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Monthly Archives: October 2014

…Buy Imaginary Friends on eBay

Concession: All of us, at one time and another, suffer from mild to severe cases of lunacy. At the local pub or around the kitchen table, we drink far more than we should, say. Or, caught up in the shopping frenzy of Christmas-time, perhaps we buy our husbands fancy and expensive computers that they never said they wanted in the first place. Bah! Humbug. We try to wear skinny jeans when a flowing caftan would be a wiser choice. We decide to give up covering that grey hair. Maybe we succumb to the lingo of the younger generation, and instead of ‘suffering from a mild case of lunacy,’ we say ‘totally cray cray.’ I, myself, draw the line right there. I don’t even need a friend to tell me that such verbiage is likely a sign of the looming apocalypse. I know crazy when I hear it.

But when other signs of delirium show up? Friends don’t let friends. They pay the tab and say, ‘Really. You’ve had enough of the blue stuff.’ They protect your feelings and urge caution during gift buying binges, pointing out the likelihood that your husband will end up returning your thoughtful gift, thereby sending you into a major pout. They invite you to the gym, and remind you that your caftans aren’t fooling anyone. They accidentally buy 2 boxes of Clairol, and share. That’s what friends are for!

Except this guy, who apparently didn’t have any real friends as a child:

Imaginary Friend Sold on eBay by ‘Real’ Friend

In 2007, this guy decided to sell his imaginary friend, Jon Malipieman, because he was “growing out of him.” The seller offered to include a ‘personal self portrait’ of Mr Malipieman, along with his likes and dislikes. OH! And  ‘postage’ would be free. (really, that’s my favorite part)

Well, as it happens, the seller successfully auctioned off his IMAGINARY FRIEND for $2750!!!!!!!! And others are now trying to auction off their imaginary friends too.

You know, I thought my ‘red line’ at “cray cray” served me well. I thought the nadir of nuts had surely been reached.

Turns out, I drew the line way, way, way too soon. There’s no end of crazy in sight when folks are actually buying imaginary friends. Friends, don’t let your friends buy imaginary friends on eBay. THAT is not just ‘cray cray.’ Paying actual dollars for imaginary friends qualifies as batshit crazy. Honestly. And friends don’t let friends get that far out on the ledge.

…Commit Horse’s Assery

I’m not sure, exactly, what it is about the equine hind quarters that invariably links them to the especial idiocy that brands us the occasional fool, but as Charles Dickens so aptly penned, “the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.” Ol’ Charles had a penchant for hyperbole — Marley being “dead as a door-nail” was the actual simile, and I’ve just committed an outrageous “DIGRESSION!” but, you know, sometimes literary greats help me make my point (‘and I do have one.’)

Friends, be they the literary (and therefore fictitious) or actual kind, are useful for so many of life’s big and little moments. As this blog continually points out, we simply cannot do without our friends, right? We need them for big and small favors. We need them for laughing and for crying and for letting us vent. We need them to lend us stuff we don’t have. We need them for sharing secrets, recipes, and a bottle of wine. And we especially need friends to keep us from making utter fools of ourselves.

Consider Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer. What would Huck Finn do without Tom Sawyer as a cohort in boyhood adventure?

Consider Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. Who else recognized Gatsby’s capacity for hope? Who else admired the man for his potential and scorned the superficiality of the East Eggers?

Consider Hamlet & Horatio. Without Horatio, Hamlet would endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” entirely alone, and no one to tell his story after…

The thing is, Huck never told Tom that he wasn’t doing it right. Huck lit out for the Territory instead, and left us to ponder the tomfoolery (ha!) of overdone adventure and the hypocrisy of being ‘sivilized.’

Nick Carraway never bothered to point out that Gatsby had anchored his hope to an insubstantial dream. Carraway merely tells us what happened – he doesn’t protect, intervene, or help. GAH!

Even Horatio, who cautioned Hamlet again and again, could only witness the final ‘cracking of a noble heart,’ and the Prince of Norway gets the final word.

You can learn a lot from literary friends. See, Huck knew that Tom Sawyer was making a mess of freeing Jim, and Nick most assuredly knew that Daisy wasn’t worth the the shirt on Gatsby’s back. Did they keep their friends from misadventure? Did they keep their friends from looking the fool? The answer, my friends, is no. No they most assuredly did not.

And that’s the lesson we take from Hamlet, and the words that ought to guide our friendships:

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS COMMIT HORSE’S ASSERY

Of course, the Bard said if far more eloquently:

What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,

Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff

That beetles o’er his base into the sea,

And there assume some other horrible form,

Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason

And draw you into madness?

One moment you’re simply a horse’s ass; the next you’re a madman, listening to the words of your father’s ghost. Next thing you know you’re being slain by a poisoned rapier, and your best friend is left telling your story, but the Prince of Norway has bigger political fish to fry than letting you blather on about being and not being.

It always starts with ignoring your friends’ horse’s assery.

And you thought literature couldn’t teach you anything, didn’t you?

Don’t be a — er, you know…

…Off the Hook

The other day, I remembered that I was a teacher. Er, university instructor. For awhile there, I was just going through the motions — showing up for class, saying a few things — okay, a LOT of things, because there is nothing I like quite so much as the sound of my own voice (pretty sure there’s another post about that waiting in the wings), and God knows the students are disinclined to participate much in the opening weeks of a required class. So there we all were, going though the required class motions when it hit me: TEACH them.

The thing is (there’s always a thing with me), classrooms these days are crowded, and the best teaching tends to happen one-on-one. The one-on-group method means someone — maybe everyone — can hide. Such behavior is generally contra-productive to actual learning.When the instructor meets the pupil face-to-face, by golly, something worthwhile has a great chance of making not just an appearance, but a lasting impression.

Picture it: One instructor. One student. There’s no prevaricating. There’s no sea of downcast faces (undoubtedly something fascinating daily transpires on classroom floor, am I right?). There’s no gaping silence as the ‘teacher’ waits longingly for a lucid, on-target answer to an open-ended question. And there’s no harping to the masses, no preaching to the choir, no reliance on exhausted adages that fail to hit the mark. There’s only dialogue. Questions. Answers. Discussion. You know. LEARNING.

But, the classroom filled with students is far more cost-effective than a day-long series of tutorials. What’s an instructor to do?

Well. Instruct! Adapt! Overcome! Send emails of extra instruction! Hold office hours! Stay after class! DO THE WORK!!!!!

Friends don’t let friends off the hook just because the environment isn’t ideal. Friends don’t let friends off the hook because they simply don’t want to do the harder task. Friends don’t let friends off the hook, even when they offer a list of excuses (and trust me, I have not just good, but STELLAR excuses for why I don’t want to do the hard thing, and I bet you do too) for why the thing just isn’t working.

Listen to me, now. Friends who have friends who are teachers:  Don’t let them off the hook. The future depends on those students presently in the classroom, you know. Somebody’s got to TEACH them.

I’m glad I remembered I’m a teacher. Friends? Don’t let me off the hook.