The key to life is turning your negatives into positives. When asked in a job interview to identify my biggest weakness, I respond that I am a workaholic. If you do not want to lie like I do, then pick another flaw that is not too significant or easily correctable. I am a hoarder but have turned that instinct into an advantage by collecting money along with all the other junk I accumulate. I say I am saving for a rainy day but all my days are rainy enough. I am just cloaking my hoarding disease in respectability.
What I cannot figure out is why Bill Cosby had to drug women for sex. It seems like he was famous enough to get more consenting groupies than he could ever handle. Tiger Woods messed up but at least he did not risk going to jail. I thought date rape drugs were marketed for people like me who were both dateless and not famous. I would have never used such products because I always thought I would be famous soon enough. And really what is the fun in dating unconscious people when sex toys are readily available? I understand why people want sex. But why do famous people like Brett Farve and Anthony Weiner think sexting private body parts is a successful tactic? If that really worked, I would have been mailing girls polaroid pictures instead of using cheesy pick-up lines back before cell phones. I guess if I knew the answers to all these questions, I probably would have been more successful at dating. After all, it was only recently that I learned alcohol was to get the girl drunk. I always thought it was for getting me drunk.
A barbershop near my home was in business twenty years before I started patronizing it on and off in the mid 1980’s. It used to be decorated with pictures and memorabilia related to movie and sports stars. Over the decades, the decor has changed in favor of pets and religious themes. One poster that highlights Romans 1:16 has a tagline that says, “This poster is illegal in 51 countries.” This grabs your attention, at least when you are a captive audience strapped in a barber chair. I focus on the number 51 which is a big number. Being an odd number lends credibility to it which might be part of the messaging strategy. The poster is undoubtedly illegal in some countries. However, the number 51 is subject to continual variation and interpretation which renders it meaningless for complete accuracy at any given time. But complete accuracy is no longer fashionable or practical. So, like many Blog readers, I just lose interest.
The magazine Real Simple asked, “What good habit do you wish you’d started earlier?” In the October issue, readers responded with many good examples of things I already know I should do but still avoid. But Mysta Ward of Missoula, Montana, had a suggestion that I have embraced over the years. She parks “far from the entrance of retail and grocery stores…to get that extra bit of exercise.” When my passengers complain, I always use exercise to justify this strategy. But my secret motivation is to avoid denting other vehicles. The tiniest scratch can cost $1300 bucks and my wife and I usually upgrade from tiny.
I always tell young people to pursue their passions no matter the short term sacrifices. According to me, my nieces and nephews will be happier and better off in the long run if they do things they love. Luckily they never listen to me. I rarely follow my own advice. History was my worst subject in junior high and yet I made it my college major because the classes were offered at convenient times. I hate fund raising but I spent four years working at a University doing just that in Alumni Affairs (soft sell) and the Development Office (hard sell). I loved playing sports, especially baseball, tennis, table tennis, touch football, basketball, and racquetball. But I end up running every day, the most boring athletic endeavor ever. I hate gardening but I am still too cheap to hire a gardener. The list continues but it gets embarrassing to publish. My actions seem to expose an actual philosophy of doing precisely what I hate the most. I am not sure what compels that behavior but I am also too cheap to engage a psychiatrist. Especially since my wife analyzes my shortcomings for free.
My fourteen year old grandson Sebastian is a special needs student who definitely does not mind me blogging about it. He will loudly introduce his older sister in the Trader Joe’s checkout line or at a Starbucks restaurant with the words: “My sister is going to college and I am in the Special Needs program at Interlake High School.” The only one ever embarrassed is his sister. Sebi always tests my resolve to remain cynical and unemotional. Last Sunday I watched him fish an old broken down tripod with a whiteboard out of the pile headed for Goodwill. We have used it for decades to display birthday, graduation, and other celebration messages. He knew we were planning to watch the Seahawk game. He makes little distinction between a Super Bowl and a game where the 0-2 Hawks would be struggling to get their first win of the season. He decorated the board with Seahawk messages and attached items with team logos like a pencil, a Superbowl CD, and a Russell Wilson Lego. He wanted to know about chips and dips and what we were going to eat. So his grandmother hustled out to get some pizza and make more of the occasion than we planned. He recorded the final score on the board. I am still planning to dump that tripod but only because I know Sebastian will be excited about helping with the project to replace it with another better display method.
The Bhagavad Gita was written before the New Testament but I do not remember hearing anything about it in all the Religion, Philosophy, and Theology classes I was required to take during my undistinguished academic career. Of course, I do not remember learning any Biology, Chemistry, or Calculus either. The Gita has some of the usual platitudes about sacrificing to live the balanced life of giving more than you receive. It seems to me that the laws of balance would only require that you give exactly what you receive. My point is moot because I have never come close to giving the equivalent of what I have received. That is the curse of having generous parents, family, and friends. If I have accurately translated the Gita to English, it commands, “To receive without giving is stealing.” Actually Jack Hawley helped me with the translation but I hate to give him any credit for calling me a big time thief. I needed to know about this Gita a long time ago because I am very unbalanced with little time left in my current incarnation to rectify the situation.
I remember borrowing a roommate’s University of Washington (UW) ID card to get into football games for free back in the 1960’s. Apparently students now can get six game season tickets for $160 which is probably a bargain considering demand, recent Husky success, and the need to pay head coaches millions of dollars. Last Friday my 18 year old granddaughter Izzy began her college career at UW when her mother and I dropped her off at the dorm. She is a hater of sports who did not attend high school football or basketball games. Izzy enjoys mocking sports fans by casually mangling the names of local teams. She will ask if the Seabirds are playing or refer to the Mariners as the Seadogs. I could hear the Husky band playing on campus while we unloaded and tried to make conversation about the big football game against Arizona State the next day. Definitely no interest from either mother or daughter in that information. They had long ago rejected the option to purchase football tickets. Within an hour after we dropped Izzy off, she called her mother desperately wanting to know how to procure football tickets. For some illogical reason, I paid the ransom for the tickets without any comment whatsoever.
One of my brothers used to joke that he could never run for office. The scrutiny grows especially intense as the stakes escalate. Brett Cavanaugh’s bid to join the Supreme Court sent me to the closet to rattle the skeletons patiently waiting for me to be important enough to be investigated. My memory is fast gaining unreliability. I cannot remember every embarrassing thing I did back in high school and college but I know I never had the feeling of crossing the felony line. I was actually fairly boring. Unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale but I think he and everyone else did too. Once I got too drunk to remember how I made it upstairs to bed. My last memory was balancing upside down on a couch and chanting, “Holy water comes in kegs.” I assume I passed out when blood rushed to a head exhausted from long hours of study. I worried about my memory gap but was almost disappointed that my half dozen housemates did not razz me about anything. We were generally abstaining from dating, so we avoided danger in that arena. We mostly played Hearts and waited for our Senior year. Back in that sexist time, we knew the girls needed to find husbands by graduation. So we were waiting for them to get so desperate that they would boldly make first moves. It worked out great for me. I avoided a great many awkward moments. But when my wife gets nominated for the Supreme Court, I am going to surprise her with my recollections.
People Magazine periodically features females of all ages rocking it in different outfits. The September 17th issue showcases women in pantsuits from age 22 to 80. If you are a 37 year old celebrity, you figure Kim Kardashian West is going to beat you out. Even if you age well, how do you compete with Julia Roberts for the age 50 slot? The first age People skips is 61. So imagine all those 61 year old celebrities who realize they were specifically passed over or were not considered famous enough for consideration. Eight other years were dropped between age 66 and 79. The list would have ended well before 80 except they had to include Jane Fonda, a deserving eighty year old. I expect many ignored stars had publicists complain to People. Some probably regret shaving years off their age earlier in their career. Others made the mistake of not getting on the Hilary Clinton bandwagon. She claimed the age 70 slot on a pantsuit roster that excluded Ivanka and Melania Trump.