Over the years, I’ve been accused of being an optimist, a pessimist, an idealist, a realist, a nihilist and God knows how many other “ists.”
I suppose it depends on the perspective of the accuser.
I could take these things one at a time and defend or support them, but it would be a waste of time. Most people are going to believe what they believe no matter what the facts say. I’m long past the point in life where I feel the need to convince anyone of anything. I just wish more people would extend me the same courtesy.
You see, here’s the one thing everyone on the planet needs to know about me -- the only thing they need to know, actually. That is, unless I ask, I’m not particularly interested in whatever it is you’re selling. I do not wish to join your political party, or your church, or your social movement, at least not at the moment while I’m shopping for fleet enemas or anti-stinky toe powder. Rest assured, I will let you know when I wish to learn more. In the meantime, have you read any good books lately?
No, wait, don’t answer that question; I don’t think I want to know that, either.
It seems we get more and more of this every day in the most mundane of places. Someone, somewhere, always has a hand out -- I mean, think about the solicitations you get just getting in and out of the grocery store. Believe it or not, I do have close to an ounce of compassion in me -- but I do not care to be hit at the grocery store checkout line with, “Do you want to donate a dollar to the less fortunate du jour organization?” especially after I just shelled out way more money than I expected for generic pasta and a couple of apples.
I think I’m going to start replying to the question with, “No, would you like to donate to the Jim Tatum Permanent Vacation Fund today?”
I really wouldn’t find it altogether surprising to find myself being solicited for such in, say, a public restroom. I can just see it now.
Me: “Is there a square to spare in here, so to speak?”
Shill next door: “Would you like to give to the Save the Pine Cones Coalition?”
I’ll never forget one time I was sitting on a boardwalk rail at a popular surf break at Pawleys Island. The sun was shining, the temperature was pleasant, and it even looked like a little mystery ground swell was coming in with the tide. All in all, a bucolic, soul lifting moment -- and then my serene little reverie was interrupted by a nasally voice to my left.
I turned to see a guy I vaguely knew, another local surfer. Too late I remembered his nickname: “Preacher Bob.”
“Have you heard the Good News?”
And with that simple phrase, my beautiful morning went south. Not because I’m a godless communist; not because I spend more time admiring the outside of a church than the interior decoration of such. It was just another moment when some presumptuous jackass invaded my personal space to inflict an unsolicited sales pitch upon me. Despite my most baleful stare and terse, one-word answer, the guy cranked up like a broken Chatty Cathy doll. For all I know, he’s still sitting there babbling on, spouting word salads and rhyming couplets regarding a subject about which he has no real understanding, any more than a fork understands the ingredients of pecan pie.
It doesn’t matter what the message or who the messenger is; I’m not in the market for unsolicited information. I don’t need a lecture. I don’t care for presumption. It’s an invasion of my time and space, and such things disturb and offend me. I am especially offended by what people today refer to as “passion.” I’m all for people deeply caring about things, but this thing people call “passion” is far more accurately described as illogical, histrionic, clueless, high volume blathering. It is the ultimate in Orwell’s “Four legs good; two legs bad” mantra -- and too many people really believe if you shout something long enough and loudly enough, then it magically becomes fact.
On the other hand, we can whine, moan and decry the world all day long -- something I do way too much of on my own -- but, generally, it doesn’t do much good. Besides, I’ve always tended to believe as long as you’re employed, insured and relatively healthy, things aren’t too bad. I have come to realize, while my problems are many, they are all first world and for that I am grateful.
Yet because of that I’m often accused of being an optimist.
What; me worry?
Hey, if the Alfred E. Newman grin fits, wear it, gap and all.