Archive for July, 2007

When Stupidity Takes Priority or Are Paper Dolls Counterfeit Humans?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Isn’t it true that at funeral services, many mourners, especially family members, are so overcome by grief that everyday activities fall by the wayside? Not for a stuper (short again, for that irritatingly stupid person).

When my 90 year-old grandfather passed away several years ago, Grandma and her 5 children gathered together on the evening of his death. None of the siblings brought their spouses. But when Uncle Larry left wife, Fran, at home, she was miffed.

Before I continue, let me give you some background on my relatives and on Uncle Larry: Firstly, my relatives, counting all the way down to 6th cousins and abundant in-laws, are numerous.  The chapter on Relative Stupidity in my book is my favorite as I had plenty of idiotic material to work with. Secondly, Uncle Larry lived a few miles away from my grandparents’ and visited them practically every weekend. His wife and kids did not accompany him on these visits as they were usually busy. Shopping. Tennis. Shopping. Starbucks. Shopping. And so on.

Fran told Larry to tell Grandma that Fran should have been included at the sibling get-together. Fran wanted her say on the caterer, florist, casket and guest list.  Larry announced this at the sibling gathering. He was told by all in harmonic unison, “It’s none of her business.”

Why did Fran, who paid scant attention to her parents-in-law, suddenly feel like a member of the family come funeral time? Because she thought…ouch! There I go again. I think I twisted my index finger on that one. Yet again, there was no thought! Fran saw an opportunity to grab a bit of attention as the good daughter-in-law while having some fun at the same time. Picking a caterer and flowers ranked high on her repertoire; arranging a guest list would ensure she’d have other stupers present, and for some reason she relished the idea of an open casket. Stupers are gawkers, after all, and are fascinated by other people’s pain. Anything that generates gossip. That way they have something to talk about.

My grandma called upon Aunt May (the wife of Grammie’s bro) for help at the memorial following the funeral. She asked Aunt May to arrive earlier to assist with set-up. Aunt May told Grandma that would not be possible. You see, Aunt May had a hair appointment with Jean-Claude-Raymond. Wasn’t that sort of…preposterous? A hair emergency during the funeral service of a so-called loved one? I spotlight Aunt May because she takes great pride in being the most thoughtful, considerate and kindly member of the family (how do I know this? She keeps reminding everyone; probably so she doesn’t forget it herself.)

My grandparents were affluent, yet modest people. Grandpa was a well respected  University Professor who amassed important friends. As well wishers gathered at his memorial reception, I noticed something strange and discomforting. A parallel universe, if you will. For some reason, the stupers in my near and distant family thought that they were attending a taping of the MTV Awards. Fran came in a black leather outfit, reminiscent of Madonna’s formative years. Aunt May chose a flowing black lace number a la Stevie Nicks during Fleetwood Mac’s heyday, and I saw several strapless, satin get-ups. Had Fran gotten a-hold of the guest list? One aunt even flagrantly displayed her Chanel handbag’s Certificate of Authenticity lest anyone think she carried a knock-off – do you see what I’ve been dealing with?

If you’re thinking, “What shallow relatives Keli has,” you’re wrong. Shallow implies a smidgen of depth. Fran and Aunt May have zero depth. They are one-dimensional surface dwellers, not unlike the paper dolls my sister and I used to play with.

How did I overcome the wall-to-wall stupidity that seemed to overflow at Grandpa’s memorial? First, after scanning the stupers and rolling my eyes skyward for about 11 1/2 minutes, I decided to seek out and focus on the intelligentsia present. I very much enjoyed speaking to Grandpa’s former colleagues and students; then I retired upstairs with some keen-minded cousins and shared cherished photo albums and personal memories. How can you go wrong when you surround yourself with genuine, thinking, caring humans?

Think first, last and always!


Insistent Stupidity

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Many of us have beloved pets – dogs, cats, horses, parrots, goats – that are like children to us. Dogs, in particular, hold a place near and dear to our hearts. They offer an endless source of love, loyalty and entertainment. Ah, the canine tales we could share. How about the time my husband BBQ’d six filet mignon steaks for dinner that accidentally slid off the platter and into our dog’s ready, willing and wide-open mouth? But I digress…

My cousins, Rebecca and Scott, recently visited relatives who live on a large ranch. Their hosts invited them to bring their dog, Cookie, along.

Rebecca explained, “Before our daughter was born, Cookie was our only child. She is the world’s most sweetest, loveable and cuddly dog. Our generous hosts had two dogs and plenty of space. We thought bringing Cookie was a great idea…until another guest, Anne, proceeded to tell us that Cookie was overweight. Anne compared Cookie to the ranch dogs who were thin and athletic. She thought our dog was 13 years old. When we told Anne that Cookie was only 3 1/2, Anne acted surprised and insisted we put Cookie on a diet right away. She said our dog was obviously lazy. I got so angry! I wanted to tell Anne to look in a mirror before making comments like that. Didn’t she know our dog was part of our family? Insulting Cookie was like insulting one of our kids! I laughed it off and told Anne, “She’s a city dog, and she looks like the other dogs at the dog park. Anne asked, ‘Then are all the dogs overweight where you live?’ I walked away at that point.”

Take note that Rebecca wanted to respond differently to Anne’s reckless remarks, but did not. What does that indicate? Rebecca actually exercised thought before she spoke! How refreshing! Rebecca, an aware person, did not want to say anything she might later regret or that would lower her to the level of the stuper (short yet again, for stupid person).

Did Anne actually believe she was being helpful? Was this a case of well-meaning stupidity? I think that, in a rickety, irksome way, Anne believed she was doing a favor. It’s amazing how many stupers dispense unsolicited advice which they believe another party needs to hear. Anne was certain Cookie was fat. By relentlessly preying on Cookie’s weight, Anne avoided the issue of her own weight problem. Perhaps Anne was on a diet herself at that very moment which she believed made her an instant diet guru. Or maybe she’d unsuccessfully tried to dole out weight advice to humans and now turned her attention to unsuspecting canine owners.

We’ve already discussed, in previous posts, the prominent place criticism of others holds for stupers. When a stuper readies, aims and fires, it’s best to take cover. Kind of like an air raid drill. Do not waste your energy fighting back by trying to talk sense. Do not argue. Rebecca handled her stupid encounter well by refusing to acknowledge the hurtful remarks. If you feel you must respond, make it short and sweet, then head for the hills.

When my kids were tots, an aunt insisted on giving me constant fashion advice. What nanny-free mom is going to don Dolce & Gabbana duds when there are grubby hands and candy-stained lips at large? Finally, this stupid aunt lost interest in me and turned to my husband. Telling me I couldn’t dress myself was one thing, but deciding I couldn’t dress my husband either…everything that had been simmering inside detonated into a few choice words until my uncle hooked the top of a cane around Aunty’s neck and dragged her away.

Take note also that there is an age factor regarding stupidity. I don’t pick on the very young or the very old; they have a special pass to speak their minds freely without necessarily thinking first. What the young haven’t learned, the old have earned. (Can you tell I just made that up this very second?). My criticism-wielding aunt was only a year older than me, so she fell headlong into the stuper category. 

Stupers criticize others to avoid taking a long, hard look at themselves. Since they are satisfied with what little they know, there’s no attempt to fill up the practically vacant mind. It must echo dreadfully loud in there.

As the great thinker, Albert Einstein, once said, “Thinking is hard work; that’s why so few do it.”

Keep on thinking!


The Cookie Cutter Standard of Stupidity

Friday, July 27th, 2007

From last time: Should I have been nicer to Janice after she blurted out the first ridiculous remark that popped into her hollow head? Should I have overlooked her marginal mental abilites and tolerantly updated her on what I’d been doing since ending my legal career? No.

Although I am a faithful proponent of utilizing kindness, this case proved an exception. Stupers (short for those pesky stupid persons) are often on the lookout for fodder to criticize. This keeps them from focusing on a self that is not in proper working order anyway. Focusing on faults of others makes stupers forget their own.

To Janice, my abandoning a fruitful legal career was both incomprehensible and reprehensible. Her demeanor indicated an inflexible person (no smiles, stiff, gaping hole where sense of humor should be) and, as you may have noticed, she was not exactly a charming conversationalist. I decided not to explain, defend or justify any of my post lawyer-life accomplishments. I shy away from unnecessary criticism from questionable sources. Case closed. Onward.

My mother asked me to interview her friend, Karen, who’d been victimized by a stuper while shopping in a trendy clothing boutique. Karen is a petite, slender, attractive lady in her late forties. Her fiance’s daughter was getting married, and Karen needed an elegant, yet understated dress. This particular shop, I know from personal experience, offers a wide array of lovely frocks.

Karen explained, “When I walked in, four ladies stood lined up at the counter staring at the front door. Three of them seemed pretty young, but the fourth one looked my age, so I asked her to help me. There were many gorgeous dresses. I couldn’t decide which ones to try on so I asked the employee to help me choose. She looked me up and down, then said, ‘You’re very short and squatty. We don’t have anything here for you. Try coming back next week when we get our new shipment.’ And she walked away, leaving me feeling fat and frumpy! She didn’t even try to help. I felt awful!”

Take my word, Karen is not “short and squatty.” She is 5′ 3 1/2″ tall and wears a size 6.  Tut, tut! What a novelty. Yet again a stuper speaking not only without thinking, but using the “cookie cutter standard” as well. Here’s how this standard works: Place an exact physical replica of yourself on top of another person. If it’s not a precise fit, that person doesn’t rate. Ignore them completely.

The only time a stuper does not use this cookie cutter standard is when there appears to be an immediate, direct benefit (money, jewelry, celebrity) -anything that obviously draws attention; subtlety does not work.

This worker was 5’8″ tall. Karen was regarded as inferior since she was not an exact physical replica of the stupid employee. (Yes, many stupers suffer from sudden superiority complex for no apparent reason). Since Karen did not measure up (pun intended), she wasn’t worth assisting. 

Karen continued, “I left and came back five hours later, but that employee was still there. So I gave up. I ended up going to the same boutique, in a different location and found the perfect dress.” 

Does anyone have the right to call another person, “short and squatty” without provocation? No. Like stereotyping, this cookie cutter standard provides a way for a stuper to formulate an opinion, even though the opinion is ludicrous and nonsensical. Stupers use a quick, unfinished assessment. Be certain when trying to form an opinion of another person, to take your time and expand your field of vision so that you view the whole picture, not one based solely on appearances. Or you might find yourself becoming a stuper too.

Think first, last, and always!


To Speak or Not to Speak…That is the Question

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Several years ago, I attended a ladies’ luncheon where women from all walks of life were present: retirees, physicians, corporate executives, scientists, congresswomen, housewives, even belly dancers. I went with a lawyer friend who introduced me to Janice.

“Keli is a lawyer too,” my friend told Janice. 

Janice said her daughter was a third year law student. Then she asked me, “So where’s your office?”

I told her I didn’t practice law, explaining that I went on maternity leave 12 years ago and never returned.

Janice responded, “Gee, I hope my daughter doesn’t end up like that.”

Freeze frame. 

End up like what? I think I appeared normal. No visible signs of turmoil, lingering boredom, severe fatigue or even a hint of restless leg syndrome. Was I delusional or was I sincerely happy? For all Janice knew, I was CEO of my very own Fortune 500 company.  After a lapse of 11 seconds, Janice, obviously quick on comebacks, said:

“Well, I’m sure you do something with your life now.”

Extreme stubborness kicked in, and I replied as carefreely as a Woodstock attendee, “No.”

Janice seemed to realize her remark was somehow inappropriate. But I give her a “D” on her attempt to redeem herself. Which she easily could have done with a few pleasant words.

Every one of us has made a stupid remark at least once in his/her life. Probably a whole lot more than once (speaking for myself, of course). Usually,  thinkers catch themselves when stumbling over stupidity, if not entirely on time, at least fairly quickly and with some awareness. Stupers (short for remarkably stupid persons) suffer from a hindering lack of awareness. Hindering because it prevents progress. Janice’s hindrance prevented her from restoring herself to favor. She should have thought before she spilled the paltry contents of her mind all over my skirt. (Don’t worry; it didn’t stain).

Here’s a similar instance where the speaker of the stupid act/remark managed to restore herself to thinking human status (Janice, pay special attention!):

I attended a book signing where I knew the author, Kim, only slightly (through e-mails). As we talked, Kim saw someone she knew…and I was history. Rapid Onset Amnesia (yes, I did just make that up) set in, and she completely forgot I was there.  I said, “Nice meeting you, Kim,” and left.

Thirty minutes later, I ran into Kim again. She made a point of conversing with me. Here’s how she totally redeemed herself:

“I have a 7 and 9 year old. How old are your kids?” Kim asked me.

When I told her my older son was 18, she fainted dead away (okay, I exaggerate a bit). Kim actually did a double-take, and said she found that unbelievable. It was one of those times, after a good night’s rest, a well-put-together outfit, a great hair day and careful make-up application where I easily looked ten years younger. Kim received an “A” in redemption skills.  She had probably realized, after the fact, that she had forgotten that she’d been in mid-conversation with me when she drifted away, and now tried to make up for it. I certainly could understand her distraction; she was in the middle of a book signing.

Do you see how a few choice words make all the difference? You can make up for a stupid remark or act by simple kindness. Or by honesty. “Did I just say that?”  is what Janice could have said. It doesn’t take much. If Janice had just said something that displayed a bit of thought and effort, she wouldn’t be featured here. Janice would have been better off saying nothing. Again, a case of thinking out loud instead of inside the mind first.

Should I have been nicer to Janice? The answer in my next entry.

Choose to think!


Stupidity at the Gas Pump

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

If you drive a motor vehicle, bicycle or have engaged in pedestrian pursuits, it’s probable that you’ve been accosted by vehicular stupidity. It is inevitable, especially in city driving because of the sheer largesse of the number of vehicles out there. Even at the gas pump, a stuper (short, yes, for stupid person) could be lurking in a nearby car ready to spread annoyance and obstruct intelligence as in this example:

I pulled into a gas station; all pump stations were occupied. Fortunately, two drivers in one row turned on their engines. The first car drove off; an obvious signal to me that the way was clear for the second car to follow suit and for me to then pull forward.

I patiently waited for the second car to leave. A minute lapsed during which time the driver frequently glanced in his rear view mirror at me, at passers-by, other cars, pedestrians, a crow chomping on a potato chip and clouds drifting through the sky. His engine, remember, idled on.

Was he going to leave or pull forward or what? There was not quite enough room for me to pull around him. I wondered, does time pass differently for a stuper or was I just being impatient?

After almost three full minutes, I slowly attempted to ease my vehicle around his so that I could use the front pump. My car was cumbersome, but I managed. I got out and stared at the driver. The expressionless man regarded me briefly while he sat in his car. His mouth was slightly ajar, eyebrows raised perpetually in surprise. He maneuvered around my car about two minutes later and finally left.

What should I have done?

  1. Taken out a baseball bat that I kept handy in my back seat and swung a little sense his way;
  2. Driven across the street to the used car lot, borrowed the Hummer sitting out front, returned and forced him out of my way (all of which I could have easily managed in the time that he was sitting there);
  3. Gone up to his car window and politely asked him to leave; or
  4. Moved to another station.


If the driver intentionally kept me waiting, stupidity was not at work. Intent requires thought and purpose, neither of which exists for a stuper. I believe this fellow suffered from a hindering lack of awareness stemming from a head that was mostly hollow (nothing therein properly worked, like a car running without wheels). In retrospect, I would have been better off following D. No one should be forced to witness such sheer stupidity.

Keep thinking, 









The Case of the Chipped Plates

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

From last time: how to overcome a bout with stupidity? 

I’ve seen victims moping around, wringing their hands, even snarling in fury. There is no one-size-cures-all way to manage an encounter with a stuper (yes, that’s short for stupid person). One friend told me she sucks on a piece of chocolate whenever she’s the recipient of stupidity. As the piece dissolves, so does her annoyance. Another says she immediately writes a letter to the stuper. Afterward, she thoroughly enjoys ripping the thing to shreds (the letter, not the stuper). This does wonders for scattering stupidity away.

For me, the ridiculous encounter rapidly dissolves when I can call forth my sense of humor. Make no mistake; in case you haven’t noticed, I do get irritated. I think about the absolute inanity of the stupid episode and shake my head ’til I get dizzy. But sharing the story laughingly with an authentic, thinking human helps offset any ill side effects.  

On to the Williams-Sonoma chipped plate incident:

I wandered into my local store and noticed that they had lovely dessert plates on sale for a marvelous price. I bought 8 of them. I’m no Williams-Sonoma (W-S) rookie. I’ve often purchased both regular and sale priced items.

Once home, I noticed that two of the plates had chips/imperfections on the underside. I called the store.

“Why do you think they were on sale?” I was asked by salesperson, Tracy.

“Because the pattern was discontinued?” I dared guess.

“No. Because they were chipped!”

For a moment, I wondered if I’d actually even been in W-S or had accidentally wandered into a yard sale or thrift store instead.

“Williams-Sonoma sells chipped plates?” I asked incredulously.

“Shore!” Tracy cheerfully replied. “But you can bring them in to exchange for good ones.”

First of all, why do some people pronounce sure as shore? They are not one and the same term. Does anyone out there know? Is it the result of a shortcoming in mental word processing? Or was Tracy actually referring to the beach? Maybe she was related to the assistant editor from my previous post?

Second of all, W-S has a stellar reputation. This is not because they sell chipped plates.

Thirdly, not all W-S sale plates were in chipped condition if Tracy had “good ones” to exchange.

Before I continue, let me emphasize that this one encounter in no way negatively reflects on W-S. My experiences before and after have always been exceptional. I knew they would never sell substandard items.

I called W-S corporate headquarters. No, not to tattle-tail on Tracy, but to verify whether they sell, at a discount, less-than-perfect wares. The person whom I spoke to very kindly confirmed that W-S does not sell chipped anything. Ever. Just as I suspected.

Then why did Tracy tell me that W-S sells chipped plates? Maybe because she thought….yikes! I slipped again. That hurt. There was no thought! Tracy merely spoke out loud the very first possible reply that popped into her head. Stupers are adept at thinking out loud….all of the time. There’s plenty of room in the unoccupied mind. There is no malice or intention since both require thought before speech or action. It’s just that the mouth has overtaken the function of the brain.

So what about my chipped plates? My first reaction was to shun Tracy entirely and speak to a manager, but fortunately, since I’ve learned how to recognize and manage stupidity, that was unnecessary. I convinced Tracy that we could partner together to make me a happy W-S customer. I thanked Tracy for her help and told her how wonderful it would be if she’d set aside two “good ones” for me to come in and exchange.

“Shore!” Tracy answered.

And she did.

Keep thinking,


Warning: Professionals May Be Stupid

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Every so often, we must rely on the services of a professional. We often assume that the learned man or woman, based on education and experience, has the requisite knowledge and skills to assist us. And most of the time they do. Sweet skills matched with need make an exceedingly happy union. (Excuse me while I dab at my eye with a hanky).

But what about those times when the skill is superficial while the need is real? In other words, the professional is a stuper (short again, for stupid person). I have many doctor, lawyer, teacher and other credentialed expert examples of this in my book, but for now, I’m going to focus on the publishing industry. 

Years ago, I wrote a picture book manuscript about a fire dog who preferred eating cookies to fighting fires. Imagine my delight when I received a call from an assistant editor at Scholastic saying she was interested in my book. She – let’s call her Shawna – seemed very nice; I ignored the fact that she sounded like she was fourteen years old. “It’s like…I’m like…I’m all…Cool!” You get my drift.

We had several phone conversations. In the end, however, Shawna decided to pass on my book. That was okay by me. I forgot about it…until I received a letter from Shawna. In the book, my trusty fire dog extinguished a fire. Did you catch that word? The dog extinguished a fire. In the letter from Shawna, she confirmed, “although I liked the way the dog distinguished the fire, I will have to pass on this book.” Did you see that, sharp- eyed readers? Cuz Shawna sure didn’t. Can fires be distinguished? I suppose if the fire is noticeably different from other fires or is somehow shown greater respect by fire officers and dogs, it could be labeled as distinguished. Right? Plug your ears! I feel a scream comin’ on!

What made this error titanically wrong was that this so called editor worked in an industry where words serve as the foundation. Yet she carelessly used a faulty one in a letter that consisted of just a few sentences. Her wrong word usage sent me into a 78 minute telephone tirade to every writer I knew. They, of course, had their own stupid editor stories to share. 

Granted, this was hardly a serious faux-pas, but oh-so-annoying. As a writer, I try my very best when it comes to proper grammar and word usage. I expect those in the publishing industry whose job it is to deal with words to do the same. 

Don’t you think you should give whatever job you have your best? From any type of professional, anything less than complete responsibility is a form of misuse. Gaining a good position should not lead to sudden mental incapacity. In fact, the opposite should be true. Deep satisfaction arises when any job is well executed. Perhaps Shawna would have graduated past the age of 14 had she made a greater effort.

When annoying stupidity does occur, what’s a good way to immediately diffuse it?

I’ll share this answer next time, as well as the answer to this one: Does Williams-Sonoma sell chipped plates?

Keep thinking!



Anger Makes You Stupid

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Several years ago, we adopted our Australian Shepherd, Rio, from a local shelter. One year old Rio was of the anxious, energetic, vociferous variety of canine. He had taken great pains to hone his gift of gab, and had, what you may call, a “sending bark.” Meaning it sounded like someone held a bullhorn to his mouth. He needed training which we underwent vigorously (so what if he failed obedience school?), and soon he settled into our family nicely.

Then we decided to adopt a goat. The day we brought her home, Rio went berserk. For about 24 minutes, he barked non-stop. This took place on a weekday at about 10:11 am. At the same time, gardeners mowed, horses whinnied, and children yelled in gleeful play. It was not exactly the quiet hour in the ‘hood. Little did I know that a neighbor thought it high time to write us a memorable letter. She left it in our mailbox.   

This letter was of the nasty, angry, “what the hell’s the matter with you?” sort. She poured forth every possible complaint about the flagrant display of noise which we willfully permitted. We were rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate, and out-of-control. Next time she’d call the police and our dog would be confiscated. By the way, the letter was unsigned.

I was furious. With a little detective work, I discovered who she was (it helped that another neighbor kept one eye on the street at all times). I wrote back a note in kind, accusing her of a lack of understanding, rudeness and unmitigated cowardice in hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

After I thought for a few minutes, I ripped up both letters. She made me angry. Was I trying to see just how high I could raise her ire? How much sense did that make? We weren’t bulls in a ring. Not me, anyhow. 

I wrote the kindest letter back to her that I could muster. I apologized profusely explaining that Rio was a rescue dog and needed plenty of help and patience. I added that, had we not adopted him, he would have been the dearly, departed Rio (truly). I tried to paint her a clear picture of where she was aiming her fury.

I received a second note from her immediately. Guess what? She was a changed person. She apologized for her haste and told me how wonderful it was that I communicated with her. She promised to be more understanding. And this time, she signed her letter. We never had a problem with her again.

Anytime a person reacts before seeking understanding of a matter, sheer stupidity has played a starring role. Character is defined by one’s reaction to a situation. If I had sent my original letter, you know what category I would have fallen in: the stupid one. My anger would have festered, making me unhappy; further furious correspondence would have likely taken place, and there would have been no mercy from this neighbor had Rio engaged in another barkfest.

Ten years later, and all is well. A little thought can go a long way.

Keep thinking!


Is Stereotyping Useful?

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

As I sat in my car at the golf course waiting for my younger son to finish his lesson, I wondered what material to discuss in my next stupidity blog entry. Moments later, the answer drifted in through my open window. Two men, thirty years old or so, stood a row behind me, prepping their golf gear. This is the conversation I overheard:

Guy #1: (sounding annoyed) “I’m riding my bike up a hill and the cell phone rings. I don’t know why, but I answer it. I hear, ‘Hi babe! How’s it goin’?'”

(I wanted to yell out my window, “Who was it?” Instead, I assumed it’s his girlfriend/wife).

Guy #1: “So I tell her, I’m riding my bike up a hill. She says, ‘You do sound really out of breath. Anyway, I’m in…’ and she just continues babbling on! So I tell her I’ve gotta go, and I hear…dead silence.”

Guy #2: (chuckles like he’s half-listening).   

Guy #1: “So I say, don’t be upset. She says, ‘I’m not upset. I’m just trying to communicate with you.’ (He says this last part with great drama, then raises his voice in case people at neighboring golf courses can’t hear him). Can you believe it? Didn’t she realize I was busy? There’s not a woman out there who’s not like that. She doesn’t exist!”

I’d like to say that I got out of my car, marched over to the sap, and gave the tip of his nose an unforgettable pinch. That would confirm a few things for him about women. Instead, I stepped out of the car to get a better look at what could be a serial stereotyper. I saw a counterfeit human.

It’s not a man/woman thing. I actually have both male and female friends who, when I say I’ve got to get off the phone, continue on for another 8 1/2 minutes just to say, “I’ll talk to you soon.” Some people don’t understand the meaning of “gotta go.” This caller seemed to fall in that category. In fact, this whole failed conversation may have taken place between two stupers (short again, for stupid persons).

Let’s discuss stereotypes for a moment. Like cliches, stereotypes exist for a reason. Once in a great while, they may ring a bit true. But mostly, they’re self-serving; that is, they provide an opinion for a stuper who would be unable to reach an opinion without the aid of stereotyping. It also allows stupers to believe they have an intimate knowledge of a truth, however inaccurate that truth may be.

“There’s not a woman out there who’s not like that!” 

A bit extreme wouldn’t you agree? To lump all women or men in a single category is plain, old-fashioned stupidity. This guy demonstrated a lack of wisdom, shrewdness, sensitivity or deep thought. I did not once hear him say to the caller, “May I get back to you in a little while?” Wouldn’t that have been more direct and courteous? 

Okay, so he was in the midst of an uphill battle on his bike. He chose to answer the call. He chose to be irritated. He chose to complain. Yet he absurdly put the reason for his frustration on the female population of the world.

Is stereotyping useful? Only if you’re a stuper.

I still think I should have pinched him.



What does “No Trespassing” really mean? (Part 2)

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

When I left my house yesterday, who do you think I saw ambling along the highway? Religious proselytizers (there’s that word again!). Not the holy gatecrashers from before, but a new batch, looking as cheerful as a pair of penguins in the Kalahari.

Back to my last question from Part 1: why open the front door when I know that there are iron-tongued sermonizers (no, I did not make up that word) on the other side? Those of you who are thinking that I’d be better off ignoring them are absolutely right. I could have ignored them. But I did not want to live a life of fear, avoidance or annoyance, for that matter.

I resided in a neighborhood. I opened the door to girl scouts and school kids selling candy. If a neighbor wanted to stop by for a chat, I was game. However, I did not want to be held hostage by those who insisted I was going to Hell if I did not agree with their tilted doctrine. 

The question here is not, “Must all people think alike?” That question is rhetorical. The real question is, “Must all people think?” Yes! Unless a person has harnessed his or her power of intuition to the degree of having a workable sixth sense, we all must think.

Imagine for a moment, a world where everyone exercised thought before speaking or acting. Kindly, meaningful thought. Then the sign, “No trespassing” would actually have significance. It would make sense, for heaven’s sake! Instead of opening a closed gate just to drive to a stranger’s home to tell them that the world is coming to an end, that there is only one true religion and that, unless I join up, I’m going to be obliterated at Armageddon, perhaps a proselytizer (I told you I like this word) could take a different approach. They could leave their lighthearted (I couldn’t resist) pamphlets for me to read at my leisure with a note thanking me for my time and consideration. Then I might actually read and maybe even learn something.

My intent is not to belittle anyone’s religion. As stated in Part 1, I believe religion can provide a tremendous sense of comfort. It’s the aggressiveness associated with some faiths that I find needlessly offensive.

I responded fiercely to the gatecrashers because they took me by surprise, and I regressed to my old, intolerant self. Yes, even stupidity specialists have relapses. Once I stopped to assess the situation, I realized that I could have handled it in a positive manner.

Going door-to-door is a necessary prerequisite to living life for some people, however disagreeable I might find it. My resistance only made me upset. The periodic intrusion is acceptable; I formulated a new reaction: to smile and say, “No, thank you.” This way we all live happily ever after, and stupidity slinks quietly away.