The Asterisk **

 

 

While riding down the New Jersey Turnpike, I noticed on the right-hand side a huge billboard picturing a Buick, Le Sabre. The sale price was up at the right – $35,999.99 followed by a large asterisk, to the right and above the nine.

We know what to do when we see an asterisk. When we see an asterisk we usually scan the page and see what the asterisk refers to. Try and scan a billboard on the New Jersey Turnpike while driving at 65 miles per hour. Thirty-Five Thousand, Nine Hundred Ninety -Nine dollars and Ninety-Nine cents, asterisk and then you start scanning. Before you know it, you’re smashing through the side rails, guard rails, signs, billboard, power plant, while riding down the New Jersey Turnpike.

By the way, if you bother to stop and actually scan the billboard, you will that the asterisk means that the $35,999.99 means FPOE, COD, and FET. All that secret coding means that General Motors is going to own your life for several years.

Tom Golden, PhD. Copyright, 1976.

I Don’t Know

Man: What do you mean you don’t know?

Woman: I just don’t know.

Man: You always say that!

Woman: Well, it’s true!

Man: What’s true?

Woman: I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Man: Wait a second. You mean you just don’t know what’s true, or you just don’t know anything?

Woman: No – not at all. It’s that I just don’t know. I know some things – but I just don’t know about this.

Man: What don’t you know about it?

Woman: I told you. I just don’t know!

Man: Okay, I’m sorry – let’s forget it.

Woman: Forget what? That’s just like you.

Man: What do you mean?

Woman: You are always ready to dismiss me.

Man: That’s not true.

Woman: Well, you just did!

Man: Why do you say that? Just because I said, ‘forget it’??

Woman: Yes, that’s right. You always do that.

Man: I don’t always do that.

Woman: Oh, yes you do!

Man: But I don’t always do anything!

Woman: Sure.

Man: No, it’s true. I said ‘forget it’ because I didn’t want to have an argument.

Woman: I’ve had it! I can’t even tell you I don’t know something without you getting disgusted and then cutting me off.

Man: What do you want me to do?

Woman: Nothing.

Man: That can’t be true. Tell me – just tell me what to do when you say. ‘I don’t know’.

Woman: Nothing. Don’t say anything.

Man: You mean that I shouldn’t answer you at all?

Woman: Yes, that is exactly what I mean.

Man: I’ve never done that in my entire life.

Woman: Done what??

Man: I have never said nothing when someone told me that they ‘didn’t know anything, or something.

Woman: What do you say?

Man: Well, sometimes I say – ‘What don’t you know, or how come you don’t know, or why you don’t know?’ Many times I say, ‘What do you mean you don’t know?’

Woman: And what do they usually say?

Man: I don’t know.

Woman: Don’t be cute.

Man: No – you know what I mean. They usually say, I don’t know.

Woman: Is that so bad?

Man: No.

Woman: But you look confused. You look bewildered.

Man: Well, it’s just that I’m not sure how to continue after someone says, ‘I don’t know’. If I don’t answer them, then what do I do?

Woman: Nothing!

Man: Just be silent – not say a word?

Woman: Yes. Then forget it and go on to something else.

Man: But earlier I said forget it, and you jumped down my throat.

Woman: I know, but that was because I was angry at you.

Man: For what?? Why were you so angry?

Woman: I was angry because you wanted me to talk about something I didn’t know about. Do you know how difficult it is to talk about something you know nothing about, or not sure of?

Man: But I was asking about you. I wanted to know your thoughts – your feelings.

Woman: I know what you wanted.

Man: And that’s why you said, ‘I don’t know’?

Woman: Exactly… I think.

 

A Foreign Language

Customer: I would like to buy a pair of jeans.

Clerk: Certainly. I can show you our latest Sassoons.

Customer: No, I don’t think so.

Clerk: But they are the latest fashion.

Customer: Oh. I didn’t realize that.

Clerk: Perhaps you would like to try our Jordach model.

Customer: No. I’m afraid not.

Clerk: We do have a nice selection of Clouds.

Customer: You do not seem to understand. I would like a pair of jeans.

Clerk: Sir, I do understand. I understand you perfectly well. That is why I have showed you the Sassoons, the Jordaches and the Clouds.

Customer: I know that, but I want jeans!

Clerk: Alright! I am doing my best, I assure you sir.

Customer: Excuse me. I did not mean to make you angry. I need a pair of jeans, and I had no idea that it would be so difficult to purchase a pair.You do have jeans, don’t you?

Clerk: Sir, we are the largest seller of jeans in New York.

Customer: Fine. May I please see some jeans.

Clerk: Of course, of course.

Customer: Great!

Clerk: We have just received a shipment of Wranglers.

Customer: That’s it!! I have never seen anyone so determined to lose a    sale!

Clerk What are you talking about?

Customer: What am I talking about? What a laugh! I came to buy jeans.      I have repeatedly asked you for a pair of jeans, and you refuse to sell          me any. That is what I am  talking about!!

Clerk: Sir, I am completely confused.

Customer: Well, I’ll make it simple. I would like to buy a pair of jeans.    That’s J  E  A  N  S! Will you, or won’t you sell my any??

Clerk: You’re damn right I will. What is your size!

Customer: 34 waist, and 32 long.

Clerk: Fine!

Customer: Great!

Clerk: How about Vera?

Customer: What?

Clerk: Vanderbilts!?

Customer: Who?

Clerk: Bonjour?

Customer: Au revoir!

 

My Gut Tells Me…

 

“My gut tells me” and then Michael Smerconish, radio commentator, continued to respond to a caller’s question. The caller spoke about the new union of ATT and Warner, and some consequences for citizens and Comcast. Michael initially said that he was not very familiar with the but, “My gut tells me,” and Michael gave his opinion.

Let us talk about ‘gutsy’ talk. Michael is not the only person to have ever expressed, ‘my gut tells me’. Everything we think or feel does not have to come from “I think” or “my heart tells me.” Sometimes we feel things deeper, or at least more deeply than from the heart. Sometimes we can’t just shut-up.
Back to ‘my gut tells me.’ At a joint meeting of the Chiefs of Staff in the Spring of 1945, President Truman was told about the Atom Bomb. Harry initially expressed his ignorance about uranium and plutonium. He did receive many memos about the technology of the bomb, but he once stated to an aide, is ‘fusion the same as fission, or are they just spelling errors?’ The aide thought that President Truman was just joking, but in fact he was not joking. The President was not at all clear about the technology, use, and consequences of the atom bomb, but one thing for sure. Straight talking Harry knew when his ‘gut’ talks to him, and he approved the use of the bombs.

“Mr. Senator, sir would you please tell us your stand on the bill on abortion.” said the reporter.

Senator X reflects on the reporter’s question about abortion. “Well to tell you the truth”, (reporter interrupts)

“Yes Senator, I would like the truth.”
“As I was saying prior to your rather rude interruption, I am not that familiar with the particulars of the actual, real process of abortion, but I have a feeling that..”
(reporter interrupts again)
“Sir if you are not familiar with abortion how can you vote on the issue. How?”

“Miss, if you would please allow me to finish my statement. I was just going to say that in my heart of hearts, and in my guts, the whole idea sounds pretty disgusting. I mean really ugly. I have feelings, you know. And my guts (whole package of guts) tell me, even without all the particulars that it is not right, G-D be praised.

All too often when we are questioned about an issue, and we believe that we should aware of the issue, we have the fallback position of affably expressed ignorance, followed by ‘my gut tells me’ and offer a full-blown exposition rooted in ‘I think’ or ‘my heart tells me.’

 

On Being Presidential

 

Recently newspapers have printed the diagnosis of narcissism as it applies to President Trump. Increasing numbers of psychologists have identified narcissistic characteristics in the President’s behavior. Professional mental health persons fear professional liability, ethical concerns or career damaging responses if they offer an illness label without interviewing the person. Once upon a time we did not have labels for mental illness. There was a time when one could say, if it “walks like a duck, and quakes like a duck, it’s a duck.” So let us look for a “duck, ” and we might find a raving “malignant narcissist.”

During a search, I have found the following clues to our diagnostic mystery. Our President has said:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” “I take out  those ads to wake up the Government…” “Then what does all this…the yacht, the bronze tower, the casinos really mean to you? Props for the show!”  “The show is Trump and it is sold-out performances everywhere.” “I play to people’s fantasies.” “If I put my name on something you know it’s going to be good!”

“I know words, I have the best words!” “I’m rich, therefore I tell the truth.” “But my primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff.” “I know far more about foreign policy” than Obama. “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” “I will demand anything I can get.

“When you’re doing business, you take people to the brink of breaking them without having them break, to the maximum point their heads can handle without breaking them”. “Islamic terrorism is eating large portions of the Mideast. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them.” “I’m the least racist person that you have ever met…”

“Every successful person has a very large ego. Every successful person? Mother Teresa? Jesus Christ? Far greater egos than you will ever understand.” “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength.”
“I will absolutely apologize if I’m ever wrong.” Please do not hold your breath.

Jones Beach Blues

 

 

GW Bridge is kinda slow.
Only place the car can go.
Three dollar toll for just one mile.
Toll collectress just can’t smile.
I Got The Jones Beach Blues

Whitestone or the Throgs Neck bridge
Which span will it be.
Two bucks,twenty -five, no difference to me.
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

We’re doing 60 for one-half mile.
Then 55 for quite a while.
The cars begin to rubber neck.
A smokey and a caddy wreck.
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

Down the road we travel on,
N.Y. cities’ come and gone.
The L.I.E. is up ahead.
We rap on about the “Dead”.
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

All those cars just full of meat.
To the beach to beat the heat.
The L.I.E.’s a parking lot,
Just saw a Vette a-smoking pot.
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

The sign reads Jones Beach on the right.
Take the Meadowbrook, we’re both uptight.
The drives been long and mighty hot.
Ya gotta love the beach alot.
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

Three – fifty more and the ocean’s mine.
That will leave us just a dime.
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

We rip on thru the toll booth lite,
Lot # 4 – its outta sight.
The crowd is huge – the beach is packed.
Boxes boom – Hey grease my back!
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

We get some rays – a coke and beer.
Our Jones Beach day until next year.
I Got the Jones Beach Blues.

 

One Part Alice in Wonderland/One Part Wizard of Oz

The recipe for the Trump presidency. No one, I mean not a single reporter, journalist, congressional representative, butcher, baker or candle stick maker can understand the behavior of the Trump administration. How do you respond when the President says: “I know somethings that you may never know”, or “when it comes to the truth I am really, really big on truth,” or “I like surprises, don’t you?”  What is he talking about? How do you converse with a person who talks as in never, never land? If you attempt to decipher what the man is saying, you will be guaranteed that whatever you thought he was talking about will be denied, or modified, or reversed by the President’s next comment.

Media reporters of all orientations struggle to offer a succinct description of what the Trump or his team has done or said, only to find that the subject has no relation to the verb, and the object is always changing. The copy editors try to state what they hear, or see as real – real as in actual, or known fact. They say that they have some facts, but not all the facts. At some point, they believe they do have all the facts, but come to find out that the facts are alternative facts, or on the other hand not exactly what was meant by what the editors saw, or heard and sometimes both.  All the news is presented as a puzzle, not a small puzzle, but a large puzzle. A puzzle with multiple solutions that may be solved by the FBI, or the Justice Department, or an impartial special counsel, or a non-partisan congressional investigation. Many investigators have been tainted by or influenced by someone, or something such that they are disqualified for their bias. Even if not biased, they may have posed naked on Facebook, or they may have written graffiti on the bathroom door of their local Dunkin Donuts, or failed to lift the toilet seat? We are all at risk for public damnation.

Text messages, emails, overheard conversations, visual surveillance all offer information that is immediately characterized as possibly photo shopped, improperly collected, or classified.  We are told that some information was given to Russian intelligence officials. We come to find out that the intelligence officials may not have been intelligent at all (only kidding). Cover-ups, closed doors, investigations controlled by the wrong people, or not by people at all, but by computer data records. We are told there are ways to get at the “truth.” What “truth?” Do we start a criminal investigation, or a counter-intelligence investigation, or just classify everything as ‘just messin.’ We are told that turmoil and chaos are instructive and can generate valuable experience, if we are not bombed to hell.

Why not ask the Pope to do the investigation? A tribunal of the Grand Mufti, Pope Francis, and the Dean of some Jewish Theological Seminary. Could they not gather the truth? Perhaps have our leaders testify in front of their Mothers. No one would swear to tell the truth and then lie in front of their Mother. If they have no Mothers then they must swear on the lives of their first born. If childless, they must swear to kill your first born if they lie under oath. The problem is that in Wonderland, or Oz truth is irrelevant. Who cares in such a world of wonder, magic, dreams and wishes. Where oh where is the nearest rabbit hole???? If birds fly over the rainbow why, oh why can’t I?

The New Tower of Babel

The election for President was once decided by the Democrats or the Republicans. Now times are ‘a-changing’

We now have:

Democrats, Republicans, Evangelicals, Right of Center Evangelicals, Left of Center Baptists, Center-right Disabled, Center right Suburban Women, Progressive Democrats, and Conservative Democrats, Left wing Liberals, but also Right Wing Urban Dwellers, followed by Rural Progressives, not to be outdone by Communists ( one or two in Brooklyn), White Woman Liberals, and Black Southern Blacks, Main Street Republican, Libertarians, Post-Modern Democrat, Less Than Modern Republicans, Reactionary Seniors, Latino Agrarian, College Educated Men, High School Transsexuals, Worker Party Deadbeats, and so on and on…..

Kings were not all that bad.

Yenta

A Yenta is someone who talks too much, spreads rumors, and can’t keep a secret**.  Forget about the Yiddish implications and history of the word and focus on the men and women of today. FBI Director James Comey is clearly a Yenta in the ‘spreading of rumors’ type. The Donald, though not Jewish does talk too much, and finally Julian Assange. Julian, a classic, born again Yenta. Julian clearly cannot keep a secret. Not one secret, I mean 343,200 secrets. Tens of thousands of secrets ‘leak’ out. Not ‘leak’ as in faucet leaks, nor ‘leak’ as in senior citizen urinary dysfunction. ‘Leak’ as in Wikileaks. More than a million pieces of information ready to be ‘leaked’. Who, if anyone fixes the ‘leaks’? The plumber, the Urologist ? The Yenta.  Yes,the Yenta fixes the ‘leaks’. The Yenta just does what Yenta’s do best. They talk again, spread other rumors, and reveal other secrets, all to make things better, and repair the damage of the  previous ‘leaks.’

**Definition from the East New York Compendium of Yiddish Terms, First Edition (and only ).

Drowning in Lentil Soup

If my brother is in my Mother’s stomach, then where does the lentil soup go? My Mother had just finished her bowl of hot soup, and I was staring at her swollen stomach. With each spoonful of soup she ate, I winced, thinking of my baby brother swimming for dear life in that cauldron called her stomach.

I knew her stomach was really big, but was it big enough to hold a baby and all that hot soup?

I should never have asked her where I came from. She told me that I grew in her stomach. For a little child, the imagery is full of danger. How do you breath in there? How do you eat? Most of all, how do you get out.

Getting out of the stomach may be the most incomprehensible event. Did the doctor just cut open the stomach, reach in and take the baby out? Even if a Mother chanced identifying the vagina as the exit, there was no way a child could reconcile toilet function with the birth of a baby. Phooey! Gross!

We are still left with the dual functioning stomach – food storage and baby brooder. Fortunately, most children do not ask about the food function. If they did, Mother’s would be required to recognize the possible existence of a womb or uterus, or perhaps, a “special place”  just below the belly button. Once another compartment is identified, the confusion can be eliminated. Without some attempt at clarifying the mysteries of birth, a child must wish for their Mother to starve for nine months.

“I hope mommy doesn’t drink a lot today, or my baby will drown.” That night my Mother called me into her room. I came over to her bed, and she pointed to where the baby was kicking her side. Thank God. The baby survived the lentil soup.

Sometimes when I felt the “leg” kick, I was certain that the baby was fighting for life. If the “leg” kick was at the top of the swollen stomach, that meant the baby’s head was at the bottom – right in the middle of lunch!

By the way, how did my Mother know it was a leg and not an arm, or elbow? How could she tell? She couldn’t! It was an educated guess. It may not have been a guess at all, but rather a Mother’s need to answer the unanswerable queries of a child who would believe anything a Mother said.

Pregnancies and birth are unique and memorable events for all except little children. For the young child the magic is gone, because Mothers can account for everything. It is in the accounting that the magic dies and the terror and fear are born.

Outrage on the Express Line

When the woman removed the can of Draino from her shopping cart my blood boiled. She had purchased 11 items. The sign above the register clearly stated, “Express Lane Eight Items Only.” Even if I accepted the three cans of corn niblets as one item, she was two items over the limit.

I stared at the nape of her neck, her left ear, and her left cheek. I stared at the store clerk. I couldn’t stare hard enough to satisfy my rage. My eyes were shouting, but no one was listening to them.

I wanted to call everything to a halt. I thought of pulling the plug on the store computer cash register. Didn’t the clerk see the injustice of it? The letters on the sign were printed in bold, bright red paint. The message was unmistakable: “Express Lane Eight Items Only.”

In my desperation I sought some explanation for her callousness. I needed a way to excuse her behavior. She was not aged, nor did she seem crazed. Perhaps she was on her way to the hospital, or perhaps she left several unattended infants at home in front of a defective kerosene heater. There had to be a reason for her utter disregard of the social order.

Why was I so helpless? I couldn’t speak. My tongue curled in my mouth, and my clenched jaw muscles ached. The screams were just behind my lips. The curses recirculated from my mouth to my brain and back again.

I turned to look at the woman behind me. She smiled politely, but she couldn’t , or worse, she wouldn’t help. Maybe she didn’t notice the felony,. I tried to convey my torment with my face, but words were needed and I couldn’t produce any. I thought of mumbling to myself, just loud enough to be heard but not enough to be seen as hostile or rude. I think I did say, damn, or darn it, or some derivative. Whatever I did say, was the most feeble expression I could muster.

The woman was finished. She paid her bill, grabbed her bags and left the store.

I put my quart of milk on the counter and said, “boy, oh boy.” Another enfeebled exclamation. The clerk looked right through me. She asked for my ninety-eight cents, and proceeded to package my milk. I left the store and headed for my car with my feelings were still under siege.

Suddenly, I turned and ran back to the store. I needed revenge. I rushed to the managers booth. I told him that I had just been on the Express Lane and that I needed to report a…a what??? What was I to report? An outrage? A lewd act? A stupidity – a what? The culprit was gone. Only the clerk could be faulted. Did I want to turn the clerk in? I told the manager that in addition to the sign he now had over the Express Lane, he ought to list the punishments for violating the Express Lane rule. He looked at me as if I was crazy. He asked me what I meant. The moment of truth. I couldn’t tell him – I just couldn’t.

I told him that I would call with some suggestions. I felt so awkward – so childish. Why didn’t I go to the 7-11 in the first place.

 

I Need Copy

Monday evening, at about 5pm.  January 26, 2015. Writer’s conference room at CNN.

Staff of seven. Six men and one woman. They sit at a circular conference table. On the table are several carafes of coffee, coffee mugs, Styrofoam cups, coffee mate and a sugar container with real sugar, raw sugar, Splendid, Truvia packets, and a container of Agavi. Several large screen t.v. sets are attached to the walls of the room. The conference room has no windows. Each person has a tablet.

Staff: Director Bill, and writer’s Jason, Harry, Peter, Tom, Rachel, Jacob and Martin.

Bill: Well, we’ve got us a blizzard. Maybe the biggest in 10 years, or more.

Peter: Let’s get started. Don Lemon, and staff are already on station, and they need copy.

Jason: O.K.

Rachel: Do we have the commercial schedule set?

Peter: Yes. I’ve got it. We are set for 4 minutes of live, and 30 seconds of commercial. The alternative is 6 minutes of live and 90 seconds of commercial. Either way all is set.

Bill: Great. Do we have meteorologists on board.

Tom: Yes, Bill. We have two set to come on call.

Rachel: Who are they Tom?

Tom: Professor Harrison Thatcher from Univ. of Conn. And Peter Crowley from the Miami Hurricane Centre in Coral Gables.

Bill: Peter Crowley from where?

Tom: He is the chief Hurricane forecaster at the Miami Center.

Martin: We are talking about a blizzard, not a Caribbean rainstorm!

Jacob: Hurricane, blizzard so what. I have heard predictions of 50 to 60 mile winds with this blizzard

Harry: That sounds like a hurricane to me.

Rachel: In fact, what makes a blizzard, a blizzard..

Peter: Dairy Queen!

Rachel: O.K. wise guy. No I not kidding. It is the strength of the wind, not the amount of snow that defines a blizzard.

Bill: You mean, if we get 26 inches of snow in one storm that is not a blizzard.

Rachel: Right. Just a one monster snow storm.

Jacob: Folks, I just got an email from Don Lemon and he needs copy!

Harry: Send the following. “ The blizzard of 2015 is just starting to arrive and do not fool yourself. This storm will be massive, and even life threatening. Perhaps where you are sitting there are only flurries, but that is just the calm before the storm.”

Rachel: That’ just 14 seconds. He needs more.

Harry: O.K. Don give this out now. “ Folks in Sunnyside, Queens or Rockville Centre Long Island why don’t you call in to 212-456-6666 and tell us your weather. In fact, any of you who would like to call to be our on-site weatherperson, please call 212-456-666”

Bill: Cut that! Stop that transmission. Stop it now.

Rachel: I’m sorry boss, it went out already. Don thought it was a great idea, and an audience builder. You know 15 seconds of fame for the guy on the street.

Bill: We can’t handle thousands of calls, and you gave the damn switchboard number of CNN. We need that line open for our news reporters.

Marty: The blizzard is the news. What else is happening?

Bill: What the hell are you talking about. The world is falling to shit, and we gonna have every Tom, Dick and Mary complaining about snowplows, and snowman in Staten Island.

Tom: Don is calling. He just slipped on some ice, and he needs cover for at least 5 minutes.

Bill: Rachel run the blizzard of 2006.

Rachel: We don’t have it set. I have the blizzard of 1776. Just foolin. I do have plenty of copy of the major blizzard of 1948.

Bill: Run it now. No wait. Finish the commercial. O.K. run it after Viagra.

My Gut Tells Me

“My gut tells me” and then Michael Smerconish, radio commentator, continued to respond to a caller’s question. The caller spoke about the new union of ATT and Warner, and some consequences for citizens and Comcast. Michael initially said that he was not very familiar with the particulars, but, “My gut tells me,” and Michael gave his opinion.

Let us talk about ‘gutsy’ talk. Michael is not the only person to have ever expressed, ‘my gut tells me’. Everything we think or feel does not have to come from “ I think” or “ my heart tells me.” Sometimes we feel things deeper, or at least more deeply than from the heart. Sometimes we can’t just shut-up.

Back to ‘my gut tells me.’ At a joint meeting of the Chiefs of Staff in the Spring of 1945, President Truman was told about the Atom Bomb. Harry initially expressed his ignorance about uranium and plutonium. He did receive many memos about the technology of the bomb, but he once stated to an aide, is ‘fusion the same as fission, or are they just spelling errors?’

The aide thought that President Truman was just joking, but in fact he was not joking. The President was not at all clear about the technology, use, and consequences of the atom bomb, but one thing for sure. Straight talking Harry knew when his ‘gut’ talks to him, and he approved the use of the bombs.

Another “My Gut Tells Me…

“Mr. Senator, sir would you please tell us your stand on the bill on abortion.” said the reporter.

Senator X reflects on the reporter’s question about abortion. “Well to tell you the truth”, (reporter interrupts)

“Yes Senator, I would like the truth.”

“As I was saying prior to your rather rude interruption,  I am not that familiar with the particulars of the actual, real process of abortion, but I have a feeling that..”
(reporter interrupts again)

“Sir if you are not familiar with abortion how can you vote on the issue. How?”

“Miss, if you would please allow me to finish my statement. I was just going to say that in my heart of hearts, and in my guts, the whole idea sounds pretty disgusting. I mean really ugly. I have feelings, you know. And my guts ( whole package of guts) tell me, even without all the particulars that it is not right.

All to often when we are questioned about an issue, and we believe that we should aware of the issue, we have the fall back position of affably expressed ignorance, followed by ‘my gut tells me’ and offer a full blown exposition rooted in ‘I think’ or ‘my heart tells me.’

 

The Undecided

 

The news reports that millions of potential voters are undecided about their choice of President. A very natural condition, to be undecided about an event. When does the state of ‘undecided’ evolve into ‘decided’. Well I will tell you when…..

1). Miss,  cream cheese or butter on your bagel? Said the clerk.

Well, just a minute. Said the Woman.

Bagel with cream cheese of butter? Clerk repeated.

I’m not certain. Said the Woman.

Lady, cheese or butter. Which? Said the Clerk.

It’s not so easy. Said the Woman.

What is not so easy? Said the Clerk

Deciding cheese or butter. Said the Woman

Lady, are you hungry. Said the Clerk.

Oh, yes – for sure. Said the Woman.

Well, I am closing in two minutes. Said the Clerk

Cheese, I’ll take cheese. Said the Woman.

2). The heat was oppressive.
The rope tore at his wrists .
Jose stared blankly at the 7 soldiers to his front.
“Do you desire a blindfold? “ said the Captain.

“No! declared Jose.

“As you wish. Now the name.”

“No, never!” shouted Jose.

“The name – I want the name. ”demanded the Captain.

“Drop dead, Captain” said Jose

“Jose you have one more chance. I will count to three. The name. ”said the Captain

The Captain commanded the 7 men to firing position.
“One, two…” said the Captain

“Miquel, Miquel. His name is Miguel” screamed Jose.

“At ease men.” Commanded the Captain.

3). The airline site offered just two more tickets at 555.00.
I went to the Kayak site to check other offers.
None were any better.
I returned to the airline site. Only one more ticket at 555.00

Perhaps I could extend my stay at a lower fare.
I changed my dates, and saw a fare for 222.00.
I had only to stay three extra days in Paris. Not bad.
I returned to the airline site and still one ticket left at 555.00.

Three more days in Paris at 102.00 per night. And then food.
Back at the airline site the fare was gone.
I immediately refreshed my computer, and there was the 555.00. Only one left.
With a firm press I chose Select. Done. I got the fare!
The airline sent a confirmation to my email. What a relief.

THE MASKED MEN

Why the mask? ISIS insurgents wear masks. Iraq police wear masks. Swat team members wear masks. African Boko Uram killers wear masks, Zorro is masked, and then we have had the Man in the Iron Mask. The news is so full of masked men carrying guns, that it is not easy to tell the good guys from the bad. Do all the bad guys sit in Toyotas, and Jeeps, and the good guys have tanks, or armored vehicles.

After the Civil War and during reconstruction the KKK wore masks, and some do to this very day. Syrian rebels wear masks, and it seems that some Syrian government soldiers wear masks. The Sleepy Hollow madman didn’t bother with a mask; he just took off his head. Killing or being killed does not require a mask.  US soldiers during all our wars wore no masks (except a gas mask), nor did the Japanese troops, and none were worn by the German soldiers.

Why now all the masks?  Were the masks meant to frighten people? The man manning the guillotine wore a mask, as did the musclemen who chopped off heads. Men who were to be executed by hanging or a firing squad were offered a mask. Was that to protect the victim or the executioners? What is the big deal about masking persons who are participating in killing, gruesome and other inhuman activity?

I recently had a conversation with a psychiatrist, and I asked him his opinion as to why these men (perhaps some women) wear masks. The physician suggested that the mask was worn because the wearers were ashamed – they were embarrassed. He offered a common hand movement of covering one’s face with a hand when we believe we have done something wrong, and we are ashamed.

I thought his comment was silly, but then I thought there might be some sense to the doctor’s explanation. If the masked man was dismayed about his action, and if under the mask, the true identity of the person was revealed what would we see. Would we then see that the mask hid the butcher, baker and candlestick maker of the local community? Perhaps the masked man was a preacher, banker, or unemployed rock star. Would the unmasked marauder be your father, brother or at worst a predatory scout leader?

We all admired the one masked man of our youth – the LONE RANGER. He always did good deeds, so why the mask. Perhaps just to frighten bad guys. We did not mind his wearing of a mask (not larger than cool sun glasses), and his credibility was enhanced in that his buddy was TONTO – a good spirited, non-savage Indian.

I just realized that absent a physical mask, we are all masked every day of our lives. The face we present may be a true representation of who we are at the moment, or just a mask that hides our pain, worries, fears and desires. When asked”how is it going?” Our response is typically, “o.k.” But are we “o.k.” You look okay, despite the morning’s news that you have terminal cancer. There are times when a mask protects the wearer and the viewer. There are times when who we are, what we feel and think are best kept behind a mask.