The Way Things Are






Well. Would you look at that.
2005-05-12, 11:22 a.m.

Well. Would you look at that? Lauraís mood has stabilized, and sheís back in her usual good mood. No giggling! I can hear you all giggling at the thought of my normal mood being good. Iím almost always happy, now, come on. I just donít respond well to being yanked around by folks whose problems I just canít seem to care about. Iíve got work to do. You people can sort your emergencies out for yourselves.

I received a delightful piece of spam today. It is from one Helen Helton, and its subject line is:

ďI canít even start to think of thatĒ.

Have you ever HEARD of something so appropriate in all your life? That about sums me up, right there in a nutshell.

I hereby decree that we should all start looking at spam subject lines as a kind of a fortune cookie, or maybe a horror-scope. You get lots and lots of them, but every now and then, one fits ya, and you take it as a sign from GOD that somebody or some creepy thing knows more about you than you do yourself, and this is therefore something meaningful.

I further decree that ďI canít even start to think of thatĒ is my new slogan, my mantra. I shall needlepoint it on a pillow, and will write Helen Helton a personal note of thanks for opening my eyes up to the truth of what spam email really is: the voice of God.

I further declare that ďI canít even start to think of thatĒ will be my standard response whenever some random jackleg calls me up all breathless with whatever their emergency is that day that I, and only I, can solve for them by immediately dropping whatever Iíve got my hands on (and itís not usually myself but sometimes it is, if you know what I mean, and I think you do), reprioritizing my week, and directing my focus from my 27 other things to do in the next hour, and spend my time on their bullshit and only their bullshit.

Repeat after me: I canít even start to think of that.

Hee! My management colleague from down the hall just came in and gave me a dollar. He and his team worked on fixing a minor emergency on a property (the kind of stuff that we are supposed to be focusing on) and they did it so well that I sent a very complimentary email to a mid-ranking government bureaucrat who was monitoring our response to said minor emergency, and bragged about how good my team is and how much I value them. And I got a dollar! Excellent! I shall work on praising people more often.

Oh, donít worry. Iíll buy him a beer with that dollar tomorrow at happy hour. See? Itís the circle of life.


Our CPA, who works in another small town, is in charge of his local athletic booster clubís scholarship program. They get these high school kids to fill out applications for this scholarship, and they have asked me to rank the kids, and since I donít know any of them or their parents, I can be an impartial judge.

There were 5 applicants this year, and my task was to choose the most deserving boy and the most deserving girl. The two boy applicants were outstanding: complete application package, lots of information, had their personal hand-written narrative about what the scholarship will mean to them, and the required letters of recommendation from teachers and coaches.

The three girl applicants were a major disappointment. Only one of them had actually completed the application and all the required attachments, but she had done a piss-poor job of it, as if she left it til the morning it was due, and didnít want to bother with it. Maybe she was hungover. Maybe she is my clone.

For instance, in the space where she was supposed to describe her extracurricular activities other than sports, and any honors or awards she had received, she said ďnoneĒ. But in her recommendation letters, I learned that she was indeed involved in activities and had received some awards.

What the hell, girl? Lazy. Thatís what it isÖdadburn kids these daysÖlazy.

It almost looked to me as if the girls had purposefully thrown the contest to the boys.

It pained me that I couldnít choose the two boys and let the girls get what they deserved: nuttiní. It vexed me so! Alas, I had to choose between the two boys and grudgingly admit that one girl wasnít as bad as the other two.

As I worried and obsessed, my brain (independently of my conscious control, I assure you) started to process and churn, and I came up with the plot or sub-plot to a novel or screenplay. I do this sometimes, you see. I should sell plotlines and subplots on ebay. I can come up with the idea, but the writing, mmmm, not so much.

So hereís my plot idea: small-town scholarship, kids, girls throwing the contest to make sure one of the boys wins. But why? What is the sinister underlying purpose here? I think perhaps that they had done something horrible to this boy or his family (did they kill his brother accidentally in a drunken driving accident?), and are now attempting to make amends and this is all they can come up with? It is our heroineís job to figure out what exactly they are making amends for.

Mayhem ensues, of course.

And all thatís for the novelist to figure out, not me. I only come up with this stuff: I canít flesh it out and make it real.

I hereby declare a trademark upon the above-stated plotline. Or a copyright. Whatever it is. Itís mine, but it, much like me myself, can be had for a dollar or two.

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