BOSTON BACK TO NORBAL

Templeton Tank

BOSTON BACK TO NORBAL

            The intentional misspelling of “normal” in my title is stolen from a “Mad Magazine” of the late 1960’s, which poked fun at the idea LSD was a “recreational drug” that had no lasting effects. The character, after a LSD trip, states the trip is over and everything is “back to norbal.”

Well, things are back to norbal around here, after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, (which is just another way of saying nothing will ever be the same.)

Boston is about a ninety minute drive from my farm, when the traffic is light.  It’s about sixty miles as the crow flies.  From a high hill you can see its skyscrapers, tiny on the horizon.  However it was near enough for the bombing to hit home.

My youngest son was trying hard to ignore the marathon, and to focus on studying for his finals, (one of which wound up canceled,) but he had to notice the sudden flow of upset people heading away from the marathon on Huntington Avenue, as he looked out his dorm window.  Then there was the following confusion, upset, and the strange sensation of not being allowed outside, (they were allowed to go eat, under the watchful eyes of the campus police, but were not allowed to dawdle,) and that was followed by the huge release from tension, and being part of a pent-up population of students all rushing outside at once, cheering and applauding the passing police.  Then there was a sort of let down, or else a sense of, “Now what?”

My oldest son and his wife were watching the marathon, but after the leaders passed they wanted to “beat the traffic,” and were already leaving the city when the trouble happened, and they had the good sense to get the heck out-of-town.  They watched it all from afar, on TV, but they too now ask, “Now what?”

My older sister lives in Watertown and works at MIT, so she was in the middle of things. The night the first terrorist brother was killed she could hear the pipe bombs getting louder and louder, as the vehicle was pursued, and heard all the gunfire. The day she wasn’t allowed to leave the house her husband took the above picture out their front door. (The soldiers were friendly, and were polite as they knocked at her door to make certain she wasn’t being held hostage.)  Then when the second brother was captured she again heard all the gunfire.  And now she too asks, “Now what?”

It was a week many Massachusetts public schools were closed for Spring Vacation. A parent of a child at our Childcare teaches in Massachusetts, and was on vacation last week, and, upon returning to school last Monday, found all the teachers were exhausted.  No one felt they’d had a vacation.

Beyond doubt the event was draining.  It continues to suck up a lot of energy, as people ask, “Now what?”

Things are not back to normal.  The world changes, and the idea of a thing called “normal” is in some ways a fond dream.  We want shelter from the storm, and long interludes of peace, but life has a way of dislodging us.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “BOSTON BACK TO NORBAL

  1. Re the notion of “Norbal”.
    I deeply appreciate your article which clearly describes your personal experience and sheds light on how damage was done to people/families so close, and also at varying distances, across the country. After seeing the page in Mad Magazine in the ’60s, my family took this up “Everything is back to Norbal” as one of our sayings, and it applies often, but not always in such frightful ways.

    I came across your article because I was trying to find a copy of that Mad Magazine page, and your article was the only reference to Norbal I could find. I wonder if you (or someone?) could spare the time and effort to send me a copy of that page, or let me know how to find it. It is a precious concept and so aptly stated.

    Thanks, Karen

    • Thank you for your kind words.

      When I was around thirteen I received a subscription to Mad Magazine as a gift, and continued to get it until 1969, I think. I read every copy several times, partly because I was avoiding doing boring homework, and partly because there were cartoons hidden in the margins. Also there was subtly in the humor and I didn’t always get the jokes at first. In a strange way it alerted me to the fact you shouldn’t be too trusting of Madison Avenue, or politicians, although I had to learn more in the old-fashioned, hard way. “The buyer beware.”

      I did my own Google search and found this:

      “Psychedelic Diary (an excerpt from MAD Magazine)”

      I am fond of old Mad’s(it is a top publication on Mensa’s Uber Elite Genius Reading List of course). I was looking through a new stack and found this section I thought it was pretty funny.
      ______________________________________________________

      9:00 – I enter the offices of MAD Magazine and I am given L.S.D. on a sugar cube which I put into my coffee and drink.

      9:06 – My stomach gurgle and my throat tightens. I NEVER use sugar in my coffee!

      9:18 – A Blood curdling scream pierces the air. I hear humanity crying out in anguish… suffering pain… intense pain! IS IT MY FIRST HALLUCINATION?

      9:20 – No!! it is the Publisher of MAD – Bill Gaines – writing a check! It is the same sound I hear every payday!

      9:35 – I AM BEGINNING TO THINK THE DRUG WILL HAVE NO EFFECT WHATSOEVERY! HERE IT IS – THIRTY -FIVE MINUTES AGTER GOOBLING, AND NOTHING IS FURNING!

      9:53 – THE PUBLICHER OF MAD, ADOLPH HITLER, ENTERS THE ROOM AND ASKS IF I AM K.O.? I TELL HIM I’M RASPBERRIES! ON THE WAY OUT SHE STABS MY TEDDY BEAR! ON PURPOSE!! ON pORPOISE!! SOMETHING IS FISHY!!!

      9:76 – STILL NO EFFECK! MY SKIN IS ON TOO TIGHT! LOUSY TAILOR! lOUSY BURTON! I RIP EVERYTHING OFF!!

      10:10:10 – THE TORTOISE IS RACING THE HAIR UNDER MY ARMS! IT’S AN ARMS RACE!!!

      ***Begins crazy handwritting and flower, planet, eye, etc drawings***

      10:369 – HEY! TURN OFF THOSE FLASHING BRIGHT LICE!!

      1492 – I STILL FEEL FINE

      LOVE

      UZE YOUR ZIPPER CODE!
      CURB YOUR CAR

      112:30 – THE PUBLISHER OF MUD, HUGH HEFFER, TAPS ME ON THE BROCCOLI –

      *Begins to return to normal handwritting*

      90:76 – I MAKE OUT SHAPES IN THE ROOM A DESK – A LAMP – A STAGECOACH – A PHUNG

      1:15 – PEOPLE ARE STAIRING AT ME! I’M A STAIR CASE! i TRY TO EXPLAIN THAT SOME FUNNY THINGS HAVE HAPPENED TO MY. BUT IT’S NO.

      1:30 – EVERYTHING IS BECOMING EXTREMELY CLEAR! BUT IS IT REALITY? DO I REALLY LIVE? OR DO I JUST EXIST IN A CHINGE OF MY BLUK?

      1:45 – WHAT IS NOT? AND WHY, IF WE, DO WE? OF COURSE!

      2:00 – A blood-curdling scream pierces the air. I hear humanity crying out in anguish…suffering pain…intense pain! IS IT AN HALLUCINATION AT LAST??

      2:03 – No!! It is the Publisher of MAD – Bill Gaines writing another check!

      2:05 – Everything is back to norbal.

      I also found a mention that the issue “norbal” appeared in was from 1968.

      You might learn more by checking out some websites devoted to “Mad,” such as http://www.collectmad.com/collectibles/

      Best wishes,

      Caleb

      • Caleb:

        What a great pleasure to get your immediate response. I enjoyed it immensely. I do not, however, recall this version.

        What I recall is a one page layout with, I think, eight panels. In the first there is a picture of a normal looking guy sitting at a table. He is posed with his elbows on the table and his head resting on his hands. Then he takes the LSD. As the panels progress, he keeps the same posture but his face melts down onto the table, then it slowly goes back. looking as it did in the first panel. The tag line on the last panel is “Everything is back to norbal.” I believe these are the only words aside from whatever the header was.

        This has been so relevant so many times with family and life events, local and world events, and issues of aging and illness. Also, it illustrates the point of how change can occur in a way almost anyone can understand.

        I was hoping to find a copy of it and put it up on a wall in my home. I’ll continue to seek this page and I think the Psychedelic Diary and the Mensa connection will be of great help. If you do see the page that I mention, I believe you’ll love it too.

        Regards, Karen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s