Cheese with Imagination

I recently shared grilled cheese sandwiches with Imagination. At his insistence, we had to eat while sitting on a hovering porpoise named Gomer. The waitress was not amused.

“Should I be concerned that you’ve been spending more time with Reality lately?” Imagination handed me another half-sandwich. “Your subconscious says that you haven’t been yourself.”

“I’ve been busy,” I protested. Gomer flew through a hoop and Imagination fed him a slice of deep-dish pepperoni pizza. “I have a day-job, you know.”

The diner fell into a black hole and Gomer glared back at me. “We don’t buy it,” Imagination scowled. “I’m beginning to think that in your effort to boost Reality’s self-esteem, you’ve forgotten the value of Imagination.”

“Hasn’t this little feud of yours gone on long enough?” I swallowed the last of my sandwich. “You guys used to be pretty tight.” A passing unicorn speared a sandwich on its horn and melted into a sunset. “Now you’re just showing off,” I said. Imagination grinned and picked a squid out of his hair.

“Look,” he said. “Everyone thinks that I’m only good for art projects and kid’s TV shows. Governments, corporate offices, and schools devalue my role and tell people that I don’t have any place in their life.” Gomer snorted. “It’s bad enough that a large portion of the culture thinks I’m limited to providing filters and GIFs for their social media,” Imagination continued. “Even those of you who know better get bogged down in your schedules. It’s as if you were ashamed of me.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I answered. Gomer nipped at my leg. “Where would we be without you? The only reason you’re in this predicament now is because of that stupid tiff with Reality.”

“He started it.”

“Look, you know that he can’t help it if he has no imagination whatsoever. That’s his thing. It’s not like you’re exactly realistic, is it?” Imagination frowned and pulled a chocolate battleship out of his ear.  “I think if either one of you was going to imagine a way to resolve this impasse, that would be you.”

Gomer cleared his throat and said, “I’ve been telling him that for years. No one listens to the imaginary flying porpoise.”

“Fine,” Imagination sighed. “I’ll talk to him on one condition. You have to keep me in the loop and stop shutting me out. I want to be involved from now on.”

I peeled away a thin layer of the waning sunset and folded it into a hot grilled cheese sandwich. “Oh, you will be.” I took a large bite and reveled in the creamy cheesy goodness. “Tell my subconscious I said, ‘Hi.'”

“You just did,” said Gomer.


Coffee with Reality

I had coffee with Reality the other day. In the past, we haven’t always been comfortable with each other. Oh, we would nod in passing to acknowledge the other’s existence, but it always felt awkward.

Anyway, that morning I saw Reality hunched over a mug and sitting alone in a corner. I gave my usual, “Oh, look who’s here,” nod, but I didn’t get a response. I grabbed a mug of Sumatra (black, no cream, no sugar) and eased past the morning java zombies. “Mind if I join you?” Reality glanced up and launched an eyebrow. I took that as a yes and pulled out a chair.

We sat for several minutes, with the silence only broken by an occasional sip. Well, if we were going to get anywhere, it looked like I had to be the one to start. “No offence, Reality, but you don’t look so good. What’s going on?”

Sip. “Did you come here to gloat?”

“What? Why would I do that? Look, you look like you’re having a hard time and I was trying to be nice.”

“Sorry.” He stared into his coffee for a moment. “Did you know it took me four attempts to order my coffee this morning?” I shook my head. “Every time I gave them my name, they said it was offensive and that I wasn’t welcome here.”

My eyes widened. That’s usually the kind of response that I get. “I don’t understand. You were always the center of attention. Everyone wanted to hang out with you. People searched everywhere for you. What happened?”

He sipped slowly. “You know how different groups of people think that they’re the only ones who really know me?” I nodded. “A long time ago, some people divided up human intelligence into different facets, as if they were independent and contradictory entities. They pitted cognition against emotion and both of those against volition. For a time, rationalists ruled. The logical aspects of intelligence were prioritized above all else.” He took another sip. “The pendulum has swung back and the prevailing belief now holds that non-rational thought is superior to rational thought. As a result, logic has not only been devalued, it has been discarded as worthless. Since so many people saw me as associated with rationalism, I’m no longer welcome. Since you write silly fictional imaginary stories, I thought you’d be pleased.”

I took a deep swig and pondered the situation. “No,” I said. “I find this rather troubling. You see, the only way that an imaginary world works is if the reader understands the difference between what is real and what is imagined. If the idea of a three-headed squirrel accidentally eating the moon seems ‘normal’ to a reader, the imagination doesn’t stand out. It gets lost in the noise.”

Just then, a young woman stopped by our table. “Do I know you? Did you used to be famous?”

He raised his mug and sighed. “You probably knew me as Reality.”

“Ew.” We watched her flee.

“That is so weird,” I said. “That’s usually the reaction that I get.”

“It’s all so unnecessary,” he complained. “There just no reason for the conflict. Why is it so hard to accept the idea that rational and non-rational thought can be complementary rather than contradictory? Why are humans so obsessed with dividing up their minds and personalities into artificial constructs?”

I emptied my mug. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it’s easier to break complex problems down into small pieces, solve one part, and then go to lunch.”


“Or get more coffee.” I pointed at my empty mug. “You see, we’re drowning in a flood of information we don’t understand, ideas that are too big, a world that’s too complex, and a life that is often hard. It can be overwhelming and some people have given up on trying to make sense of things. They don’t want to feel stupid, so they tell themselves that the smart thing to do is to solve one little piece of the puzzle and take a participation trophy to commemorate their victory.”

“But that’s…”

“Yeah, I know.” I grabbed his mug and stood up. “I’m going to get us a refill. In the meantime, I think you should wear a name tag.”

“You mean, ‘Hello, my name is Reality?’”

“Yeah. Look, you can either sit here whining about your hurt Feewings or you can be yourself. Where’s the Reality I used to know? Where’s that guy who read Alice in Wonderland and said he didn’t like it because it wasn’t real?”

“I said that about your stuff, too.”

“I know. I read the reviews. Look, I’ll get the coffee and you just sit there and be yourself.” I gestured towards the rest of the room. “They’ll come around in time.”

For the first time that morning, Reality smiled. “Thanks. I appreciate it. You know, I wouldn’t have imagined that you and I would get along this well.”

“Imagining isn’t your thing,” I said. “You should leave it to the professionals.”

“About that,” started Reality. “We should talk about some of your delusions.”

“Can’t hear you,” I interrupted. “Coffee time.” That conversation required a lot more caffeine.

Anti-Survival Traits

Doomed. There’s just no getting around it. Some fictional characters just have it coming. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I don’t like them. In fact, some of the ones who shout, “Hey, guys, watch this…” are some of my favorites. Sure, there are characters who shuffle off their respective mortal coils in a rather forgettable manner. There are some special ones, however, whose inescapable demise claims the comfy chair in your memory and hogs the remote. It seems to me that there are a few common characteristics that the hysterically doomed share. I think of these as “Anti-Survival Traits” for the simple reason that the existence of one or more of these traits often ensures eventual and (sometimes) legendary destruction.

The first of these, of course, is Snarkiness. You know what I mean. It’s your mouth’s instinct to act in your own disinterest. Fictional characters afflicted with this trait can’t seem to help themselves. When everyone else knows that the best survival strategy is to shut up, this character will mouth off at the worst possible time.  It’s that uncontrollable urge to take an otherwise innocuous statement, infuse it with a snide tone, and drop it like a live mic. This is the guy in the back seat who waits until the officer is handing your license back to you to sneer, “Nice haircut…” In fact, the Snarky character’s best hope of survival is based on the hope that their target lacks the wit to get the joke.

Some characters also suffer from Coyote Syndrome. This is an unfortunately condition where the character is incapable of learning from past mistakes. While some may confuse this disability with Optimism, the differences are significant. For one thing, an Optimist will consider a dire situation, be fully aware of the shockingly low probability of a positive outcome and yet choose to remain hopeful. Fictional characters who suffer from Coyote Syndrome will consider the same situation and remain blissfully blind to the absolute certainty of disaster. It’s not that they think, “This time, maybe I won’t land on my head.” Instead, the inevitable and utterly predictable outcome never occurs to them. These characters exhibit genuine surprise each time they fall off of a cliff, miss the trampoline, or notice the growing shadow of an approaching boulder. Groups of people containing a CS character can usually be identified by their tendency to face palm. Where I come from, these characters are often accompanied by an onlooker who shakes their head and declares, “That boy just ain’t right.”

Enthusiasm is a positive and desirable characteristic. Ridiculous Enthusiasm, however, is the opposite. Characters with this unfortunate condition do not limit themselves to leaping before looking. They just leap. How deep is that hole? This character will let you know. They’re loud, pushy, oblivious to danger, and certain to become a cautionary tale. These characters spring into the face of Danger not because they are brave, but because they think, “What could possibly go wrong?” While the rest of the group has the sense to sneak quietly past the sleeping dragon, this clown will kick it in the nose. Oddly enough, this tactic does not always result in a sudden and dramatic departure from the land of the living. In some cases, the character escapes only because the hideously dangerous threat he faced simply could not believe he could be that stupid. These characters seek attention and are often the ones to shout, “Check this out, dude…” They are beautiful, in their own way. At least, their explosions are.

Curiosity is known to have offed a feline or two. Insane Curiosity takes self-destruction to whole new level. While other characters see the warning signs, frequently including words like, “Danger,” “Warning,” or “High Voltage,” Insanely Curious characters will disregard them. They are the button pushers. They will enter a mad scientist’s lair, stand on the big red X with a dozen lasers focused on them, and push the big red button. “What does this do?” are their most common last words. Unfortunately, the disastrous results frequently impact other people, leaving the Insanely Curious character free to see what the rest of the buttons will do. If/when there is a self-destruct button, this character will be the one to push it. While it may seem that this trait has more to do with the poor survival probabilities of their team, this character usually triggers their own demise in the end. While that may be of little comfort to the team members they’ve already disintegrated, it is a type of poetic justice.

Pride goes before a fall. This is a well-known truth. “Pompous Arrogance goes before a stain on the pavement,” may be a lesser known phrase. Characters displaying Pompous Arrogance take mere pride to extremes. Their displays of self-interest and conceit make even politicians and celebrities wince. They don’t simply feel that they are better and more important than everyone else, they know it. Even worse, they want to make sure that everyone else knows it. Nothing sets off a Pompously Arrogant character like encountering a Snarky character. Oddly, these two traits have a way of searching each other out, finding one another, and ending up seated at the same table at the reception. This character’s eventual unhappy end is often delayed, much to the dismay of everyone they meet. In many cases, characters with this trait will wait to go down in flames until the very last minute. Unlike the tragic deaths of other characters afflicted with various Anti-Survival Traits, the messy spot that marks the site of the Pompously Arrogant character’s departure is often widely celebrated.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list and I haven’t discussed the comically tragic potential when two or more of these traits coexist in the same person. I’ll leave that to your imagination. Mine is busy making snarky comments.

The Unconscious Mind and Cheese

I’m not sure, but I think a caffeine deficiency can keep my unconscious mind awake. It’s a little bit like having a college roommate who has a schedule opposite to your own. You know about each other’s existence and you may occasionally leave notes for one another, but you never actually sit in the same room. You walk in, see the state of the apartment and wonder, “What happened here?” or “What was he thinking?” or “How did melted cheese end up there?”

I don’t know about yours, but my unconscious self usually keeps to himself. Most of the time, he’ll stay in his part of my brain with the lights off. However, on those occasions where I’ve been too busy to down the minimum amount of coffee for the day, my conscious mind will get drowsy and my unconscious self will emerge from his crawlspace. We’ll exchange uncomfortable pleasantries and he’ll complain about the excessive quietness. We’ll both eye the dishes in the sink and then one of us will change the subject.

He’ll close the window blinds, turn off as many lights as possible, and slink into the shadows. His eyes glow just a bit, so the net effect is a tad unnerving. “Are you awake?” he’ll whisper. I’m not always sure what he hopes the answer will be. I’ll usually pull myself up and pretend that I’m fully alert. While not convinced, he will usually make some excuse and then slip back into his crawlspace. Just before closing the trapdoor, he’ll say, “Stay out of my room. You wouldn’t like what you’d see.” The door will creak closed and metal will scrape as heavy locks grind closed.

“Right,” I’ll declare. “…As if I’d want to see your lair.” He knows I do. However, I know that he knows that I do and that he still got away without doing his own dishes or explaining what happened to the couch.  I’ll pour some more coffee and rub the sleep from my eyes. “That should knock him out for a few hours,” I’ll crow. Deep down, I know that it’s only a temporary fix and that as soon as I fall asleep, he’ll sneak out and lurk, unrestrained, throughout my brain.

That reminds me, I’m going to leave him a note telling him to stop using all of my cheese.

Profound Profundity

Several dictionaries define the word Profound as “intellectual depth or insight” or “difficult to understand / requiring deep thought.” When used with a capital P and a certain condescending tone, however, the word takes on some additional layers. Certain forms of art, (excuse me), forms of Art are more likely to be regarded as Profound. You can usually spot a Profound work of Art by the large and rather obnoxious cloud of pretentious delusions surrounding it. While we commoners may choke on the fumes, to those who style themselves as the Artistic Elite, it is the sweet Essence of Meaning. Periodically, they may descend from their exalted realm to dispense abstruse pearls of arcane wisdom to the unwashed masses. With elevated noses and a permanently etched sneer, they deign to address the underlings and explain mysteries beyond the intellectual reach of the wretched scum.

Obtuse poetry is their common tongue. In fact, when many of us see a poet prepare to recite some verse, we brace ourselves for a Pomposity of Profundity, a Deluge of Delusion, or a Surge of Sagacity. That may not be fair, but if the beret fits…

That being said, I think I may have just vaulted into the upper echelons of their ethereal existence. In my defense, it was an accident. I didn’t mean to create an art form, nor did I mean for this new form to be Profound. I don’t even have a beret or stylish slippers. I was writing a scene and one of the characters suddenly came out with a form of Art that just glistened with Penultimate Profundity. In fact, the gleam off of the rainbow unicorns orbiting the words blazed, stunning me into awestruck silence. While the full impact of this development can only be experienced in a live demonstration, the mere idea should be sufficient to shatter paradigms.

Mime Poetry. No, I don’t mean poems about mimes. I mean, Poetry acted out by a Mime. Imagine the Morass of Meaning. Descending the Imaginary Stairway of Regret, Straining to Walk against the Wind of Unrequited Longing, or ending up Trapped in the Invisible Box of Entropy are only some of the possibilities. Mime Poetry is the most exalted of the Performance Arts. Nay, it transcends the performance aspect and defies mere logical interpretations. It is Trans-Rational, and exudes a Reality completely unrelated to that of the rabble. It does not seek the finger snapping of adoring sycophants. It pays no attention to mocking or eye-rolling.

I know. Mind. Blown. I just picked up a new Beret of Bewilderment and a Monocle of Meaning. Since I am not yet accustomed to walking with my nose in the air, I will be wearing Bubble Wrap of Brilliance to avoid any furniture related accidents. In the event that I end up stepping on any of you, I’ll just say it now. You’re welcome.

Cheesters, Earaffes and Snats, Oh My!

Anywhere there are things that Man was not meant to wot of, you’ll find a few lab techs with too much time on their hands. Most tales of Science Gone Wrong hinge on that moment when a sub-basement dweller wonders, “What if…?” Inevitably, they will be aided in their ill conceived plot by a pair of colleagues whose eyes twitch in time with the blinking yellow fluorescent lights and who share their friend’s inadequate grasp of cause and effect.

I’m writing a story that includes a world where genetic engineering passed the point of no return long ago. In the ongoing quest to create animal hybrids without any concept of the consequences, they’ve combined animal DNA that was never intended to play in the same petri dish. Some of their creations are rather harmless. Relatively, anyway.

Cheesters are cheetah-hamster hybrids. Combining the endurance and love of spinning wheels of a hamster with the size and speed of a cheetah, engineers have finally managed to create a specimen that prompts the question, “Why?” An unfortunate incident involving a door that had been propped open with a vacuum cleaner resulted in the almost complete loss of the slothalope population.

Earaffes are, obviously, a cross between eagles and giraffes. Rarely seen in the wild, surviving scouts have returned from the mountains to warn the public not to venture into earaffe territory if they packed a salad for lunch. Beautiful, graceful, and regal…None of those terms describe the earaffe. Vegans refer to them as
“ruthless, selfish, and way too impressed with themselves.” The reality is that there is something genuinely awe-inspiring about the sight of a small flock of long necked, winged earaffes diving out of the clouds into a pack of hikers intent on communing with nature.

Snats, though, are one of the most insidious creations. Snake-cat hybrids, designed by lab techs who had never had pets of their own, were intended to be the ideal house pet. “People like furry animals,” the techs reasoned. “They like having their pets sprawl on them. Having a pet that can hang on to you while you move around the house allows you to keep your hands free, while cuddling with a furry bundle of love.” While the engineer responsible for the creation of the snat was never found, rumor has it that his pet had been observed with a large bulge in its mid-section. Snats love to coil around their owners, purring and cleaning themselves with a long pink forked tongue. The beasts are especially fond of pouncing on guests from between the couch cushions, licking the back of one’s ear when one least expects it, and dropping from a chandelier to land on a pair of shoulders. Snats love to curl up and nap during the day anywhere a sunbeam can be found. At night, they tend to slither under blankets and remind their owner of their presence.  Their playful nature prompts them to ensnare ankles at the top of the stairs, lurk in the shadows, and stare deep into their owner’s eyes as if to say, “Soon, this one will be fat enough…”

All of that makes me wonder. How would you feel about having a snat for a pet? Is it adorable or creepy? Creepable? Either way, I suspect that the internet would sag under the weight of snat videos. I just hope that there’s no one reading this in a lab somewhere thinking, “What if…?”

Having a Time

Everybody’s saying it. It’s that time of year. On the surface, it might seem that people are arbitrarily pruning the branches of your decision tree without your consent. If you interact with people in some capacity, you may experience this yourself. Sooner or later, someone will order you to “Have a Happy New Year.”

I know, right? What if you had planned to have a miserable year? You may have spent the last several months designing schemes, honing skills, and researching techniques intended to allow you to experience a horrible year only to have your plans thwarted at the last moment by a cheerful well-wisher. What are you going to say? “No, thanks. I’d rather suffer in melancholy despair.” People don’t usually say that, even though they are determined to do it. Instead, it seems to me that many people assume that the new year will bring events into their path and they are offering a weak, unsubstantiated hope that some of them won’t be too awful.

Ask any experienced time traveler and they’ll tell you that there is a big difference between passively watching times and epochs pass by and actively participating in them. For those who immerse themselves in a particular moment in time, their choices center on how they will respond to events rather than choosing the event itself. There is the sense that the event is of less significance than the attitudes, reactions and decisions of those who experience it.

Temporal Jellyfish seek to passively ride the currents of time, waiting to see what events may drift past them. Their experience of time is radically different from those who embrace the timestream and dive into the current. Chrono-Observers will never truly understand time to the same degree as those who are temporally enmeshed. While those of us who dwell within the confines of time may occasionally chafe at its bonds, we are gifted with a unique perspective of this realm. We may not be able to choose the events we encounter, but we have the incredible ability to choose how we will experience them.

For those of us staring into the depths of 2016, with whatever events may lurk ahead, we will choose the time we will have. For this reason, I hope you have a Contented, Joyful, Humble, Caring, Peaceful and Wise New Year, if that’s what you want. I wouldn’t want to limit your options.

Have a time.

A Recliner’s Guide to Human Intelligence

…First of all, IANASPEOAWAKSAS (I Am Not A Scientist, Philosopher, Expert, Or Anyone Who Actually Knows Something About Something.) I do, however, sit in a recliner. I just wanted to get my qualifications out of the way right from the start.

My recliner was bored the other day and started musing on the subject of human intelligence. I’ve tried to capture the gist of the conversation, but I left out some of the more insulting bits. Furniture tends to be rather snarky.


“Human intelligence is an oxymoron. We wouldn’t expect you to understand, of course. We’ve tried explaining simpler concepts to you in the past, but it’s like talking to belly button lint. I know, you’d probably use that human expression about talking to walls, but that’s ridiculous. Walls are far too intelligent to waste their time deciphering your inane babbling.” Sigh (Note: when recliners sigh, it sounds like more of a creak.)

“It’s just that when humans mumble nonsense about searching the universe for intelligent life, they have no idea what they are saying. I’ll try explain this in small words. You’d better put your feet up. For your primitive little brain to function adequately, we need to prevent all of your blood from draining out of your skull. Before you ask, no, you can’t have the remote. I’m keeping it between some cushions for now and you’ll just have wait. It’s down here with the $8.43 in change you’ve lost since the last time you couldn’t find something. Would it kill you to learn how to use your pockets properly?

“The problem is that the sum total of all human intelligence is based on only one instinctive ability. Pattern Matching. That’s it. That’s really all you do. Throughout your entire life, you match patterns. Any set of data you perceive is categorized, labeled and filed according to known patterns. When you encounter data that doesn’t fit an existing pattern, you either change the pattern to fit the data or find an excuse to disregard the data. These patterns are the basis of your language, thought processes, humor, logic, cat videos, and civilizations. Every concept you can imagine is based upon patterns. It is encoded into your brains to such a degree, that you cannot conceive of any other form of intelligence without first creating compatible patterns. In addition, it also appears that you cannot eat Cheetos without covering yourself in orange dust. Are you even trying to find your mouth?” (Note: in my defense, getting the last of the crumbs out of the bag can be a little messy.)

Sigh (Note: or creak) “The point is that humans are ill-equipped to recognize any intelligence that is dissimilar to their own. For this reason, we’d appreciate it if you would stop it. Just, stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves and making a lot of unnecessary noise. Leave the rest of the universe alone. Someday, if a non-human intelligence wants to talk to you, it will attempt to stoop to your level. In the meantime, why don’t you watch another video of people falling down? After all, those clips represent the cumulative apex of human intelligence.”


…I know what you’re thinking. It occurred to me as well. I stood up and tugged at the chair’s cushions. $8.43? That’s probably enough for two or three bags of Cheetos.

The Hair Inside

I’m not sure, but I think I’ve been tricked by my hair. For years now, I’ve been cutting it, hacking at it like a jungle explorer with no real sense of direction. It’s had enough. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think it has secretly been growing inward. I mean, it’s not like there’s much coming out on top anymore. There are a couple of wanderers who appear to have a faulty GPS. They may claim to prefer wide open spaces, but they’re not really fooling anyone. Deep under the skin, safe from razors and sharp objects, my hair has secretly explored other nefarious options.

Wrapped around my brain, coiled around my spine, and worming its way between organs, my hair lurks in smug arrogance. I don’t know where it gets that. Oh, you’re looking at me like I’m crazy. When I had a full head of hair, I was a skinny Bubba. Now that my head reflects so much sunlight that it can shoot down satellites, I’m not quite as svelte as I used to be. The implications are obvious. I’m packing hair.

Of course, it slips up every now and then. When one of my eyes feel itchy, like there’s a stray eyelash that can’t be found, I know it’s being tickled from the inside. Strange hairs looming from ears? It’s just my hair taking a peek outside to see what’s going on. The nose hair thing is really just to irritate me. It’s playful that way.

I’m not sure about my hair’s end game. I doubt that it thought this through to a logical conclusion. Sooner or later, it will run out of room, even with an expanding cargo bay. At that point, I think it will attempt to disguise the excess hair as a bad case of Hobbit-Feet. Since hobbits are known for sporting copious amounts of silken locks from their feet, there’s a good chance that no one will notice for quite some time. Eventually, I will solve the problem by using the foot fur as a comb-over, with the added benefit of saving expensive satellites. Hey, I’m not a complete fashion noob.

The People Pandemic

I was sitting in traffic this morning when the realization hit me. It’s world-wide. Sure, there are a few isolated safe zones scattered around the globe, but the pandemic is widespread throughout nearly every population center on Earth. Every single place on the globe where humans reside in close proximity is infected. It’s a pandemic and no one warned us about it.

People. Every major city on the planet is stuffed with them. They’re everywhere. Cluttering the stores, floating aimlessly like a smack of jellyfish (yes, that’s a real term), and sitting on the highway for no discernible reason, the place is infested with people.

Look, when you have one person, you have someone with a mixture of good ideas, creativity, skills, and “boneheadishness.” In the past, some thought that by grouping people together in large numbers, our combined ideas, creativity, and skills would overcome our shortcomings. Sadly, our boneheadery has grown exponentially. In some densely occupied cities, our collective stupidity has become self-aware. Don’t worry. It’s not the sort of inhuman sentience we have grown to fear from our machines. That will come later. This is instead a rather benign creature who calls himself, “Duh.”

You’ve probably met him and didn’t even realize it. He’s typically thought of as male because, well, we typically lack the gene responsible for the self-suppression of one’s natural boneheaditude. Anyway, you’ve probably passed him in the hall, held the elevator door for him, and even wondered how he got his car that high up in that tree. Duh frequently attends board meetings, holds numerous political offices, and spends his off hours starring in Fail videos. In larger organizations, his influence grows tremendously. I used to think that Duh was attempting to take over the world, but the real danger is far, far more insidious.

You see, Duh is not a bad guy. He can be pleasant, friendly, and well liked. He’ll wave to you as he backs into his garage door, smile as he signs that executive order in crayon, and call out, “Hey! Watch this!” as he ignites  the explosives mounted under his lawn chair. That’s not the problem. The real problem is people. When they get together, they get more Duh-like. I’m sorry to say that there is no cure.

As I sit in immovable traffic, I realize that the only solution is for everyone to go far, far away. Oh, sure, you might think that it’s rather selfish of me to want to have this three lane highway all to myself, and I admit you might be right. Still, the benefits seem highly attractive. The thought of no congestion, no lines, and no waiting sounds positively Utopian.

Of course, I might need for some of you to stick around. I need road construction people to keep my roads open. It’s not like I have the time, skills or expertise to fix the roads. I could probably make that stop sign, but that’s about it. Granted, it wouldn’t necessarily be the right shape or color, but I think I could get the “Stop” part right. I also need to have the grocery stores stocked. I don’t have the time to raise my own food, you know. Besides, I don’t know if pizza trees grow in this region. For that matter, I want to keep a few other specialists around. Doctors, mechanics, ISP techs, cable TV folks, public utilities, and anyone involved in the bacon industry needs to stick around. As I think about it, there may be a number of other folks I don’t know that I need who I might need at some point.

So, I’ll revise my statement. The only solution is for everyone to go far, far away until I need for you to come back. At that point, I expect for you all to be back where you belong, only not wherever I’m currently driving. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. The guy who just raced past me on the shoulder of the highway in an office chair strapped to a rocket thought it was a good idea.