Monday, July 20, 2009

What I Don't Know

By Elliott Joseph

Copyright 2009 Elliott Joseph

September 2009

They say that when you reach a certain age you realize that wisdom is knowing what you don't know. If so, I am very wise. The trouble is that there are far too many things I don't know. Here's a partial list:

- - How television works.

- - What "a 30% chance of showers" means.

- - What to say when a stranger calls during dinner to sell you something.

- - What my wife is thinking.

- - How to make money.

- - Why we see only one side of the moon.

- - Why there's never enough time.

- - Which witness in a jury trial to believe.

- - How some people get elected.

- - Why someone else wins the lottery.

- - Why after a coin can land heads up twenty times the odds on the next toss are still 50-50.

- - How to sell something.

- - How to negotiate.

- - How long it takes to get sick from something you ate.

- - The difference between hysteria, paranoia and schizophrenia.

- - Why so much music ignores the ear.

- - Why so much poetry can't be understood even by people with a good education.

- - Why laughter is so good for us.

- - Why so many people cheat, steal and lie.

- - Why so many people drive so aggressively and with such lack of courtesy.

- - Why so many people always seem to be on the phone.

- - Why so many people don't return telephone calls.

- - How to harvest alfalfa.

- - Who makes up all those metaphors for politicians.

- - Why some people talk so much.

- - Why some people never listen.

- - Why the stock market goes down when interest rates go up.

- - Why the stock market goes up when interest rates go down.

- - Why the stock market goes up or down altogether.

- - What a vitamin is.

- - What the smallest particle is.

- - Why some people grow old and others remain kids.

- - How to live with injustice.

- - Why logic has a dirty name.

- - Why following directions doesn't work.

- - Why other people don't know how to water your plants.

- - How to be one of the boys.

- - What Infinitesimal Calculus is.

- - How to speak a foreign language.

- - Why there are always at least two sides to every question.

- - Why some people have no sense of shame.

- - Why there are so many species.

- - How Mozart could possibly have composed so much, so magnificently.

- - Why it's fun just taking a walk.

- - How a ship floats.

- - How an airplane stays up.

- - How we can learn to ride a bicycle.

- - Why we like some people but not others.

- - Why some people like us and others don't.

- - When to say yes and when to say no.

- - How to build a house.

- - How to play a musical instrument.

- - How to play bridge.

- - How to fix a noisy radiator.

- - Why so many men don't flush the toilet in the rest room.

- - Why naming something makes us think we know what it is.

- - What it's all about.

If there is anyone out there who can enlighten me about any of these things, please write me without delay. If, on the other hand, you have a number of things that you don't know yourself, shoot me a copy of your list. I don't know what I will be able to do about it, but perhaps a sharing of our ignorance will have a salutary effect.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Song of The Sexual Revolution

By Elliott Joseph

Copyright 2009 Elliott Joseph

August 2009

"Excuse me, but do you think the sexual revolution is over?"

The question came from a mature gentleman sharing the small restaurant table with me. He was looking at me earnestly, his thick gray eyebrows raised in polite expectation.

I was just about through with my lunch and not altogether surprised that a stranger would reveal such an intimate thought. There are many friendly little restaurants in my town, and it is not unusual to talk about personal matters with someone you don't know, protected as we are by the proverbial shield of anonymity.

I replied that I had been married for a good many years, and although I had of course been aware of the sexual revolution I could not speak with authority about it.

"I was thinking of joining it," he said, "but I wonder if it's too late.

"To tell the truth," he went on, "I never got into it because I kind of liked the way things were before it started. With sex not quite being so much in the open there was more of a mystery about it. We had romance in those days. One looked forward with anticipation to a goal that was not too easy to attain. There was more to long for, so to speak. One could buy flowers, dream, fantasize.

"One could be moved by songs like IF THIS ISN'T LOVE, EMBRACEABLE YOU, ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE,

"The droll risque argument that was presented by LET'S ALL DO IT had some validity, some point."

He chuckled a bit nervously.

"Then there was the other side of it," he continued. "Not that we were prudes, but we could get a good laugh out of sex. I mean you could tell light, bright sexual stories and hit someone's funny bone. You could hint at sexual misconduct and actually hear giggles. It was fun.

"I guess the fifties couldn't last forever."

He took a quick sip of his glass of wine.

"On came the sixties, the Flower Children and the revolution. I was tempted to become a foot soldier and march right in. One doesn't want to be left out of what's happening in one's time. But I held off.

"And then came the seventies and the eighties. Talk about ANYTHING GOES!

"The pill, teen-age pregnancy, abortion, the single parent phenomenon, explicitness - - it got confusing. And the language! It was just plain filthy. To get a laugh at a party you had to appeal to a sort of humor that was not really funny.

"In spite of all that, I recently considered going for it. The cure for VD had been found, and the very idea of consenting adults doing whatever they felt like doing with impunity, had some appeal. And then came the disaster - - AIDS. That stopped me cold.

"But now I'm thinking that today, with sexual education at a new high, with the concept of safe sex understood by so many people, I might be able to don the colors and charge ahead - - if it's all still going on, that is."

There was an unmistakable lack of conviction in his tone.

He looked at me, waiting for an answer that unfortunately could not be forthcoming.

Just then a woman about thirty, slender, with curly, chestnut hair and sympathetic blue eyes approached our table. The restaurant was crowded and we had the only free chair. I suggested that he ask her if it was all over. She sat down. He hesitated, but only for a moment.

"Over? The Sexual Revolution?," she replied with a friendly smile. "Why it's only just started. The biological clock is ticking and America is on to something new and exciting. All those years of adolescent self-indulgence and mindless promiscuity are done with. LOVE WALKED IN for me and all I can say is 'S WONDERFUL!"

The old gentleman looked hard at the woman for what seemed a full minute, and then suddenly lit up as though coming from under a cloud.

"You mean people are dancing CHEEK TO CHEEK?"

"Oh yes," she said. "And if they're not, they want to."

He thanked her, and bidding me farewell, strode off whistling a happy tune.

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