What is your sixth favorite color? My ten year old granddaughter Zofia recently asked me that question. I did not pause to develop favorite colors three through five. Instead, I scanned my mind for an offbeat or fictional color that would cement my reputation as a quick wit. But I was distracted by the absurdity of the question. Everyone has a favorite color as required by President Calvin Coloridge’s 1925 Executive Order. I chose “green” as an elementary school student, ignoring the more prestigious primary colors and posturing as a fan of the color of life in nature. Secretly I was actually obsessed with the color of money. Like many, I chose a voluntary second favorite color in case humans eventually destroyed all the green in nature and turned green money into bitcoin. My back-up “purple” color represents Royalty. I wanted to grow up to be King but Queen Elizabeth has been clinging to the Crown.
I should not be surprised that my granddaughter has a “sixth favorite color” because she and her closest half dozen classmates have been ranking their “best friends” since Kindergarten. The exciting part of that process is telling each other about the rankings. This absurdity erupts into predictable and continual infighting amongst the “best friends” whose favorite activities are drama, snubbing, and yelling. Several years ago, an epic playground screaming match between Zofia and Gracie attracted the attention of school authorities. I am a father to three sons and foolishly thought I could intervene and provide guidance to a granddaughter. I asked Zofia what she and Gracie were fighting about. Without a hint of embarrassment she replied, “We were yelling about who was the bigger brat.” I had the pleasure of informing her that they had both won that argument.
My wife and I have open lines of communication. I eavesdrop on her phone conversations and she reads my Blog. But we have trouble getting on the same wavelength. On October 7, 2021, she read about the ketchup prank our granddaughter Zofia played on me and asked if this actually happened and if so, was it a long time ago. I wondered where she had been because the ketchup stains were the talk of the household that very week. And why did she think I would make up something so innocuous. Yet if I write that my Uncle Hector grew a third head in his armpit, the conversation goes like this:
Mol: Who is Uncle Hector?
Geoff: Surely you remember him. He was the one arrested at our wedding reception for setting fire to the juggler’s car.
Mol: We did not have a juggler at our wedding.
Geoff: Right, Hector set fire to the car at the Bachelor Party but he was arrested at the wedding reception.
Mol: Why didn’t you tell me you had a juggler at the Bachelor Party? I thought we agreed not to keep secrets from each other.
Geoff: I had to sign a confidentiality agreement. Technically we now have to give up our third born son which is why I am breaching the agreement.
Mol: Is Hector the one married to Aunt Mary?
Geoff: Who is Aunt Mary?
Mol: Don’t you remember? She smashed your hand into a plate of ketchup at our wedding reception.
My 34 day hiatus from daily Blogging generated an epiphany: If I posted only once a week, that post should be seven times better than my daily Blogs. I would have more time to research, edit, and brush my teeth. Or I could still write seven Blogs but only post the best one. Quality should increase sevenfold. But guess what? My weekly posts are not showing signs of being seven times better than the daily ones. Jim Adams is a Math genius but is currently distracted by Music, so I consulted with Goktug who recently set a record for how many times he has taken Calculus. He explained the Law of Diminishing Returns and other curve bending forces that prevent straight line projections. He was gone by the time I exploded from my spontaneous nap with a new insight.
I extrapolated, expostulated, and exfoliated to come up with the Hyena Hypothesis: Reducing anything by a factor of seven, merely doubles its impact. So if you reduce your daily working hours from seven to one, it doubles your chances of getting fired. If you reduce your visits to the bathroom from seven to one, it doubles your chances of wetting your pants. Since the Hypothesis worked in all two of my uncontrolled experiments, I realized the elimination of daily Blogs doubled the quality of my remaining weekly epistle. Making up some metrics as proof seemed like too big a lie to be convincing. Instead I am proud to announce that WordPress sent me the rare and prestigious Certificate of Congratulations for Doubling Blog Quality. I am thinking of cutting back to a monthly Blog but my nurse practitioner says the excitement of that much success would likely kill me.
On my meanderings, I see people with binoculars watching birds. Others carry cameras to capture the perfect picture. I am an expert at spotting greener grass. I envied fellow students who did not need braces on their teeth. I fought so hard against metal in my mouth that my parents relented and I now envy people without crooked teeth. I hated school until my final graduation forced me to get a job. I never wanted to enter a hospital, even as a visitor, until my appendix burst and I was convulsing on the floor and begging my wife Mollie to drive me to the Emergency Room. Going to Church seemed like a drag until mine locked me out at the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
What have I learned? Absolutely nothing. This week the annual property value notices arrived. Apparently oil has been discovered under our home because our property appraisal increased 40.9% in just one year. If an appraiser had actually been anywhere near our property, we would have been reported to authorities for flaunting code violations. For 24 years, we have been on the “deferred maintenance” plan. That term provides an aura of legitimacy to our criminal negligence. My pal Herb is admired for living without television. Mollie and I should get credit for living without a working stove. Our gutters function only as storage units for badminton shuttlecocks. The carpet that came with the house has changed color.
The year we turned 30, we lived in a small rental home in a neighbor’s backyard with two young children and one bathroom. I hated listening to co-workers complaining about high property taxes. Nice problem to have I thought. On paper I am now a wealthy homeowner but the greener grass is everywhere except in my backyard.