Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hate: Feeling Obligated to Talk to People

I don't really like people. I've said before that they are interesting to observe in their natural surroundings, but for the most part, I would really rather not interact with them. Perhaps feed them and hope for a fleeting stroke of their head as they scurry away after eating from my hand. Maybe capture them in a photograph while they are unaware they are being watched (oh wait, that's a misdemeanor), but that's about all I'm really interested in.

For that matter, I prefer quiet to noise. As much as I enjoy some high-quality '80's hair band rock and roll, Eddie Van Halen can wear me out with his guitar playing. So, for me, people + noise = hatred.

This post was prompted by a trip to the car repair place to get our super-duper minivan a little more super and/or duper. The garage at least offers the service of taking you where you need to go while your car is being worked and they even pick you up when it's done. Nice! Not so nice was the old guy who blathered on and on about stupid stuff in his life as he took me into work. He covered about 22 topics in the seven minutes we were in the car together, including but not limited to:

his upcoming rotator cuff surgery
his previous rotator cuff surgery
the pain associated with his rotator cuff surgery
his wife's hip and knee replacements
his sister's 60th high school reunion
his nephew's career at GM
his vacation to Florida

During his prattling, I felt obligated to see "oh", "OK" and "Really?" because I'm such a nice guy. He also didn't have the A/C on and I was getting all clammy in the car. You're here to provide a service, Gramps, just get on with it. I'm more than happy to stare straight ahead while you chauffeur me around. Feel free to NOT talk to me.

And how about those long elevator rides with a total stranger? Those are the worst! You go in, you press your button and you proceed to watch the little numbers light up as you go up the building. Of course, you're not just going from the 3rd floor to the 6th floor. You gotta go all the way up to 52! Do I say something? What would I say? "Hot enough for ya?" "How 'bout them Tigers?" "Have you seen that fat guy in Accounting?" It would take an exploding thing of some kind to get me to make idle chit-chat with the other person (that's assuming it isn't a babe who is totally hot for me). Excruciating! If my little elevator buddy wants to talk to me, I might just hear him/her out, but chances are that he/she will just bug me.

I'm happy to report that I work in a two-story building so the dreaded elevator stand-off doesn't happen too often. Unfortunately, said building has a couple of long hallways and the chances of walking down one of them while someone else is walking toward you are pretty good. Damn that architect! So, let me paint a picture for you: I'm walking down the hall headed to a meeting or some other useless activity and pretty soon here comes another lackey doing the same thing. If I'm lucky, I'll have a piece of paper in my hand that I can (pretend to) be looking at, thus avoiding eye/voice contact with the other lackey. If that's the case, I can just kind of glance up as we are passing and mutter a "hey" and keep moving. If I'm really lucky, I will be on the phone and maybe just do the quick, upward head motion that is universally accepted as acknowledging the other person's existence and that's about it.

However, in the event that I don't have any papers in my hand and there is no real use for the phone, I am forced into a stare-down with the on-coming lackey. Do I stare straight ahead? Do I look at everything EXCEPT the person coming towards me? What if it's a babe? How do I check her out without being too obvious? Invariably, we get about 6 feet apart (the exact distance doesn't matter, both parties will know when it's time) and we both do the muttered "hey", making only the briefest eye contact. Oy, vey! I've had root canals that are less painful!

So, here's the deal. Unless you're a babe who is trying to get me in the sack (What?! It could happen!), please leave me alone. If you must say something to me, please just say that it's OK for me NOT to say anything to you - because I really don't want to, I just feel obligated to.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't Get: Why I Dig Magic Tricks So Much

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering how in the world I could dig something as cheesy as magic tricks. Other than a mime, who is lower on the entertainment totem pole than a magician? I know, I know. And yet, I'm intrigued.

See, I'm way left-brained. I practically don't have a right brain. Some people won't be surprised to learn that I essentially only have half of a brain, but it's true. I marvel at people who draw lines that aren't straight and are actually OK with it. If I were to sculpt something, I could probably sculpt a really good rectangle. "The Thinker"? Not so much. And I'm much better at painting the kitchen than a landscape. So maybe it's due to my nerdy engineering brain that marvels at the ability of these yahoos to defy the laws of physics. Why, oh why, can't I saw a woman in half (you know, without the blood) when that buck-toothed goon Doug Henning can do it? I work with a guy who does cheesy parlor tricks during happy hour at a local restaurant. He wanders from table to table pulling coins from behind your ear and guessing the card that you have carefully pulled from the deck and shown no other living soul. The condensation from my beer soaks the tablecloth as I watch him cut the deck not once, but twice, and announce for all to hear that I am clutching the six of diamonds in my hands! Good God, is there no end to the miracles that this man can perform?

So as much as I'm amazed at the Happy Hour guy opening up a brand new deck of cards only to find MY card on top of the deck, I practically soil myself at the super-duper elaborate tricks that someone like Criss Angel does. Do you know this guy? He bills himself as "Criss Angel, Mindfreak" and when I grow up I want to be just like him. Got a plate glass window you want someone to walk through? Criss is your man. Got a swimming pool? Criss will walk across it for you. He's big on tricks like putting on a straitjacket, lock himself in a box with some nuclear waste, strap the box to the space shuttle in Florida and then 2.3 seconds later show up at a 7-11 in Topeka wearing scuba gear. He does some out-there stuff and I watch him coma-like when he does is TV specials.

Or maybe I dig magic because of the babes. Have you ever seen the chicks/assistants that prance around the stage with these dudes? And the outfits they wear? I have three words for you: Hot, hot and hot. If these magicians can pull a rabbit out of their hats, imagine what they can pull out of their pants! Of course, I would use my magic for evil. Instead of making the chick disappear and then re-appear in the cage where the lion used to be, I would make her disappear and show up at my place and I'd make a few pieces of her already-skimpy outfit even skimpier.
Maybe the reason I dig magic is because I can't do it myself. OK, it might be a little easier to do than paint something like "Lily Pads" by Monet. That whole painting is made out of a bunch of dots, for cyring out loud (this is my effort to appear cultured)! Can't paint, can't sing, can't play the piano and I can't make Cindy Brady disappear from a big box in front of the rest of the Brady bunch. One might think that I could learn how to shuffle a deck of cards so that the nine of hearts is always on top but I'm guessing that it would be a little trickier for me to whip out a Venus De Milo even though I wouldn't have to spend much time on the arms. And don't even get me started on the whole levitation thing.

So there you have it. I dig magic tricks. I'm just not sure why. One thing I don't dig about magic tricks, though, is when those bastard magicians don't tell how they do stuff. Penn and Teller are good about giving away their secrets but you still need a collapsible knife, some fake blood and some general sleight of hand to do most of their tricks. But who has time to make fake blood? I'd be too busy coming up with ways to use my magic to land some babes.