Archive for June, 2008

The Stupid Relative

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

No, I’ve not been overcome by stupidity and therefore, unable to write a post. I’m in the middle of traveling with my younger son to junior golf tournaments. Can’t you just see me, keeping one eye on my child, while walking the golf course and fending off inane stupers (short for unbelievably stupid persons), one arm on my hip, the other slashing with my razor sharp sword and similar wit? That’s me on the right:
I’ll be back in a few days. Meanwhile, I leave you with an empty headed blast from the past:

Ah, the stupid relative, of whom, single orphans aside, most of us have, whether by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship. The worst part of this type of relationship is that it’s pretty much carved in concrete, albeit, at times, wet concrete. Even if you attempt to bow out, circumstances or milestones, such as weddings, graduations, funerals, holiday gatherings and non-refundable monetary disputes, may force a person into sharing space or being around the stupid relation. Here is one such ridiculous relative example taken from my own personal experience:

My infant son, only five days old, tiny, pink and cuddly, simply beautiful, lies sleeping in his bassinet, wrapped snugly in a yellow blanket. An in-law stops by to see him.

“Does he have jaundice?” she casually asks with about as much concern as one discussing the life cycle of the turnip.

Freeze frame. First I laugh lightly, too happy to let the words jar me.

However, later, when her question settles uncomfortably in place, I feel annoyed; in fact, at this very moment, recalling the scene, I still feel mildly irritated.

Words that were said over a dozen years ago!

In all fairness to this in-law, her husband is a podiatrist, so perhaps by virtue of co-habitating with a doctor, she felt sufficiently learned to make an immediate diagnosis (inaccurate as it was), and possibly considered that she was doing me a favor. Or perhaps the yellow blanket threw her off and caused her to misdiagnose.

What should I have said or done?

A. Slapped her silly;
B. Demanded to see her medical degree;
C. Replaced the yellow blankie with a blue one to see if it changed her diagnosis; or
D. None of the above


This stuper came from an antiquated, narrow-minded culture where boys were revered over girls for their gender instead of valued equally. She only had daughters. Perhaps it was stupidity’s wicked cousin, envy, speaking through her.

The correct answer is D. By refusing to respond to her insensitive remark, I did not acknowledge it, and consequently, refused to permit this idiotic relative to have any sort of impact on me. Just being a stuper was punishment enough.

Besides, there were witnesses present.

Thinking is an art.


Stupidity on Horseback

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

If you should find yourself hankering for a road trip just to see some new sights, eat junk food and sing road trip tunes, or if you’re merely yearning to play short-term tourist, but don’t quite know where or what to tour, you can stave off homesickness by staying close by, and still be entertained. Or at least mildly amused… by the ludicrous antics of the everywhere present and forever empty-headed stupers (short, yet again, for mind bogglingly stupid persons).

Stupers are an entirely unpredictable lot which are best viewed and unappreciated from afar. Which is exactly how I observed two of the most profoundly counterfeit humans on American asphalt.

I stopped on a highway, at a red light, a few miles from my home. Two cars waited in front of me, and other vehicles paused all around the intersection. No one moved. I turned my head and saw why. From the street on my left, coming at full, unstoppable gallop, two horses rapidly approached with cowboy and cowgirl riders, followed by a stumpy, panting brown jumble of a dog, who desperately tried to keep his short legs up with the riders. The stoplight for them had turned a glaring yellow, but they kept right on coming (it was a long intersection; any longer, and it could have declared statehood). I sat, biting my nails, on the edge of my seat.

The signal turned red before the brainless riders made it across, but of course the color change was irrelevant. I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if they’d tried to lasso a Prius on the way.

Fortunately, all nearby drivers utilized their working heads. No autos moved until the riders and the dog landed safely across. Once there, they continued to ride rapidly, across the YMCA driveway where an unsuspecting motorist happened to be attempting to exit. The car braked in amazement, with a screech to highlight its indignation.

A few yards afterwards, the afflicted riders suddenly decided to walk the horses. I’m certain that if a neighborhood neurologist happened to be passing by and randomly decided to conduct a brain scan on said riders, he/she would have discovered an acute case of atrophy.

I live in the northern tip of southern California. Though it is the countryside, we don’t have any true, born and bred, cowboys around here. But we do have plenty of city folk ranchers who do like to haphazardly impersonate cow folk. Hence, the horseback riders stampeding in the major intersection.

Stupers provide a side show in this game of life. When subjected to such stuper sightings, don’t give in to your initial reaction of annoyance or irritation or severe hostility leading you to finally use that hand grenade you picked up at that military base garage sale. The best way to maintain one’s sanity when being subjected to stuper sightings is to laugh. And be grateful that you are capable of using your mind.

Think first.


Stupidity’s Greatest Love

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

A surefire way to make a stuper (short again, for a ceaselessly stupid person) your bff (best friend forever) is to show him/her your money. As long as there’s plenty of it. You’ll have your very own, newly found, totally devoted stuper buddy, not only eating out of the palm of your hand, but licking it clean and giving it a manicure followed by an exfoliating scrub and moisturizing paraffin bath with toasty mitts. It’s not just celebs who’ve got a following. Stupers follow the money.

In my formative, late teen years, I recall an exalted presence revered by quite a few of my relations. (Remember, I have enough kin to rival the number of residents in Crawford County, Arkansas, population 280).

Kenny T was his name, spoken only in the most awed tones. He started out as a friend of one of my mother’s cousins; then, once word of his net worth leaked out, many of my relatives scrambled and tripped over themselves to become Kenny’s T closest and bestest pal. It was quite a tangled mess.

Kenny was much admired for….I’m not exactly sure for what, outside of his bank account. But tried and true stupers don’t require much in order to lavish their limited attention and unending, but highly superficial admiration upon a person; just plenty of dough. And a dash of celebrity doesn’t hurt either, which Kenny T cultivated by inviting occasional celebs to his parties.

Kenny lived in a mansion, drove the requisite cars, but seemed to me to have one small defect: zero personality. He didn’t talk much, but then again, he didn’t have to. His money did the talking for him.

I remember well the time when Kenny attended a party at the home of a cousin’s mother in-law. I happened to be there too. The hostess was practically in tears the whole night since she had Kenny T lounging on her leather recliner in the living room. There was a restless hysteria in the air, thanks to Kenny’s presence. People fawned over him, smiling fondly when he yawned and blinked his eyes. Those sitting near him feared leaving their seats lest someone else take over the coveted spot. Kenny T was a brightly shining neon light in the middle of a blackout.

So he continued to amass a large stuper following until one day he woke up to find…he’d lost all of his money. Guess what else he lost?

Many years passed and I forgot all about Kenny T as did my relatives. Then I attended the funeral of one of my great uncles. During the eulogy, I glanced over and noticed a lone man standing off to one side, behind the rest of the mourners. He looked vaguely familiar. Grayer, older, smaller. Just to be sure, I asked an uncle to confirm that it was indeed, the formerly beloved, Kenny T.

“Oh yeah! That’s him.”

Kenny T got into an older Volvo and drove away without having exchanged a word with anyone. I saw people glance his way…and ignore him. Quite a contrast to his bygone glorious, hallowed, monied days.

Stupers are opportunistic acquaintances. Fair weather friends. They choose people to befriend who can provide some sort of gain to themselves. A true friend doesn’t expect anything in return, and should not be interested in your bank account.

Keep thinking.


Stupidity Creates a Funk

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I not only woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, but on the other side of the room. In fact, on the other side of the house, next to the side door where the spiders and sow bugs and beetles patiently wait to stampede outside, first thing in the morning.

I need eight hours of sleep at night like a tortoise needs its shell… or else, I spend most of the day doing a fine impersonation of a stuper (short again for an unpleasantly stupid person). Last night, I didn’t get my required amount.

This morning I yelled at my mother; I yelled at my husband who had the audacity to ask why I acted “low key,” (my apologies to both), but thankfully, I spared the children. A bowling ball had replaced my head, sitting wobbly and heavy between my shoulders. It didn’t help my cause when today’s temperature soared to an undignified 110 degrees.

I puttered around the house in a sort of brain fog. Oh, I know that’s now a recognized medical state (as stupidity will hopefully be one day) and describes a mind hindered by stress, anxiety or worry. Confusion or forgetfulness characterize brain fog. My state was different. It was more of a lightweight madness where tiny, virtually nonexistent obstacles seemed magnified. Mine was more like brain smog; useless, frustrated, blurry thoughts cluttered my mind, leaving no room for any light to seep in.

I was in a funk. The best cure for such a turbulent state or for depression, fear, stupidity or practically any unsteady frame of mind is to try doing something for someone else. Take the focus off yourself. Which is why I decided to go out among the public.

Since I am a sporadic library volunteer, this was the perfect opportunity to assist the denizens of almost all things literary and hopefully jump-start my mood into something better and more promising.

I went. I helped. I conquered. I stayed longer than usual and didn’t leave until I heard voices. The voices of an eight-year- old girl and her grandma.

Grandma asked me where books should be returned. I showed her. She dropped them in. Girl hollered that she needed the books, and Granny made a big mistake in returning them. At one end, Grandma kept telling me, “Don’t listen to her,” and at the other, the girl insisted that she needed to keep them a little longer for a book club report at the library. This went on for quite some time. Grandma and Girl might as well have been in two different buildings. No communication took place at all. Remember, this is a small library. Pleasantly plump people cannot squeeze past each other in the aisles.

The girl was right. She gave her report, the books were returned and peace was restored.

After they left, one of the librarians whispered to me, “Have you ever felt like grabbing a kid by her ear and pulling her outside?”

I realized then that the frustrated voices I heard merely echoed my own. “I think the little girl was feeling a little overwhelmed and underheard, that’s all. I’m sure this was not her usual behavior.”

One set of thoughts always drives the other out. Of course, stupers don’t harbor thoughts, but I know, my dear readers do. By changing direction and attempting to help others, anyone can, in effect, stamp out less desirable states of mind and, in my case, forget about sleep deprivation. Okay, so I wasn’t exactly the most proficient volunteer today. I didn’t always shelve the books in perfect alphabetical order, but I caught most of my mistakes and corrected them.

Don’t allow your mind to accommodate anything less than the best thoughts.


The Faces of Stupidity

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

On a gray, chilly, wintry night, does leaving the house without a coat or other proper, warm attire guarantee a bout with the flu or worse? Not if you take care not to spend too much time out in the cold.

On an average day in the city, does leaving the house to run a few small, quick errands guarantee witnessing stupidity? Not if you wear a blindfold and/or earplugs. Otherwise, it is practically guaranteed.

Yesterday, I drove into a convenience store parking lot which overflowed with parked cars as well as vehicles coming and going. I suddenly had to stop…but not because of another car or person. Not exactly anyway. I witnessed a stuper (short for an indisputably stupid person) strolling around with the steadiness of one who had dynamite strapped to his torso, except he didn’t carry explosives. He carried an open book in one hand, which he read hypnotically, and in the other, held an apple, which he munched, while in the middle of the parking lot, completely unaware of the cars around him. Unawareness = stupidity.

Once in the store, I picked out what I needed and went to the cashier. The person behind the register was a smallish person, quiet and solemn. As I handed her my money, I asked if she could please give me change for one dollar. Not receiving an answer, I repeated my request.

“I said, YES!” she roared suddenly, exhaling hotly through her nose. The unexpected gust blew back my hair.

Have you ever noticed how silly people look when they lose their tempers? Well, that’s exactly how ridiculous we look when we lose control of our thoughts and minds.

One of the hardest things for authentic humans to do is react peaceably to a person who attacks them in word or deed. Anger grows if met with anger. If I’ve learned anything from the 178 self-help books I’ve read, I’ve at least learned that much. If anger is met calmly, it often ends more quickly, even with a stuper at the receiving end.

Inner me briefly desired to rip all the heads off the nearest Pez display just to demonstrate what I thought of her unprovoked outburst. But then my anger would render me stupid too.

I apologized for not hearing her the first time, and debated whether I should point out that not only was her first reply inaudible, but likely took place only within the confines of her head as I happened to be watching her for an answer. Taking a closer look at her stopped me. Her face sagged with unhappiness. Anger and happiness do not travel in the same circles. Clearly, her anger stemmed from within herself.

I smiled and waited for her to catch my eye. The line behind me grew, but I’m certain no one would have minded if they realized my good cause. A smile and anger don’t go together.

Finally, she caught my eye and a wan grin appeared. I thanked her and left.

Anger cramps the mind’s growth.



Argumentative Stupidity

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I encountered stupidity in a store where I’d thought idiocy had gone the way of the Dodo bird. I was certain that employees of this last retail bastion of intelligence were required to take a test or some sort of brain scan before they were hired, ensuring the absence of even the slightest hint of stupidity. But alas, I was wrong.

First of all, there exists particular retail establishments where moronic behavior is expected and accepted…to a certain degree, anyway. Shopping at a Walmart or Home Depot sometimes requires skill to maneuver around stupers (short for emphatically stupid persons). Any exhibition of intelligence at either of these places draws a stunned tribute from me. If my dear readers should happen to see a smartly dressed woman, standing in salute or politely applauding a worker at one of those stores, that would be me.

When Nordstrom (site of one of my favorite shopping experiences) has a sale, I utilize a plan of action in order to promote efficiency as well as my sanity. I successfully beat the crowds while getting the best prices, thanks to the cheerful cooperation of Nordstrom employees. I arrive the day before, ask an employee to show me whatever soon-to-be-sale items that he/she can, place what I want on hold and breeze in the next day to simply pay and leave.

Yesterday, a hard-boiled stuper feverishly attempted to convince me that Nordstrom could do without my business.

I went to the men’s department, picked out tennis shoes for Husband when I was approached by salesperson, Brooks (doesn’t that sound like a perfect name for an American butler?). Brooks had two dazed and droopy, disenchanted eyes which dominated his face and gave him the appearance of one about to fall backwards at any given moment. I didn’t know whether to yell, “timber!” or grab him by his necktie, assisting him in keeping upright.

Me: Is this shoe going to be on sale tomorrow?

Brooks: Yes.

Me: Great! I’d like to place it on hold please and purchase it tomorrow.

Brooks: That’s against store policy.

Me: I did the same thing in the ladies department last month when….

I’m going to spare you the tiresome details, but suffice it to say, he argued my every point. I offered past evidence, and he insisted every employee who helped me was either a figment of my imagination or an insurgent. Finally, I made it clear again that the actual purchase would take place the next day, when the sale began. I just wanted the shoes set aside for me. Brooks said,

“Oh, that’s all right then. We can do that for one day.”

He said he needed to locate a form for me to fill out and left the department. He returned ten minutes later, filled out the form while I berated myself for giving Brooks stuper status. It was just a misunderstanding. Perhaps I had not communicated my desire clearly. Brooks took note that I had purchased items in this manner before as indicated on his computer screen. One would think at this point, the light bulb would be shining brightly.

“I’ll need your credit card so as soon as they go on sale, I can charge you.”

That was the kiss of death. Or at least the deal killer. I didn’t have my Nordstrom card on me since I figured I’d use it the following day, based on past, happy experiences. Plus, I didn’t want to give him the card number, and then have it just laying around in my absence.

“Sorry, I don’t have it. You can charge me tomorrow when I pick up the shoes.”

“I need a credit card so I can charge you as soon as the sale starts.”

What he really meant was I want my sale and I don’t trust you to come back and buy these shoes – I don’t care what you say or what the computer screen says.

Perhaps previous customers had claimed they’d return to purchase something from Brooks, never to be seen or heard from again. Such undependable clientale could have left him permanently traumatized and distrusting of customers. Bottom line: he wanted his commission.

I realized there’d be no progress when dealing with a stale mind. I thanked Brooks and vowed inwardly to return tomorrow to make my purchase (it was a men’s sale; how crowded could it possibly be?) from some one else.

It’s best to leave stupidity behind where you found it, and move on to better things. I could have resisted the situation and insisted on speaking to….practically anyone else who worked there; that likely would have met with success. But really, I decided to go with the flow and keep my blood pressure and sanity intact.

Keep thinking.


Stupidity Stereotypes

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

My apologies, dear readers, but I’m in the midst of working on deadline so here’s one from the archives:

As I sat in my car at the golf course waiting for my younger son to finish his lesson, I wondered which case of stupidity to discuss next. 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’?’”

(Guy #2 grunts in reply).

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 this store…’ 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 doddering idiot, and gave the tip of his nose an unforgettable pinch, Three Stooges style, complete with sound effects. 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 stared in the face of a counterfeit human.

It’s not a man/woman thing. I actually have both male and female friends whom, when I say I’ve got to get off the phone, continue on for another 6 1/2 minutes just to say, “I’ll talk to you later.” Some people just don’t understand the meaning of “gotta go.” This caller seemed to fall in that moronic category. In fact, this whole failed conversation may have taken place between two stupers (short again, for impossibly 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 simple minded stuper who would be incapable of reaching an opinion without the aid of stereotyping. It also allows blithering idiots 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 didn’t 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.

Choose to think.


The Kiss of Stupidity

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Away for the past few days on a short, but splendid trip, I wondered what to write for my dear readers upon my return? Alas, I had no run-ins with stupidity.

I stayed in a lovely Inn with a terrifically friendly staff in an unfalteringly charming town with exceedingly pleasant company. Everything that could go right did. Even the garden-variety stupers (short, as you know, for unyieldingly stupid persons), did not receive my slightest attention or any recognition.

Before I fell asleep last night, while in the midst of divine communion, I simply knew that a topic would come to me. It did. I dreamt about it.

In my dream, my grandmother, mother and I visited an ailing friend of Grandma’s in some sort of large establishment filled with roomy suites. In one of the suites sat Granny’s friend, Sam, who looked pretty damn good for a sick pal, not to mention he appeared to have shaved off almost half a century and now resembled a young George Clooney, with nary a gray hair.

Some relatives of mine were also present, including those who subscribe to the minimalist school of thought. Namely, the vexing Aunt Fay.

Now, when you see some one you care about, chances are you’re going to hug, kiss, slap on the back, grab by the shoulders, pull by the hair…make some sort of physical contact. Unless, you’re a stereotypical Brit, which, of course, we are not. My idiot relatives, mainly Aunt Fay, air kiss.

air kiss

Aunt Fay approaches me, attempts a smile, then comes within about two-three inches of my face, turns her vacant head and kisses in the air near each cheek, Euro style, leaving me a little deaf from the resounding smack. There is absolutely no physical contact. This gets on my nerves because I think, why bother at all?

In my dream, I complained to Mom about the futility vs. the usefulness of air kissing by Aunt Fay. Mom replied,

“She’s f***kingly phony.”

In shock from Mom’s startling expletive, I awoke.

First of all, the possibility of my mother swearing in any manner is about as likely as my growing six more arms and roaming about on the ocean floor. It ain’t gonna happen. Not in this lifetime, anyway. Secondly, can the F word be used as an adverb?

Aunt Fay is phony. My sincere, thinking relatives don’t think twice about showing physical contact when around loved ones. Demonstrating affection, unless contrary to one’s culture, religion, or found to be punishable by imprisonment is not only permissible but a means of communicating feelings.

I know. Some of my readers are saying, get over it, Keli, it was just a dream and maybe you’re not one of Aunt Fay’s favorites, so why expect some sort of tearful, yet joyous reunion during your sleep? I don’t. But I do appreciate tranquility, asleep or awake.

Many people banish relatives, friends or lovers from their lives before any closure or resolution takes place. Of course, sometimes closure isn’t possible when one or both parties has a mind that’s closed or is just plain stupid, which is what a closed mind is, after all.

The best avenue to follow is to create your own ending from inside your own thoughts and heart. People aren’t always going to behave the way we think they should. Take control. Imagine speaking together in a way where kindly understanding does take place. To do this one must be unbound by any past unhappiness (which is not easy to do when you’re the proud, but humble owner of a virtually photographic memory, particularly when it comes to past wrongs).

I’m not a fan of my Aunt Fay and can’t say I’ve ever been (she’s married to Granny’s bro). But in my head, I imagined hugging her tightly (after the air kisses) and telling her how happy I was to see her. And treating her genuinely like someone I actually cared about. Her response to me was unimportant because in the end, it’s my own reaction that forms my character.

I’m not advocating turning into a doormat in order to deal with a diligent dolt. But I’ve found that one healthy way to deal with stupers is to admit to their existence, try to understand them and then, with monumental fortitude, be indifferent to them. Otherwise those irritating malcontents will take control of your mind.

Control your thoughts.


Noisy Stupidity

Friday, June 6th, 2008

After my last post, I suffered a pang of guilt. All because of my confession that I was a wayward volunteer, slacking in my duties at the local public library. I decided to change my ways. To set a good example for my 3.5 readers.

I went in to the library yesterday and did a fine impression of the brightest, shiniest, best volunteer ever. I slipped on rubber gloves and climbed atop a mountain-high pile of filthy book bags and barely took a breath until I’d checked in each and every stained and finger-print smudged book. I did pause once to read a sentence or two from this, just in case…

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of the library. To prove it, afterwards, I proceeded to shelf all the books I’d checked in. Aren’t you duly impressed?

During my busy, hard-working fifty-five and one-half minutes (my limit is one hour before I blow), I did, unfortunately, witness stupidity. Keep in mind, as noted last time, that this library is small. About the size of 50 Cent’s walk-in closet (I know; I saw it on Cribs).

As I started shelving audio books, a blasphemous screeching shook the place, making quite a racket; shredding the curtain of quietude that typically fell over the library. I briefly considered taping the clamor, getting a patent and peddling it to hospitals for use during complex surgery. It would be a perfect replacement for anesthesia. Patients could be knocked out without medication or brute force.

The cause of such clamor? Not a stuper (short, as you know, for a recognizably stupid person) exactly, though a stuper was behind it all. A sixteen-month-old pushed an antiquated, long overdue-for-retirement, step-stool whose dysfunctional wheels cried bloody murder, like it carried all the world’s woes on its seat. The toddler pushed it slowly, but purposefully around, making sure everyone heard its pain, even in Detroit. The clatter made fingernails scratching across a blackboard sound like a soothing lullaby.

Meanwhile, the tot’s mom sat nearby, huddled behind a computer, throwing a furtive glance now and then to see if anyone appeared on the verge of hysteria. If not, she’d continue reading, and if yes, then she’d send out a feeble,

“Mikaela, stop….”

Annoyed people milled about, wondering to whom the little noise-maker belonged and pondering the course of action to take.

The Head Librarian, smiled uncomfortably, realizing it rested on her shoulders to take appropriate action and restore peace.

“Boy, do those wheels need oiling!” she said as she assisted irritable patrons.

Before I could holler, “Somebody grab that kid!” another volunteer, a ten-year-old young man, took charge. This kid embodied the very voice of common sense. He marched up to the little girl, folded his arms across his chest, frowned sternly and announced,

“You shouldn’t be doing that!”

He stood in front of the stool so the little girl couldn’t budge. Apparently, she hadn’t learned to go in reverse. Mikaela looked up at him, then turned her head to seek out her mother. Mom, realizing all angry eyes set upon her, nervously grabbed the kid and left.

No one said anything to this woman; consequently she saw no reason to take action. To her, the step stool seemed like a harmless and effective baby-sitter. Sometimes, stupers won’t take action unless forced to. This could take awhile. In situations like this one, shushing is okay and generally does the job. It helps if you happen to be carrying a baseball bat.



Stupidity Thinks We’re Invisible

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I have trouble being in the company of persons who speak of me as if I’m not even present. Such occurs while I’m wide awake, in a public setting and in complete view of such persons. Don’t worry, this is not a regular, almost planned event like London fog or a faithfully present full moon, which shows itself every 29-30 days. It happens about as often as a flat tire or acid rain (which, as you know, rarely occurs at all, if you’re careful).

I volunteer at the library. I’m not one of those perky, reliable, ambitious volunteers. I show up when I can, and they’re okay with that.

I was standing at the counter, checking in books, when I heard (and mind you this is a very small library; the size of a typical, metropolitan public restroom), quite loudly,

“Who’s she?” in a voice reminiscent of Big Bird.

And not surprisingly, when I looked up, the owner of said voice did resemble the jovial Bird in more ways than just sheer largess and yellow feathers.

The gracious librarian explained, “She’s one of our very good” (I half expected her to insert, ‘but highly unreliable’) volunteers. Just like you.”

I smiled at my Amazonian comrade-in-volunteer-arms, while Inner Me wondered whether she’d actually address me with her next utterance.

“Well, I’ve never seen her before,” she responded.

“No, you haven’t,” I elaborated helpfully, while tossing her a dirty look.

I’m not too patient when people state the obvious, especially while I’m rapidly developing a lower back ache from picking up heavy book bags that were once crispy white and are now a filthy hue of cow dung brown and brimming with volumes of the library’s weightiest reads. Is it any wonder I am the rare, ever aloof, volunteer?

I was thinking these thoughts while the wheels in the bird-woman’s head were turning. They moved so slowly that I could see them, creakily grinding away. I immediately felt guilt because, well, if you saw her, you’d feel guilty too for acting so peevishly. And there was something…innocent about her.

She waddled towards me thrusting out a wing, I mean, a hand, and said,

“I’m Rosemary. Nice to meet you,” she flashed a smile a pre-schooler would surely love.

I put my annoyance firmly and a bit sheepishly away.

The above is a minor example of stupers (short yet again, for those mindlessly stupid persons) who regard fully aware people occupying nearby space as invisible. My friend, Marla, a thirty-five-year-old psychologist, who’s been married ten years, recounted another, less amiable, instance:

Marla and her mother were shopping in a store when they ran into Anne, the mother’s friend.

Anne: (to Marla’s mother) Is this the one with the kids?

Mother: No, it’s my other daughter who has two children.

Anne: Doesn’t this one want to have any kids?

At that point, Marla wanted to smash her well-heeled sandal down soundly on top of Anne’s open-toe Birkenstocks. Instead, she excused herself, slipped into another department and called me.

It just could be that these stupers realize (too late) that the question they’re asking is frightfully awkward and obviously none of their business. This results in their spilling out the actual query onto the wrong party. Stupers have no control over the paltry contents of their mouths (the brain being empty) so the question entirely misses its target. Either way, Marla was miffed.

There are two paths that may be followed. Either the victim answers the question for herself, reminding the stuper of her presence and capability in formulating a response; thereby redirecting the meager mind in the proper direction. Or said recipient can live up to the stuper’s expectations. Since idiots treat you as if you don’t exist, why not indulge them? Try making faces and/or gestures of your choosing and see if they still think you’re invisible. Or do a little song and dance, recite that poem you memorized in the sixth grade and can’t seem to forget or share your thoughts on the current, unconscionably excessive gas prices. Let it all out!

Take advantage of every opportunity a stuper provides you of showing your best or at least your better self. Don’t let them bring out the worst in you.

Just think.