Mysteries of Life
Why, for example, do I continue to try to offer explanations with apologies when I have annoyed Mrs. B? No, seriously. I have learned from great men, much older, presumably wiser, and longer married than me that anything beyond "sorry" will be construed as arguing from your wife. And arguing is always a losing proposition for a husband, even if it's usually over how many ice cubes one of you requested or which turn to make during a road trip in which you have no paper map. If you're wrong and admit as much you are inadvertently fueling the I-knew-he-was-an-idiot fire. If you're right and you say as much, you are lording it over her in a nah-nah-nah-nah-nah sort of way. If you had no clue that you did anything wrong and you try to explain as much, you "doth protest too much." And if you had no clue and are silent about it, then you're pouting. I should listen to you old guys. I think there might really be something to the concept of always conceding guilt when the issue is minor, swallowing whatever pride acccompanies that grudging admission, and moving on.
Speaking of moving on, I was watching a TV newscast earlier and the reporter was in a predominantly black urban neighborhood, a neighborhood I happen to be familiar with in a city I happen to be familiar with. It's funny, 'cause this is something Mrs. B and I were discussing casually over the weekend in relation to another story. Anyway, at one point in her brief report the TV reporter found a local to interview. The guy she found? That dude. That dude with the Afro pick sticking out of his hair and the peanut butter and jelly stains on his t-shirt. That dude with a crucial tooth or two missing, and one hand planted firmly on his twig'n'berries. That dude who finished every sentence with "nahmean?" Standing next to that dude? Another black man in pressed trousers, pressed shirt, combed hair, most of his teeth, etc. How do TV news reporters always find that dude when they need a neighborhood resident to talk? What, the guy who looked together didn't fit the preplanned direction you needed your story to take? It's not a race thing. I've seen it in rural, predominantly white towns too- 20 houses on a block, 19 of them firmly rooted to the ground and occupied by people who don't fit appearance stereotypes, and the resident the reporter seeks out is the one whose house could be stolen by someone driving a strong enough truck with a chain and a tow bar, whose Afro pick is a Confederate bandanna, whose "nahmean" is "boy howdy," and whose t-shirt bears the very same PBJ stains. It's like there's a "bad representative magnet" on those TV cameras.
And finally there's the gossip. I have a friendly acquaintance - and that's all I'll say about this person, so as not to give away how/where I know them from, keeping in mind that I play and work in a lot of different places around a lot of different people - who has what I believe to be a genetic disorder: this person cannot help but repeat everything they're told, no matter how inconsequential or how serious. New information eats a hole in this person's jaw. If we were still fighting the Cold War, the CIA could make great inroads in the former U.S.S.R. by whispering a false state secret to this person and giving them a one-way plane ticket to Moscow. And yet, knowing all of this, on those rare occasions when I find myself alone with this person I still say things to them. I don't know why. I should say hello and keep moving. But I don't. I make conversation or at least respond to the conversation they make. It's like feeling obligated after a while to try to make small talk with the security guard you see coming into work every morning. You know that, like you, he just wants to do his job and go home. He probably doesn't give two craps about your take on last night's game. He probably doesn't care how many times your kid made it on base during the weekend's little league game. And he definitely doesn't care what your wife is making for dinner tonight. And yet you talk to him, 'cause it's the nice thing to do. And he smiles back at you and nods patiently at your stories, 'cause it's the nice thing to do. In a twisted sort of way I feel like I have to say something, anything to the gossip when I bump into that person. I really need to learn the art of small talk. I can carry on a great lengthy conversation, I think. I'm bad at small, throw-away talk though. If I was better at it I could talk about the weather or water temperature at the beach with the gossiper and they would never get any ammo from me. I'm a gossip enabler. I'm seeking help.
OK, I'm outta here like Don Cornelius. I have work-for-money to do.
Till tomorrow, my friends.