I’m not much of a country-club kind of guy.
Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement.
What I really mean to say is that I can’t stand country clubs. I despise them. It physically pains me to set foot in them. They repulse me to no end.
You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.
I really think that if I had the choice between an afternoon being subjected to Chinese water torture and an afternoon in a country club, I’d need to take some time and weigh my options.
It’s just not my thing.
* * *
My wife and I started dating in high school.
Make no mistake, however… we were NOT high school sweethearts.
Having been introduced just several months earlier, it probably seemed to others like love at first sight when, in the fall of our senior year, Ashley and I began ‘going out’.
This perception was soon corrected, though.
The truth became evident only a few short months later when we were not only no longer dating, but could hardly stand to be in the same room.
* * *
I made sure never to tuck in my shirt.
All things considered, I don’t think I have all that many self-destructive tendencies. But this was certainly one of them.
Since before I was born, my grandparents have been members at the Myers Park Country Club. At least a couple times a month, they’d invite us there for dinner, which, to all normal people, was an incredibly gracious and exciting offer.
When I was younger, my parents helped to ensure that I follow the club’s dress code. In time, though, the responsibility shifted solely to me.
Sometimes I would show up with only the front of my shirt tucked in. This was a clever tactic, if I may say so. It would allow me to sneak past the front line of defenses (my family), and arrive at my real intended target- a face to face showdown with the host or someone else from the club’s staff.
“I’m sorry son,” they’d say, grinning ever-so-politely, “but I’m going to have to ask you to tuck in that shirt… all the way, now.”
Other times, if I’d arrived by myself and was feeling extra confrontational, I wouldn’t even attempt to tuck in the front part. I’d work my way through the hallways or around the outside by the golf carts, seeking out a fitting adversary.
The old-timers were the best- the guys who’d seen it all, who’d been around the block. They don’t take crap from young punks like me. No, they were always ready. They enjoyed putting guys like me in ‘my place’.
And, for some strange reason, I enjoyed making them have to.
* * *
There’s a certain upper limit to how often a person should be allowed to smile.
I’ve never come up with an exact figure. But I’m convinced it exists. Anything above this and you might as well be a politician, or perhaps a clown.
I’m a genuinely happy person, mind you.
But no person should be smiling all the time. By doing so, you defeat the very reason for smiling in the first place! Your smiles are worthless- meaningless currency an the National Facial Expression Exchange.
I mean, it ruins the whole system. If you were smiling five minutes ago when I was talking about my algebra homework, and you’re still smiling now when I’m telling you my best-ever joke, then I have no clue if you really think my joke is funny!
Which it is.
It was for these and many other reasons that Round 1 of dating between Ashley and I did not go very smoothly.
* * *
Nothing is as simple as it seems at first. The obvious answer is almost never the right one.
We have a dog who occasionally likes to eat grass.
The first year after we got him, I’d yell at him every time he ate it. “You stupid dog!” I’d say to him. “Why do you eat the grass? It just makes you throw up! Don’t you see that?”
I’d fight him over the merit and nutritional value of the green blades growing outside our apartment, reasoning with him sometimes for days at a time before he’d finally acquiesce.
It was a tough battle. But, for the sake of his health, I had to win it.
Sometime toward the end of that first year, it occurred to me that the dog eats grass only after he becomes sick. Once he eats the grass, he throws up. And once he throws up, he no longer feels sick.
The grass was what made him better.
Now I let him eat the grass. And now he doesn’t stay sick.
Nothing is as simple as it seems.
* * *
I think the most intelligent thing we can ever do is to admit how stupid we are.
Do this, and the floodgates of insight are opened, letting in all manner of possibilities.
I was wrong about the dog and his occasional affinity for grass. I’d thought grass was always a bad thing. But, apparently, the dog knew better.
I was wrong about the dress codes. A dress code is a profound concept. Agree with it or not, the one thing we cannot do is consider it ill-conceived. Dress codes are like the Scientific Method. They’re standards, bigger than ourselves, to which we must either conform or not conform.
I was wrong, too, about the incessant smile. I’d been under the impression that people like Ashley didn’t actually exist. People so full of joy, and so thrilled to be alive, that they just couldn’t force themselves to frown for more than a moment.
Being wrong isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, sometimes it’s downright pleasant.
So here’s to stupidity-
To mine and to your’s, to our culture’s and to their’s, to the kinds that are blatant and to the kinds that are unseen.
Here’s to stupidity.
*Photo Credit: Brandon Warren (Creative Commons)
This week’s topic (also known as the Weekly Curiosity) is culture. Check back each weekday at 12:34pm for a new post exploring this idea. In the meantime, here are three ways you can join the quest: