The Witless Protection Program

My hero, Verlyn Klinkenborg, who writes wonderful little essays  in the New York Times  about farm life, has temporarily moved out to California to teach writing.  Our country lives have been a point of intersection  and I miss that connection with him.  But he still writes his occasional column for the Times and a few weeks ago he had a piece in the paper about something that crosses my mind almost daily. Our bond seems to be unbreakable. 

What he wrote about is  the occasional misfunction of  some of the embedded acts that we perform in a way that’s “as close to unconscious as learned acts can be”.  For example,  he  recently  discovered (via a site on the Internet) that he’s been tying his shoelaces incorrectly for over a half-century.  He also learned that the way his father had taught him to adjust his car’s side view mirrors was wrong…..a mistake he’s been making for  many decades.  These are the kinds of  “habits” we all have but hardly pay any attention to.  As I said, I often think about this kind of stuff.  (Yes, it has occurred to me that I may have too much time on my hands.)  I’d bet that there are any number of things I’ve been doing most of my life that I’ve been unconsciously doing ass-backwards incorrectly.  I know that  I put my socks on in the same order every day.   If I’ve been doing that out of order all these years, I can’t imagine what the consequences would be if I  were to find out that I had it totally backwards?  And my pants…I’m certain I put the same leg (I can’t remember which) through first each time.  I so hope I have that one right. And all this takes place first thing in the morning.  That leaves the rest of the day where I might be screwing things up regularly. 

Verlyn gives the name of the website, but honestly, I’m afraid to visit.  I have a nagging feeling that there may be an endless number of  these things I’m mindlessly doing the wrong way.  I now find myself wondering if I’ve been mounting my bike (or anything else, for that matter) from the wrong side;  I know there’s not a chance in hell I could get on it from the other side.  I have an image of myself either standing by the bike scratching my head trying to figure it out or sprawled out on the sidewalk with the bike under me.   And I’ve been breathing in and out for…..well, for as long as I can remember.  What if I find out it’s supposed to be out and in?  What’s the chance of that changing?   And of course, there’s the blue sock/black sock methodology I’ve been using since my Bar Mitzvah.   Dark blue suit, black shoes.  What color socks? I’ve always gone for the black ones…not the dark blue.  I suppose if I found that I have this wrong,  there’s a possibility I could make the change.  But still….I wish Verlyn would come back home and go back to writing about hedgehogs, thistles, mares…..even mice.    

My Hero







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