Monday, January 24, 2011

The Scorpion

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer..."

When I was growing up, I used to have a bunch of cool posters on my bedroom wall. Peter Fonda on his Easy Rider Harley, Joe Namath fading back to pass, Raquel Welch in a yellow bikini...

...what was I talking about? Oh, right, the posters.

I also had an orange and purple 'day-glo' poster with the signs of the zodiac arranged around the edge of a radiant circle -- kind of like a psychedelic dartboard. Each sign was identified by name along with its astrological symbol, date range, a pictoral representation and a one-word description. I remember the poster vividly, but I only remember one of the descriptions, the one for Scorpio -- my sign.

The word used to describe Scorpio was: Temperamental.

I used to look at that word when I'd been exiled to my room for having a "bad attitude." I really didn't know what 'temperamental' meant, any more than I knew what 'bad attitude' meant. But it definitely didn't strike me as a compliment.

I never liked the idea of being categorized by my astrological sign, especially when that category seemed to be 'Pain-In-The-Ass.' I found it ridiculous that some random group of stars a billion miles away was supposed to have some kind of influence on what kind of person I was. Even more absurd was the notion that everyone who was born during the same time of year, each and every year, somehow shared the same set of personality traits.

Who comes up with this crap?

But astrology was inescapable. Because no matter how illogical or superstitious it was, there were a lot of people who took it seriously. And when I say a lot of people, I mean, specifically, females. Not that there aren't guys who believe in astrology, just that if they do, well, who cares? But many women did take it seriously, and if I wanted to date them, I had to take it seriously, too. Or at least pretend to.

But due to my temperamental nature, I could never take it too seriously. When asked what my birthday was, an obvious prelude to astrological classification, I would often give false information and wait for the equally false interpretation. Inevitably I would get a response like: "I knew it -- your such a (fill in the sign)." Then, with a sly grin, I would reveal that I was not whatever sign she "knew" I was, but, in fact, a Scorpio. This revelation was usually met with comments like: "That figures -- Scorpios are such assholes."

Eventually I realized that making women feel stupid by lying to them about my birth sign was not an effective courtship strategy. So, I decided to play along. I reluctantly surrendered the facts and waited for the dreaded judgments. "Scorpios are so possessive... too intense... jealous... demanding... defensive... manipulative... suspicious... passionate... sensual... sexy...


Apparently, there was another side to this whole Scorpio deal. Thanks to some wacky astrology book that came out back in the seventies, Scorpios got the reputation of being Red Hot Lovers. And since this crazy book was, at one time, required reading for all women between the ages of fourteen and ninety, the word got around. I came to feel proud of being a Scorpio -- even though I still thought it was all nonsense.

It was good PR.

Recently, however, I found out that I may not be a Scorpio after all! According to some astronomer in Minnesota, due to the earth's "wobbling" around its axis, all the astrological signs are off by about a month. And that would make me a Libra.

A Libra? Really? What am I supposed to do with that? How do you go from being a Badass Scorpion to "The Scales"? It's not even a living creature -- it's a freakin' appliance!

Definitely not sexy.

So if, as I firmly believe, astrology is all a big scam anyway, then why couldn't I just make up my own sign? There are plenty of other celestial bodies to choose from. A quick check of the November sky reveals such appealing alternatives as Delphinus, "The Dolphin" -- I enjoy swimming, and everybody likes dolphins. Or perhaps Draco, "The Dragon" -- dragons are awesome and way more badass than scorpions. How about Orion, "The Hunter". Pretty cool, right? Of course, according to myth, Orion was killed by a scorpion, and that takes us right back where we started.

I appear to be having trouble letting go of my Scorpion identity.

Fortunately, as I continued to research the matter, I discovered that the tropical zodiac signs that form the basis of Western horoscopic astrology have nothing to do with the astronomic positions of the constellations for which they are named. In other words, it really is just a completely made-up system.

And that means that I'm still a Scorpio!

Not that I care one way or another.

I mean, it's not like I'm obsessing about it or anything.

I'm just saying.

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