Optics

Optics

There is a lot of talk these days about optics. Some people have apparently become more concerned about the appearance of their actions rather than the motivations, morality or consequences. While I typically prefer to rely on an ethical code or at least, a bit of risk analysis before taking many actions, I can’t say that using optics is the worst methodology. For example, even if you fail to use an ounce of gray matter while defining your overbooking policies, the optics of getting cops to drag a screaming and bleeding customer that you sold a seat to, down the corridor of your airplane, well, let’s just say that it doesn’t look good.

My wife, Theresa and I are in the process of selling our house. She has already moved to Raleigh, NC to start a new job, while I remain in South Florida, hoping to get a relatively quick sale of our home. We spent about eight weeks packing, selling, donating and Chart 1moving half a century’s worth of crap prior to her move. After she pulled out of the driveway, I headed west to visit Jimmy, an old friend from New Jersey, who has retired to Naples, FL with his wife Marilyn.

I really needed the break. My arms and hands were so sore, that I could barely make the drive across Alligator Alley. Since Marilyn was out of town visiting her sister, I was really looking forward to going with Jimmy to the beach, chilling in the pool, and watching a ton of sports, including the NCAA Final Four semis.

When I arrived around lunchtime on Friday, Jimmy informed me that his friend, who is a professional singer, was performing at a local restaurant that evening and that he felt we should go. Great…I’ve been apart from Theresa for about six hours, and I’m already thinking about the optics.

You might wonder what I would have to be concerned about, but this wasn’t the first time that I had this particular experience with Jimmy. Several months ago, I visited him when both Theresa and Marilyn were out of town. We went to see his friend perform then as well. It seems that in Jimmy’s community and circle of friends, there are significantly more women than men, and by women, I am referring specifically to single women.

Theresa and I have been happily married for about 34 years. During that time, I have certainly looked at plenty of other women, but have carefully avoided touching, ogling, sniffing and most forms of communication. Still, every so often, I will get the impression that a woman somehow is charmed by me, causing me to wonder about the great “What if”?

Here’s an example. Several years ago, our doorbell rang during the day on a weekend. My wife peeked through the curtains and said, “Ugh, Jehovah Witnesses…make like we’re not home.”

Well I always open the door for proselytizers. I find it to be polite, neighborly and interesting. Did you know that Mormon Elders are not allowed to tell you their first names? We always had the Awake Magazine around when I was a kid, because my sweet Jewish gChart 2randmother always opened the door for these nutbags.

On this particular day, one of the two Witnesses was younger than most was actually not unattractive. I spoke to them for a while, took their magazine and thought nothing of it. Over the next several weeks, this same young lady came back to the house three more times, twice by herself. This seemed a bit unusual to me. I mean, I know I’m a heathen, but there must be more desperate souls than mine.

“Damn,” said Theresa, “She’s into you bad. Quite frankly, I don’t see the attraction.”

I was cut to the quick. I’m charming. Who wouldn’t be into me? On her last visit, the lovely young Angel told me that she was moving to Arizona. She paused for a moment as though giving me a cue to go pack my bag to join her.  I wished her luck and returned to my wife who was more amused than she needed to be.

My point is that all married men, or at least this one, sometimes wonder what it would be like to be on the dating scene. We have tons of experience being mistaken about what women want. When I connected with several female former classmates around my 40th High School reunion last summer, I was amazed how many remembered how funny I was and fondly recalled some of my writing and antics. I guess they were too immature at sixteen to appreciate the important things while they blew me off to date the athletes. Enjoy your third divorce, bitches!

I have several single friends and have had to live vicariously through them. One, I’ll call him Subject A, recently met me for dinner. He’s been actively playing the field for decades and I love hearing about his experiences, both good and bad. I asked him how the computer dating was working. Based on the commercials and my experience with computers, databases and statistics, I figured that it must be the greatest invention for relationships since Eve.

“It’s the worst,” said Subject A. “Everyone lies and is crazy.” He told me of a recent experience. Date One: It lasted three days. Other than a minor disagreement about her alcohol consumption, he thought that this might be the one! “She’s even Jewish,” he said. Date Two (a week later): Also three days. He took her to a restaurant and the second the owner saw her, he threw them both out. “Never again!” he shouted. It also was revealed that the woman had been arrested three times during the intervening week, in three separate incidents. She’d spent much of the week in jail. He tried to break it off, but she needed a ride to two different court appearances on Monday and was too impaired to drive. She was not the one.

On the other hand, I had dinner with another friend (Subject B), who met his fiancée through Match.com, so it must work for somebody. I asked if they planned to have kids. “Funny story,” he said, “I kind of already do.” It seems he had a houseguest a few years back from a distant country. At some point, she asked Subject B to be a sperm donor for Prismher and her lesbian partner. He eventually agreed and flew halfway around the world (at their expense…even the most gentlemanly among us have our limits), and gave enough of himself to father boy and girl twins. He gets pictures on Facebook. I asked if he had included this on his Match.com profile. He had omitted this tidbit.

Jimmy and Marilyn have been married for nearly 45 years. Apparently he likes to dance. I don’t know about Marilyn since she always seems to be conveniently out of town when this comes up. The first time we went out to see his friend perform, we were sitting at a large high-top table with about eight women. I don’t know how many were single, but they were here unaccompanied. Jimmy and I sat across from two of them, one who was quite fetching.

As I conversed and told people of my writing and demonstrated my overall charisma, Jimmy occasionally got up to dance. “You should dance,” I was told by several of the women. That’s when the optics hit me. I don’t even dance with my wife. If I end up on Facebook dancing with some chick barely hours after seeing my wife off on a business trip…well, you get the idea.

At one point, a couple of old creepers came by looking for a date and the two women across from us used me and Jimmy as beards. They said they were with us. The one who said that I was her date was a recently widowed minx who played golf regularly. I wondered if telling another dude that she was with me legally bound her in some way. This was all happening too fast for me. I desperately wanted to be with Theresa and the warmth of her six-figure income.

On this second time out dancing with the divorcees and widows, I would be more prepared. I would just cower in the corner until it was over. Unfortunately, the only seats were right up front by the tiny dancing area. I was buffed by more hips and boobs than had I gone through a car wash. At one point, a woman of a certain age sat next to me and that certain age was probably 75. I liked her sweater and thought it would look good on my wife, but I wasn’t going to ask the woman where she got it, nor would Theresa find it under the seat of my car.

The woman asked me how I felt. I muttered that I was okay, but then felt her giving a Chart 3deep-tissue massage to my forearm as she said, “You feel great to me.” There was an even creepier exchange a bit later that even me, The Man with No Filters, is reluctant to discuss. I was overwhelmed by thoughts of banter and ego, and loneliness and desperation.

I do not think that predicting the optics of a situation is a sufficient means of keeping your sorry ass out of trouble, but is better than no system at all, particularly when seemingly everyone is carrying a camera. Hopefully Theresa doesn’t need to watch me since I have the good sense to watch myself…and it gives me plenty to write about.

Senior Dude Moments

We all know what senior moments are, particularly those of us who regularly experience them. Dude moments are a completely separate thing, but occasionally a 58-year-old male such as myself, gets to experience the confluence of both.

I was doing some food shopping at my local Publix. I’m sure that my regular readers are girding their loins as Publix has been the site of a disturbing number of antics and incidents over the years. I can assure you, however, that this shopping trip was as mundane as it gets. I had completed my first pass and was mapping out in my mind a map of the things that I had forgotten. You might wonder why I do not make a list and in fact I regularly do. It was sitting on the counter at home near where I keep my wallet and car keys just like 100% of all of my shopping trips (senior moment).

I suddenly remembered that I needed to get compactor bags. This was a particular coup as it didn’t even make the list that I had left at home. I made a mental note of the vividness of the revelation as I am normally just slightly past the halfway point between Publix and home before remembering that last item. Pleased with myself, I began walking the sixty feet or so toward the plastic bag aisle.

After about two steps, I noticed a young woman walking toward me pushing a cart. She appeared to be at least 5’ 11” (dude moment). As many of you know from previous essays herein, I have a particular fetish for tall women. She had a toddler, maybe 2 and ½ in the cart and a baby strapped in some sort of reverse backpack on her chest. Still, it was worth a furtive glance as we passed four steps later.

In a mild surprise, it turned out that she was breastfeeding the baby in the carrier as she pushed her cart ahead. FeedI am not one of these prudes that is offended by a woman breastfeeding in public (dude moment). There is also no truth to the rumor that I once gave a breastfeeding baby a wink and told him, “Enjoy it while you can, sport, but don’t forget to save some for your Uncle Bobby!” On the other hand, I’ve never witnessed a woman breastfeeding while doing anything else, least of all, food shopping with two kids.

The entire episode lasted less than twenty seconds, but I suddenly found myself stopped in the middle of the front of the store. I could not remember what product I was on my way to pick up. This wasn’t just any senior moment. This was the granddaddy of them all. I knew that only thirty seconds earlier, I had had the clearest of revelations…and now it was gone. But it wasn’t just gone. It was as though my mind had been wiped clean. I knew I was in Publix, but that was about it. After about three minutes of just standing there, I actually laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all.

I finally started going through some of my standard memory techniques. Retracing my steps was out. That’s the direction the breastfeeder went. I certainly don’t want to come across as creepy. Eventually, I had to walk down each aisle looking at each item until I figured it out. When I finally figured it out, I found that Publix stopped selling compacter bags. Now things were getting back to normal.

This was all filed away in my head as a typical absurdity until the next day when I attended a meeting of my writers group, The Parkland Writers Café. I hadn’t intended to share any of this, but my friend Paul read an essay to the group about a documentary he had recently seen about a group of World War II era female entertainers that still tap danced today. DancersHe was impressed by their spirit and perseverance at their advanced age, but I also noticed how he described how much their look appealed to him. It wasn’t the typical, “Those ladies were surprisingly fit and trim for being in their nineties”. This was a lot closer to the, “Yo, mama, you look fine” comment that a much younger man might say. Paul is ninety-five and I was quite pleased to find that even at that advanced age, a dude can still enjoy a dude moment.

Since Paul had broached the theme of Dudeism, I decided to share my story. This is where it really got weird. I was sitting between Paul and Larry, another World War II veteran in his mid-nineties. As I told the story, they were both nodding their heads in a kind of, “Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about”, way. ManI figured that eventually the testosterone fever would pass with age, but Larry and Paul clearly still had it. What I didn’t expect was the reaction of the women.

There were seven of them ranging from about their sixties up to Sora who is ninety-seven. All of them were disgusted by the thought of any woman breastfeeding uncovered in public, let alone in a supermarket. They all told of elaborate covers and systems of decorum from their upbringings in different countries and economic strata. In an interesting side story, Miriam mentioned that where she grew up, women would breastfeed overtly anywhere and would also lift up their skirts to pee even while in the middle of conversation. While I was wondering whether she grew up in Bedrock, she informed the group that it was in a shtetl in Russia during the early days of communism.

In any case, it was a fun, lively and informative discussion. I cannot wait to share this with my sociologist daughter who continually insists to me that dude moments are not biological, rather are the result of learned behavior. With Paul and Larry still having them after nearly a century, I still have my money on biology. The best news is that I have many more years to look forward to of adventurous food shopping experiences.

Disk Golf

Disc Golf

Pardon me for this rant, but sometimes you just have to ask “WHY?”. My wife and I were visiting our daughter and son-in-law this past winter in Raleigh, North Carolina. My wife wanted to go for a walk. I was on the shelf due to a recent foot injury, but decided to accompany to a local park to sit and work on a writing project while she got her steps in.

It was a perfectly sunny and cool. If we were in our native New Jersey, it might be an early October, crisp autumn day. Were we back at our Coral Springs, Florida home, people would have been wearing parkas and emptying the store shelves of propane and hot chocolate. I found a bench and table across the parking lot from some tennis courts and opened my notebook. In a few moments, I heard some rustling in the leaves along with some muffled voices.

Through the trees, I got a glimpse of beards, boots and flannel. I wondered if there was a lumber mill nearby. When the men got closer, I realized that based on their slight builds, general pallor, glasses and a man-bun, that these were not lumberjacks, but were instead hipsters. But what would they be doing in a park? I didn’t see any drones or remote controls.

Another thing that I found puzzling was that they each had a backpack, but one unusually shaped as though for some special purpose. The four young men stopped at a small platform near a post and one of them put his Starbucks cup down and opened his pack. It contained a dozen or more colorful disks. He took one out and began to stretch and swing his arm about as though in preparation for something.

The young man stood on the platform and flung the disk Frisbee-style through an open area in the trees. His compatriots nodded with approval and raised their cups in salute. The one fellow without coffee toasted with a stainless steel water bottle that he plucked from a side pocket of his disk bag. I looked I the distance in the general direction of the thrown disk and saw a large metal basket raise on a metal pole festooned with hanging chains.

After the other three men threw their disks and headed toward them, I got up and walked toward a sign near the platform. I learned that they were playing disk golf. I’d heard of this years ago, but never saw it. I figured it had died a quick death like many other faux sports such as trampoline basketball, lawn darts and the shake weight.

Being a sports enthusiast, questions immediately began forming in my mind. I watched for a while, and several others came onto the course and played through. Here are some of my questions and observations in no particular order…

Footwear – Name an outdoor sport, not in the water or on ice, where you don’t wear sneakers or cleated shoes and can wear suede boots. I did not see one person wearing sneakers. A quick online search of the rules made no mention of required or banned footwear. I assume that it is a hipster thing.

Hipsters – I do not wish to malign any group, particularly one including my son. Why do they all wear beards? They dressed and looked nearly as uniformly as the Amish or Hassidic Jews. Also, there was not a woman to be found. Surely a sport that can be played in boots could be unisex. Unlike traditional golf, I did not see any ladies tee boxes. Possibly it is like Augusta National where they still restrict by gender. Many of the hipsters wear cool hats, I must admit and I assume the skullcaps might come in handy should the crew want to knock over a liquor store after the game.

Warmups – There was no pattern. Most of the fellows just swung their throwing arm about in a circular motion as if trying to shake off a lifetime of physical inactivity.

Rules – It appeared that disk golf is played pretty much like traditional golf. I saw one guy throw a disk too far to his left and when it landed, it skittered on its edge across the street. He actually walked across, waited for a break in the traffic and took his next toss from the curb. Like traditional golf, you continue to make throws (strokes) until you get your disk (ball) into the hole (metal basket). There was even an equivalent of a “gimme” putt. If you could slap the chains on the basket while standing with your disk still in your hand, that was “in the leather”.  There did not appear to be an equivalent to heaving your putter into a lake or wrapping your three iron around a tree since this would necessitate removing or severely damaging your arm.

Equipment – I couldn’t figure out the large number of disks that the guys were carrying. Tournament “real” golfers can carry up to fourteen clubs in their bag. This is necessary due to the wide variety of shots using the clubs. Driving, pitching and putting all require extremely differently designed tools. In disk golf however, every “shot” is thrown with the hand. Imagine if you were to play a round of traditional golf, but threw the ball rather that strike it with a club. You would basically throw the ball the same way each time except possibly when you got close enough to the pin to throw underhand, possibly for more accuracy. There would be no reason to use a different ball and certainly not a different arm.

The disks all appeared to be pretty much the same at least in size and shape. I actually found a disk in a gully. Even this was odd as while it is easy to lose a golf ball after a sliced 220 yard drive into the underbrush, it should be pretty damn easy to find a bright red disk of 8-9 inches in diameter that just travelled 40 yards. I picked up the disk to examine it. It was an Innova Dragon model. It was imprinted with a series of four numbers that looked something like this: ([8][3][-2][2]). It also indicated that it floats in water. There were no water hazards on this particular course, but I guess it could happen. I did find it odd that it specified floating in water, as though a legal disclaimer was needed in the event that you were playing near the liquid nitrogen pond on Jupiter.

By checking the Innova website, I learned that the four numbers on the disk represent in order, ratings for Speed, Glide, Turn and Fade. They make 93 different models with a speed range of 1 for the Polecat, to 14 for the Colussus. The glide can have a low of 1 (Rhyno) and a high of 6 (Archangel). The turn ranges from -5 (Mamba) to 0 (Banshee). I have no idea which end of the range is better. The fade ranges from 0 (Foxbat) to 5 (Whippet). What the hell is a foxbat?

The disks range in price from $12-$16 with very little variation. This means that a starter set of 14 disks would cost about $168 plus specialized bag. You could get a decent starter set of clubs for that.

Did you know that there is a Hall of Fame for disk golf? For what, exactly?  Pete Rose has more hits than any major leaguer in history. Barry Bonds has the most home runs. I’d cut off a pinky to hit one. Neither of them is in their Hall of Fame. What is the disk golf equivalent of 762 home runs?

When I walked back toward the table to meet up with my wife, I passed two of the basket-on-a-pole contraptions about a dozen feet apart. It seemed odd to me until I realized that it was the disk golf equivalent of a practice putting green. Then it seemed super-odd. The thing that amazed me the most was that the meandering course layout surrounded another part of the park. It was a baseball field.

I suddenly realized that if any of the kids from my neighborhood growing up had found a bunch of disks from the future, we would immediately have known what to do with them. We’d have used them for bases. Here I was, in a park on a beautiful day with a couple of dozen young men. There was a completely open and unused ballfield. Instead of getting up a game, the guys were meandering around the field tossing plastic discs into metal baskets.

Eventually my wife came back from her walk. I recall her occasionally coming to some of my baseball and softball games to watch me play. As we walked back to the car, I asked her if she’d come watch me play disc golf. I think she laughed for five minutes straight. Maybe if I grew a beard…

Antics

Guest Blog – Super Bowl Edition

graph

I was looking at the Win Probability Chart for last night’s Super Bowl and the improbable Patriot’s victory. I had no real horse in this race, although I am consistently impressed by the consistency and excellence of the Patriot organization. I do, however, have several friends who are Patriot haters. Some are Jets, Giants, or Dolphins fans, and some are just general haters of the favorite. Many feel that they are an organization of cheaters, and many just plain cannot stand the sight of Tom Brady.

In any case, while trying to gain an understanding of the above graph, I decided that after an late night of watching the post-game celebration, I was just too damn tired. Instead, I decided to turn the task over to several of my Patriot hating friends who texted, tweeted, and Facebook messaged their thoughts of the game. To provide a real-time feel, I interspersed the comments with a chronology from the game. As you can see, the emotional roller coaster shows a very similar pattern to the Probability Chart.

In any case, thanks to my friends for unknowingly contributing to my day off of writing!

  • 1st and 10 at ATL 40

(6:36 – 1st) T.Brady sacked at ATL 48 for -8 yards (C.Upshaw).

Hit that sumbitch Tom Brady!

  • 3rd and 18 at ATL 48

(5:48 – 1st) (Shotgun) T.Brady sacked at ATL 49 for -1 yards (G.Jarrett).

EAT IT TOM BRADY!

  • 4th and 19 at ATL 49

(5:14 – 1st) R.Allen punts 37 yards to ATL 12, Center-J.Cardona, fair catch by E.Weems.

It’s bad enough I have to see Tom Brady’’s face throughout the game. Don’t make me see him in commercials too.

  • 1st and 10 at NE 29

(13:11 – 2nd) D.Freeman right tackle to NE 14 for 15 yards (D.McCourty).

GET IT DEVONTA!!!! GO Falcons!!! #SuperBowl #DevontaFreeman

  • 3rd and 9 at NE 19

(8:48 – 2nd) TOUCHDOWN Austin Hooper 19 Yd pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick)

14-0 Falcons ! GET IT ATLANTA!!! #SuperBowl

  • 3rd and 6 at ATL 23

(2:21 – 2nd) TOUCHDOWN Robert Alford 82 Yrd Interception Return M.Bryant extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Harris, Holder-M.Bosher.

THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ BOUT!!!!! Did TomBrady really think he was gonna stop RobertAlford ?

  • Kickoff

(2:21 – 2nd) M.Bosher kicks 65 yards from ATL 35 to end zone, Touchback.

I’d say his balls look deflated…

brady

  • 3rd and 18 at ATL 23

(0:02 – 2nd) Stephen Gostkowski 41 Yd Field Goal

Beautiful! Holding to a FG is what Pats do to other teams. Almost perfect half by Falcons!

  • Halftime

Gaga SLAYED

  • 4th and 12 at NE 45

(12:52 – 3rd) R.Allen punts 40 yards to ATL 15, Center-J.Cardona, fair catch by E.Weems. (The Punt Hangtime was 4.19 seconds.)

I’m not a fan of blowouts in the Super Bowl , but if it’s the Patriots getting blown out, I’m all for it! Tremendous start for Falcons.

  • 1st and Goal at NE 6

(8:31 – 3rd) TOUCHDOWN Tevin Coleman 6 Yd pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick)

28-3 Falcons !!!! DON’T LET UP ATLANTA! SuperBowl

Warm the fat lady up!

Hope Atlanta runs up the score and embarrasses Belicheat.

Think the Pats are done yet?

Ding Dong, the witch is dead!

  • 2nd and Goal at ATL 5

(2:06 – 3rd) TOUCHDOWN James White 5 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski PAT failed)

Okay Falcons , take a deep breath. #SuperBowl

  • 4th and Goal at ATL 15

(9:44 – 4th) Stephen Gostkowski 33 Yd Field Goal

Held to a FG again! Yes!

I can’t believe he did not go for the six. Pats are DONE!

  • 3rd and 1 at ATL 36

(8:31 – 4th) (Shotgun) M.Ryan sacked at ATL 25 for -11 yards (D.Hightower). FUMBLES (D.Hightower) [D.Hightower], RECOVERED by NE-A.Branch at ATL 25. A.Branch to ATL 25 for no gain (C.Chester).

Run the ball. Eat the clock.

  • 2nd and 2 at ATL 6

(5:56 – 4th) Danny Amendola Pass From Tom Brady for 6 Yrds (Direct Snap) TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. J.White rushes up the middle. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS.

Well, if you wanted a game, you got one.

Dammit. #SuperBowl

  • 2nd and 8 at NE 49

(4:47 – 4th) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass deep right to J.Jones to NE 22 for 27 yards.

PHENOMENAL CATCH BY Julio Jones ! Wow! Come on Falcons ! #SuperBowl

  • 3rd and 23 at NE 35

(3:50 – 4th) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass short left to M.Sanu pushed ob at NE 26 for 9 yards (L.Ryan). PENALTY on ATL-J.Matthews, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at NE 35 – No Play.

You suck Atlanta…

  • 1st and 10 at NE 36

(2:28 – 4th) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass deep middle to J.Edelman to ATL 41 for 23 yards (K.Neal). Atlanta challenged the pass completion ruling, and the play was Upheld. The ruling on the field was confirmed. (Timeout #3.)

Some catch!

  • 2nd and Goal at ATL 1

(0:57 – 4th) James White 1 Yard Rush TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. T.Brady pass to D.Amendola is complete. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS.

There is no question in my mind how this game ends now.

  • Overtime Kickoff

(0:11 – 4th) M.Bosher punts 38 yards to NE 35, Center-J.Harris, fair catch by J.Edelman.

They’re still letting Matthew Slater stay involved in the coin toss?

  • 1st and 10 at ATL 15

(11:18 – OT) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass incomplete short right to M.Bennett (D.Campbell). PENALTY on ATL-D.Campbell, Defensive Pass Interference, 13 yards, enforced at ATL 15 – No Play.

Complete meltdown for the Falcons . Wow. #SuperBowl

  • 2nd and Goal at ATL 2

(11:02 – OT) James White 2 Yd Run

Atlanta Falcons  – biggest chokers in Super Bowl history!

Falcons ended up looking like exactly what they were, a team that’s never won the big game. #SuperBowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antisocial Media

autocorrect

I received a text from a friend today. I’ll call him Melvin to protect his identity. I’m not terribly concerned that he would either punch or sue me, and quite frankly, if you read my blog regularly, you’ll easily figure out who it is. I’m just trying to manage my social media with a little more decorum these days.

I’m not going to bore you with a treatise on the pitfalls of social media. We all see it every day from accidentally doing a “Reply All” to a snarky email to people ending their careers with grossly inappropriate tweets and Facebook messages.  Still, a review of some of my own personal faux pas might give you some context.

There was the time I texted a friend about his PSA test results from a recent doctor visit regarding his prostate. The error came when I inadvertently sent the text to a female neighbor who clearly had no prostate. Hilarity ensued. I also have a habit of commenting on my kids Facebook posts with the sole goal of getting “likes” from their friends. This typically drives my kids crazy, sometimes to the point of their own posts begging their friends to stop encouraging me.

Autocorrect is a big source of social media gaffes. I recently had an acquaintance try to praise an entire thread of comments by saying “Infinite likes to all of you!” The problem was that their use of “Infinite” was autocorrected to “Infinitesimal”, which indicates a quite opposite sentiment. When I pointed out the error, she said she was using voice input and recently had the embarrassment of having “honored” corrected to “hammered”.

My first of two issues today was of the autocorrect variety. My friend, Melvin, sent me the following text…

“Dude, I’m at the eye doctor and the woman across from me has the most impressive breasts.”

Now, in Melvin’s defense, he acknowledges that at time we can both be pigs. We are also getting up there in age, so it’s sometimes comforting to know that we still have a dribble of testosterone coursing through us. Also, Melvin would never invade anyone’s privacy by ogling or even worse, taking a photo. He was just killing time enjoying the view.

The part of his message that I found interesting was that he was at the eye doctor. I decided that I would join him in the gutter and texted him back the following…

“They should put tits on the eye chart. No man would ever need glasses.”

I’ll admit that it wasn’t my best work, but it would be sure to get a chuckle from Melvin, and probably by a significant portion of the male population. Unfortunately, the response from Melvin was one of confusion.

“Tots? What are you talking about?”

Apparently the dictionary for my phone’s texting capability did not contain the particular euphemism that I had chosen for my comment. It had replaced it with “Tots”. Besides ruining the spontaneity of my bit, my message went from being funny to many men, to being applicable to a much smaller group…pedophiles.

“They should put tots on the eye chart. No man would ever need glasses.”

Had I sent this out on Twitter, I’d be looking at 20 years.

My pledge to be more careful lasted about two hours. I was on Facebook, and saw that one of my daughters started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a small business idea. This idea would appeal primarily to liberals, idealists, and hipsters, and as expected, many of her friends sent their support through “likes” and comments.

I decided to have a bit of fun and added the comment…

“You want me to fund you? I paid for your fucking braces!”

Again, not a top ten bit, but the message and gratuitous language was calculated to get the most laughs from the young crowd. The problem was that not a minute after I posted this, I received a response from my daughter’s mother-in-law. This woman is the most genteel of southern belles and one of the last people in whose presence I would use profanity.

I will continue to write plays, novels, blogposts, and many other things. I also expect that I will make the occasional error. I just hope that people continue to have a sense of humor.

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Heard

horn

On our recent trip to Raleigh for the holidays, I had an interesting exchange with my son-in-law, Nat. With our other two children already having returned to their homes in Orlando and Arlington, VA, only my wife Theresa and I remained. Along with our daughter, Lilly, the four of us were on our way to a restaurant for lunch and then to the airport.

Nat was driving and I was in the front passenger seat of their Nissan Leaf. Lilly and Theresa were in the back. Lilly and Nat are pretty serious about the environment and had recently purchased this electric car. We had spent a lot of time discussing the pros and cons over the week of our visit. I was working out quite well for them.

When I mention discussing the Leaf, I should add that Nat leaves little to speculation. He is a researcher near the end of his PhD in epidemiology. Not only does the car spit out massive amounts of data and telemetry, Nat and Lilly had crunched many additional numbers justifying their purchase.

Nat is also kind of a safety nut. The term “nut” is clearly unfair as everyone should practice a reasonable amount of safety and the moniker exists only because most people do not. Still, even my wife, a Compliance Director, is impressed by the length of Nat’s safety analysis and rule following. Since I am somewhat of a stathead myself, it appears that Lilly, in a way, married a slightly more extreme version of her parents.

While driving to the restaurant, Nat had the occasion to blow his horn at another driver. Knowing that Nat was not one to honk in anger or retribution, I asked what his standard was for horn usage. I know, it sounds pretty nerdy, but that’s the kind of thing that analytical people talk about…at least I do. During the discussion, Nat mentioned something along the lines of that as a safety device, he usually used his horn to warn others about impending danger, particularly those behind him who could not see what was coming.

I am fully aware that this is probably very close to the actual purpose of a car horn, but also that very few people use it in this manner. So few, I imagine, that the typical driver would not even take his horn blowing as a warning. Still, I had another thought. It seemed to me that the physical design of the car horn was aimed forward from the car, rendering it somewhat less effective in warning people behind you.

At this point, Nat said something rather unexpected. He said, “That was the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Lilly immediately told Nat that she thought that his statement seemed a bit harsh. I took no offense, not until later, and for a couple of other reasons. In fact, after a great week, and the fact that we were leaving shortly, I completely dropped the whole thing, figuring I had either touched a nerve or that Nat just had a brain fart and overreacted.

At the restaurant, I went to the restroom, and apparently Nat apologized to Lilly and Theresa. I just thought it was kind of funny. On the plane back to Ft. Lauderdale, however, I thought a little more about the incident. When I got back home, I began doing some research. I first looked up the patents for various car horns. While there were improvements over the years, they are nearly all directional, facing forward, and on the front of the car. This does not make them unable to be heard from behind, but certainly less effectively. Imagine the difference listening to a marching band as the move toward you and away from you.

I then did some research on acoustics and found some graphs displaying the effect of sound coming from a directional device. The bulk of the sound pretty much covered a 180 degree arc centered directly ahead of the source. I imagined Paul Revere warning the people of outer Boston. I’m sure that Paul could be heard by people in front of him and in the houses on the sides. Unfortunately, those who were behind him probably never found out that the British were coming until they saw the whites of their eyes.

Whether anyone agrees with this research or not, it certainly passed the threshold of “The dumbest thing I ever heard.” Even the fact that I did the research was dumber. Maybe it wasn’t my acoustical interpretation that had offended Nat. Maybe it was the questioning of his safety protocols. Just because every other psychopath on the road uses their horn as a weapon of attack and revenge, that’s no reason for all of us to descend into chaos, is it?

I met with a friend who did some time as a municipal court judge. She told me that it was indeed illegal to use your horn as anything other than a warning of potential calamity. I mentioned that the law seemed to go against practice out in the real world and she agreed. As a matter of fact, only once did she ever preside over a case regarding aggressive horn usage. An officer had cited a driver, but did not show up for the court case. My friend had to look up the statute. It stated that in order to be in violation, the use of the horn had to be of “inordinate length.” Even the statute didn’t seem to be all that concerned about safety. Case dismissed!

I had to be going about this all wrong. I wasn’t even claiming to be right, a pretty big concession on my part. What was I missing? Maybe this wasn’t about the car horn. Is it possible that Nat’s threshold for dumbness was that different than mine? I decided to call my friend Tyrone. After all, he was the person, to whom I have most frequently said, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

After relating the story to Tyrone, he agreed that this was unusual hyperbole from Nat. Tyrone said, “I’m certain to hear something dumber than that during any five minutes of radio sports talk.” I agree. With the recent election, three out of every five Facebook posts are candidates for a new low in dumbness.

“Wait,” I replied, “Nat has probably never heard a minute of sports talk radio. He also doesn’t watch sports on TV. I don’t think that he has any presence on social media either.”

“Interesting,” said Tyrone. “He also has smart parents and a smart wife. I can’t imagine that he runs into many doofuses in his PhD program. But could his threshold for stupidity be that high? He goes to the supermarket. He drives a car. He must have wandered into a Post office at some point. That’s the dumbest place on the planet. I’m sure it was just a brain fart like you first guessed.”

“I suppose you’re right, Tyrone. I don’t even know why I gave it a second thought.”

“Sure you do. You often pride yourself on being the smartest guy in the room.”

“So?”

“Let’s say that you trip and fall, hit your head and die. Or, you fall out of an airplane at 30,000 feet and die when you hit the ground. Both deaths are instantaneous on impact, but in the second scenario, you have more time to think about it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s not the impact that’s bothering you. It’s the length of the fall.”

“Dude, that is the dumbest thing I ever heard.”