Lovers of leaving,
Come. Hear my boast. For on a night like this
when ghosts prowl the boundaries of the light
only a boast will firm your jelly knees
and warm the back you have turned to the cold.
can walk the extra mile
to the edge of the abyss
and dare a leap.
I can suckle children and grown men
and love in the face of loneliness.
I will walk head up, time after time
into the lodges of unfamiliar tribes
and hold my own.
I can make a home of a tent, a trailer,
a tenement, a cave, a cabin,
a mansion, an automobile.
I can learn new ways,
adjust to new patterns,
drop old habits,
and retain integrity.
These skills are mine. Tell me yours.
The bourgeoisie frowns on boasting – especially for girls. Good girls hide their light under a bushel. Nice girls are modest. We’re taught it’s impolite, vulgar, embarrassing and foolish to blow our own horn. (Though not those of the less fair sex!) You probably think I’m referring to my generation, but no. This kind of brainwashing still goes on. It’s one of the reasons I loved the film The Heat so much, (see previous post). This stifling of the ancient art of boast is a fairly recent development. Boasting has a long venerable history dating back to the long long ago campfires of our most ancient ancestors. It still survives today in Rap and Performance Poetry and now in WordPress’s The Daily Post.
Authors use the Badass Boast as a literary device to let the characters defy, taunt, bully, or bluff their opponents. Good guys and bad guys both use the boast. We love a good boast. It calls up the rebel, empowers and cheers flagging spirits, inspires action and makes us grin.
Davy Crockett honed his boasting skills to get into congress. One of the most famous Roarers of his day he claimed to be “half horse and half alligator,” boasting that he owned “the roughest rocking horse, the prettiest sister, the surest rifle, and the ugliest dog” in the country.
The Norse warriors in Beowulf count boasting as a necessary skill, a competitive art form used to establish their place in the pack and raise adrenalin during long inactive winters.
Victorian men roared boasting songs back and forth across the pubs of Victorian England, but for real boasting it’s hard to beat an Irishman.
I suggest we bring back the boast. Write your own gasconade. Don’t lie – that can come later when you really get into the spirit of the thing! Crow about your skills, claim your talents, and turn your vices into virtues, your flaws into something to crow about. Spin your life positive and see how good you’ll feel…