First Letter of the new year. 2008. The older you get, the bigger the numbers get: year; age; girth; prices; population; the number of below-average-intelligence idiots who insist on engaging you in conversation when you’re trying to enjoy a quiet beer…
I seem to attract them. Wherever I go, there’s nearly always one who latches on to me and doesn’t seem to get the message in spite of my monosyllabic answers to his or her idiotic attempts to make conversation.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m an affable guy. I like to think so anyway. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good conversation with anyone from any walk of life, of any race, creed or colour, who has something interesting to say. And I’ve had some fascinating conversations with any number of people since I’ve been in Larnaca.
But the key point in that paragraph is the word ‘interesting’.
Ok, bars aren’t necessarily the right place to seek out intellectually stimulating conversation, and it’s certainly not a high priority as far as I’m concerned. It’s just nice when it happens occasionally if you’re in the right mood. Like most people, when I go out for a drink, I go to relax in the company of friends and keep everything as light-hearted as possible.
And it’s always nice to meet new people. Especially when you’re in a foreign country and don’t know all that many people to start with. But I don’t suffer fools gladly. Never have. And it’s a failing of mine that I seem to be incapable of keeping it hidden when a fool starts up a conversation with me.
I hate having my inner peace interrupted by a moron. It immediately alters my mood. Because whatever they say, it’s inevitable that you will disagree with them, purely because they inevitably come out with something ridiculous! And expressing a different view is a pointless exercise because they’re incapable of accepting any ideas other than their own misguided ones.
“Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
It’s so true!
If you want an example of the sort of thing I’m talking about, I’d just arrived at a bar a few days ago and had just ordered a beer when the guy sitting next to me said,
“I hate the Irish.“
In an instant, my whole mood changed. I hate racism and xenophobia in all its ugly forms. I hoped that my expression said so. Apparently not!
“That bloke over there. He’s Irish. Too many of them, if you ask me.“
Well there are a lot of them, I’ll grant you. About 50 million worldwide I think, of which only 3 or 4 million live in Ireland. They’re gradually taking over the planet. But I’ve never yet met one I didn’t like, and I love their outlook on life. The world would definitely be a better place if everyone was Irish.
So how do you respond to an idiot who comes out with something like that? And what’s the point? It’s not going to be an intelligent conversation. It’s going to be an argument. And that’s not what I went in there for.
The amazing thing is that they never seem to get that you’re not interested in pursuing a conversation with them. I usually end up having to move to another part of the bar to escape them, leaving some other poor sucker to suffer the aural cruelty as the idiot tries to start another conversation with “What’s up with that miserable git then?”
‘Absolutely nothing’ is the honest answer. ‘This miserable git was quite content until you tried to spoil his evening. I’m just too nice a guy to tell you to bugger off and leave me in peace, that’s all. So I thought it best to make a tactical retreat before honesty got the better of me, and I offended you with a smack in the mouth.’
And in the case of this example I’ve quoted, that’s exactly what I did. I ignored him, picked up my beer, and went and sat at a table, as far away from him as possible. In truth, I would dearly have loved to defend this slant upon all my Irish friends, but it wouldn’t have done any good. It never does. I’d just have got angry. Not what you need after a hard day’s work.
Where was I?
Oh yes. 2008.
New Year’s Resolution No.1:
…to tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.
That was Tuesday’s Thought For The Day, in case you missed it.
New Year’s Resolution No.2:
…to write shorter Letters.
I can’t imagine it’ll last very long, any more than Resolution No.1 will. Once I start writing, I just get carried away. But I’ll give it a go.
This Letter’s probably long enough already, and I haven’t even started yet! You see the problem?
New Year’s Resolution No.3:
…to stop picking on Americans.
After all, they can’t all be as stupid as George Bush.
Anyway, I’ll start again. Today’s I’ve-turned-over-a-new-leaf-and-promise-to-write-shorter-Letters Letter starts here…
I opened a cupboard yesterday. I’ve no idea why. There was nothing in there that I needed. I simply opened it and looked at its contents. It’s the cupboard where I keep the spare light bulbs. From the time I moved in, they seemed to blow at the rate of one or two a month, and that’s out of a total of only five or six! So I always keep a few spare ones.
But having opened that cupboard yesterday, it occurred to me that it’s been a while since I needed to change a light bulb. In fact, I mentioned the last occasion in one of the Letters, when I moved the computer into the spare bedroom. That was back in August.
Anyway, I closed the cupboard, went into the bathroom and flipped the exterior light switch on my way in. The light bulb immediately blew, tripping the fuse and plunging the whole apartment into darkness.
I do have some extraordinarily useless powers! If only I could harness them in a more productive way. Predicting tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers would be so much more useful than having a subconscious premonition about a light bulb blowing.
Or maybe it was just a coincidence.
Like the time when for no apparent reason I started singing the chorus of the Ying Tong Song by the Goons, a song which I hadn’t heard for thousands of years. My girlfriend at the time was standing next to me and looked at me as if I should be in a mental institution. Being foreign, she’d never heard the song before.
A few hours later we heard on the news that one of the Goons, Spike Milligan, had just died. Subsequent further investigation revealed that I’d started singing at just around the time he died.
Of course. What else could it be?
My life is riddled with similar coincidences, some of them so extraordinary that they defy rational explanation. I could definitely write a book about it. But I’m not alone. Most people have a plethora of similar experiences to recount. The mind is an extraordinary thing which works on so many different levels that we don’t fully comprehend, and probably never will. No point in trying to rationalise it.
So all I have to do is learn how to harness this power so that I have a premonition whenever I’m about to enter a bar and be mentally molested by a moron.
I could simply go somewhere else.
It would make life so much easier…
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Happy New Year, George. Haven’t spoken to you for a while. Fancy doing another impression for us? See if you can do one of a moron this time.
Very good. Actually George, just being yourself would have done!