Acronym Hell

I have always been good at biting off my nose to spite my face. I not only do not learn things beyond my capability but I refuse to learn certain things well within my capacity that would actually benefit me. I still type with one finger, never use an ATM, and send out my Christmas Newsletters via snail mail. Those are a mere sampling of actions I take by default in the swirl of stubbornness, laziness, foolishness, and shamelessness. I make fundamental changes all the time but often well past the time suggested by logic. I do not have the time to spend money on therapy, so I analyze myself with the Decisions Underpinning My Betterment tool: (1) What will happen if I do not change? (2) Is my life in danger if I do not change? (3) Is my marriage in trouble if I do not change? (4) Will the change increase my pleasure? At an early age, I conquered any fear of people laughing at me because that condition was just one preposition away from the great pleasure of people laughing with me. Since I wanted people to like me and had feelings that could be hurt, I deluded myself into thinking I was normal. Most everyone craves being liked and they feel hurt if slighted but some more than others. So most fall along the magical arc we call a Spectrum. But a few of us care a little less about others and a lot more about ourselves and we fall under that arc into what we call the Super High Intelligence Tunnel.

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Answering the Bell

Before I got married, I answered the doorbell if it rang. After I had a family, I merely yelled: “Is somebody going to get the door?” Now if the doorbell rings, I answer my phone or check the microwave. Sometimes I look to see if I left the refrigerator door open or if the clothes are dry. The doorbell is like my Fitbit. It gets me moving on my rounds whether I actually open the door or not. This works for me because nobody ringing the doorbell is bringing me good news. The ringer wants to sell me something or ask me for something, like a vote, donation, or signature on a petition. Maybe a neighbor wants me to trim my trees and bushes which are invading their property. Or a pollster wants to collect some data to use against me. Perhaps I am being served a legal notice or a delivery person is merely notifying me about a package they left on the porch. To add one more random variable, our doorbell has some sort of short and only buzzes intermittently. Part of my treatment for narcissism includes a module on developing empathy, so I decided to try being the doorbell ringer. With a Blog on life support, I wanted to gather source material by asking neighbors, “What is the biggest mistake you have made in your life?” The best answer is, “Opening the door to you.” Some people answer a question with a question: “When are you going to trim that tree and those bushes?” One lady said that marrying her second husband (aka “the liar”) was the worst mistake she ever made but did not elaborate, other than delivering the punchline: “You remind me of him.”

For Real?

After reading one of my posts, the person who knows me best often asks, “Is that real?” I tell my wife that everything is real. If I can think it, it is real. Oddly, she usually questions the incidents where I stuck to documented facts and not taken poetic license, created a composite character, embellished, or just outright lied. Still she will cross examine me, “Then why haven’t I heard this story before?” I remind her that after ten years of marriage, she started tuning me out. I used to catch her not listening and then triumphantly shame her while she tried to deny it. But she began to admit: “Yeah, I wasn’t listening. You are boring and repeating yourself.” This taught me to be careful about making accusations. It was stupid of me to accuse my Mother of loving my siblings more than me. Some things you do not want to be right about. I accused a high school teacher of giving me a “C” grade when I had earned a “B.” He said other intangibles go into the grade like me being a jerk. If a girl friend is breaking up with you, you should take the first reason she gives and be content with that. Winning a debate with her is not that satisfying if it just gets you the soul crushing truth. In an earlier Blog, I confirmed the well known fact that all memories are faulty, so my remembrances are as valid as any other alternate version. And what I remember clearest is that I was the funniest kid at school but gave up a promising career as a comic to stay home with my family and watch my wife raise our kids.

Medical Spectrums

I am not a doctor so I dispense medical information freely. Everyone is somewhere on every Spectrum. My conclusions are not based on data because I live on the lazy end of the Laziness Spectrum. I just extrapolate from unreliable personal experiences. I am in the middle of the Claustrophobia Spectrum. I can ride elevators but cannot imagine how my granddaughter and her maternal grandmother survived being locked in a small dark closet for a couple of hours without even trying to kick the door down. I am also midpoint on the Vertigo Spectrum. I hike most trails but have been known to forge streams rather cross bridges. But I am not the young woman I saw paralyzed on a narrow trail, hugging the mountain unable to move either way without rescue. I get glimpses of anxiety, depression, and panic; just enough to be scared for people crippled by them. Surely everyone is somewhere on the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) spectrum. Humans are full of superstitions and repetitive rituals. Just watch any clip of former major league baseball player Nomar Garciaparra in the batter’s box. I compulsively lock all doors, more than once at night. I caught my youngest son sneaking out as a teenager because he was not clever enough to lock back up when he returned. I once locked my wife on the deck while she was stringing Christmas lights. I rescued her two hours later. After trying to blame her, I made amends by giving her a rope ladder for Christmas. If I only lock the doors once, I reward myself by locking up double the next night. Even my lawyer has OCD, reminding me ad nauseum to pay my bills and to make disclaimers on any posts explaining or minimizing medical disorders.

Almost Never

Never say never. A saying with both truth and wit. I first learned how remarkably false memories can be years ago when my wife began interjecting herself into a scary story where our three young sons and I were trapped in a storm. Her details were quite accurate, so I complement myself on how vividly I portrayed the event. Finally I reminded her that she was not there. She was furious at me and then stunned when she called our grown children and they confirmed, “Mom you were not there.” I was also shocked to realize that my memory must also be littered with similar inaccuracies. I recently checked the “never smoked” box on a medical questionnaire. But technically I had played around with cigarettes at a party or two, seeing how they felt in my hand and wondering if it was a cool look on me. I remember coughing and exhaling into the cigarette to burn it down without having to inhale. How did I know I hated inhaling smoke into my lungs? Oh yeah, I must have learned that when experimenting with marijuana for a few years and I do remember getting high. Wait, that triggers a memory of me smoking a pipe. I have no photographs of that and it would have been a pose I definitely would have interjected into a picture or two. Maybe that was my Dad who I know smoked a pipe when I was very little. Mostly I turned down cigars at celebratory contract signings or athletic award banquets but I definitely puffed on a few if the achievement was great enough and/or if the bar was hosted. I am never doing that again. Unless my 100th birthday party gets out of hand. Or maybe on my 90th birthday.

Country Music

I confess my affinity for Country Music more openly these days but hid my infatuation in high school when every kid in Seattle listened to Rock ‘n Roll on KJR 950. Pat O’Day was an iconic deejay. I loved the music he played. But to me, Elvis belting out the words You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog was not that much different from the music of Hank Williams. My Grandmother Lucille was born and raised in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and introduced me to Country music. When I was alone, I would punch the Country KAYO button when KJR was on a commercial break or doing public service programming, I played all music loud enough to suggest I was hard of hearing. When I was in my early 30’s, I carpooled with my boss John who was thirty years older than me and a very dignified Ivy League lawyer. I could not call him by his first name out of some quaint notion of respect. We took turns driving the 35 minute commute and tuned into KVI which he preferred. That easy listening music was too sophisticated for my primitive ears. One Monday morning while driving the two blocks to pick up John, I was busy trying to brush off the passenger seat and comb my hair with my fingers. I remembered to flip on the radio just as John entered the car and Bobby Bare screamed out the lyrics Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life. By the time I punched in KVI and lowered the noise level, John demanded to know, “What the hell was that?” Fortunately I had three young sons and spat out an answer about the damn kids fooling around with the radio dials again.

Jerzees

I started getting haircuts at Jerzees back in the 1980’s because it was near my jobsite. My hair grew on work time, so I figured it should be cut during the work day. The price was reasonable. I went elsewhere when out of town on long assignments but always ended up back at Jerzees. They had a half dozen chairs and since I was always a walk-in, I never had a regular barber. And nobody ever remembered me until recent years. That was fine with me but a little humbling. I like to think I am more memorable than anonymous. In the early years, barbers used thinning shears on me and often told me I had very thick hair. No one tells me that any more. One barber mentioned another fellow who had thick hair and a backstory like mine. It was probably me. I always washed my hair beforehand, never asked for any extra trims, and praised the barber’s work every time. When I turned 65, I tipped enough to cover more than the senior discount. After the lockdown in March 2020, I had two masked haircuts at Jerzees. About ten days ago I wandered over and was stunned to find butcher paper covering the windows, the barber pole missing, and no explanations posted. The sudden death was traumatic for me. Only a few days earlier, I had waved to one of the old-time barbers on break while on my way to a neighboring business. The Jerzees website has not been updated to reflect a move or closure. They should have held a Wake. Maybe they did. I was desperate for a haircut, so I went to Supercuts and paid a barber with a credit card instead of cash for the first time in my life.

Grapefruit Knife

I have been carelessly calling a certain paring knife in the silverware drawer a grapefruit knife for years, probably decades. Of course, no “silver” is in that drawer either. So I am casual about labels. I have occasionally used real grapefruit knives with the two sided pronged blades. But I had been saving this particular paring knife with the thinly curved backside for grapefruit carving. I would become annoyed when it was the last knife in the drawer and I had to employ it on anything but a grapefruit. Conversely, in the rare instances when I needed to carve a grapefruit, I was elated that I had this specially designated tool. At our house we routinely lose utensils when we accidentally throw them out in the fast food bags from our regular diet of take-out. We are too high class to use the plastic utensils that come with the food. As our knives dwindle, I have been relegated to using the lightweight grapefruit knife imposter to cut fruit onto my morning cereal. It works so well that I have reversed my position and now seek out that implement first. How many times have I ignored or undervalued people in the workplace or in my personal life because I did not recognize their unique talents? How many resources have I wasted by being blind to possibilities and set in my ways. How often do I limit myself by stereotyping others? Those are the rare statistics I cannot find on my WordPress Insight page but the numbers would be embarrassingly high. Take a good long look in the drawers of your life and see if you can find some hidden treasures.

Avoiding the Optometrist

Getting to an eye doctor should be easier than arranging visits to other medical providers. Even if I am not sick, appointments with primary care physicians and skin doctors involve awkward invasions of privacy and uncomfortable tests and procedures. The dentist only invades the privacy of my mouth but the experience is unpleasant and often painful. Even so, last week’s appointment with my optometrist was the first one since 2016. My long absence raised suspicions that I had been seeing someone else. I was tempted to lie and admit that because my negligence seemed worse. I am especially embarrassed because my optometrist is a friend from high school who knows I have no excuse. I did claim a one year dispensation due to Covid-19 lockdown but that was a lie. I only showed up because my current glasses are held together by a paperclip and fall off my head because my granddaughter bent the frame a couple years ago. My wife apparently thinks my comical appearance is a reflection on her although surely society has moved past that stereotype. My procrastination is also thwarted by contact suppliers who will not allow reorders unless my eye doctor verifies that my prescription is current. My eyesight is more precious than my teeth, so no logical reason exists for making it the lowest priority appointment. I have many more teeth than eyes and teeth can be replaced easier. Whenever my wife asks why I am such an idiot, I usually recognize the question as rhetorical. But I have been searching for an answer by watching late night television ads. Several law firms suggest I may have been exposed to asbestos, injured in a car accident, or victimized by medical malpractice to be determined after consultation.