Archive for the ‘My very own stupidity’ Category

Chickens Prove I’m not Always Smart or My Own Stupidity

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

I discovered that my chickens are smarter than I am. That does not bode well with me. I have college and graduate school degrees. I speak 2.75 languages (meaning besides the two languages in which I am fluent, I speak enough French and Spanish to order a glass of mineral water in a small, uncrowded European cafe). I know how to color coordinate clothes.  And I am capable of realizing that I should feel full after eating three slices of lemon meringue pie. But still, my chickens are smarter than I am.

I feed them every morning. I give them water. All I expect in return, are a few eggs now and then. They’ve been fairly cooperative. But one hen, Coco, feeling rather broody, gathered sixteen eggs beneath her bottom when I turned away for a few moments. Then another hen, Ethel, climbed into an adjacent nesting box in a concerted attempt to monopolize all eggs.

Although their nesting boxes are separated by a two inch high wall, these hens managed to drive me crazy with their silly chicken games. One morning, I’d arrive to find Coco with ten eggs beneath her and Ethel with six; the next day, Coco sat on two with eight under Ethel and so on. When I dared reprimand them, they gave me the evil eye, throwing me looks that said,

“Don’t even think of touching these eggs or you’ll be at the bottom of our pecking order.”

Idle threats.

After two weeks of this nonsense (or hensense, in this case), I announced to my family that I planned on collecting all coop eggs and tossing them. These hens’ behavior was not conducive to hatching chicks. They’re idiot hens, I said.

“Doesn’t it take three weeks to hatch a chicken egg?” Son #2 reminded me. “Can’t you just give them another week?”

I caved in, knowing full well that there’d be no chicks. The same thing happened last year.

Early one chilly morning, as trooper and family feeder, I stumbled out to the chicken area for the feeding. As usual, I peeked inside the coop to exchange dirty looks with the hens, but they ignored me. Instead a tiny gray head, no bigger than my thumbnail, stared back, covering me with a thin film of guilt.  A beautiful little chick. I thought I knew.

I rarely periodically jump to conclusions about people and situations. It is the habit that’s hardest for me to break.  You’d think I’d know by now that thoughts should be weighed carefully before being expressed, with wisdom and understanding. Giving careful consideration to our thoughts prevents us from acting like or even becoming stupers (short, as most of you know, for unjustifiably stupid persons).



Stupidity and Saying Too Much

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Have you ever engaged in conversation with someone and realized midway or even early on, that you’ve revealed more information than you wanted and consequently, longed for a really reliable getaway car? That was me this past weekend.

It’s junior golf tournament season once more which means I’m out there walking the courses, while watching Junior play; thus increasing the odds of my running into stupers (short, yet again, for nerve-wrackingly stupid persons). Most parents, coaches and other assorted junior golf entourage generally suffer from jumbled nerves, which makes them easily agitated, which makes them somewhat crazy.

On Hole 5, I needed to escape the fidgety, hyperactive parents around me, so I walked ahead for some alone time to regain my sanity and calm. I did and marveled at the peacefulness…for about one minute. Suddenly a new parent appeared on the cart path, walking toward me with a gait reserved for Kentucky Derby thoroughbreds headed for the finish line.

“Good,” I thought, “she won’t want to stop and chat.”

Wrong. She halted long enough to ask what time my son’s group went out so she figure out what hole her child was on. Her parting words to me were,

“Isn’t it cold today? I should have worn my parka that I wear when I visit my older son who’s going to school at Harvard. I’ve gotta go find my younger son who’s a really good player and won the _______ tournament last May.”

As she left, I thought, that’s nice that her son’s at an Ivy League university and her other one’s a great player; no doubt she’s proud, but why tell me? I’ll never see her again. I vowed not to give out so much information to people I don’t know. It sounds so unnecessary.

Fast forward to the end of Hole 5, minutes later.

I’m standing at the putting green with what appears to be a fatherly type. We exchange greetings. Then I notice the name on his hat. I say,

“Butch? It’s me, Keli. You used to be my son’s golf coach.”

He says hello and we make small talk until he asks who my son’s current coach is. Plagued by a sudden attack of guilt for no longer using Butch as teacher, I suddenly share too much information as to why Son stopped seeing him, revealing a few unnecessary details that I’m certain my son would not have appreciated. I feel tarnished. As I turn away, Butch responds that he now works at an elite golf training center with elite junior golfers and charges elite prices. I leave, wishing him great success, but feeling like I wish I’d kept my mouth closed and avoided interaction.

Every time I talk too much, I feel like I’ve given a piece of myself away. For free. This is especially true when talking to virtual strangers; people that don’t even know my name. My son had very good reasons for switching golf coaches; it didn’t require explaining, nor did Butch ask for one. I volunteered in a wild effort to smooth out barely perceptible wrinkles. In short, I was the one going a bit crazy.

Researchers claim talking too much can increase anxiety, depression and most importantly, stupidity.  We instantly see how unbecoming it is when others say too much; there’s no reason for us to do the same. Oversharing results from underthinking which is the shortest path to stupidity.

Think first, last and always.


Talking to Yourself Out Loud: Stupidity?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Do you talk to yourself? Is talking to yourself a characteristic of stupidity? It all depends on how and where you do the talking.

I’ve been known to talk to myself. Out loud. I don’t mumble either; I speak quite clearly. I find that it helps me to remember little things and to solve personal dilemmas. I know I’m doing it. And I don’t have a problem with it. As long as I do so when no one else is around. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

I once engaged in a heated exchange with myself about a stuper (short for a distinctly stupid person) when a man suddenly appeared a few feet away from me, raptly listening to my solo conversation. In my defense, I was out walking in dense fog (the kind where, if I dropped my cell phone, I’d have to get down on all fours and bravely feel around for it).

At first, I was mortified. Had the eavesdropper heard the part where I wanted to tie one end of a rope to a chair to which the stuper was handcuffed, and tie the other end to the bumper of a four-wheel drive monster truck that I would then drive over jagged edged boulders at high speeds? All this in a herculean effort to get the stuper to put her brain to use or at least donate it to scientific stuper research. I was subjected to some heavy squinting and blinking by the suddenly appearing man as he vainly searched for the party with whom I was having said conversation.

After this incident, I kept my talking out loud to a minimum or at least within the confines of my car or home where such behavior is not totally unexpected.

I came across a woman in a grocery store yesterday who not only talked to herself out loud, but did it so others had to be involved as well.

“Don’t the pears look good?” “Should I buy some cereal?” “How about that coconut cake?” (take note, dear readers, everything is in the form of a question. A telltale sign of stupidity).

Then she decided to pull random audience members into her monologue.

“What time is it?” she yelled to no one in particular.

I heard a nearby man answer her, “Uh, it’s 4:10.”

Which made me wonder, “Are they together?” (to myself, not aloud).

They were not together, and she proceeded in this manner for the duration of her shopping.

“Where’s the bread?” she inquired, looking around her.

A kindly, elderly shopper replied, “Aisle four, I think.”

This woman was not insane. She happened to check out the same time as I did; I noticed that she managed a fairly normal conversation with the cashier. She just hadn’t mastered the art of not talking to herself loudly in public places. To do this, a trained mind is required. An aware, active mind that’s not easily distracted. All stupers need to do is to try to think more than they talk. Or simply to try to think. This starts with keeping the mouth closed and the mind open, and choosing which thoughts to include and which to discard. Only then will we be rid of counterfeit humans.



Stupidity and Health

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I have been accompanied the past few days by a team of strolling violinists everywhere I go, playing the same sad, woe-is-me tune. This melancholy melody played particularly loudly yesterday when I dragged two trash cans to the end of the driveway as the sun set in the bitter cold. Then I returned for two more heavily loaded recycling cans which I heaved panting, sneezing and coughing for a total distance of well over 600 yards. I know this last fact because I took the liberty of bringing a yard stick with me the second time and measuring to ensure accuracy. I have the flu with all the nasty symptoms which I firmly believe were brought about my own momentarily weak mind and stupidity.

First, in all fairness, none of my homeboys were…well, at home;  I could have waited, but didn’t. One son came home just after I manually hauled the last two, particularly cumbersome, cans down. He waited and offered me a ride back up which I declined, just so I could display my prowess at grabbing myself by the scruff of the neck and dragging my limp body up our dirt and pebble studded driveway to make my point. But of course, such points go completely unnoticed by children.

What is the purpose of this melodramatic, somewhat affected post? It’s to remind us, myself in particular, that our state of mind affects our health. Whenever I’m angry, upset, or bothered, almost immediately, I get a sudden rash, headache, or in this case, succumbed to a cold. What we carry around in our minds and what comes out in our words can impact our health. I have no carefully gathered statistics or conclusive studies on this matter. Only exhibit A: myself.

Last Sunday, I was stuck doing tasks I absolutely did not want to do. I maintained a bad attitude throughout and at one point, even muttered, “I’ll probably make myself sick.” I was successful.

Physical conditions are largely determined by mental states. The body is what a person creates by the form of his/her thoughts. Unworthy thoughts = negative emotions. Negative emotions need an outlet.

I believe the body and mind can be renewed and even transformed through clear vision and thought as well as spoken words. Hence, the importance of choosing thoughts and words carefully.

Just think.

The wise man gathers worthy thoughts and deeds; bit by bit he builds his pile of happiness ~ Buddha


Waiting in Line Stupidity

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Ah, the things we martyrs mothers do for our children! Last week I got up at an unholy hour, braved sub-zero temperatures (please note, dear readers: to a Southern Californian native, such as myself, anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is sub-zero. In this case, the temperature was actually a quasi-frigid 41 degrees), and waited in line for over two hours, along with a few hundred other cold, sleepy, bored and increasingly annoyed souls.

I was not waiting to get the last seat at a sold-out rock concert; nor did I await the sale to end all sales at Saks Fifth Avenue. I was seeking to enroll my high school attending son in an Art 101 class that he wished to take at the local community college.

Waiting in line is not too traumatic as long as one is not stuck between a rabid key jingler and a neck and knuckle cracker. I would suggest one long shriek under such circumstances (after warning those in close range to insert earplugs) to relieve the irritation. But I knew, if I, or any of us line waiters gave in to irritation, we’d then rapidly become stupers (short, as you may know, for ignobly stupid persons). Anger can make us stupid.

To combat this potential path to stupidity, I conversed with other line waiters, mostly about the detriments of queue rage and the illuminating case of the MIT University professor who’d gone to a store to buy a bicycle for his son and grown furious when he was made to wait 40 minutes to pick up his purchase in the inventory area, while other people who came after him quickly received their items.

“It took me three weeks to calm down after that,” the Professor said. “I realized, I’m a professor at MIT; I’m usually such a sane, rational person.”

Oh, the ravages of line waiting!

When my turn arrived to register, I battled anxiety, impatience and my quarrelsome side. My goal was to be in and out…in record time. Alas! It was not to be. I became my own worst stuper nightmare…the registrant who monopolizes one of only three open registration windows.

I had accumulated and exhaustively filled out all relevant applications. When I got to the window, Janet, the registrar, said,

“I need to see the student’s actual social security card.”

Before she finished her sentence, my blood began to simmer, heading for the kind of full boil beloved by devoted pasta chefs in high caliber Italian restaurants.

All sorts of creative expletives raced through my head, as I do not routinely carry my son’s social security card, nor anyone else’s. I began silently repeating my mantra of the day, “Every person who crosses me deserves a sound beating my path is a golden link in the chain of my good.” I stood steadfast and serenely stated,

“I’ve talked to numerous counselors and admissions officers. Not one advised me of the need for the card.”

Janet said, “I’ll be right back.” She turned to a woman sitting behind a computer. The woman eyed me and spied the beginnings of steam tendrils escaping my ears. She quickly nodded her head.

“Okay,” Janet said.

I breathed again. Why is it that stupers thrive on digging up stumbling blocks to thwart our small ambitions? Does it make them feel unstuperlike? Is there a certain thrill behind the momentary feeling of power? Or are they honest idiots following some unwritten stuper code? Only a stuper knows for sure.

When placed in an unknown situation, it is of utmost importance to control one’s wits and temper. Had I been uncool and uncollected, I either would have stormed out (which would have made my son, who needed this course to graduate shortly, quite unhappy) or returned home to retrieve the notorious social security card and resumed line waiting.

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good ~ James Allen

Keep thinking.


Slipping In and Out of Stupidity

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Some of us thinkers, despite valiant efforts to the contrary, may periodically slip into temporary states of stupidity. Inadvertent stupidity, one might call it, where we may say and do things that could immediately demote us to stuper (short, once more, for a dreadfully stupid person) status. Even me. Mind you, such bouts are increasingly rare for me, thanks to my herculean efforts to remain perpetually aware of all my actions and words.

If any of my dear readers should find themselves the accidental perpetrator of an inane word or deed, I can assure and reassure you that there is help. Here are a few simple tips for lifting yourself out of a stuper funk:

  • Apologize without hesitation for your guffaw. This creates unhesitating sympathy in your victim, making it clear to all that you are not a repeat offender since you caught yourself, if not on time, at least quickly thereafter and tried to make amends.
  • If it’s too late for apologies (meaning you left the scene of your idiocy and afterward realized you behaved like an imbecile), befriend an intelligent person. Study after study shows the company we keep impacts us greatly. If you hang out with a smart crowd, one whose members continuously use their minds in a positive fashion, some of it’s likely to rub off on you.
  • Take thinking up as a hobby. If you treat thinking as a hobby, like knitting or turning PCs into miniature greenhouses to better understand global warming, you can gradually expand thinking time so that it overtakes all else and soon is so ingrained that it becomes a natural occurrence. Second nature, if you will, which is as it should be. Stupidity will cease to exist for you.

  • If you missed out on making the world a better place by behaving stupidly, worry not. Transcend your dumb deed or words by doing good for some one else, thereby continuing to improve the human condition and making up for your idiocy. It’s a balancing act of sorts.

In this way, bona fide thinkers may continue with their mission of ridding the world of stupers (or at least ignoring them).

Just think.


Health and Stupidity

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

There’s nothing like an ill-timed cold sore, prominently displayed on the bottom lip, to put life in proper perspective.

I considered wearing a veil on the lower half of my face, but the sudden wardrobe shift would only heighten the curiosity of stupers (short, yet again, for corrosively stupid persons) and likely attract them in droves.

In the distant past, I’ve suffered from head-splitting migraines, vigorous teeth clenching, even a dime-sized cyst most inconveniently placed, front and center, atop my chest, as well as frayed nerves. My wall of sanity wobbled. I practically rolled out a welcome mat inviting meager minds to freely plant their idiot seeds inside my head resulting in my irritation. Without fail, every time I allowed such a disturbance, something unpleasant, a disorder or minor but vexing disfiguration, paid me a visit. I call this period, The Straightjacket Years.

As my wall became more durable, I freed myself from needless suffering and unsightly blemishes. Yet, as I sit before you, my lower lip is hosting a cold sore.

My dearest, most practical readers are probably frantically waving their arms right about now, trying desperately to get my focused attention and point out that fever blisters or cold sores are actually caused by a virus not a stuper. But I know better.

It’s true that such viruses lie dormant until triggered by fever, cold or other viral infection, exposure to sun and wind or…stress. And what kind of empty-headed, wholly dysfunctional, Darwinian nightmare promotes stress? The stuper kind.

I don’t know how many of you actually appreciate what I just did: subtly stated a hypothesis, provided evidence and confirmed it in a matter of three seconds.

When we are subjected to the inane antics of stupers or their verbal bullets, the key is to get the bullets to ricochet off yourself and hit the dullard back squarely between his glazed eyes, hopefully stimulating frozen brain cells. Either that or find a way to neutralize the assault so that you remain unaffected.

In my latest bout involving stupidity and the cold sore, the stuper involved was myself once again. My own stupidity cleared a space for the virus to land.

A few days ago, I assisted Son #2 with a Physics Lab. Physics was the only course in high school for which I received a less than exemplary mark. In all fairness, it was my last semester; I’d already been accepted to University, and I had more exciting causes to champion.

A lab that was supposed to take sixty minutes, took us four, frustration-filled hours. By hour two, I’d developed a hair-trigger temper, a sudden, alarming perfectionist complex and ultimately, a cold sore two days later. If I’d stayed open-minded and patient, we would have been fine, and I would not have regressed to stuper standing. But I panicked, undermining my own sanity and promoting stress. Now I bear the degrading stamp of the cold sore for all to view.

Many modern ailments are the result of mental distress and disturbances. Our state of mind affects our health and produces maladies. I offer Exhibit A: Myself.

Our negative thoughts and emotions permit the entry of germs and viruses into our body in what is referred to by medical experts as lowered resistance. The opposite is also true.

Often issues that seem momentarily important change over time. Was it more important for me to enjoy time spent with my child or to build a mechanically correct replica of a calorimeter out of Styrofoam cups? It’s imperative to evaluate situations with clarity and wisdom in order to stave off stress and maintain sanity.




The Inner Stuper or Ending Personal Stupidity

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

You are so dumb! Worthless, in fact. No one’s gonna read that!”

“Buzz off,” I reply, without looking up. I continue writing.

What makes you a so-called expert on stupidity? By the way, have you looked in the mirror? Is that a crevice between your brows or just a new wrinkle?”

“I said get lost! Now!” I speak more firmly this time. “I ain’t got no time for you.”

(Sometimes I slip into insufferable slang in order to really drive home a point).

Had you viewed this heated exchange, dear readers, you would have seen me, quietly sitting in front of the computer, using my best posture and thoughtfully engrossed in my writing. No, I did not run to look at myself in the mirror.

The barb-thrower was none other than yours truly. The brief, verbal wrestling match emanated from my own head: my inner negative critic and me. I usually don’t allow him to be heard, but I did for the sake of this post. This disparaging alter ego exists in many of us, excelling in planting fears and anxieties, magnifying insecurities and creating low self-esteem that makes us doubt ourselves. It’s the stuper (short, once again, for an impertinently stupid person) in each of us.

I call this vitriolic voice, Ling, thanks to a stupernatural encounter, many years ago. When I was in my early twenties, a psychic, Matilda, approached me, laughing uncontrollably. Matilda explained,

“There’s a chubby, Chinese guy standing right behind you. Ling’s so funny!”

At the time, I was standing alone. Apparently, Ling was an apparition only a psychic could appreciate. I decided to humor her. “What’s he saying?”

Matilda only continued laughing, erupting into such elongated hysterics, I gave up and walked away. But I took Ling with me. He became the personification of the nasty, disruptive voice existing in my consciousness that tries to bring me down. Ling seemed like the perfect name. Miserable, argumentative, pudgy and possibly a member of the Communist party, always greedily criticizing and complaining with his mouth full, trying to wreck havoc by relentlessly pushing me off track. Appearing whenever I felt vulnerable.

“You look fat in those pants!”

“How can I?” I reply calmly. “I weigh the same as I did in high school.”

In the early days, I let Ling do his job. My confidence was undermined. I routinely called myself an idiot, wondered how I’d ever get the job I wanted, felt I was never good enough and so forth. When I managed to get the dream job, I was paranoid that I’d lose it.

Everyone wants your job,” Ling hissed. “Did I mention that you’re freakish to be having such a conversation?”

And so it was until one day, I decided to talk back to that irritating inner voice.

“I’m not listening to you anymore. If you’ve got something positive to share, then we’ll talk. Otherwise, farewell.”

The self criticisms didn’t go away that easily, but slowly and vigilantly, I silenced the intrusive inner commentary. I pictured my mind as a bus with me as driver and all the little denunciations as passengers, trying to take over the driver’s seat. If I let them, my bus would crash. My aim was to reduce the wretched, whining passengers until all the nasties were thrown out. So if I heard a negative thought, I’d see it as an undesirable rider and hurl him out by the seat of his baggy pants, while working on convincing the rest to proceed in a positive direction. It worked.

We owe it to ourselves to speak kindly in our minds. Our happiness and personal progress depends largely on our own efforts. We should strive harder to train our minds to think positively to develop the best in each of us.

Guard your mind.


The Hours of Operation of Stupidity

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

One of my favorite childhood memories, besides being ignorant of the very existence of stupers (short, once more, for earnestly stupid persons) recalls visits to a breathtakingly beautiful and serene sanctuary. This Shangri-La showcased a swan-laden lake, flanked by soft pathways winding around lush green gardens sheltering fragrant, multi-hued flowers. Did I mention the quaint windmill chapel? The gurgling waterfalls?

The Self-Realization Fellowship and Lake Shrine is a haven that welcomes people of all faiths, promoting quiet introspection and appreciation, as well as escape from the raw frets of everyday life and exasperating bouts with stupidity. The Center is to seekers of harmony and tranquility what Las Vegas is to chain-smoking, whiskey-toting, greasy-pawed gamblers.

Fast-forward a few decades.

Husband, Son #2 and I happened to be in Los Angeles, near the Shrine. We paid a visit. It was even more stunningly picturesque than I remembered. I felt a major comforting, spiritual vibe.

A few months later, Husband and I once again paid the Shrine a visit. We arrived at 4:15 p.m. on a gorgeous Saturday.

“Sorry,” said the nice, droopy mustached, parking lot gatekeeper. “I can’t you let in. We close in fifteen minutes.”

“You close at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon during the summer?” I asked just to make sure we understood each other.

“We close at 4:30 everyday,” the sweet, young man declared with a friendly grin.

Two days later, on Monday, we returned in the late morning hours. They were closed. The gates are locked every Monday.

Several months after that, I happened to be in the vicinity and tried again, persistent seeker of peace that I am, toting Mom and Son #2. I gingerly drove into the parking lot on a bright Saturday, around noon. The very pleasant gatekeeper waved one hand in greeting while the other displayed a large sign like this,

“We’re having a special event today,” he graciously announced.

“So you’re closed?” I asked, with little surprise and several tons of annoyance.

“Only the parking lot is closed. You’re still welcome to visit,” he laughingly explained. “Just go out the driveway, make a right, then make another left on the first street on your left and there should be parking two or three blocks down.”

This is the part where I tell my dear readers that I did a donut with my car in the freshly asphalted, ample-size Shrine parking lot, but alas, I did not. My highly impressionable teen for whom I must perpetually set a good example sat in my vehicle, as well as Mom, who probably would have enjoyed the amateur automotive theatrics. By the way, there were plenty of empty spaces in the lot.

For those of you unfamiliar with Southern California, permit me to explain why I would not and could not park up the street or anywhere outside of the Shrine grounds. The Shrine is located on Sunset Boulevard on a blind corner. Sunset, at times, is the rough equivalent of the German Autobahn. It’s true; I sought peace, but I did not want to rest in peace just yet. Crossing Sunset without benefit of traffic lights or police escort was on my never to do list.

A soothing mecca should be readily available to the spiritually needy. Otherwise, what’s the point? This slice of paradise in the city was not easily accessible by the proletariat or anyone overloaded by stress. But more importantly for now, what is my point?

In modern times and throughout human history, a struggle has existed between humans, their activities, desires and ambitions. Why the struggle? Because most of us seek answers outside of ourselves. Of course, stupers don’t even seek answers. But the rest of us do. I felt I needed to be in a particular setting to find harmony. But peace of mind is something that already exists within each of us.

Mental tranquility can’t be won over by brief or superficial efforts. We need to weed out bitter thoughts on a regular basis and plant loving ones instead. Then we create our own lush gardens that follow us wherever we go.

Think only the best thoughts.


Is Stupidity Contagious?

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

For the longest time, I felt certain that stupidity, unlike the common cold and ringworm, was not contagious. Alas, I was wrong. I’ve witnessed perfectly intelligent beings suddenly turn senseless, losing their wits and behaving like absolute nitwits after intermingling with idiots. But I needed proof. The scientific and medical communities have enough trouble accepting stupidity as an affliction, let alone a communicable disease.

I decided to place myself among the stupid for a short period of time and carefully monitor the after effects. Why did I volunteer? Because I tirelessly work alone and anonymously. Besides, there were no takers.

As some of my most fiercely loyal readers may recall, there is a stupermarket (compound noun referring to a large grocery store almost wholly occupied by enormously stupid persons) near my home. I donned my blackest sunglasses and khaki-colored raincoat, then went shopping. I made sure, prior to entering the store, that I was mentally sound, giving myself a series of small tests and watching the entire PBS series on The Secret Life of the Brain. I was ready.

I entered the store, smiling and narrowing my eyes. My defenses were up. There they were. A twenty-something-year-old buying cases of beer and brandishing a shaved head, tattoos, tank top and pants belted down mid-thigh. The only problem was, he’d forgotten his underwear. Then there was the older couple, in their sixties or so, searching for their super saver card. The woman, built like an army helicopter, got her pudgy hand stuck in the pocket of her jeans and loudly demanded the cashier call 9-1-1. Then there was the cashier. The automated sort, despite her humanesque form, who once shortchanged me eight dollars, then threatened to call security when I asked for a recount.

Walking through the place was like being inside a Mad magazine photo shoot, only with live people. I reminded myself to breathe and swallowed the bubble of hysteria gurgling in my throat. I grabbed a bunch of bananas and waited in line behind a woman with a cart so full, items randomly popped out as she read the Star. Behind me appeared a man with a big, toothy grin, cradling a gallon size bottle of Windex in his arms like an infant. The line next to us suddenly opened. The new cashier looked at me. I looked at him. Then he said to the gent behind me,

“Sir, I can help you right here.”

“What?” I stated in disbelief. “Am I not next in line?”

I might as well have addressed the oversize Windex bottle. Then I lost it. I pictured myself screaming, loudly, soundly, emptying all the air out of my body. I’d feel better, but would anyone care? Would I make the headlines of tomorrow’s local paper? How about the Opinion section? Realizing I’d had my fill, I abruptly left, without the bananas.

I felt mildly annoyed; my heart beat a bit faster, my face felt hot and my palms glistened. I’d contracted an acute case of annoyance, thanks to my intentional brush with stupidity.

I got into my car and approached a four-way intersection, which provided the exit for the shopping center. My way and the opposing direction each had stop signs.

I stopped at the exit and waited, still flummoxed from my stupermarket excursion. This was a tricky little intersection when busy, tending to be accident prone and requiring fully functioning mental faculties. Five minutes later, and I still waited, leaning toward the steering wheel, tapping my fingers on the dash. Suddenly, all traffic halted for two peds in the crosswalk. The peds crossed, but traffic still stopped. Were they waiting for me? I revved my engine. A moving van on my left started forward, then stopped. A car on my right sped through. Meanwhile, I was stuck. My brain stopped working after having been partially drained at the stupermarket. A line of cars formed behind me. I felt pressure to act.

I saw a vehicle approaching on my right. Then I did something that I never, ever, EVER do, aware and careful motorist that I typically am; I flew through the intersection, exactly like a sailor on the high seas, responding to the call of a Siren. Those sailors who plugged their ears with beeswax survived. The rest crashed. I made it, no doubt, thanks to divine intervention and a little bit of thought I keep on reserve for just such moments.

So here it is: a fully documented personal account, duly witnessed, demonstrating that stupidity is indeed contagious. Had I not been driven to the brink of lunacy in the stupermarket, I would have calmly made it across the intersection without incident, stress or strain. As it was, any one who witnessed my hurtling certainly branded me a stuper.

I should have relaxed in my car for a few minutes before attempting to drive, allowing the stupidity to vaporize. I vowed never to put myself intentionally in the useless presence of idiots again…unless I have beeswax handy. It’s important to keep fitful company, meaning to put yourself around those who behave well and most importantly, think. Otherwise, it’s better to go alone.

Keep thinking.