There are a lot of people in the world. You probably noticed this the last time you tried to go out for breakfast on a Sunday morning and had to wait ninety minutes for a table. The planet is crawling with human beings, all with their own unique personalities, quirks, and ways of thinking. It should come as no surprise, then, that a few individuals will do things that would never occur to the rest of us. Protestors, for example, sometimes throw shoes at political leaders.
In 2008, an Iraqi journalist removed his shoes and flung them at President George Bush. He missed with both. This last part is not hard to understand. In fact, shoes almost always sail off in the wrong direction, whether they’re aimed at senators or centipedes. A shoe has a strange shape. Think about how difficult it is to throw a football. Now take that football, flatten it, stretch one end and make an opening in the other, add a heel and a tongue, and an arch support if necessary, and then try to pelt someone with it from forty feet away. You can’t do it.
I think, deep down, these dissidents don’t really want to hurt anyone, and may even have some deep-seated, unconscious desire for punishment. They’re never going to hit their target, and they’re always going to get caught. After all, in a room full of spectators who have gathered to see a president or a prime minister or a queen, how many will be barefoot? Typically, none. So if there’s a world leader on stage cowering at the sight of flying footwear, and somebody in the crowd is standing around in his socks and scowling, you’ve likely got your man. The worst part is, he’s going to get arrested and will be sent to prison, where he’ll attempt to act like a tough guy while explaining to the other inmates that his crime consisted of tossing an article of clothing.
Speaking of clothing, are the lifeguards at nude beaches allowed to wear bathing suits? I think it should be their choice, because they’re sitting up in those wooden high chairs with no place to hide. They’re exposed to potential splinters, harmful ultraviolet rays, and seagulls with sharp beaks, not to mention mosquitoes and jellyfish. Plus, sunglasses or not, they have to look at all those naked people parading around. It’s like the locker room at a health club, without the lockers to block your view.
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This is a true story. Four months ago, I went online and purchased a book that was supposed to be filled with advice on how to improve my memory. Then, last week, I received an email inviting me to write a review of the book. The problem was, I had made it through only the first five chapters, got bored, stopped reading, and never gave it another thought. When the email arrived, I had no idea what they were talking about. I also had more important things to do, because I’d forgotten to pay the phone bill, had misplaced the car keys, and had neglected to renew my driver’s license. I considered returning the book and demanding my money back, but in order to do that, I had to log into my account, and by now I couldn’t remember the password. I should be making this up, but I’m not.
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I tend to feel sorry for anyone whose last name is Gross. At least at first. I realize the name has nothing to do with the kind of person they are, but at the same time, you have to wonder why an entire family would get stuck with a label like that. Maybe their ancestors liked to eat flies, or never brushed their teeth. Or both. And speaking of names, I don’t like it when a character in a movie or on television has the same first name as the actor who’s playing him. It seems to be a sign that the script lacks imagination. I usually bail out immediately and go back to my crossword puzzle.
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Whenever I slice open a bell pepper, I get a little tense, because I’m afraid I’m going to see one of those alien embryo things coiled up inside the seed compartment. I love peppers, but I suspect there’s something sinister going on in there. They may be preparing to take over the ecosystem, starting with our refrigerator.
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I always have something in my eye. Whatever it is, it must be invisible, because when I search in the mirror, I never actually find anything. But I’m sure it’s there. The sensation is a light, stabbing kind of pinchiness, like the feeling you get when you run a tiny wire brush across your own eyeball, stopping now and then to give the sharp bristles a slight shove inward toward the optic nerve.
I’m a little concerned about this, of course. I could be losing my mind, but more likely it’s a real ailment that will someday affect my vision. I’ve gone to the doctor and had several exams done, but he insists my eyes are fine. Still, it’s troubling. What if I’m working as a lifeguard at a nude beach, immersed in my memory book and biting into a bell pepper, when a naked actor named Gross approaches my high chair and throws a shoe at me? Will I even see it coming? Do we ever?