Some people view me as some sort of Idea Person, though I would insist that if I have more ideas than most people, certainly I must have more bad ideas than most people. Maybe I shouldn't be quite so certain, but misconceptions, misapprehensions, and good old fashioned mistakes are all over my timeline, and I don't mean the ones on social media either.

Sometimes, it's just the back of the mind failing to synchronize with the front of the mouth. This week my shrink mental-health provider sent me a letter advising that she'd relocated her practice to such-and-such address right off the Interstate. I looked at it, recalled an image of that location from my distant past, and wondered why she'd moved there, especially since it was geographically inconsistent with the name of her facility. It took me the better part of a day to reread the letter and discover that I was thinking about the wrong Interstate. A facepalm seemed insufficient, but it had to be done.

(Also: I duly informed my supervisor at work that I had this appointment coming up. I gave him the wrong date: off by exactly one week.)

Admittedly, sometimes I want something badly enough to try to talk it up, and then get a plateful of unbraised crow. If those two publishing companies are going to merge, I argued, they absolutely have to call the combined operation Random Penguin. They didn't. Mercifully, only a handful of people bothered to remember my outburst.

And then there are the "What were you thinking?" incidents. Snow, I suspect, has a negative effect on my brainpower. I was working swing shift downtown on an evening when we were expecting flurries. By the time I got off work, the "flurries" were four inches thick. Can someone push me out of this? Perhaps, but no someone was available: this was back in the 1980s, and if you lived in Oklahoma City in the 1980s, you'll remember that no one was ever downtown and outside after sunset, let alone around midnight Oh, well, I thought, I'll do it myself. And I did manage to break loose from the drifts — and simultaneously kick the car into gear. Panic empowers a man: I somehow cleared the door and brought things to a halt. I drove the ten miles home without further amusement value, but I was shaking badly, and not just because it was nineteen degrees outside.

"When did you figure out that your marriage was doomed?" someone asked. About a year in, she was working the swing shift, and the second car was being ministered to by, we were told, factory-trained Toyota specialists. It wasn't particularly warm out, but I didn't care: I had some pranking to do. And when she came out of the Big Tall Building, she rather quickly noticed that I had a towel on my lap and no other garments at all. She was irate: "What are you going to do if we get a flat tire?" she demanded.

"Freeze," I admitted.

That was the end of the conversation for the rest of the night. And even now, nearly forty years later, she doesn't seem to have forgiven me for that silly stunt. I do remember this much: shortly after we separated, she ordered new seat covers for that car. But it's only just now that I managed to connect those two incidents, which I suppose proves my cluelessness.

The Vent

  1 March 2018

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