Archive for the ‘Well Meaning stupidity’ Category

Stupidity Waits in Line

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Waiting in line at a department store on the day after Christmas is as natural an occurrence as quills on a porcupine. It is to be expected. Stupers (short, yet again, for unflinchingly stupid persons) do not comprehend this. They regard it as highly irregular and an affront to their unwavering sense of impatience.

Yesterday, I returned seven items in the men’s section of a store. When my turn arrived to be assisted, two marvelously capable workers helped me. My entire transaction took no more than four minutes. During this period, I glanced behind me. A queue of five people had formed consisting of:

  1. A small, quiet, resigned fellow who exuded enough patience for the entire city of Buffalo, New York;
  2. Two large ladies, one of whom favored the size and shape of a small elephant (think Babar, without the jaunty crown); the other resembled a cross between a candy cane and cement truck; and

3. A foreign couple whose accent was indeterminate.

My focus remained mostly on the completion of my transaction, but I managed to catch a smattering of chatter between the foreign couple. As my 3.5 readers know, “striped” is a one- syllable word. However, this couple pronounced it as two syllables – “stri-ped.”

“There’s a nice stri-ped shirt over there.” “Do you like those stri-ped pants?” and so on.

I barely noticed this quaint chitchat until the cement truck-like woman interrupted them and announced, “It’s not stri-ped. It’s striped!”

Silence ensued, long enough to tie a sneaker. Then the woman continued,

“You should know that you’ve been saying it all wrong. It’s striped! Not stri-ped.”

Silence again ensued, long enough to tie the other shoe.

Then the couple continued their conversation, “Do you like stri-ped pants?” “I prefer a stri-ped shirt.”

I chose that very moment to turn and face the group behind me. I apologized, saying,

“I’m very sorry to be taking so long.”

The responses were,

“No problem.”

“It can’t be helped.”

“Do not worry. It gives us a chance to browse the selection of stri-ped clothing.”


This last comment came out in one great huff from the cement truck-size lady, who, as you may have guessed, was a stuper. That one word indicated that I had no business returning so many items (to which I heartily agreed; but the men in my life are exasperatingly fickle when it comes to wardrobe).

In a span of a few short minutes, stupidity revealed itself. Take note of how the chatty couple dealt with the stuper. They refused to acknowledge her existence, continued their quest for stri-ped clothes and maintained their sense of well-being. They regarded stupidity as they would a pothole in the road. It existed for barely a moment. Once passed, it was readily forgotten.

Think first, last and always.


Charitable Stupidity

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Are you familiar with the adage “if charity is worth doing, it should begin as far away from home as possible and preferably on the other side of the world where it can be combined with a little vacation time and fun?” (Excuse me while I take a breath). I sincerely hope you are not familiar with this saying. Otherwise, you’d fall into the undesirably dense category of stuper (short again for a deplorably stupid person).

My dear friend Becky, practices law. She manages to escape once per month for a week to visit her elderly father who lives eight hours away in a nursing home for veterans. As you may imagine, Becky is a generous, kindhearted person.

Becky’s older sister, Dana, also a lawyer, does not visit Dad more than once annually. Poor Dana has no time, gosh darn it. Her newfound religion requires her to take far-flung missions to spread the teachings of her faith. Last year, she traveled to China and got to see the Great Wall. And before that, a ski trip to the Swiss Alps was in order. She’s thinking of the Greek isles for next year. Although her father calls and tells her he misses her, Dana knows he understands. People who live on the other side of the earth are just as important as ailing Daddy. Actually, according to Dana, they’re more important.

Then there’s Melissa who lives ten minutes away from her grandparents. They see her at family gatherings every so often. They’d like to see more of her, but Melissa is very involved in her junior league charity work. It’s a wonderful organization that throws posh parties, proper teas and even arranges Caribbean cruises for members…when they’re not distributing cans and gathering scarves for the homeless, of course. Granny and Grandpa just aren’t as fun as Melissa’s charity group pals.

Stupers have a sort of brain fog when it comes to charity. To be meaningful, volunteer type activity for stupers must involve more than just helping others. And it’s far more interesting when aid involves people they don’t know.

If you keep your eyes and ears open (unlike stupers who have about as much awareness as a split pea), you’ll notice there are always people who need help: the older man without a cell phone who’d like to make a quick call, but isn’t allowed to use the store phone; the weary looking lady behind you in line at the market with only one or two items; or the forlorn faced person who could use a friendly smile. And for more formal charitable work, there’s the public library, local homeless shelter, the Humane Society, senior center, Boys and Girls’ Clubs…

Stop and think about what you’re doing…or not doing.


Prying Stupidity

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

The most obvious means of dodging the distress stemming from encounters with stupers (short yet again, for brazenly stupid persons) is to stay at home, alone, locking all means of entry and treating the phone like a rabid raccoon. Alas, this is as possible as boarding the Titanic.

During the holiday season, there’s a surge in brushes with stupers, especially when attending soirées, and positively if relatives of the seldom seen variety are present. These are the ones who, though infrequent visitors, expect to be regarded as priests in the confessional. They want to hear all. Consequently, I’m offering a quick refresher course on ways to maintain sanity when asked Questions from Hell. Of course, a sign may be worn around the neck, which reads: Do Not Disturb. But it’s unlikely, no, improbable, that stupers would get the message.

A close cousin of mine, Alice, recently got a divorce. Hence, she avoided all family gatherings in order to bypass an inquest by relatives. Queries were directed to me instead.

Stuper: Why did Alice and Ted break up?

Me: I don’t know.

When a stuper asks a question that is none of her business and/or one you do not wish to discuss, it’s okay to play the part of a stuper yourself. Merely look wide-eyed and slowly trail the end of your response upwards two or three octaves; then bring it suddenly back down at the last possible second, while slightly shaking your head in obvious wonder. The different tones along with the head motion can cause a slightly hypnotic effect on the stuper, rendering them (hopefully) speechless. During this interval, tiptoe to safety.

Stuper: How much does your husband make?

Me: Oh that reminds me. My kids’ 4-H club is having a See’s Candy fundraiser. How many boxes would you like to buy?

This defense response somewhat resembles an eye for an eye. Should a stuper put you on the spot, don’t be afraid to do the same to them. That should keep them from approaching you for awhile (at least twelve-fifteen minutes).

Stuper: How come you’re not practicing law anymore? (I can never escape a function without being subjected to this weary query.)

Me: I’ve become really good at borrowing money from family members and friends to keep me afloat. Can you loan me ten grand?

Use this last one in an emergency. Attempting to borrow money works like a charm for getting rid of a stuper in a hurry.

I don’t mind questions. But those of a personal or intimate nature should come only from close, loved ones. Not sporadic, stuper relatives/acquaintances.

You can’t teach a person to think. But you can find ways to distract them during probing questioning without being rude, using the above techniques.

If none of the tips for deflecting relentless prying suits your style, you might choose a simpler response: “I’ll get back to you on that later.” This provides a polite and speedy escape.

Think first, last and always!


Hidden Stupidity

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Stupidity is often obvious, like the malodorous scent of a skunk. Other times, it’s subtle, mild, undefined and slips in unexpectedly from typically trusty sources, such as parents, dear friends, mentors, teachers, beauticians or mail carriers. In my case, all conspired to change the course I’d chosen for myself.

Just prior to graduating law school, I was exceedingly fortunate in obtaining an almost perfect job. I loved my extraordinary boss. She hired me despite my being an average student from an average school whose talent, if it existed, was completely hidden to the naked eye.

I worked my way from an intern to a law clerk to a lawyer for a company that represented the movie/TV studios in labor negotiations. There was just one problem. I detested labor law like I detested finding a stray hair dangling from my mouth after an innocent bite of salad. My boss generously allowed me to continue to work for her while I hunted down the right job.

I desired a spot as business affairs counsel for a studio. My attainment of this position seemed as likely as my growing a beanstalk, climbing up and sharing a mug of hot chocolate with Jack’s giant. To succeed in my endeavor, I needed either: an ivy league degree, gilt-edged law firm experience, inside knowledge of the secret fetish of an important movie executive (not yet known by the rags), adoption by a Brangelina type couple or willingness to engage in unmentionable activities (as this is a PG-13 rated blog).

Not one to stand still, I opted to take virtually every business affairs attorney in town to lunch in an attempt to display my sparkling personality and to convince them that I was the chosen one. I ended up with empty pockets.

I did manage to nab several interviews, however. Even second and third interviews where I was certain the job was in the bag. Unfortunately, none panned out. My last one was particularly irksome in that I forgot how to speak English for a few brief moments while meeting with the head guy, a name brand producer.

“Nice to meese you,” I said charmingly after we were introduced.

Needless to say, I wasn’t even asked to sit down.

I’d made little headway. Soon after, almost everyone I knew advised me to seek work in another field of law. Business affairs jobs were hard to come by. And one needed plenty of solid experience. Where the hell is experience supposed to come from if no one is willing to give you a chance?

My boss suggested I go where all other newly minted attorneys go when first seeking employment: the government. Specifically, the District Attorney’s office. Even my dearest mom seconded that motion reminding me of the splendid benefits as did my friends, former professors and the beautician, even though she said the head D.A. was a terrible tipper. The postal carrier, tired of seeing me perched atop the mailbox, day after day, awaiting a positive response to the countless resumes I’d sent out said,

“Why do you do this to yourself? You like being rejected?”

Damn right I didn’t. But my sights were fixed. I didn’t want to work anywhere else. Picture an incredible craving for an ice cream sundae and settling instead for cold mashed potatoes. I didn’t want to stop trying. Yet every seemingly authentic human I knew advised otherwise.

I caved in and nabbed an interview at the D.A.’s office. I’ve relived that experience twice; once alive and in person, and the second time, in great detail in my book. I can’t bear to do it again here, not even for my cherished readers; so in summary, we mutually agreed the position wasn’t for me. And yes, a heavy, dust-laden legal treatise accidentally landed on the assistant D.A.’s foot with a fairly strong downward force, mid interview. I left knowing I’d not be back.

Despite the rumblings from all that chances of getting the job I wanted were slim, I finally found my perfect position just a few months later. Success had been lingering just around the corner despite appearances to the contrary.

I wonder how many of our dreams, large or small, are dashed or sidetracked, due to well meaning advice? I often hear complaints from readers who encounter stupidity in the form of unsolicited suggestions that go against the grain of their desires.

“It’s not going to happen.” “What’s the use?” “You can’t do it.” “That’s stupid.”

Beware of anyone who calls your desires”stupid.” You know what they’re really saying: “I’m stupid.”

Ultimately, the voice you must listen to is your own. Life is filled with good intentions. And you know where that road can lead.

Think for yourself or someone else will do your thinking for you.


Busybody Stupidity

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Many thanks to my marvelous, nimble-minded readers; this is my fiftieth post! I could no way have done it without you. You’ve helped make my blog a success. Only a select two or three people actually acquainted with the real me know about the existence of this blog. I keep it secret for two reasons: namely, I don’t want to cause undue concern that they may wind up a featured stuper (short again, for a staggeringly stupid person). Secondly, they may actually be featured here.

Because of my dear readers’ encouragement, I just opened an office. My shingle reads:

Keli Garson, Stupidity Specialist

Motto: “When stupidity creates a mess, I’ll help you clean it up.”

During the first forty-eight hours of business, my phone was silent and my door stayed closed. The only call came from my children who asked when dinner would be ready and could I hurry up and do the laundry.

On day three, I hung up a new sign: “No charge. Walk-ins welcome.”

A line of four people immediately formed. I had to gently remove the first client as he wanted me to “off his brother-in-law,” but the second, Ellen, an attractive woman of about fifty or so, actually presented this case:

Ellen’s son, Jason, ran for President of his eleventh grade class. He’d worked hard, passing out fliers, hanging up posters and making speeches. Many thought he was a shoe-in. However, the election results came, and he lost. Naturally, Jason was disappointed, but got over it quickly.

Immediately after the election, an acquaintance, Judy*, approached Ellen and inquired whether Jason would be okay. Ellen reassured her that he’d be fine. Actually, Ellen felt more disappointed than Jason. As parents, we often take our kids’ letdowns harder than they do.

Ellen ran into Judy a day later; Judy again asked how Jason was doing. Ellen replied that the loss was actually a bit of a relief as it gave Jason some time off from a hectic schedule.

This response did not satisfy the stuper as that evening, Judy e-mailed Ellen to again ask how Jason was doing. How disappointed was he? Would he ever get over it? This continued over a period of several weeks. Ellen said,

“I hardly know my personal agitator, yet she badgers me, day after day. Unexpectedly appearing on my doorstep. Incessantly ringing my telephone. Filling my e-mail screen with constant reminders of Jason’s ‘devastating loss.’ She is driving me to the brink of madness. I have no clue when she’ll next attack. This makes defense problematic.”

At first glance, this meddling moron may appear innocuous and even caring in an overzealous, unbending way. However, Ellen informed me this exact scenario was played out last year when another favored candidate, Katy, happened to surprisingly lose. Judy had spent the entire year telling everyone, with puritanical fervor, how disappointed and bitter not only Katy was, but her whole family. This news came as quite a shock to Ellen since both Katy and her family seemed happy and oblivious about their “humiliating” loss. Ellen hoped to avoid the same kind of scandalous talk spreading about her own family by acting as impassively as she could.

I gave Ellen some options. She could:

  • Obtain a restraining order against Judy to keep her at bay;
  • Seek psychiatric help in order to ascertain whether Jason, in fact, suffered from severe disappointment and didn’t know it;
  • Carry large cymbals and smack them next to Judy’s head once she started her meddlesome chatter in order to shock this stuper into, hopefully, coming to some of her senses; or
  • Ignore her


I personally recommended the cymbals; it would be a fascinating experiment to try out on a stuper, but Ellen happily chose the last option. She would also block Judy from her e-mail and phone, and let her pit bull answer the door next time Judy came ’round.

The only way not to promote the wagging tongue of a stuper is to turn one’s back on it. True, they may go ahead and make up their own take on the story, but they won’t enjoy it nearly as much. Plus, Ellen had the satisfaction of knowing the truth.

Stupers are adept at bearing the pain of other’s. Remember, people of this questionable caliber pass through our lives for a reason: so that we may hone the ability to truly appreciate the kind, thoughtful, caring authentic humans in our lives.

Think first, last and always!


* Those of you seasoned readers may recognize that Judy is the original stuper from Stupidity in Action. I live in a small town; hence, the same stuper may reappear again and again.

Ready, Aim, Fire Stupidity

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Have you ever contemplated inflicting a moderate-to-sizable dose of bodily harm on another person? How about while shopping in a department store? The answer is almost always yes – at least when the other person is a stuper (short for those remarkably stupid persons).

My sister, Vanessa, had this to say about her department store encounter with stupidity:

“I’d just left the cosmetics section. Then I turned around and saw this girl, running towards me in what looked like slow motion. She held a hand out in front of her, and in it, she was holding a Q-tip with a glob of white cream at the end. She ran up to me and said, ‘This is a great new eye cream perfect for your wrinkles!’ She didn’t just say ‘wrinkles.’ She said MY wrinkles. I told this obviously semi-blind, possibly lobotomized *&($#, that I already used an eye cream that worked well. I turned to leave, and she had the nerve to ask which one. I told her they didn’t carry it in this store, and I took off. I didn’t want to risk hearing another stupid word out of her.

Later, I went back to buy a lip-liner. Mine had fallen in the toilet (don’t ask). I couldn’t remember the color so I asked for help. This time, the salesperson, while supposedly helping me, kept her eyes fixed, off to one side, on the escalator.

I asked to see a rose toned lip-liner. She reached her hand beneath the counter, and, puppet-like, handed me a brown liner. I asked again, and she pulled out a red one. Meanwhile, she wouldn’t tear her eyes away from the escalator. I asked a little louder, ‘Do you have rose colored lip-liner? Hello? Hello?’ She didn’t even notice when I left. I think she’s probably still standing there, gazing up at the escalator.

I asked my sister whether these were young girls. Perhaps if they were teenagers, they hadn’t gained enough experience to exercise proper thought. Vanessa responded,

“They both looked around thirty years old. If that first girl was a teenager, then that wrinkle cream ain’t working.”

Sometimes, when a stuper gets ready, aims and fires, they inadvertently hit the bull’s-eye. This was the case with the eye cream girl.

Vanessa pampers her skin and it shows. Without the use of a powerful magnifying glass or compound microscope, it’s tough to spot any wrinkles. Unfortunately, this stuper, in her zeal to sell her cream, broached a sensitive topic in an insensitive way, which did neither herself nor my sister any good. Stupers have an uncanny knack for getting too personal, too soon.  There are two ways to handle this:

1. Escape: get away from the stuper as soon as you can; or

2. Blast the stuper: by blast, I mean tell him/her to buzz off, using only carefully chosen words and being as brief as possible. Then remove yourself from his/her presence. Prolonged interaction with a stuper does neither party any good.

I suggest the first line of defense. It’s best to put stupidity behind you as soon as possible.

As for the second girl, it’s questionable whether she fell into the stuper category. Perhaps she awaited the arrival of someone important and was expecting him/her to appear on the escalator at any moment. However, I believe she leaned toward being a stuper. She was in the midst of a job; she owed it to her customers and her place of business to, at least, make an effort. Staring at an escalator does not equal effort. Subtlety is not a strongsuit of stupers.

Why not think?



Insistent Stupidity

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on thinking!