Don’t Be Dumb Tonight

old time halloween 2I believe in the young, who in many ways are miles ahead of the rest of us. Still, they do make some super-dumb moves at times.Below, four tales by way of illustration. Let’s call this a Halloween Night Sermon For Us All.’

EXAMPLE ONE : On a morning suddenly overcast, a young person called home from his workplace to ask his dad to put up the windows in his car, which was parked on the street. “Sure! Where are the keys?” his dad asked. “Where they always are: in the ignition,” responded the kid.“You leave your car on the street? Unlocked? With your keys in the ignition?” squeaked the dad in disbelief. “You don’t think it might get stolen?”“Oh no,” said the kid. “Who would do that?”

Let’s see, I can’t help thinking here: Maybe the person who took my neighbor’s bike right from his garage? Maybe the one who took my baby’s stroller from off my front porch and pitched it in the lake? Maybe one of the five separate individuals who stole my car on five separate occasions?

EXAMPLE TWO: A s16-year-old girl took a notion to go running. At 10 at night. On a street with narrow twisty roads. “But it’s not safe to run now, especially not there!” her mother told her. “Don’t be silly!” replied the daughter. “There aren’t even any streetlights!” (Huh?)

EXAMPLE THREE: One morning at a convenience store, a young stranger stocking shelves turned to me with a radiant smile and said this: “I get off work at 2:00 every day. Then I take a shower and go get drunk.”  “You don’t mean that,” I said. “I do. I get drunk! Every day! Right after work!” “You’ll regret that one day,” I said. “Maybe when I’m 40,” said the kid.(If you GET to be 40, I thought.)

EXAMPLE FOUR, and this by way of showing that I have been plenty dumb myself: When I was 18, I used to hitchhike. Kids did back then. Of course I always wore my good blue dress to show I was well brought up. I hitchhiked to western Massachusetts. I hitchhiked to New Haven, Connecticut. But when I hitchhiked to Cambridge to see the boy I would one day marry, he said I showed bad judgment.

It took putting my thumb out that next weekend to show me how right he was:

The man who pulled over that day had baby gear in his back seat of his car and looked a lot like Mister Rogers. When I approached his passenger-side window to find out his destination, he asked if I would do a particular thing. When I recoiled in horror, he asked if I would maybe just watch.

I hung up my thumb then and there.

And so, in this final hour before the blowout that Halloween night now is, I would say only this to the young: 

Sooner or later Time will claim your bike and your baby carriage; your brand-new car and that bright young sparkle in your eye. Earth is a beautiful place and and it’s ours to live in. But it’s also the place where we will die. It just seems foolish to invite an early departure. Other than that I say have a ball!

happy halloween




Sunday morning I sat with a group of people at a round table as we talked about the wise and foolish decisions we have made in our lives; how you don’t always know at the time which kind you are making. (This was at church and we were parsing the parable about the builder who builds upon rock as against the builder who builds upon sand.)

Because we didn’t all know each other some small talk entered into our discussion and it was revealed that one of our number had moved here recently from the south. Somebody asked him if people in New England where we all live really are standoffish.

I can’t tell because I was born here. Also I’m pretty sure I am not standoffish myself.

But most of the people at the table were not New England born and they said right away that we were prickly – prickly! – but once you got to know us we would be your friend for life. Your real friend, they said, not a surface friend, which I took to mean a friend you can relax around; a friend to whom you can admit how sad and screwed up you sometimes feel.

I know I love people who freely admit they don’t have it all together. The effort of presenting that perfect façade otherwise is so, so…. immense, you know? Think of how you agonized as a teen about whether you fell within the bounds of normal. Think how you worried about your clothes. I had only one pair of hosiery the fall of my 10th grade year and along about October they got a run in them. I stopped it run with clear nail polish but you could still see it when I sat down and my skirt rode up, so I spent the two months – from October until Christmas vacation – pointing to the run and saying “Darn! Look at this run! My desk must have done it when I went to get up!” Exhausting stuff all that subterfuge!

Maybe all this is just my way of saying to you guys that I’m sorry for all the mistakes in my copy last Friday (since corrected.)  I must have been in one of those waking sleeps when I posted that flawed version for a better edited version. It’s like I was in one of those Ambien trances you hear about where people get up and mow the lawn at 3 in the morning and remember nothing about it the next day. Anyhow my blogger pal Brian let me know right away with his signature “Dude! Typos!” alert in the subject line of his email. What I would do without Brian I do not know.

I accomplish a lot in the course of a day but I’m often sort of scattered. As I looked at picture of Inaugural gowns for yesterday’s post I had to smile at this one below, showing the wardrobe of Frances Cleveland, old Grover’s wife: One full gown and then two gowns that are only half gowns. That’ll be me any day now: stepping out into the thoroughfare minus my skirt.

forget something frances

I’m Your Girl

I’m a competent person. I arrived at a meeting Monday night with everything I needed; opened my bag to find pencil, paper, meeting agenda – and a pair of potholders.

I’m a competent teacher too: I’m at my sister Nan‘s now attempting to teach her what I only partially understand myself: how to master Nuance’s Dragon software that uses your own little voice to navigate the Web, go on Facebook convey your marvelous thoughts to the world etc. Also and more immediately how to use the great new browser Chrome which is different from other browsers in many interesting ways. (I like the ‘file folders’ look it has when you go to open a new window. File folders we over-50 people understand. Wasn’t my first ‘real’ summer job as a clerk-typist, I who even today can type no better than a blind gerbil? I could file though! Boy could I file!

So down we sat at our laptops, Nan at hers me at mine. Me I like the touch pad; I gave up on the mouse long ago. Nan however likes a mouse so we went to Staples and got a wireless one (since it’s no longer 1989)  and we were SET.

She took hold of the mouse and tracked it left; the cursor went right. She tracked it right; the cursor went left.  “What the hell is happening? It’s going in the opposite direction of where I tell it to go!”

“Really?” “Yes really.” We peered together at the screen.

She tried again. She directed it up; the cursor went down. She directed it down; the cursor went up. “@$&@!” said Nan. “Defective?” said I, then “Oh wait!…”

Because only then, ten minutes into what I had pictured as Terry’s Excellent Tutorial did I see: we had the mouse upside down. So I’m not reaching any new benchmarks in the Masterful Me department. But I’m having a nice relaxing time.

Blessed are the Monks in Swimming

It’s not every day you get to feel superior to Idina Menzel but I did for a second when I heard her say on the radio that she went to Hawaii to get married to actor Taye Diggs.

“Yup it was a destiny wedding,” she said and ha HA! I thought; she said it wrong! She meant a destination wedding, the kind where your friends and family have to cough up a couple of grand for hotel and air fare just to see you lurch around drunk on a dance floor. (That’s sure what I did as a child bride. I didn’t even know what a Sloe Gin Fizz was until that day never mind what a bright pink stain it would leave on that fancy white dress now sleeping its charmed sleep on the top shelf of the linen closet, the mummified remains of little Terry Sheehy late of the Drama Club and Special Chorus, the biggest nerd in the nerdbox.)

It didn’t last; the superior feeling I mean. Thirty minutes after hearing Idina make this mistake I was sitting before an industrial bunkbed salesman who was telling me how his company’s wood was so much better than some cheap old crap like oak.

“Oak just sits there for 30 years”, he said.

“Unlike your wood which you can milk?” I said.

Exactly!” he said. “They make these spirally cuts on the bark and out comes…. latex!”

Latex? I thought. All I know about latex I know from that box of slippery gloves the doctor keeps on his shelf to scare us with. I had just been going for the joke, comparing trees to cows.

He thought I was smart. A half-hour before I thought I was smart. The truth is no one is very smart for long; It’s like my little girl used to say in her four-year-old attempt  to recite the Lords’ Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come I will be dumb.”

“You’re tellin’ me!” God says to Himself on hearing that one. Are we sure I’m the one who made you people?”