Saturday, January 22, 2005

How We All Become Stupid...

I was on the road last week and ended up, as usual, in the hotel bar drinking the local brew (a Shiner Bock on this particular day) and eating a Caeser salad. I was reading "how i became stupid," the book by Martin Page I referred to several posts ago, a gift frim the ex.

Given the provocative title, anyone sitting to my left noticed it.

"So," this slightly drunk women started. I missed what she said at first, because I was perplexed as to how she was getting drunk on Michelob Ultra. She was sad, lonely drunk.

"Sorry," I said.

"If we all could figure out how to become," she paused. She looked at some point just above the ceiling,"Stupid. Not, I mean. Man..."

I didn't like my salad. This was a bunch of old Romaine tossed together with store bought dressing. Only two croutons. I still remembered the Caeser salad I had in San Diego the week before. Crisp lettuce. Funky, doughy croutons. Rich, but lightly applied dressing. A superior Caeser salad, indeed.

"Yeah." I stabbed at the green disappointment. "Crazy."

Before he was betrayed and murdered, I always thought Julius Caeser was a pretty successful, if brutal and tyrannical, ruler. Yet, his sole legacies are a birthing method, a haircut and a salad. A useful birthing technique, a nice haircut and good salad, but not quite what you'd expect from a guy who ruled an empire. Maybe there are some streets or aqueducts named after him in Italy.

" stupid. So stupid." She was still talking. Is she crying? She's paying her bill.

Another Shiner, and thought given to dessert. The book's not half bad. Starting to get into it.

"How you become stupid? Shit, I can't help it." The inebriated woman had become a man with a bushy mustache and denim shirt. He'd already made it half way through a Miller Genuine Draft.

"I know what you mean, man. Seriously." Ice cream doesn't sound bad.

"I mean, that is a crazy idea for a book."

"Yeah, it's about this guy who is so paralyzed by his self-awareness that he decides to reject intelligence. It is kind of a patronizing concept, but..." Why go on any further. He's trying to make eye contact with the bartender. One finger up, a nod of the head, and he looks relieved.

"My second ex-wife thought I was a fucking idiot. I said, yeah, well I never hid it. You know. But, she wasn't too bright herself. She was a beauty school drop out, like that chick from Grease."

My cab driver who drove me from the airport earlier that evening had been from Somalia. It was a especially cold night, but I could barely breathe; he had the heater cranked all the way up. Told me, laughing, that unless its 100 degrees, he doesn't feel comfortable. He assumed I'd understand.

"You mean Frenchie," I said nodding.

"What? My ex-wife's name was Susan."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have a pretty witty ex.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

And an ex who is employing a publicist apparently. But, hey, she deserves the good press. Frankly, her decision to go out with me can only be explained as a longish-term lapse of judgment.

7:28 PM  
Blogger tequilita said...

so paralyzed by his self-awareness that he decides to reject intelligence? huh? can you essplain please?

2:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

The main character is a scholar who is so attuned to the implications of every thing he does that he ultimately finds himself unhappy and unable to do anything. So, he figures that if he becomes ignorant or "unintelligent" that he'll be able to be happy. How? so far, he's had a disasterous attempt at alchoholism, exploring suicide. Condescending, arrogant, provacative premise he, and therefore the author, has: the ignorant and less thoughtful are more content because of what they don't bother to worry about. Kind of gross, but interesting at times.

10:23 PM  
Blogger tequilita said...

sounds interesting. a long running theory of mine: happiness is about balance. the ideal is moderation in all things including and especially self-awareness.

11:17 PM  
Blogger tequilita said...

amendment to previous comment: "theory of mine" - well, i didn't come up with it of course, but i test it frequently.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

On a similar vein, there was an interesting article in the New Yorker a few months called "Getting Over It," about a line of thought among some physcologists that people tend to wallow on and explores issues or problems too much rather than learning to "just get over it." It was an interesting premise, and in keeping with my emotional shallowness.

8:14 PM  

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