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These are just short stories, anecdotes and obsevations I write sometimes for myself that are hard to categorize and help me to avoid doing any useful work
I once told my mother while trying to be funny that if you see a person with a monkey, the monkey will turn out to be a lot smarter than it looks and the person will turn out to be a lot dumber than they look.
I had read and remembered that line from some story. I thought it was a funny line and used it in the first conversation I had with anyone when the subject of monkeys came up. It was in this conversation, concerning monkeys, with my mother, that I learned for the very first time that as a child my mother had owned a monkey. I still find the story I read about monkeys quite funny, but I no longer try to get a laugh with the remark about monkeys and their owners.
Wanting to be funny, trying to be amusing by saying an off the cuff, ad lib, witty remark can destroy a persons life in a few stony silent seconds, but once you have made your third grade class mate blow milk out their nose and nearly die from something funny you have said there is no going back.. But there are dangers.
I remember hearing a third rate comic get a laugh with the remark" Isn’t it a shame when cousins marry?" to describe the stupid decision or action of another person. I would often get a cheap laugh with this remark. One day Angel. one of my best friends at work, told me quietly but firmly after I said the line about marrying cousins, " You know Bob, my mother and father are cousins." I stopped using that line.
When something inexplicably odd happened at work and would cause everything to go wrong for no apparent reason I would try to get a laugh with the comment’ Those damn albinos". What were the odds of offending anyone? I soon learned a sisters coworker was an albino. I learned I could do less than terrible Scottish and Indian accents and used them at work until one day I was doing my Indian accent and my bosses boss, Vimahreshpandu Patel overheard me and gave me a dirty look.
When I think back, there was only one time in my whole life when trying to be funny by saying something silly was worth it. Often in a persons life they think back to a social situation and wish they had said something different. At least once in my life I said the perfect thing at the perfect moment in which I would change nothing.. How many can say that?
My boss at the time was Diana . She was the first Chemical Engineer Supervisor where I worked, she was a pretty good boss as bosses go but could be a bit snooty at times.. One day in the manufacturing area she took me aside to introduce me to another woman engineer that had just been hired. Diana said to Susan, " Susan, This is our Group Leader......." And she paused for about 6 seconds as she had forgotten my name. I stuck out my hand to Susan and said in a low but firm faintly Scottish accent and said, " Bond.... James Bond."
Susan got an enormous smile and Diana started sputtering, " I know your name, it’s......Bob....Bob, Bob, Bob!
It was perhaps the only perfect moment in my life in which I would not want to change anything. Although sometimes, I do have a yearning for a monkey.
There was a time when I was about 11 or 12 years old when I went , as pretty much as I can tell, plum loco. Plain crazy, nuts as you will.
One of my best friends, Tom Maultsby had gone swimming at a pool. We lived in the Little River Housing projects It was the very early sixties in Miami. We were poor, and didn’t have a pool, only a soupy weed lined canal. The pool he went to was a half hour walk away and was at somebody's house that charged a quarter. I didn't know how to swim and didn’t have a quarter.
While Tom was at the pool one summer day a friend of his told him some incredible news. He was told that the submarines for sale for only $12.95 on the back of the comic books was a real submarine and could actually take a kid or two underwater. I was in shock.
I asked Tom a dozen or more eager but doubtful questions and one by one he was able to answer them in the affirmative.
Yes, the submarine was only $12.95. Yes, it was made out of a special cardboard that was waterproof. Yes, it must have a bike pedal propulsion system to make it move underwater, Yes, it was easy to assemble as it said that any kid could do it in the ad.
With each logical answer to my questions I became more and more convinced. I was wanting to believe from the very beginning but it seemed too good to be true. With every answer I became more and more a true believer. I was going to be a Submarine owner and explore anywhere under the sea I could ever imagine. My mind began to cast off all lines . I was headed out to sea.
There were reasons I was so quickly converted, at that time submarines were in the news a lot. The Beatles had just come out with the song and Movie yellow submarine. There was a series on TV called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with the amazing Richard Baseheart. My hero, Jaqcue Costeau and the Scuba sport was making its first appearance . Most importantly, I was utterly fascinated by the Ocean, ships , sailing and anything to do with the aquatic life. I wanted to believe it was possible to buy a real live operating submarine for only $12.95 with my whole being, and my best friend, my friend who had never lied to me before and believed the same thing. I believed it too. I was now a $12.95 cardboard submarine fanatic!
At this point , I began a campaign to drive my parents crazy. I believed in $12.95 submarines, why could they not believe, and by the way, why could they not fork over $12.95?
Every day for a week I never spoke to my Mom or step dad without mentioning how much I wanted to have a submarine. I answered every question they had with what I thought was perfect logic. I could not believe they would not do such a small thing for me. I tried to enlist my brothers and sisters in my campaign but they were extreme non believers. I began to believe they either hated submarines, or me, or both.
At night I could not sleep and if I did I dreamed submarines and submarine adventures.. Oh, the places I would go and the things I would do. If I only had $12.95.
In the early 1960’s $12.95 was not a frivolous sum to a poor family living in the housing projects. Even today, 40 years or more later I can buy 26 cans of vegetables and soup for 50 cents a can at the Chinese store ( walmart) for the price of one Submarine.
Slowly, my mom, who was very patient, reached her breaking point after a week of one sided dramatic debates and told me not to talk about the subject anymore. I felt my brain fever pop like a million silvery shining hopeful bubbles rising up from deep down in the cool blue sea up to the bright surface and the harsh unforgiving sun and light of day where my cool yellow submarine dream would dissipate and fizzle out and be gone forever. One of the most magical and hopeful and anxious weeks of my whole life was due to that submarine dream, but that dream was to be short. After that week it began to quickly fade.
In time , I began to have doubts about my submarine. My moms unshaken disbelief eventually made me ask more questions to myself, and the more I asked the harder it was to keep the dream alive. I wanted this underwater adventure more than anything, and when my best friend in the world told me it was true, and he had no reason to lie, and had never lied before, then if I wanted this so bad ,then it had to be true.Of course it was true, You had to be a fool not to beleive.
But of course, $12.95 cardboard submarines can not take a child gleefully scooting around underwater among laughing dolphins and whales and the other happy and friendly creatures of the sea. I can see that clearly now.
Years later, I am left to wonder how many other things are in my life that are like the submarine
How many things that are false do I believe to be true only because I think they will allow my dreams seem possible?
How many of us prefer to believe a lie and live in a happy cool wet blue watery dream and avoid the harsh bright sunlight of the surface. How many of us prefer to have others fork over the $12.95 so we can attempt to achieve happiness instead of earning the $12.95 and spending it unwisely ourselves. How many of us believe if others don’t believe in our dream they must hate us or our dreams or both.
These are very hard questions. Unfortunately I don't think I can really help you answer them, I am pretty busy at the moment trying to make a really strong waterproof cardboard and looking for some bicycle parts and yellow paint....... Full speed ahead, Mr. Parker, full speed ahead
Nov 2 2008