Friday, May 9, 2008

BEST OF: Popping-hot thoughts

Sometimes, my mind is like a popcorn kernel in a hot frying pan, jumping from place to place, but never really getting anywhere. That’s especially true when insomnia strikes. All I really want is an “off” button for my brain, so I can get some sleep.

In the middle of one recent night, I started mulling over some things I’ve learned in my life and how I’d define them.

For instance, I’ve learned that:

• If a jacket or dress in a shop window or ad makes the size 2 model wearing it look like a prime candidate for Weight Watchers, no amount of dreaming, wishing or squinting up my eyes will make the fashions look good on my generously proportioned body.

The phrase “high-style human Hummer” comes to mind.

• Running a vacuum cleaner over the same spot at least six times before I bend down to pick up whatever it is the vacuum isn’t catching is a waste of my time and electricity, and I feel profoundly foolish if somebody else sees me doing it.

Work order: “If you can’t suck it up, pick it up.”

• Cutting your nails over a shag rug will come back to haunt you.

Mantra: “Stepping on a rug of nails is no more comfortable than sleeping on a bed of them.”

• Buying a self-help book or listening to a do-it-yourself program doesn’t get the job done. If I want the results, I have to do the exercise, clean the refrigerator’s compressor, dig up the tulip bulbs or study Italian.

The title “’something for dummies’ means the dummy has to do the work herself.

• Once cupboards, closets and shelves are full, such pleasant occupations as window shopping, retail Web surfing, catalog-page flipping and going to garage sales can cause conflicts.

Having one mixing bowl is good. Two bowls can get me through a party. Having five identical bowls means I’ll never be able to get any of them into or out of the cupboard without a fight, and may not be able to close the cupboard door.

The dual phrases “Visa bill” and “But where are we going to put it, honey?” come to mind.

• Hunches are good things. Years ago, when county workers installed an all-way stop sign at Burton and Ardath drives, the concept made me nervous. It seemed to me then that having 99 percent of drivers stop at the busy intersection would make the remaining 1 percent is even more dangerous, because nobody would expect those drivers wouldn’t stop.

In a close call, I was nearly the statistic that proved my hunch.

I had stopped at the stop sign, ready to turn right on Ardath on my way home. As I began to turn the wheel and step on the gas, two commercial trucks came over the Ardath rise to the south.

A little voice in the back of my head said, “Those blankety-blanks aren’t going to stop.”

The big, heavy delivery truck, loaded with sheet rock and pulling a trailer loaded with an industrial forklift, sped through the intersection without a hint of stopping or even pausing. A second, smaller delivery truck followed behind.

If I’d made the turn, just because it was my turn and my right to do so, I’d be dead.

That first truck would have hit me right at the driver’s seat, and the second truck would have ploughed into the back of the first truck.

I recall a statement at the end of a public service message: “You may be in the right. Dead right.”

Now, if my mind would just quit popping so I could get some sleep, maybe I wouldn’t have such bizarre thoughts.

This column first ran in The Cambrian on April 3, 2003.

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