Archive for August, 2007

Turn Signal Deficit Disorder

Friday, August 10th, 2007

There are three levels of stupidity:

1.  Pathetic stupidity (ongoing, seemingly endless);                                                      2.  Occasional stupidity (once in a while); and                                                               3.  Elusive stupidity (doesn’t come easily).

Most of the circumstances profiled on this blog are of level one stupers (yes, short again, for those vexatious stupid persons). Today, we’ll take a look at the other two levels of stupidity.

I am driving along behind a black Porsche, at a safe distance on a highway. The Porsche slows down and continues for several hundred yards. It almost comes to a stop. Suddenly, it turns right. What’s wrong with this picture? No turn signal was used. Why?

A. The driver was part of a government experiment in mind reading;                             B. Using a turn signal is an invasion of a motorist’s privacy;                                          C. Those little bulbs are expensive to replace and not covered by the car’s warranty; or  D. The driver was a stuper.

If anyone out there has a problem finding the correct answer to this pop quiz, please email me.

Almost every time I drive, even a few miles, I come across a clandestine turn signaler. I wait patiently for a car to go straight (isn’t that what no turn signal indicates?). Instead, the mischief-maker makes a left or right.

These motorists suffer from an increasingly common malady: Turn Signal Deficit Disorder (TSDD). The principle symptom is the inability to use the turn signal. Secondary symptoms consist of: poor concentration; distraction by irrelevant sights (i.e., mailboxes, tennis shoes hanging from a telephone line); inattention to details of driving; and impulsively making turns without exercising thought. This disorder crosses all class lines. I’ve seen everyone from Mazda to Mercedes drivers forgo the use of turn signals.

I decided to interview a person whom I believed was a fully recovered TSDD sufferer – my mother. But, alas, I drove with Mom yesterday and found it wasn’t so. Mom is definitely not a level one or even a level two person. But I must mention her here because of her brief battle with TSDD.

About 300 feet from her home, Mom needed to make a left. She did not use the turn signal. I mentioned to her that my next blog entry was about TSDD. Then a mile later, at a red stoplight, she again neglected to use her turn signal.

“Why?” I asked in disbelief. She’d been so good for so long.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she flippantly replied. “I just didn’t think about it, I guess.”

Key word: “think.” I don’t know what caused Mom’s backward slide so I patiently explained to her:

“A thinking person, like yourself, uses her signal, realizing that since we can’t actually speak to other drivers, the signal acts as an alternative means of communication. The only means. Let’s say I stepped into a bank, walked up to a teller and gave him/her the silent treatment. That is akin to not using a turn signal, don’t you think?” (Key word used again).

This silent treatment at a bank could be construed as an annoyance or misconstrued as grounds for pushing the “don’t-panic-but-we-are-being-robbed” button. Not using a turn signal could have similar consequences.

As an intelligent person, Mom recovered quickly. For the remainder of our two-hour journey, she consistently used her signal and voiced frustration when others did not. I was proud of her.

I think most TSDD sufferers are not necessarily full-time stupers. For some reason, the turn signal does not properly register in the mind as being useful or necessary. Hence, these are typically not level one stupers, though they can be.

Although I feel certain that medication is in the works for TSDD, for now there’s only one cure: Motorists must think and drive with full awareness. Is this likely to happen? No. But as each one of us thinkers focuses on his/her own driving, we sharpen our mental skills and pay less attention to the idiots-at-large. This helps us maintain a proper perspective which in turn trickles down to all aspects of our lives.

Don’t stop thinking!


Stupidity on the Sidewalk

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

I thought I’d bid a firm farewell to Miss Margot and The Stepford Wives in my last entry; but it wasn’t yet to be, thanks to some of my astute readers.

First of all, how did you folks find me? I’ve mentioned this blog to just a handful of people I know.  The ones I’m one hundred percent certain will never be even remotely featured here. And only a tiny fraction of my relatives are in on it, since the majority prefer to subscribe to the minimalist school of thought . That comes to a total of seven people. Of the seven, only half visit regularly as the rest have advised me they don’t do blogs. (Yes, that’s 3.5 known visitors). So who are the rest of you intelligent, charming, authentic folks? I very much appreciate your taking the time to read and certainly hope you enjoy your visits here.

Now back to my capable readers who asked, how exactly did I finally find the ideal preschool, post The Stepford Wives ordeal? Miss Margot referred me, of course. During our discussion about bathroom cleanliness (before she feasted her eyes on my exotic car), she said, threateningly, “Why don’t  you go down the street to the cooperative preschool? The parents there are in charge of cleaning the bathrooms.”

I thought that was sheer genius. How better to insure proper sanitation of facilities used by our tots than when the parents themselves are held responsible? See what I mean about stupidity sometimes having a positive impact when you least expect it?

One last note about Miss Margot before my final farewell: Three years later, my son attended kindergarten directly across the street from Miss Margot’s School for Children of Stepford Wives (SCSW). After a field trip, I accompanied my child’s class on a trek back to his school’s campus. We walked on the sidewalk in front of the SCSW.

At a distance, I spotted a cloaked figure peering out of the blooming hydrangea bushes in front of Miss Margot’s office. As I got closer, I realized it was none other than Miss Margot herself.

Across the street, at my son’s campus, an ambulance with flashing lights was parked. So intent was Miss Margot on witnessing this spectacle that she failed to notice the approaching kindergartners until they blocked her view. Not one to miss a beat, she quickly feigned interest in pruning dead flowers between her thumb and forefinger, eyeing the ambulance all the while.

The kindergarten class continued marching toward school; I brought up the rear. I later learned that the paramedics were assisting a fourth grader who’d sprained his ankle during a spirited soccer match. 

When the injured boy was carried out on a stretcher, Miss Margot  practically drooled puddles in fascination. Again, another instance of the unrelenting stranglehold curiosity has on stupers (short once again, for those downright stupid persons).

As I came upon Miss M., I slowed down to give her a long look. I wondered if I could possibly embarrass her into putting away her gawking. An ambulance loading an injured child is not a spectator sport.

For a few short moments, Miss Margot broke her fixed gaze and regarded me. I saw the wheels slowly turning in her head; a dim memory filled her mind. But since I wasn’t standing next to a luxury automobile, Miss M. couldn’t place me. She resumed gawking.

I crossed the street. Just before entering the campus, I took one last look at Miss Margot. She stood, statuelike, one shoe on the edge of the sidewalk, the other hovered in mid-air; her neck stretched out, Inspector Gadget style. She pined for a closer view of the mishap. Her pointed chin rested on the back of one hand; the other arm outstretched before her. I’m not quite sure how she maintained balance in that position, but she managed. Was this some sort of street yoga Miss Margot was engaged in? No, dear readers. It was stupidity. Instead of gawking, she should have been supervising her school.

It is best to draw a wide berth around stupidity of this sort, which is exactly what I did. And always bring along your sense of humor.

Next time: Turn Signal Deficit Disorder.

Keep thinking!


Smoldering Stupidity

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Before I introduce a new installment of stupidity, I have to sweep away a few cinders that escaped the fire from last time’s episode. First, I’ve been asked how I came to choose a Mommy & Me (M&M) program inhabited mostly by The Stepford Wives? Blame it on my inexcusable naivete (1st time parent) or on my sheer stupidity (my informant sucked). I was told that this M&M was part of an exclusive pre-school operation that promised its pint-sized pupils would get into the best private schools. I believed this would virtually guarantee admission. My source? Obviously, a stuper (short again, for those hopelessly stupid persons).

Now to clarify what irrevocably cemented my exit from the school. If the mannequin moms hadn’t clinched it, this last scene certainly did.

The M&M class had one bathroom. That was fine. Except that my newly potty trained 26 month-old needed to use it now and then. Unfortunately, the toilet resembled one used in the outback by twenty bushmen accustomed to emptying their bowels in the first, most convenient, location. Every time we entered the bathroom, I heard the theme from Jaws.

So I paid a visit to the headmaster’s office. I discreetly asked the head, Miss Margot, whether the janitor could possibly engage in a more rigorous scrubbing. Or just a noticeable cleaning. A clearly irritated Miss Margot, narrowed her squinty eyes, obviously offended by my request. She informed me that said bathroom was sanitized daily. That was about as likely as my baking an apple pie underwater. I wanted a powder room, not a latrine. Miss M. was appalled that I’d dared speak out loud about so insensitive a subject.

So I left and strolled out to my car.

At the time, I drove a two-door, luxury sports car, leftover from my salaried studio days. It was one of those sets of wheels seldom seen by mortal eyes. Positively not the type Mommy and toddler would be driving.

As I approached the car, Miss Margot, who’d apparently kept her steely eyes on me since I exited, came bounding out of her office, hands flying over her head. She clip-clopped along in her size 10 Ferragamos, frantically calling out my name, “Mrs. G! Mrs. G! Waaaaaaaaait!”

My tot and I turned towards the hysterical figure. Scattered Stepford Wives lingering around their SUVs turned, smiling, towards the commotion.

“Yes?” I patiently responded.

“I’m so sorry about the toilette! I’ll make sure it’s cleaned daily. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. Anything else I can do for you?”

Needless to say, during this fawning monologue, she’d only glanced at me when necessary. The rest of the time, Miss Margot ogled the car.

“No, thank you,” I replied.

I drove off into the sunset seeking a more illumined vista. Was this not clear in-your-face stupidity? Was she trying to please the automobile or me? Initially, to Miss Margot, I mattered as much as a dust-mite sauntering about in her shawl. But standing next to the car, I appeared eminent and noteworthy; a tiara behind a glass case that she might have a chance to try on for a minute or two.

Why does stupidity insist on being so obvious at times? Answer: To help us reach important decisions in our lives. These stupers enabled me to realize that I needed to walk in a different direction in order to make the right things happen in my life. Leftover ambition from my attorney days caused me to be a bit overzealous when it came to my tot’s pre-education. I needed to redirect my ambition…and trade-in the car.

Thanks to what I learned in M&M, I found a wonderful, caring preschool where I enrolled my child. It even had a clean bathroom.

Despite leaving Miss Margot’s tutelage, my son did get into a private school, and I learned how never to be a Stepford Wife. Sometimes a brush with stupidity can end up leaving a positive trail behind. It certainly did for me.

Think about it!


Stupidity or Science Fiction?

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

When my son turned two, we joined a “Mommy & Me” class. I then came across what I had thought was mere fiction. Science fiction, if you will.  But in fact, it turned out to be stupidity.

I immediately noticed something peculiar in this Mommy & Me group.

First, some background: Pre-kids – I had perfectly manicured nails. I’d go to Palm Springs for facials and massages; my hair was cut by one of the biggest names in Beverly Hills, and my fashionable wardrobe turned many a head. Post-kids – no more manicures; I’ve only been to Palm Springs once, and that was for my younger son’s golf tournament; Cristophe hasn’t done my hair in 16 years, and my clothes are mostly of the practical variety.

Back to the action:

At first glance, the Mommy & Me class members appeared ordinary – 12 mothers and kids. Gradually, however, I noticed a few suspicious details: these moms looked carefully coiffured; not a chipped nail in sight; their wrinkle-free, dry-clean-only attire looked crisp and fresh (i.e., no small fingerprints or evidence of assorted food stains); they wore high heels to class (how do you chase your toddler around while wearing stilettos?); and the final clincher – these moms successfully wore white. What mother of a tiny tot can wear white for longer than 5 freaking minutes without attracting a multitude of demoralizing smudges and spots? We’re like life-size napkins, for heaven’s sake! With all the tantalizing bright paint pots, wet sand, and ready-to-spill snacks and juice available in Mommy & Me, how was it possible to emerge unstained?

Something was fishy.

With the exception of 2 other moms, every one of these perfectly groomed, mannequin-style mothers looked and talked alike. I never heard one of them raise her voice.  Each drove an Escalade in either white or gold, each wore a flashlight sized diamond ring, and they talked only of fashion, botox/plastic surgery, and vacations (and I don’t mean camping trips or Disneyland; I mean Couer d’Alene, Aspen, Maui or the Caribbean). 

I kept one eye on my son, and the other on these perpetually lipstick-enhanced, smiling moms. One in particular, Cinthia, caught my attention. Her squirmy, sulky offspring, Matthew, whimpered during the entire 2 hour class. And when not whimpering, he was attempting escape over the chain-linked fence. Unlike his mom, Matthew never smiled.

Then one day, a different Matthew came to class. A wide grin wrapped around his head as he played contentedly. Climbing the fence was a non-issue. Elsa, his nanny, brought him that day. Cinthia had a session with her fitness trainer and was absent. Then the realization smacked me: I had entered a world where Mommy-comes-first-and-always-looks-perfect-while-kids-come-in-a-distant-second. The world of the Stepford Wives. Silly me thought they were the stuff and nonsense of novels.

If I was an English professor discussing the symbolism behind the book, The Stepford Wives, I’d say the mindless, copycat moms who lacked independent thought and creativity, and who displayed a passing interest in their kids personified stupidity. If you cannot think for yourself and realize that your children should be a priority in your life, you are a stuper (short, yet again, for those outlandishly stupid persons). 

From my observations, I noticed that silence did not occur long enough among these counterfeit moms for any thought to occur. And they were far too busy looking at each other to bother looking inside themselves. They viewed their lives through the eyes of others, not their own. Their only goal was acceptance by peers; hence they sought conformity. I believe that somewhere along the way, these people just got tired of thinking.

To avoid becoming a stuper, I suggest you focus on your priorities – for yourself and your loved ones. To figure out your priorities, think! What makes you happy? I mean, really happy? Not like the fleeting fun that idiots indulge in. Focus also on your strengths and sweet skills. In other words, focus on your good so your good will grow. All else will fall by the wayside. Eventually, anyway.

What did I do once I discovered the Stepford Wives? I escaped. I, and the two thinking moms, moved on to a cooperative pre-school where the parents were actively involved in their children’s early learning. Involvement meant no Stepford Wife would bother to apply.

Thinking is a choice!





Stupidity Takes Revenge

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Heavily pregnant, all 180 pounds of me sat, sipping soup, in my uncovered patio. Wearing a potato sack style dress and sporting a Ma Kettle inspired housewife bun, I looked about as fetching as a beached walrus.

As I sipped, my skin began to prickle; I sensed I was being watched. I quickly snapped up my triple decker chin in time to see the next door neighbor dart away from his second story window. This window peered directly onto our patio. Unsure whether he was insane or inane, I relocated to my kitchen.

I had met this neighbor, Randy, only once a few months ago. At that time, he’d recently moved in and made a point of telling me what a friendly fellow he was and that four of the neighbors were already his best friends. O…kay.

Fast forward six months. My husband and I decided to remodel our home. We filed paperwork with the City Planning Department, who then sent all who lived nearby proper notice. I decided to visit the next door neighbors and show them exactly what we planned in case they had questions or concerns.

I knocked on Randy’s door, baby in tow. Wife, Josie, let me in. Randy sat in a chair, ignoring me while I talked of our remodel. Josie, too, gave me the silent treatment. I should have taken that as a warning signal. When stupers (yes, dear readers, short for those incredibly stupid persons) are quiet for a prolonged period (say 7 seconds or more), something is definitely amiss.

I asked if I could show them our plans. I might as well have asked permission to burn down their house.  Randy started raving about why I had not shown him the plans prior to filing with the City.

“I had to learn about it from the City?”  “You are so rude!” “You didn’t even have the common decency to talk it over with me first!”

And, he added, all the other neighbors felt just as he did. Did you notice that stupers often designate themselves as spokespersons for the general public? That’s because they lack imagination or thought. Consequently, they believe everyone sees things as they do. That is, they view the world through a straw. I’d talked to most of the neighbors, and to me, they’d seemed happy with our design.

Despite being a young mother with baby, Randy showed me no mercy. I quietly left before one of us broke down in tears. I hoped my son would not be scarred for life by the ridiculously scandalous scene.

Was Randy perverse? Or stupid? I believe he was perversely stupid. His nosiness which caused him to spy on me was idiotic. A pregnant woman eating soup on her patio? Maybe he was trying to determine if it was canned or homemade soup. Had he merely been glancing at me while lost in thought, there would have been no reason for him to take cover once discovered. He was perverse for giving into a primitive curious impulse, for his lack of self-control and his sudden power-trip tantrum. His meager mind made him stupid; his idle curiosity added a touch of perversity.

After all was said and done, I understood perfectly. I was the victim of a stuper’s revenge. For Randy, it was important to be liked by all. When I caught him…well, acting like himself, he couldn’t handle it. Randy wanted me to feel the sense of humiliation he felt when caught spying. Remember, unbelievable as it may seem, many stupers have egos. I caught him redhanded as he acted stupidly. He wanted me to feel the degradation of stupidity too. But, there’s only one person who can make me feel stupid: me.

Meager minds take refuge in idle curiosity. So I didn’t take Randy’s spying seriously. He was merely indulging his vacancy of thought. Idle minds don’t know what they want or need. So out of lack of something more constructive to do, Randy spied.

We did not remodel our home. About six months later, we moved a few miles away.

Not long after, I sat in a cafe, sipping tea. I got that prickly sensation again. Sure enough, Randy stood nearby. I looked up and encountered the discomfort of a stuper who has no idea how to react. What did I do? I greeted him like an ill-gotten neighbor who I was grateful I didn’t live next door to any more. I was pleasant. Randy, believing I had completely forgotten our stupid encounters, (since stupers suffer rapid onset of amnesia, they believe everyone else does too), immediately thought us best friends. Thankfully, more than a decade has passed, and I haven’t seen him since.

Remember, our character is defined by our reactions. Be careful how you react lest you be classified as a stuper. 

Don’t stop thinking!