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Archive for March, 2009

“Right of Way”

 

THE RIGHT OF WAY

by Ruth Minshull

 

            I live in a picturesque little village on the shores of Lake Michigan.  The wintertime population is no more than a few hundred hardy souls.  However, when the ice thaws and the cherry trees bloom, the robins return–along with several thousand summer people.  The town comes back to bustling life for a few months.

            Among the year-round residents, there’s a mallard and his missus who make their home in a charming millpond about a block off main street.  During a cold winter the pond freezes over, but there’s always a little bit of open water near the dam.  So the ducks are able to dive down underneath the ice and search for fresh food.  On a warm day, they can often be seen sunning themselves on the banks of the pond. 

            But once a day (about mid-afternoon) they take a stroll down the road to the coffee shop on the corner.  As soon as the proprietor or a customer sees the approaching ducks, he or she grabs a handful of corn from the bowl at the end of the lunch counter and sprinkles it around on the shop’s back patio.

            Next to the bowl of corn there’s a ceramic duck with an opening in the top.  I think it began life as a planter, but now it’s a repository for “The Duck Fund.”  Local people drop in some spare change now and then.  The money is used to buy feed for the ducks.

            After the mallards finish their meal, they stroll back home to the pond.  Motorists who happen to be driving on the street behind them slow to a crawl as the ducks waddle leisurely down the center of the road.  No one here would think of honking or driving around them.  It’s understood that the ducks have the right of way.

            Folks don’t mind, however.  Nobody here is in that much of a hurry anyway.

            These are the same people who might stop at the farm house down the road, pick up a peck of apples from the front porch and leave the payment in a coffee can on the table. 

            At other times of the year they stop at the roadside vegetable stand to buy cucumbers, lettuce, squash or green peppers.  They weigh the produce, calculate the cost from the posted prices and leave their money in an open metal box (making change if necessary).  On the wall at the back of one such stand, there’s a sign that says, “Thank you for being honest.”  Just to cover all bases, however, the owner has posted another sign which gently cautions, “God is watching you.”

            Residents also go to the tomato farm, weigh out tomatoes and leave the money in a cigar box (which may contain up to $50 at any given time).  They can also buy strawberries, maple syrup, zucchinis and other fresh produce–all on the honor system.

            Certainly there are disadvantages to living in such a small village, far from any big city.  We don’t get to enjoy the opera or stage plays; we can’t shop in glittering malls.  If we want to buy something, we usually have to send away for it.  We have little in the way of museums, major art exhibits or zoos.  We don’t have dress-up occasions very often.

            When we need the plumbing fixed or the furnace repaired, we can’t call half a dozen contractors for competitive bids  We call the one repairman in the area–and hope he has time to stop by.

            And by the time the cutting edge of technology reaches us, it’s so dull it wouldn’t slice warm butter.

            But those who live here do so by choice.  Some of us discovered the area while on vacation and rearranged our lives so we could move here permanently.  Others were born here, went away to big cities for a few years and came back to stay.  Some grew up here and never left at all. 

            Many of our residents are retirees.  Those who still work, have usually taken drastic cuts in income in order to live here.

            But for all of us who stayed, migrated, or returned to this beautiful place, the sacrifices are worth it.  We’re willing to pay the price to live where the air is crisp and clean, where the turquoise water sparkles like a field of rippling jewels, where the night skies are dotted with a million stars, where people say “Hello” whether or not they’ve met before, where the honor system works.

            And where the ducks always have the right of way.

 

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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull

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“Famousness”

FAMOUSNESS

By Ruth Minshull

 

            As you’ve undoubtedly heard (ad nauseam) Andy Warhol once said, “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.”

            Well, if you’ve been hanging around waiting for your fame to come banging on the door, if you’ve been working on strategies for dodging the Paparazzi, you might as well put away your sunglasses.  Fame will be a no-show. 

Warhol was wrong.

            In fact, if you want any recognition at all, you will probably have to elbow everybody else out of the way and grab it by the throat.

            Just for fun, I analyzed Warhol’s concept in a practical way; I did the numbers.  I limited my calculations to this country alone.  After all, we have nearly 300 million people here.  That’s a lot of fame to spread around.  

            There are 96 fifteen-minute periods in one day.  Let’s say ten individuals get to be famous in every fifteen-minute period.  That’s a total of 960 new celebrities each twenty-four hours. 

            This much fame is already overwhelming.

            Obviously we need to compromise somewhere.  There’s no way we can all find the time to honor 960 notable people every day.  Most of us can’t find time to get the car washed and still keep up with the bizarre new revelations about Madonna, Britney, “Brangelina and steroid-ingesting ballplayers—all of whom manage to be famous (or infamous) most every day.

            What is fame anyway?  (I’m not sure it counts if you’re just mugging for the TV camera as it pans over the fans at a football stadium.)  The dictionary says that famous means “widely known.”  Well, we can see right away that we have to give up “world famous.”  In fact, being known on a national scale is out for practically all of us.  Most likely we’d have to settle for regional fame—maybe no more than four or five counties (narrowly known?).

            One advantage to this smaller field is that you wouldn’t have to do as much to get into the paper (or on YouTube).  Just growing the biggest rutabaga in your county might do it.  Or getting married on a roller coaster ride (or while bungee jumping off the town’s water tower).  Anything that will bring out the reporter from the local weekly or someone with a cell phone camera.

            Anyway, with 960 newly famous people each day it would take over 800 years to get to everybody.  Thus some of today’s children would have to live longer than Methuselah to reach their turn in the limelight.

            Then, of course, with new babies being born constantly, it doesn’t take a genius to see that there simply isn’t enough time.  It can’t be done.  Warhol was definitely wrong.  Maybe those turpentine fumes fuzzied his brain a bit.  Or, quite likely, he was just trying to insure his own century of fame by making the remark (which, I’m certain, gets more mention than his artwork).

            I suspect that most of us have known all along that we won’t get our promised fame.  We’ve been hoodwinked before, and we’ve learned to deal with it—each in our own way.

            Some people have obviously decided not to wait for fame to come upon them; they’re going to reach out and nail it any way they can.  Instead of relying on talent, brains, performances, good deeds or a blue-ribbon hog, many settle for simply being noticed.

            Some turn to crime.  I heard of one serial killer who said, after he was caught, “I wanted people to know I was somebody.” 

Others do bizarre things to get their names into the Guinness World Records.  One fellow rode a lawnmower over 4,000 miles through sixteen states.  Then there was the chap in Winnipeg who put 702 needles into his feet, ankles and nipples trying for the record of “most body piercings.”

            So, whether we opt to go looking for a bigger riding lawn mower, or simply bask in obscurity, we each will have to cope with the fact that there simply isn’t enough famousness to go around.

            I say, blame it on Branjelina.

 

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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull

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“Phobophobia”

PHOBOPHOBIA

By Ruth Minshull

 

            Some years ago, while visiting my son and daughter-in-law in Dallas, I spent part of an afternoon in the huge public library looking for the word describing the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth (Arachibutyrophobia).

            Nowadays, of course, a person can acquire such information in minutes on the Web.  If you can think of it, you can Google it.  The only pitfall in this wondrous convenience is the risk of becoming entertainingly sidetracked.

            In fact, while writing the reference above I, once again, had to look up Arachibutyrophobia.  (I so seldom need the word.)  I went to Google and typed in “fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth” and got 1870 hits.

            I located the word immediately, but in the process I stumbled onto an enthralling site that listed over 500 phobias—all genuine.  Wow!  A cornucopia of neuroses.  How could there possibly be so many? I wondered.  Are people really that messed up? 

I was hooked.  I had to peruse that list.

            First I spotted Acarophobia—the fear of itching.  Well, an itch is not usually pleasant, but fearing it?

            Nearby I discovered Acerophobia, which is the fear of sourness.  What does such an afflicted person do?  Hide in the closet when he sees a lemon?  Scream in terror at the appearance of a pickle jar?  A trip through the supermarket must be nightmarish.

            There’s a fear of asymmetrical things (Asymmetriphobia).  What would happen if  a woman so afflicted inadvertently married a man who suffered with Symmetrophobia (fear of symmetry)?  That union would end faster than a Hollywood marriage.

            On the other hand, some people are made for each other.  A person with Dextrophobia (fear of objects at the right side of the body) could pair up with a Levophobic (one who fears things to the left side of the body).  They could flank each other appropriately (“I gotcha covered, Babe.”) and live happily ever after.

            A fusspot with Ataxophobia (fear of disorder or untidiness) must be a barrel of laughs to have around.

            Now a woman cursed with Aurophobia (fear of gold) if combined with a fear of diamonds, could be a low-maintenance dream wife.  Sorry guys, I couldn’t find any name for fear of diamonds.  I doubt if such a phobia exists.  In fact, I’d be a little suspicious of a woman who was an Aurophobic.  She could be holding out for platinum.

            Almost every color has its own phobia, as does nearly every nationality.  Bolshephobia, for instance, is fear of Bolsheviks.

            Help!  I think I’m catching phobophobia (fear of phobias). 

            Didaskaleinophobia is the fear of going to school.  Some imaginative kid should have received an “A” for cooking up that one.

            There’s even a fear of insanity.  To that bedeviled soul I’d have to say, “No reason to fear that, buddy, you’re already there.”

            There are two words for fear of taste (Geumaphobia and Geumophobia).  Now would that be good taste or bad taste?

            Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words.  Sure.  The sadistic psychiatrist who dreamed up that label was trying to keep his patient coming back forever.  He’d probably start every session with, “So, Mortimer, how’s your Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia today?” and the hapless patient would dive behind the couch—trembling uncontrollably.

            Logophobia is the fear of words.  Now, where would you go to hide from those?

            I wasn’t surprised to discover that there is a name for fear of thinking, Phronemophobia.  That seems a pretty widespread malady to me.

            Politicophobia is the fear or dislike of politicians.  Come on, what exactly is abnormal about that?

            This plethora of phobias has to be a product of our modern culture.  Obviously we have too much free time to hang out and fuss about things.  If we still had to hustle around and plow the fields and bake the bread and beat the clothes clean we’d be too tired at the end of the day to fret about such trifles.

I’m sure there was no time for this kind of nonsense in the days of cavepersons. 

            She says, “I think you’d better go hunting today, sugarplum.  That boar you caught last week is getting a bit rank.”

            “Oh, you know I can’t go out today, pumpkin.  My Agrizoophobia (fear of wild animals) is worse than usual.  Couldn’t we just eat some plants and berries?”

            “Oh, Mighty Slayer, I couldn’t possibly do that.  My Botanophobia (fear of plants) is making me crazy.”

Yes.  I think these phobias are the result of our enlightened times.  Anyway, I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with that fear of words (mentioned above) or I never would have stumbled on Zemmiphobia—fear of the Great Mole Rat.

            Although I haven’t yet dug up a description of a Great Mole Rat, I did learn how to identify the Naked Mole Rat.  “Picture a hot dog that’s been left in a microwave a little too long, add some buckteeth at one end, and you’ve got a fairly good idea of what a Naked Mole Rat looks like.”

            Well, I don’t care whether it’s clothed or not.  If I see any kind of a Mole Rat baring its buckteeth at me, I’m going to run for it.  I guess that makes me a Zemmiphobic.

 

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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull

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ALAS, I RUE THE ADO

by Ruth Minshull

 

            I’ve never met a cruciverbalist I really liked.

            Obviously I don’t have Will Rogers’ generosity of spirit.  Of course, he probably didn’t do crossword puzzles.  If he had, it might have changed his entire outlook on life, as well as his opinion of his fellow human beings.

            I have to admit I’ve never met a cruciverbalist in person, but I don’t have to.  I encounter them almost daily through their products and I am a victim of their diabolical machinations.

            Of course, I can understand what they are up against.  They’re trying to entertain us, challenge us, and maintain our interest.  That’s what they claim anyway.  I really suspect that they’re sadistic polecats bent on making us feel like drooling morons, just because we don’t know the French word for summer, we’ve forgotten how to write the year 1537 in Roman numerals, we’re stumped when asked to remember the names of all seven dwarfs or Santa’s reindeer, we’ve don’t remember what comes after “tau” in the Greek alphabet and we can’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Swahili. 

            In my kinder moments, I do appreciate some of their problems.  In fact, when I feel really generous, I admit that I’m amazed by their ingenuity in juggling those interlocking words, to end up with a complete puzzle–and no leftover parts. 

            In those same generous moments (brief, mind you) I realize that when we encounter a puzzle that is too easy, we don’t want that any more than we want a super tough one.  We want one that’s just right–for us. 

            I could sum it up with a paraphrase of the old rhyme by Frank Gelett Burgess: I never saw a crusiverbalist.  I never hope to see one, but I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one.

Puzzle makers always have trouble finding enough three-letter words to fill their needs, often resorting to ROE, RAH, REO, and RUE.  When have you ever heard someone say, “I rue the day I married that dimwit”?  Sure, a person may regret it–passionately perhaps–but I have never observed anybody in the middle of a “rue”.

Other favorites are SPA, TSP, TAR, PER, BAA, DNA and NEE.  Some of these appear in almost every puzzle.

Short vowel words are the hardest.  EVA Gabor, AVA Gardner and UMA Thurman will live in perpetuity within those little squares—not because of their talent or beauty or accomplishments, but because of their vowel-beginning, three-letter names.  I hope those glamorous ladies don’t mind.

Especially challenging are the “e” words.  It is the most frequently used letter, but there are a limited number of “e” words in the language.  ERGO, ERA, ESSE, ESTA, ERA, EWE, EVE, EON, ERA, EMU, ELI and the poetic E’ER come to mind.  Puzzle constructors obviously borrow frequently from Latin.

And, of course, it’s no simple matter to deal with the “a” words, thus we find AGE, ART, ARC, ARK, ALE, ADE, AID and the all-time favorite ADO.  Now, I have never been personally involved in an ado (Has anyone since Shakespeare?) and I’m not sure I would recognize it if I were.

Quite a few words slip into obsolescence when no one is paying attention.  But some of them must live on, if only so that cruciverbalists can dig themselves out of a hole when necessary.  Thus we run across: ASEA, ALAS and ALIT, which don’t pop up much in everyday life.  Have you every heard anyone say “alas” even when asea?

The letter “o” is also challenging.  The same few words occur repeatedly:  ODE, ORE, OVA, OLD, OLEO, OREO and the big favorite OLÉ. 

I should be grateful to the puzzle makers.  Should I ever find myself at a bullfight in Spain I will know just how to show my support for the bull–or should it be the matador?

Of course, if they happen to put a cruciverbalist in the ring with the bull I’d have no trouble at all choosing sides.

 “Olé, Torro, Olé!”

 

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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull

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THE ARTFUL CONSPIRACY

by Ruth Minshull

 

Although the French people aren’t too popular with many Americans these days, perhaps you can agree that (like most of us) they’re not all bad all of the time.

 

The idea of conspiracies is capitivating to many folks (especially the loony ones).  Some are convinced that the Kennedy assassination was the result of a conspiracy.  Others, even today, still speculate about Lincoln’s death.  And there are those who believe that the moon landing was a hoax cooked up by NASA.  A few hard-core believers are certain that our government conspires to keep us from learning about the thousands of aliens who have invaded earth in space ships and are now running loose among us (disguised as famous sports luminaries with weird hair?  or maybe all those skinny Hollywood blonds who look strangely alike?).

 

I’m sure there have been successful conspiracies, but for the most part I don’t buy into such theories.  In the first place, a conspiracy requires that two or more people agree on a course of action.  If you’ve ever been on a committee, you know how unlikely that is.

 

Furthermore, if a thicket of thieves did manage to cook up and pull off a successful caper, chances are good that sooner or later someone would tattle.  Most people just can’t resist spilling the beans.  Ben Franklin seemed to agree with this when he said, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” 

 

And, of course, a conspirator might give up his pals in a plea bargain.  Contrary to proverbial wisdom, penal authorities often do not consider the bird in hand to be worth as much as the bird who is still hiding under a bush.

 

Perhaps the biggest reason for betrayal in this country today would be the golden opportunity to sell the story to the media for a small fortune (expecting, of course, to be portrayed on screen by Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt).  That’s the American way.

Strictly speaking, a conspiracy consists of a group of people plotting together secretly to do a wrongful act.  Usually this means the black-hearted ones trying to do in the righteous ones.  Sometimes, however, the conspirators are the good guys, plotting to outwit the miscreants.

 

The scene is Paris, over 60 years ago.  Several months before the start of World War II, European leaders were convinced that their negotiations would prevent war and lead to a lasting peace.

 

A number of realistic French people, however, were not so confident.  On the small chance that there would be a war, they worried about the fate of all the priceless artwork in their beloved Louvre.

 

Looting has always been a common practice during wars.  And the Nazis, of course, were no exception.  Although it would be bad enough to get caught up in a war, the idea of losing the treasures of the Louvre was unthinkable to Frenchmen. 

 

After fretting about it for a time, someone came up with the answer:  They would take no chances; the art would be removed, and hidden until the war was over.

 

It was an exhaustive undertaking.  Thousands of special crates had to be built.  The Louvre had only one truck, so additional transport was borrowed from the Samaritaine, a nearby department store.  Some 300,000 pieces had to be carefully packed, crated and moved.  In what was surely the most massive art evacuation of all time, the industrious French patriots succeeded in emptying the huge museum.

 

Two days before war was declared, all the art in the Louvre had left Paris. The pieces were hidden all over France–in chateaux, in private homes, in caves, in cellars and in abandoned mines.  In some cases, the conspirators were only a step ahead of the advancing German army.

 

Thus, when the inevitable day arrived and the Nazis came goose-stepping down the Champs-Elysées and into the Louvre, they found–to their great aston-ishment–nothing at all.

So successfully had everything been secreted away that all during the war and the occupation–while Herman Goering and his band of merciless pillagers were tracking down everything of artistic merit in Europe–not one piece from this enormous collection was found by the enemy.

 

When the war was over, the precious treasures of the Louvre were brought back home.  Every single one of them.

 

Although the German occupation had been costly to the French people–thousands were executed, hundreds of thousands sent to Germany as slave laborers–no one gave away France’s great secret.  Not one person sold out.

 

Thanks to the bravery and foresight of the French people, thanks to the triumph of the human spirit over oppression, and thanks to the success of one vast and glorious conspiracy, the world’s greatest collection of art treasures was preserved.

 

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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull

 

References: 

1.  The Louvre (video tape) “The Jarvis Collection,” 1978. NBC, Inc.

2.  Bonfante-Warren, Alexander  The Louvre/the Musee D’Orsay.  2000.  Hugh Lauter Levin Associates

 

 

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EARLY BIRD ON THE MOVE

By Ruth Minshull

 

My friend, Horace, calls occasionally from Washington for a chat.

 He’s getting quite old now and has developed certain peculiarities.  He repeats himself a lot, but he also asserts that his phone is tapped, his apartment is bugged and he is followed on the street.  When I queried him about who might be doing this spying, he hinted darkly that it was probably the CIA.

Horace’s phone conversations often contain cryptic comments followed by, “You get my drift?”  He obviously doesn’t want spying ears to know the content of our conversation.  (Quite often I don’t know it either.)  We’re usually talking about something in the news, my kids, or a mutual acquaintance (hardly the stuff of international intrigue).

          Now, you might presume from this that I’m talking about a person whose past is full of shady, nefarious activities, but this is not the case.  He has lived a bland, uneventful life. 

          Now, some people think the CIA is a bunch of bumbling nincompoops—and perhaps that’s true.  I have no data and no opinion on the subject.  But I do know that no matter how inept they might be, they could hardly have an interest in this man.  They certainly could never justify monitoring all of his activities.  I’ve concluded that he has probably been kidding me.  Anyway, I hope so.

          One night I was getting ready to retire and, on my way to the bedroom, I closed the blinds in the second-floor hallway window.  As I did so, I thought, This is probably a wasted effort.  People couldn’t see into this window unless they were sitting up in the sand dunes with binoculars.  Of course, I mused, (thinking of Horace) the CIA might be doing just that…

          My mind drifted to my friend and his frequent references to being watched and monitored.  Living as he does in the heart of a big city, it would be easy to conduct a surveillance of his apartment from a vehicle or a nearby room.

          It would be much more difficult to keep a watch on me, however.  I live on one of the Great Lakes, so that probably rules out surveillance from the water side.  (It’s too shallow close in, generally too turbulent farther out).  The road is a private one, so a person in a parked car would be quickly noticed and reported to the sheriff by one of my neighbors.

That leaves the huge (350-foot) sand dune across the road.  To conduct a stakeout there, the agent would need to hike in from the opposite side to avoid drawing attention from other residents.  He/she would need to be dropped off, since there is no place to park a car inconspicuously.  He would then have to tramp through thick forest, foothills, and then up the final steep slope to the top of the dune.  From this roost, there would be an unobstructed view of my windows on one side as well as my backyard, garage and driveway.  People would appear about the size of ants from this lofty perch, so the agent would need binoculars.

Certain other gear would also be necessary.  Having no convenient McDonalds nearby, food, drink, and any other required conveniences would have to be lugged in along with warm clothes, a flashlight, a cell phone (which probably wouldn’t work in the dunes), a walkie-talkie or two-way radio, a camera and perhaps other gadgetry.

Once the hapless soul is installed on his sandy post, what would he see? 

Agent four-five reporting.  It is 10:00 p.m.  Subject appears to be retiring.  Lights are going out.”

 “Agent four-five.  Now 2:00 a.m.  All is quiet, except for a rustling in the nearby bushes.  It could be a deer, coyote or maybe a bobcat.”

“Agent four-five at 2:05 a.m.  Do they have bears up here?”

In the morning, it would get more exciting.  “Four-five reporting at 5:00 a.m.Lights are going on.  Subject (“Early Bird?”) is apparently rising. 

“Signing off now.  My replacement is coming up.”

“Agent five-two  here.  It is 11:00 a.m.  Subject is on the move.  She just drove out.  Should be on the main road in two minutes.  Repeat.  Main road, in two minutes.  Agent five-two, over and out.”

Surveillance would now have to be picked up by another agent in a vehicle somewhere on the main road

“Agent seven-four reporting in.  I took over surveillance of  subject as she stopped, apparently to get the morning paper.  It could be a drop, of course, so I have checked it for messages.  None found.”

 “Agent seven-four.  12:30 p.m.  Subject followed to town where she picked up unidentified male and proceeded to post office where she, apparently, obtained a packet of mail.  They then proceeded to local restaurant where they ate a lunch of tomato soup and salad.  Conversation seemed mundane–although it could have been coded.  Will turn in recording for analysis.

“Central, this subject’s file must be getting pretty thick–what with phone taps, surveillance reports, video tapes and all.” 

“That’s affirmative seven-four, but we still don’t know what she’s up to.”

“Agent four-five checking in again at 2:00 a.m.  All is dark and quiet.  Wait.  I hear a loud rustling nearby.  Oh, my God!  It’s a BEAR! 

Heeeelp…!!

 

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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull

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“Normal”

NORMAL

By

Ruth Minshull

 

The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.

— Joe Ancis

 

            The natural extrapolation here is that no one is normal.  Well, that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

            I used to wonder how I had acquired so many weird friends.  Did I do something to attract them?  Everybody I know is wacky one way or another.  But then, this observation by Mr. Ancis cleared things up for me. 

            I thought of all the people I had admired in my life; some I had even placed on a pedestal.  Eventually, as I got to know more about them, I found that they, too, had a bit of screwiness somewhere.  This un-normalness might range from a little quirky to downright certifiable.  It may be attractive and quite tolerable (He’s a little eccentric.) or so looney that people start edging away when he nears them.

            If you look at all the conflicts in the world—between nations, groups, neighbors, family members, siblings, mates—they are always fueled by the conviction that the other party should be perfect.  But isn’t.

            Whew!  No wonder most people have trouble finding Miss Right or Mr. Right.

            Instead of looking for the perfect mate, we should be seeking a ding-a-ling whose flaky ways are a complement to our own flaky ways.  Then (like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle) we might get some kind of a fit. 

            So, from all this, I guess we can conclude that nobody is perfect.  In fact, nobody is even normal (whatever that is).

            I once heard of a woman who had to look under her bed every night before she could go to sleep.  What would she have done if a serial killer had leered up at her?  Or a boa constrictor lay waiting to strike?  Anyway, I assume that she considered herself to be normal.

            Then there was the man who (while a guest in someone’s home) would change the bathroom toilet paper around, if it was not installed according to his preference.  I don’t know if he was an over-the-top kind of guy or a down-from-the-back type–but it had to be hanging his way before he would use the room.  Maybe he thought he was normal.  (Do you think?)

            I am reminded of the old joke about the man who went to a psychiatrist.  “My family made me come here,” he said.

            “And why was that?”

            “Well, Doc, I like pancakes.”

            “Hmm,” replied the psychiatrist.  “Well, I like pancakes myself.”

            “Oh, really?  Where do you keep yours?  I keep mine in a suitcase.”

            The patient seemed to think it was perfectly normal to collect pancakes.  His family, apparently, didn’t.  I presume the psychiatrist agreed with the family.

            People are always blathering about how we should have World Peace.  This idea itself is way off in the ozone.  Most of us can’t even agree with our spouses about what color to paint the kitchen.

            If we really want World Peace, all of us fusspots are going to have to quit finding fault with other people’s battiness and accept one another as a different kind of “normal” from our own.  Then maybe we could be a little more tolerant.  At least, that would be a start.

            I’ll take the first step toward World Peace by recommending that we all agree on the best place to keep our pancakes. 

Personally, I prefer plastic bags.  They pack better.

 

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©2009 by Ruth Minshull

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