Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lizards and stuff

It's been on my mind for years.  What is that little pink thing that sticks out of a lizard's (gecko's) neck?  I've wondered this for most of my life, which may at first give you the impression that I have no life.  Whenever I see a lizard crawling up the window sill on my back porch I wait like my 5-year old waits for the approaching ice cream truck to stop.  I wait for the lizard to pause, look at me curiously, and then bob his little head up and down until that little pink thing protrudes from his little neck.  After a moment of head bobbing, it disappears to who knows where.  Then he goes about his business as usual, oblivious to my presence and my sense of total fascination. What just happened? Was he (or she) communicating with me?  Was he showing off like a peacock shows its tail?  Was he threatening me?  Was it a sign of affection?  Makes me wonder.  I could "Google" this or ask on Facebook and find out exactly what it means.  I could Tweet.  I don't want to.  I don't want to know the "truth".  I prefer to leave it to my imagination; it serves me well.  I can interpret this odd behavior as a sign that, in the eyes of the lizard, I am a worthless human being.  That is, of course, if I've had a bad day.  I can just as easily see it as a sign of love and affection. That's for a good day.  If I knew what it really meant then that all goes out the window.  I prefer to leave it be.  

Same with the songs that I've never known the words to.  I remember the disappointment I felt when I learned that the "Go-Go's" song that I sang in the shower was not called "As long as I see you".  It's "Our lips are sealed".  Bummer.  There's a commercial that plays on this.  They use "Rocket Man".  They show people singing the words as they have always believed them to be.  At the end, you find out that the line is "burning out his fuse up here alone".  What???? It's not "burning up the sea of heaven" (pronounced heh-eh-vaughn).  I used to ponder what those mysterious words meant.  Sea of Heaven.  Wasn't there something about that in the Bible?  Rocket Man went to the sea of heaven.  It's a song about Jesus or something.  Wow.  No.  It's a song about a very lonely man in space. I like my Rocket Man better.

They say that "Psycho" is the scariest movie ever.  Show it to a 15 year old and they'll laugh out loud.  Why?  Because now, the horror flicks show it all.  Blood, bodies, etc.  Psycho was so scary because during that shower scene, you never really got to see the "killer".  You didn't see all of the gory stuff.  Its mostly left to your imagination.  And imagination pales in comparison to anything they show you on the screen.      

I think this way about fear.  I have learned in my years (not that I am an old man or anything), that when I am afraid of something it is usually a figment of my imagination.  I can conjure up the worst of scenarios.  The plane will go down.  The lap bar on the roller coaster will disengage during the ride.  The ship will sink.  If I were to give in to all of that then I would never fly, ride, or sail.  Gee, what I would miss.  Not all fear is imagined.  It is the body's natural defense mechanism that can get our guard up when necessary.  I am afraid of tornadoes.  I hide from them (in the bathtub).  I don't chase them. I've seen the movie "Twister" so I know what can happen.  I have to think that most of what I fear is being conjured up in my own little brain.  Fear of public speaking; no one will listen, they'll laugh, they'll think I'm stupid.  Fear of commitment; what if it doesn't turn out "right", what if I'm surprised by what happens, what if it's not a good fit for me.  Fear of failure; I'll look ignorant, I'll have egg on my face; I'll never get another chance.  Most of that kind of stuff comes directly from my imagination.  It can keep me from living into who I am.  It can keep us from understanding other people.  It can keep us from seeing ourselves, and one another, for who we really are.  Think about it.      

I looked it up.  Dad gummit I went and looked it up.  That little pink thing?  It's a neck pouch.  It can be shown as a sign of agression.  It can be a sign of fight, flight, or flatter.  In other words, who knows? So, turns out I can still imagine whatever I want to imagine.  But a lonely Rocket Man all alone in outer space?  Still like mine better.          


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You know what they say when you assume...

The scene:  

Husband comes home after a long day at work.  Wife has just cooked dinner and is now in chair folding 2 laundry baskets full of clothes. Husband comes in, gets beer, lays across couch to watch Monday Night Football.  Husband appears oblivious to wife working.  Wife gets more and more irritated as the minutes go by.

Wife:  (forcefully) Uh, are you going to sit there like that all night or are you going to help me with these clothes?

Husband:  (innocently) What?

Wife:  (angrily) I said, are you going to help me with these clothes???  Why is it that every night you come home and lay on the couch and drink your beer and never bother to help around here??? Can't you see I need help????

Husband:  (clueless)  Help?  If you wanted me to help then why didn't you ask?

Wife:  (now fuming) I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO ASK!!!!!!!

Husband:  (blank).

Now, be honest.  Has this happened in your home?  Married couples call this "communication".  It's standard operating procedure in millions of homes around the world.  And it's not communication. The scenario you see above is called "assumption".  We assume that someone else knows what we want.  We don't come right out and ask for what we want, we assume. The word that usually follows is "incorrectly". Assumption will lead right down the path you see above on almost every occasion.

I've noticed that we have no trouble at all asking for what we want outside of our home.  Have you ever pulled up to the drive thru (why is it always spelled like that) at the Dairy Queen and sat in your car in silence when the girl asks you what you want?  She should know what I want because I've been here a thousand times before and I always get a Belt buster with cheese and extra mayo with a large fry and a side of cream gravy for the dipping!!!  Uh, ok.  When I order from Amazon, I don't leave the order form blank.  Don't they know by now what I like?  Nah, I ask for what I want.  Seems there is a serious lack of communication going on outside of the marketplace.

Our culture doesn't help out much with our diminishing ability to communicate.  It encourages it.  The first time I got a text from a friend who was sitting directly across the table from me I knew that the times were changing.  Note:  the text I received did not say "you have mustard on your chin" or "check your pants".  It was something like, "wassup".  We've also grown accustomed to culling down our language with this new found way of "communication".  I wanted to meet a friend the other day so I texted this..."cn u b at FS wed aft"? His response was "np".  At first, I thought he meant to say no and that his auto correct had messed him up.  So, I asked what he meant.  I use the word "asked" loosely, all I did was this, "?"  He replied, "I meant no prob dud".  He couldn't even spell out his explanation.  No problem dud (dude).  I can't wait until this translates into communication outside of our IPhones.  Imagine walking up to the counter at Taco Bell and handing them a note like this; "I want a TBG XC BS XS NLT with a side of SCEHS".  And the guy writes back, "np dud".  Then a big screen will flash your ready to pick up order; ON5RFPUP.  But you have to go to the restroom so you text BRB.  Who was that guy that sang, "what a wonderful world this would be"?  If our communication reaches that point at Taco Bell, imagine what it will be reduced to at home?  A series of grunts and snarls.  We are right back to square one.  Assuming.

Ask for what you want.  Don't be afraid.  From a guy's point of view I can honestly say that if the Cowboys are playing the Redskins we may not be paying a lot of attention, just like when your watching "Lifetime" or "Ellen".  Fair is fair.  My wife once let me practically die of heatstroke when I was cutting grass because it was Oprah's last show.  She never noticed the sweating, nearly fainting shell of a man pushing the mower.  Ask.  Water please?  Help with the socks?  I guarantee you that if asked repeatedly then it will begin to register. And please don't text me from across the table, or even across the room.  If my shoes don't match just say so.  I won't hold it against you.  Iz np I cn asur u.  Ltr duds!                    

Friday, May 18, 2012

How did we survive?

I'm beginning to wonder how we survived.  Those of us who grew up at any time prior to say, 1990, were subjected to some things that could have been highly detrimental to our well being.  Maybe that's what's wrong with us.  How we were able to grow into adulthood without being electrocuted, filled with high amounts of lead, or suffocated by a sippy cup is beyond me.  Being a parent these days not only takes a lot of work, but it also requires that we spend an awful lot of time "childproofing" everything that we own.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING can be left within reach of small children these days.  Every light socket must be covered, every drawer has to have those very hard to install "locks" that don't work half the time (my son once pulled on a "locked" cabinet door with all of his weight, when the lock gave way his hand slipped off and he fell backwards, hitting his head on the hard floor which then led to an hour of traumatic screams); nothing can be left out on the tables or the kitchen counters anymore.  Have small children evolved into something different than before?  Did I miss something?  Please don't misunderstand, I am a fan of all of this new safety stuff.  I just wonder how I survived childhood in a house where scissors, "bobby pins", and meat cleavers were always well within my reach.  Maybe I once stood at a light socket with a long, thin metal object with the thought that I would see if I could make my hair stand up like Yosemite Sam but I don't remember it if I did.  I used to ride in the bed of my dad's truck flying through Houston at 90 miles an hour; dad's only instructions were to "stay off of the fender well".  What fun!  Dad would have come to know the letters "CPS" very well had this happened in the new millennium.  I'm assuming that small children are prone to chew the walls in their bedroom because you can't have lead paint anywhere in the house.  Had I put my mouth to the walls I would have had much more to worry about than lead in my blood stream.  Lead in the tummy would have been the better option I assure you.  If you are over 40 years old, do you remember car seats?  No? That's because they didn't exist.  I'm not even sure if I had to wear a seatbelt back then.  I do remember that little triangle shaped window in the car that you could open to allow the air to come in.  This was before air was "conditioned" of course.  And my parents smoked in the car.  How did we survive?            

Again, I'm all for this new stuff.  I'm all for safety.  I do have a little trouble understanding how "sippy cups" are dangerous now.  Have you seen them?  What could be so bad about a cute little "Dora the Explorer" sippy cup??  I don't know, I think we survived our childhood because our parents worked real hard at teaching. Relentless, mind numbing, over the top, repeat yourself every 5 seconds kind of teaching.  It worked.  Teaching that a finger in the outlet could kill you.  Yes, my parents said the word "kill".  If you eat McDonald's every day then that could cost you your health so no, son, you ain't eating McDonald's today.  They could have cared less about how loud my screams would become.  It was still no.  Lesson learned.  My mom used to threaten me within an inch of my life (death was apparently a great deterrent for me) if I even thought about opening a kitchen cabinet.  Chew the walls?  I wasn't even allowed to touch them.  I can also tell you that the closest I have ever come in my life to long periods of silent meditation were the times when I had to sit at the table until I had eaten every bite of my liver.  You try staring at a cold piece of liver for over an hour and see how quiet you get.  I always ate it.  I didn't like it, but I ate it.  

So yeah, I'm all about car seats and toys being pulled off the shelves because they have lead.  I'm all about locks and bolts and medicines placed on high, far away shelves.  Don't dare speed down the freeway with your child in the bed of the truck.  Sorry dad, but that's just dangerous.  Just don't let all of the newfangled safety stuff replace the teaching.  Things can hurt you out there.  You won't always be shielded from every hurt and harm.  Know what to do when you encounter real danger and understand that if something can "kill you" then you better file that away in the "never do that" file.  Good advice for me too.

Now, get this.  When you put the safety cap on a light socket, guess what you have to do.  You have to stick the the light socket.  What twisted person thought of that?  Risk electrocution to save your child.  I guess plastic is not a conductor of electricity.  Or is it?  Beats eating liver.