Archive for the ‘Neighborly Stupidity’ Category

Stupidity and Nosy Neighbors

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

As I stood watering the small flowerbed by my mailbox, I felt an irritating tingle in my left shoulder. It wasn’t poor circulation or a sudden rash from a chigger bite (see glamour shot above). To confirm my suspicions, I rotated my neck, owl style, and looked behind me. A stuper (short, once more, for a gregariously stupid person) rapidly approached, leaving me no time to take cover. My little voice said, ‘drop the hose and sprint full speed down the driveway.’ But my reasoning mind reminded me of the foolishness of such a feat; I wore sandals and my two, large dogs eagerly awaited my arrival behind the entry gate. They take great pride in their well honed ability to trot in a carefully calculated crisscross pattern in front of me when I run, barking gleefully while they trip me up. Too late. My nosy neighbor, Mike, arrived. He announced,

“I think the Dutton’s place is going into foreclosure.”

Keeping my head down, I continued to water while edging toward my gate. He continued speaking,

“What happened to your red pick-up? I don’t see it anymore.”

“It’s around here somewhere,” I replied unhelpfully.

“You hear the music from the Jones’ place yesterday? I called the cops to come out and put a stop to it.” Mike rocked back and forth on his heels, truly proud of his humanitarian effort.

“What?” I asked, turning toward him, hose in hand. “The band was practicing at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. Their music was awesome. They weren’t disturbing anyone. ”

“Yeah, well, you know, I’m a good neighbor, but that kind of stuff isn’t tolerated around here.”

I am always astonished at how idiots pretend to be instant spokespersons on behalf of the world around them. Mike said,

“You know the kinds of guys in bands; druggies and degenerates. Hey!”

“Oh, I am sorry!” I said, aiming the spewing hose water on Mike’s pants. “My hands are so slippery when wet.”

I have listened to Mike on numerous occasions, speaking unkindly of neighbors, offering too much personal information, then demanding the same in return. So the “hosing down” was long overdue.

Legal, readily available tools to stave off stupidity, such as a hose or other garden implement, are not always at our disposal, so it’s important to be able to deal with nosy neighbors’ inanity without losing our sanity. Here are some suggestions:

  • Run away while screaming like a banshee. That’ll give them something legit to talk about and possibly make them reconsider approaching you;
  • Try a reverse assault; ask questions and talk relentlessly until the stuper drops from sheer exhaustion. Of course, the downside is that you may drop from exhaustion first. This remedy is to be used only by those with colossal stamina for such encounters;
  • Start sneezing uncontrollably and directly at the stuper-in-question, throw in a few cough fits in between for added emphasis and if really motivated, feign imminent nausea; and
  • Ask them to pay into the neighborhood fund, explaining that you’ll be asking for money on a regular basis for neighborhood emergencies. If this one doesn’t keep them away, nothing will.

Just think.


When Stupidity Gives Advice, Find the Nearest Exit

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

If you live in the big city, I suggest carrying around earplugs or beeswax to promptly stick in your ears because chances are astronomical that you’ll encounter a talking stuper (short, as you all know, for a glaringly stupid person).

If you’ve forgotten to pack the plugs or wax, use your fingers. Believe me, you’ll be grateful you did. If your fingers are painstakingly manicured like mine, and you’re not particularly keen on sticking any fingers in your ears, or if your hands are otherwise occupied with squeezing a tomato, rummaging through a caboose-size handbag or beating up calming a hysterical tot in the midst of his fourth tantrum of the day, then I highly suggest wearing a sign, button or t-shirt that says,

“If you’re stupid, speak to me at your own risk.”

Intelligent, authentic humans reading these words will wink and nod at you in total  understanding. Idiots will hopefully pause their inane chatter long enough to attempt to read your warning, which means that you’ll be long gone before they open their mouths. This is why I can often be spotted walking at a brisk pace when my hands are full.

Alas, my dear friend, V, did not heed this advice when she decided to take her French Bulldog, Lulu, out for a walk. V lives in the big city, in a twelve story tall condo complex, which sits on a street frequented by about 200,000,000 vehicles daily.

Lulu was on a leash as they entered the building’s lobby. Four small dogs, also in the lobby, were unleashed. Two of them were well trained and belonged to V’s friend, Harvey. Those dogs sat and awaited orders. But the other pooches were frantically jumping around on their hind legs in a desperate attempt to imitate canine pogo sticks. Meanwhile, Lulu went crazy. She wanted off the leash to play with or possibly tear apart the two circus dogs. The owner of the circus dogs admonished V,

“You should never have your dog on a leash.”

Keep in mind, these words were uttered in a setting where the welcoming, wide-open lobby doors beckoning misbehaving, not too bright, off the leash, ADD dogs into chaotic midday traffic, were a mere ten feet away. This should have been a red flag for V to break out the earplugs or the beautifully embroidered lace handkerchief, perfect for gagging the stuper mouth; however, she made the mistake of lingering too long because in the next instant, the idiot dog owner parted her lips to open her mouth to spurt yet another dose of idiocy when V and Lulu made a beeline for the elevator.

That was a close call.

If there is any way to avoid having to listen to the unsound advice of a stuper, I highly recommend taking it. Otherwise, a fit of irritation, annoyance and general malaise is to be expected.

Think for yourself.


Stupidity and the Neighbor’s Dog Poop

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

I have a friendly neighbor, Sandy, who’s displayed no regular, outward signs of stupidity. When we see each other, she always offers a cheerful smile and a wave. She’s capable of carrying on discussions with no hint of idiocy. Sandy’s even returned our mail every time  it’s mistakenly delivered to her by a moronic postal worker. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that Sandy is a stuper (short, yet again, for a haplessly stupid person). Or at least a semi-stuper when it comes to one particular situation.

Every morning, Sandy walks her large, black Labrador, unleashed, to the edge of our property where the driveway is located; then they both do a U-turn and return home. We live five houses away, so it’s not really a long enough walk to qualify as “exercise.”  But it is precisely long enough for the Lab to do its doody, a massive pile of #2, right at the foot of our driveway. Right underfoot, if you will.

Our driveway is hemmed in by a gate. A manual gate, that requires us to get out of the car to unlatch, open and latch again. Must we be on the lookout for dog poop every time we exit our home? Yes, thanks to Sandy and her gargantuan Lab.

In the past, when I walked our dogs, I cleaned up all poop, often to the sound of applause from the home owner. One grateful lady, obviously watching from the window, raced out to the street early one morning, half-dressed, just to shake my gloved hand in appreciation.

Granted, it’s not easy picking up poop.  Sometimes, we can be forgetful or just lack the proper frame of mind or discipline for cleaning up after active doody. But every day? In the same spot?

When I lived in Los Angeles, I remember walking past a home that displayed a prominent, almost billboard-like sign in the front yard, detailing the dire consequences of not picking up dog poop. Near the front door of said house sat an axe, darts and other assorted subtle, yet potential weaponry. Consequently, all dog walkers steered clear of that place and the lawn looked quite stunning.

I knew that if I mentioned this messy problem to Sandy, she’d take offense. She is an older lady (about seventy or so) who prides herself on being a good neighbor; she’d be angry with me for pointing out her failing. She actually is a model neighbor, except for this recurring, stinkin’ behavior. Redepositing poop (a la an eye for an eye) is really not my style, much to Husband’s dismay. So I opted for the next best thing.

Sandy walks her dog around seven every morning. Early one morning, I wrapped myself tightly in coat, scarf and hat, and headed to the bottom of the driveway, carrying a garden shovel and a bag. I watched the Lab approaching. I proceeded to kneel down on bended knee to clean up the dog’s latest poop pile. Just as I hoped, Sandy apologized, leashed her dog and did not allow #2 to happen again.

It’s surprising how many people are completely unaware that their actions profoundly annoy others. But that’s what makes them stupers.

Unfortunately, not all neighborhood dog pooping cases are resolved so easily as this one. If you don’t plan on living in your home long and have no qualms with making enemies, there are many, many more alternatives. But if you wish to maintain a mostly peaceful existence, it’s important to choose your words and actions more carefully.

Always start out with courteous communication. Try and set an example for the stuper; something to jump-start the drowsy mind. If that doesn’t work, redepositing the poop in the path of the dog’s owner may be in order to properly assist the stuper in becoming fully aware of the problem.

Just think.


The Care and Treatment of Stupidity Sufferers

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

In summary from last time: years ago, stuper (short for a visibly stupid person) neighbor, Constance, indelicately dropped by my house in the most wee hours of a Sunday morning just to pay me a Twilight Zone type visit. She managed to nose about without even stepping inside and didn’t find things to her liking. Before she left, she invited my son and me to her child’s birthday party. At the party, Constance did an admirable impression of one striven to be my bff (best friend forever). I didn’t hear or speak to her thereafter.

Now that we’re up to speed, fast forward one whole year.

Due to a downturn in our finances, we’d moved into a neighborhood not quite as nice as our previous home. Think trading a new BMW in for a slightly used and substantially underpowered Kia.

Husband and I opened a small cafe/coffee house where I’d often be found slinging lattes and alternating between playing shrink, barmaid, waitress, bellhop and stupersitter for a hyperactive, jittery and upscale crowd consisting of many of my old neighbors and acquaintances.

One day, Constance walked in with hubby, Mac. I, standing behind the counter, said,

“Hi! Nice to see you!”

Constance responded, “One black coffee and a nonfat latte.”

I whipped up the java and stared at myself in the mirror behind the coffee machine. Had my appearance altered over the past year? No drastic hairdo changes, tattoos, nose piercing or large, elongated bifocals that came dangerously close to becoming goggles. I looked the same.

I took the coffees to their table and waited. They said nothing and I returned to the counter. Minutes later, I heard,

“This coffee’s cold.”

Constance stood before me, frowning, holding a steaming cup. Perhaps she’d expected flames? I searched for the creme brulee torch. Just then Mac stormed up and huffed,

“We need more napkins.”

Gone were the smiling, delighted faces from last year’s birthday party. At first I was puzzled. I didn’t get it. Why the lack of civility? Can you actually completely forget a person in one year’s time even though you’ve had direct contact with said person many times and spent several hours together at a small, but somewhat memorable party? Possibly; a sudden bout of Rapid Onset Amnesia (commonly found in stupers) or any form of amnesia would do the trick. But such forgetfulness is definite, if you’re a proven stuper.

Stupidity, if left unchecked and untreated, will grow, gradually emptying the mind of all its contents. Look what happened to Constance. Drop by drop, her brain practically evaporated from nonuse and misuse until only the idiot, corn kernel size mind remained. Authentic humans gather worthy thoughts and deeds, building up knowledge and happiness. Counterfeit humans don’t gather anything beneficial.

Take note that in this post and the prior, Constance did not resemble a happy camper. Though she and Mac seemed content at the party, it was fleeting, a temporary high from too much cake, candy and ice cream, along with the influx of gifts. For a more consistent high (without drugs or alcohol), mind training is essential.

We are the product of our mental processes. Any limitations imposed upon us by heredity or environment may be overcome simply by properly utilizing our minds. We need to withdraw into ourselves, turn into Michaelangelos and get to work. The great Michaelangelo regarded a block of marble, then cut away all that was excessive, smoothed out the rough parts, bringing light to shadows. He labored to make his work of art beautiful. This is exactly what each of us can do with our minds.

Just think.


The Curious Case of the Stuper First Thing in the Morning

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Early one morning, years ago, I heard the doorbell ring. By early, I mean 7:18 a.m. Did I mention it was on a Sunday?

Being an early riser, I’d already dressed and was in the midst of feeding my toddler. But Husband and older son still slept. Wondering who’d come calling at such an impolite and inconsiderate hour, I opened the door to find neighbor, Constance, waiting on the front porch.

Constance lived around the corner; I occasionally saw her at Mommy and Me class. In other words, we were not BFFs (best friends forever) or even BFs or even Fs. I hardly knew her well enough to slap a stuper (short, again, for a predominantly stupid person) sticker on her forehead, but I was beginning to get a sneaking suspicion.

For my dear readers that favor old films, I’d like to note that Constance bore a remarkable resemblance to Edna May Oliver, complete with longish, horse-like face and full fishy lips with round, piercing, yet inquiringly beady, eyes. But sorely lacking the charm and witty retorts.

She asked,

“Do you want to go for a walk right now?”

I declined,

“Uh, no thanks, I’m kind of busy…”

Not easily put off, she craned her neck so that it reached past the threshold and peeked into my living room several feet away.

“Is that a Baker?”

I frantically searched for someone in my house wearing a Chef’s hat and smock when Constance clarified, “The table. Is it a Baker?”

“Uh, maybe. I really have to…”

As her neck craned farther into my home, she continued, frowning in disapproval, “Why would you buy a three bedroom house? What about the Nanny?”

“You’re looking at her, and I like my home. Thanks for stopping…”

Constance retracted her neck and continued, “I’m having a birthday party for Junior next Saturday at the Park. I’d like you and Son to be there. Will you come?”

As much as Constance grated my rapidly fraying nerves, I could not say no to a child’s birthday party. Especially with my own child standing behind me and listening.

“We’ll be there.”

I was completely puzzled by the nature of the early morning visit; what the heck was the point? It’s often a challenge to decipher stupidity. Constance’s motor may have been running, but it was stuck in idle.

We attended the birthday party and both Constance and her husband, Mac, treated me like a long-lost friend.

“Hey, Kel, would you like more cake?” or “Keligirl, that top looks stunning on you! But then again, you always look stunning!” “Oh, Kel-Kel, you are so clever!” All accompanied by much giggling and light chattering.

I swear there was no liquor at the party, bright colored little pills or hastily rolled, suspicious looking cigarettes or pipes. But I’d bought Junior a mini basketball set that made quite an impression. The gift wrapper at the toy store inadvertently left the price tag on (pre-sale). The price made Constance swoon; I’m certain she vowed inwardly to be my best pal, then and there. I should have told her I’d paid 70% off, but she’d seemed so happy.

Yet Constance and Mac both proved themselves to be stupers to the third degree upon which I will elaborate in my next post. Before I close for today however, I want to add that stupers call when they please with no care as to time or convenience to the other party. I had a 4-H mom with whom I was barely acquainted call me recently at 6:51 am. She wanted the name of another 4-H member with nary an apology in sight. Do I look like I’m open twenty-four hours, convenience store style? Trust me, I don’t. I gave it to her and foolishly waited for an explanation. I’m still waiting.

Great minds like to think.


An Acute Attack of Stupidity at the Mailbox or Aimless Stupidity

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Yesterday, this stupidity specialist found herself in a foul temper. Blame it on a series of small, but unfortunate events. My sweet listening skills, which I have finely tuned, in order to more carefully observe, record, research and analyze the ludicrous and annoying antics of stupers (short for inexcusably stupid persons) got me into trouble.

The final such event sent me over the edge. Roving stupidity grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and demanded my attention, as I innocently walked out to my mailbox.

Spying a ready-made audience, a neighbor stopped by in his car to chat and rapidly proceeded to unload enough personal rubbish to qualify my front yard as a landfill large enough to accommodate four states. I was bombarded by his parents’ health issues, his very own derogatory remarks and truckloads of downright sniveling. This aimless, rambling stupidity drained all semblance of patience out of me within an incredibly short time span.

I not only became increasingly impatient as this neighbor spoke, but angered by the sheer volume of his complaints and irrelevant personal opinions. My dear readers may have learned by now, that patience is an antidote to stupidity as well as to anger, irritation and a minor bout with walking pneumonia. But I momentarily forgot this.

We are all searching for peace of mind. We try to buy this elusive commodity through multitasking, streamlining, scheduling, and purchasing products to rev up our lives, as well as going out of our way to avoid idiots. Often this search does the opposite. It deflates our ability to handle situations that require cool thinking and self-control.

Once in a while (a great while, mind you), when I crave attention, I bemoan living an interrupted life. For instance, when I’m writing an article, the phone rings, the religious proselytizers perch on my doorstep for the winter, a neighbor decides to test his new chainsaw right outside my window, and images left over from encounters with stupers return to pester me. I finally put off working until I can find a more suitable time.

My point? Our patience is perpetually tested. If we’re going to experience the seemingly elusive peace of mind, patience is a necessity. It’s a vital component to living a sane, stuper-free life.

By patience, I don’t mean putting up with infuriating things or annoying persons, but rather controlling our irritation, rage or other unpleasant emotion. If we can hone patience, stuper situations would occur less frequently and without annoyance.

With patience, comes clarity of thought; with clarity of thought, comes self-control; with self-control, we function more effectively. With all these things, comes peace of mind.

Treat stupidity as scenery along the road of life, not always pleasing to the senses, and sometimes downright stinky, not unlike a mile high manure pile, but still entertaining.

Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Think first, last and always.


Love Thy Stuper Neighbor

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

One of the stickiest stuper (short for a patently stupid person) situations occurs when the meager mind lives in your neighborhood. Here’s an e-mail I received regarding this very matter (edited to remove profanity):

Dear Keli,

My neighbors are stupers who think (or don’t) that it’s ok for them to drive through my yard and use my driveway.

About ten people moved in the house next door a few months ago. At any given time, there are no less than nine cars in their yard. If their driveway is blocked and some one wants to leave, they have no problem driving through their yard, into my yard and out my driveway. They never do it when I’m around (at least they’re smart that way). But I’ve come home many times and seen mud tracks coming from their yard over into my yard and then down my cement driveway.

I read your post about anger and neighborly stupidity. Should I ask them politely as you suggested or can I just call the cops?

Really Sick of Idiots in Mississippi

If only we could all have the likes of Mister Rogers living next door to us. Ever so genial and courteous. Alas, it is not so. Here’s my response:

Dear Really Sick:

Calling the police should be a last resort, and only if you require protection or are considering legal action. Sounds like you are currently saddled with stupers who are taking advantage.

Neighbors are a fixture, for the most part. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain good rapport. You do, after all, see quite a bit of each other, even in passing. This is particularly true when it comes to those of the directly next door neighbor variety.

If you feel comfortable enough, you may want to talk civilly to them or write a letter. By civilly, I mean, do not threaten to plant land mines or trick wire the place. Be honest and let them know that you value privacy and an unsullied driveway. 

However, the simplest, most effective remedy requires a monetary expenditure…by you. To wit: a fence. Fences were invented for a very good reason. I suggest you put one up. If this is not cost efficient for you, try shrubbery or other plants. In fact, any type of border will do. Boulders or large rocks, for instance. Even clearly visible, metal stakes will do.

In your case, it appears a fence would be a worthwhile investment to keep stupers at bay.

Some people get stuck in thinking there’s only one way to solve a problem. Managing stupidity requires a bit of tact, planning and in neighborhood situations, clearly defining your borders for the stupers among us.

Great minds like to think.


Stupidity Next Door

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Most neighborhoods contain the presence of at least one stuper (short for a nonsensically stupid person). Thinking back to my own varying ‘hoods, I find that this type of neighbor usually lived right next door to me.

There was the quintessential snoop who excelled in peering between the blinds of his second story window so often, there was a permanent crease in one corner that he took for granted as being a clever bonus provided by the manufacturer. I caught him frequently spying on me while I gardened in my yard. Once, I became frightfully worried when the blinds were still and his repeatedly darting figure missing. I trudged over to his front door only to have his Mrs. inform me that he was at the dentist’s. He resumed his reconnaissance activity upon his return, forty minutes later.

Then there was that odd older couple who positioned enormous clay pots housing large palms in a horizontal line at the foot of their driveway. Somehow, between sunset and sunrise, these pots managed to change locations, creeping closer to the street or spreading out in a sort of waltz-like sequence all over the driveway. I never actually saw anyone playing musical pots, but I did hear the wife’s high-pitched cries periodically in the dead of night.

Most recently, there was Gertie, a woman of about 60 or so with an indeterminate accent; in the mornings, she sounded British; by mid-day, decidedly Austrian, and by nightfall, she spoke a strange mixture of English spattered with guttural noises and Mandarin Chinese.

Gertie lived alone next door, with a rotating menagerie of animals. Derby, her pug, excelled in trotting over to our front lawn every afternoon and leaving a malodorous offering, prompting my husband to reciprocate. No, he didn’t actually use her lawn as a personal repository; he just removed the pug’s contribution and returned it to the lawn of its rightful owner. Whenever Gertie saw my husband make the deposit, she just smiled vapidly and nodded.

Gertie managed to kill off her rabbits, chickens and sheep, the demise of which she blamed on the forces of nature. She set her bunnies free to roam. Stray dogs found them delightful, but delicate, playmates. After emancipation, her chickens made a fine feast for raccoons, and Gertie attributed the loss of her sheep to coyotes. Never mind that no one had seen coyotes in the area for years and that these particular coyotes’ bellies were so full, they didn’t so much as take a nibble. I won’t discuss the fact that Gertie habitually forgot to give her sheep water.

I decided to befriend Gertie. Why? Firstly, in the interest of science. She could provide ample research material for my stupidity studies, and secondly, in the interest of science (did I just say that?). I thought I could convince her to allow me to run a few experiments on her. I could douse her with a bucket of ice water to see if dormant brain cells could be stimulated. And I’d just read in The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion by Zhen Jiu Da Cheng, that “mental stupidity and dull-wittedness” may be alleviated if 76 needles are placed in precise areas around the skull. Now, I know many of you dear readers believe I make these things up. I don’t. I find that the truth is far more fantastical than anything I can possibly conjure about stupidity.

I went over to Gertie’s house and proceeded to engage in small talk. I can’t tell you what we discussed, as I really wasn’t listening. I bided my time so that I could request her cooperation in my science project. As she rattled on, it suddenly occurred to me that there might exist those stupers for which there is no hope. Perhaps no amount of dousing with ice water would help. Maybe poking the skull with needles would be futile. How would I recognize a case of hopeless stupidity?

Gertie was saying, “Yes, my corral has been empty since my sheep died. I think (Readers: please note that there is a red alert anytime a stuper uses the word think), I just may get a horse. I’ve never had one before.”

I snapped out of my reverie. “Yes, you did, a few years ago.”

Gertie regarded me, completely baffled and repeated, “I never had a horse.”

Okay, this is where I flip out, take the stuper by the shoulders and shake her for at least fifteen minutes, while keeping a close watch on her bobbing head, to see if I can get any brain activity at all. Or I just quietly slip away. I did the latter. I went home and opened my photo album. This is what I found:

The Horse

This is a picture I took of my lovely children playing with one of our goat kids, but what’s most important is what appears in the background. Isn’t that a horse on Gertie’s property posing for my snapshot? In fact, it was her horse.

I then realized that Gertie was a hopeless stuper. No amount of dousing or acupuncture could possibly revive her. Sometimes, there’s only so much a stupidity specialist can do.



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!



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!