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I’ve finally put to rest the old DocJay phrase, “harshes my mellow.” It was cute for awhile, but it had run its course, as all things do in time. To make up for the missing excitement that DocJay’s phrase added to my post, I’ve started each item on my list with the letter B.
Blowers: I hate these darn things. Leaf blowers interrupt my naps, they blot out my conversation with Marie as we walk the neighborhood, and they scare Bob the dog.
Here’s what really frosts my cookies: I’ll see some guy, an internal combustion engine strapped to his back spewing out the decibels, its nozzle blowing out a 200 mph wind that moves three leaves and speck of dirt from a sidewalk. It’s like picking your nose with a shovel.
I think I know why leaf blowers seem to be everywhere during their three seasons: Whereas raking and sweeping with a broom are chores, blowing leaves with a 200 mph concentrated stream of air is fun. So a yard maintenance man who has been assigned the leaf-blowing chore will drag it out by removing even tiny pieces of debris that no one would ever think of removing manually. I’ve seen them blow a single leaf off a flower bed. I’ve seen them go into the streets in front of a house to blow away a few leaves.
If there is a Hell for non-sentient objects, gasoline-powered leaf blowers — the DeWalts, the Stihls, the Husqvarnas, and all the others of the leaf-blowing fraternity — will end up there. The electric leaf blowers will end up in Limbo to work off their sins.
Blowhards: I love the back and forth of conversation. I hate to listen to monologues. I used to teach at a university, a place that attracts people who think they need to tell the world, in a torrent of words, how things work. Your ideas mean nothing to a blowhard. If you try to interrupt his river of words, he only raises his volume and goes on. You’re trapped. The only way out is to turn and walk away. I’ve done that before. I usually lie by inserting a “I have to go” into his word stream. Don’t judge.
Brainstorm Usurpers. These are people on Ricochet who beat me to a topic that should have been mine. I have enough trouble coming up with new posts on Ricochet without some Ricochet person coming up with a topic that I could have thought of, given enough time. Sawatdeeka, for instance, recently posted an essay (Advice from Popular Culture) that was perfect for me to write on. If you had just given me a few days more to think about it, Sawatdeeka, I think I would have come up with that topic. I’m not saying you didn’t handle it well. In fact, you did better with it than I could have. But it was me, Sawatdeeka.
Bathroom Trespassers. I discussed this in a Postscript tacked onto a previous post, but you probably didn’t read it so I think I’ll repeat it. If you’ve already read it, just go on to the next B.
I dropped by Portland’s Powell’s Book Store a couple of weeks ago. When I started to walk into the men’s restroom, I noticed this ominous sign on the door: USE THE RESTROOM YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE IN. When I entered, there was a female drying her hands on the blower. Damned if I was going to use the urinal with a female standing a few feet away, so I tried to wait her out. Unhappily, those darned blowers take forever to dry a person’s hands. So there I was, standing in the middle of the room, an old man whose bladder was crying out for attention, while some pushy female was taking her time drying her hands on the blower. That woman just plain harshed my mellow.
Bob. When the vet told us that Bob’s infected paw meant that he was going to have to wear a cone over his head, my first thought was, “Photo-op for Ricochet!”
Almost immediately, I chided myself for that insensitive response. Rather than think of Bob’s discomfort, my first thought was a photo-op. So that’s how Bob harshed my mellow: He caused me to think badly of myself.
(And that is probably the lamest excuse to get a photo of Bob into my post that I have ever used.
Weird Postscript: I was watching Life, Liberty, and Levin on Fox this evening. Levin was interviewing a well-known conservative historian, Burt Folsom, when I had an awkward thought: I once went on a date at a drive-in movie with Burt Folsom.
Here’s how it happened. Folsom was a colleague of mine at a state university. He was in the history department; I was in English. We both liked horror movies and our wives didn’t, so we decided — I don’t know who asked whom — to go to the drive-in to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Later, Folsom moved on and hit the big time by publishing a number of seminal works in economic history, leaving me behind to nurse along my undistinguished career. By the way, Folsom was a perfect gentleman.Published in