Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Universal Language

Yesterday as I was changing channels, the face of yet another starlet appeared with the all-too-familiar tag line of “In Rehab”. I shook my head. Why would someone so beautiful, if semi-talented, set a stumbling block in her own path? How do you take a possibly golden opportunity [if you don’t count paparazzi] and let a vice weasle in to take control of you? Is the seduction of drugs or alcohol so strong that “Just Say No” doesn’t even compute? Is it a matter of choosing friends badly…or perhaps friends with the same habit? How sad that there was no one in her life to stand up and yell, ”Have you lost your happy mind? This can kill you.”

There are lots of people in the world, [single mothers come to mind] who work hard at something other than make believe and do fine. Even with more month than paycheck. And they raise children who are well educated, both intellectually and in street smarts. For a moment I wondered if reaching fame and fortune too fast makes people stupid.

This morning I was made quite aware that there’s no caste system for stupid. It is not the property of the rich. It’s universal.

At first I viewed the pickup truck in front of me, driven by an older gentleman, with concern. No. That’s not true. My first reaction was, “Didn’t the idiot see me before he pulled out in front of me?“ Obviously not. My concern was in that he was doing 15 miles under the speed limit. And he kept drifting back and forth, from side to side. And yes, I did grit my teeth and want to pass him until concern kicked in. His movement wasn’t like the intoxicated driver who will slowly slide to the edge of the road before realizing it goes the opposite way. No, he was all over the place with no pattern.

So I strained to see if he was in the throes of some medical problem. He didn’t seem to be slumped over the steering wheel. He wasn’t clutching at his chest or looking around in confusion. I looked harder, trying to find some clue to why this man was all over the road…slowing down, speeding up for a moment, then slowing down again. And then I figured it out as he turned to Page 2 of his newspaper.

I kid you not. He was reading the paper as he drove.

He finally sped up when he finished. Then he began throwing trash out of his window, little by little. All I could think was ,”There is a cop in your future. I hope you meet him soon.”

Comedian Bill Engval does a great bit about the stupid things people do. He insists we should be able to give them a sign saying “STUPID“ as a warning to the rest of us. His punch line for each of those jokes is, ”Here’s your sign.”

If I come into contact with that truck again, I’ll have his sign ready.

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