I’ve always wanted to use the words “never” and “always” or “everybody” and “nobody” together in one short sentence.
But that’s me. As a writer I’m intrigued by language. I also spend a lot of time thinking about how things work and why.
My wife, on the other hand, is a people person. She’s always thinking about relatives and friends, how they feel, what they need or would like, what’s new in their lives.
I like people, too, but I don’t ruminate about them as she does because there’s something unsolvable about them. I mean, I can’t figure out why some people do the things they do.
For example, I wonder about people who hunt animals. I’m not saying hunting is wrong or should be banned or anything like that. It’s just that I don’t understand the sport. I tried it once—shot an unarmed squirrel. I had this awful feeling that I’d just broken something that couldn’t be fixed. “He didn’t even know he was in the game,” I thought. Okay, so I’m a jar of jelly, but couldn’t hunters get just as much satisfaction by shooting paint balls at the animals, or maybe throwing custard pies at them?
I’m perplexed by people who say that they’re voting for the lesser of two evils. This has been a voter lament since George Washington refused a third term. And yet we live in the most powerful and prosperous nation ever to exist. Surely we haven’t been governed all this time by evil to a lesser degree. I think if these people want to be cynics they should say they’re choosing from the better of two performers.
I don’t understand people who buy bottled water. Maybe I’m naive, but can’t you get this stuff for free? Was I supposed to be putting coins in those drinking fountains at the mall? I don’t think so. I wonder, are these the same people who bought pet rocks years ago? Do you think they would buy cylinders of compressed Rocky Mountain air?
Then there’s the driver who uses his middle finger to communicate frustration or anger? I’m pretty sure that this same person in the supermarket would probably just say “darn” or “oops.” There’s something about being isolated in a powerful machine that seems to relax civility. How do you reply to this crude gesture? If you think about it, a finger pointing skyward could be interpreted to mean “go to heaven.” I just give the “OK” signal and a wink.
I wonder who are the people who listen patiently on the phone as telemarketers give their spiel. Somebody must be—because they keep calling. Hey, whoever you are, stop it! As long as you’re nice to these alien voices they’re going to continue to bug us all. Instead, tell them to “go to heaven” as crudely as possible and hang up. I’m kidding, of course, but I do wonder who’s rewarding those “tele-phoney” salespeople.
I shake my head at people who write hateful letters to the editor—the ones with trigger words like fascist or red-necked or demeaning names like Slick Willy or King John. Will insulting labels or name calling really change any reader’s opinion? We all know it won’t, yet people keep doing it. I guess what they’re really saying is “I’m mad as hell and I gotta tell someone besides my spouse.”
I’m puzzled by car owners who drive around with those frames dealers put over license plates. I haven’t seen one that wasn’t plain ugly. And often they cover up part of the plate numbers or expiration month—which is illegal, by the way. These same people often have dealer emblems stuck on the trunk as well. I don’t understand it—advertising without getting paid. But it must be me who’s odd because I don’t like wearing commercials on my clothes either.
And I wonder about people who think they are nobodies—particularly those who think their votes don’t count on election day. These are the lambs who are awed by politicians, and think they have no say in government policy. I personally believe everyone some time or another is important in this world, not in the Warhol 15 minutes of fame sense, but important to other people, to friends or family, and especially to our democracy on election day. In other words, everybody is never always nobody