related them to Joseph. The cup bearer told of his dream.


"I saw a vine in front of me. On the vine were three branches and a stage. Dancing raisins strolled about singing. They were irritating. I picked the raisins off the stage and squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup."


Joseph interpreted his dream. "The three branches represent three days. Your killing of the dancing raisins means Pharaoh will restore you to your place. Or it could mean penis envy."


The baker seeing such a favorable interpretation told Joseph his dream.


"In mine there weren't any lame ass raisins. I dreamt of three cakes. Just before I was about to put them into the oven this dough boy arose from the cakes and pleaded not to be put in the stove. But I baked him anyway and fed the cakes and the dough boy to Pharaoh. So what's it mean, doc? A senatorial position?"


Joseph answered, "in three days you will be recalled by Pharaoh and hanged but not before being turned down in a Price is Right contestant search. Like, sorry."


And so it all came to pass. Except the part about the contestant search. The baker did make it on to the Price is Right but he was hanged anyway.


Two years later Pharaoh was troubled by a dream. The cup bearer caught wind of this and told Pharaoh about Joseph. Pharaoh had Joseph brought to him and related his dream.


"I saw before me seven boxes of tapered candles. Each was long, hard, and capable of flaming a long time. I reached out to grab the potent shafts of wax but I was unable to seize a hold of them. Instead I found myself holding seven soft limp candles that seemed like they'd fire off in no time."


Joseph looked at the strong but childless regent and made up a story, not having the heart to diagnose his marital problems.


"Ummm," Joseph said, "I see an air traffic problem. Yeah, many airliners shall fall from the sky unless something is done about it."


Although Pharaoh had never heard of airliners, he didn't like the idea of anything falling from the sky, so he queried "What can be done, sage one?"


Joseph had to think fast.


"Ummm, better air traffic control systems."


Pharaoh saw the wisdom in this but still was left wondering what kind of air traffic control systems.


"Big upward pointing arrows on the ground," answered Joseph, "to tell airliners that up and not down is the safest direction to fly."


Pharaoh took Joseph's advice and had the upward pointing arrows built and had them called "pyramids". In all of Pharaoh's days, no airliner ever fell from the sky after the pyramids were built and Joseph was rewarded with his own talk show. He became rich and forgot about his brothers who sold him out.


This has been my guess.



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