Aug 10, 2011

Talking Sense into Jay

I have been asked to talk some sense into Jay.
I'll presently reveal who Jay is, and why he needs some sense talked into him. For now, let's focus on me. (It is always about me.)
I'd rather not talk sense into anyone, even though I excel at it: Not my kid, The Wife, or The Godfather, and anyone who says that I do is lying. I prefer the power of suggestion. It even works on occasion. Like when I suggested to my kid that he could easily maintain his straight As if he only valued the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of course, I had to add a sweetener: the playing rights to his Xbox.
Other times, it simply does not work.
[Waits for the audience to overcome their shock from disbelief]
For instance, my former student who is currently a scientist at NASA, recently wrote this on her Facebook wall:

number of calories burned at the end of the workout: 666. Wondering if I should have added just a couple more minutes on the elliptical ...
Since I was about to pen a stinging rebuke of NASA's Space Shuttle program, and needed her unstinting silence, I suggested what any intellectual would:

Shave your head, and make sure it doesn't match the number you find there.
She hasn't updated her profile picture, so I am beginning to suspect that she may have spurned my suggestion. She's stubborn that way. I vaguely remember how she stubbornly aced all her math finals.
Jay, a dear friend, is worse. He is a farm-owner, and is married to a wonderful woman. His stubbornness is evident in his insistence on calling her Sue. That wouldn't be so unusual except that her name is not Sue! She is Japanese, and does not even look like a Sue, even if she speaks English impeccably like a Sue from Tennessee. He also stubbornly refuses to grow tobacco, so the government adds a sweetener for his (non)efforts.
So as is plain, Jay is very stubborn!
About a decade and a half ago, Jay and Sue moved to The Coast from Tennessee, where the air is clean, but the sex is dirty. Predictably, they missed Southern Hospitality. But thanks to my charming influence over the years, they've finally adjusted to California. I suppose others played their part, but it was mainly me and my power of suggestion.
A few years ago, Jay, longing for the clean air (only), and also being an environmental terrorist, started riding his bicycle to work. That eco-friendly electric car of his was just not clean enough. One day, he and his bicycle lost a heated argument with a lamp post, and for his disorderly conduct he was imprisoned in a hospital--with some broken ribs, and a punctured lung. I remember visiting him, and while people think it was because I cared for him, it was to coquet with the nurses. [Note: The Editor stubbornly insists that commiserate would be the correct word here, but he is wrong.] They had suffered at his stubborn insistence in going home with a tube sticking into his body, and the unsuccessful escape attempt had left his room looking like a mess from M*A*S*H.
He recovered, reverted to driving his eco-mobile, and life became good again. Jay and Sue continued their evil ways, but he went on to better things: running marathons everywhere, even in strange lands like Tokyo.
Last Thursday, Sue and I meet for our ritual lunch. She tells me that Jay has had another accident! After expressing mock umbrage at not being notified like the best man at their renewal-of-vows should have been, I find out that he's not hospitalized and only has a broken shoulder.
Turns out that Jay, dissatisfied with the mundane challenges posed by a bicycle, had upped the ante and moved on to a unicycle. Even his mother-in-law, a pint-sized, serene lady not given to even rumors of officiousness, screamed in her inside-voice: "Jay-san should consider more appropriate means of conveyance".
"Will you talk some sense into him?" asked Sue.
Both Sue and I love M*A*S*H, so I'll now recall an episode where Dr. Sidney Freedman had been asked to talk some sense into the cross-dressing, discharge-seeking Klinger:
Lt. Col. Henry Blake: Corporal Klinger, this is Major Freedman, divisional psychiatrist.
Cpl./Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger: Major sir!                    
[curtsies wearing a frilly pink dress]
Dr. Sidney Freedman: You got me up here to ask me about him? About that?
Lt. Col. Henry Blake: Yeah well, you see, it really wasn't my idea.
Dr. Sidney Freedman: All the way from Seoul to ask me what? Whether he needs a girdle under that? Whether his seams are straight?... OK, OK. It's all part of the war, I guess.
[picks up a clipboard and looks at Klinger
Dr. Sidney Freedman: I have a few questions to ask you. Sit down, soldier. 
Cpl./Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger: Yes sir! 
[runs over to the chair. Freedman takes his time filling out the first part of his report
Dr. Sidney Freedman: Now, what's your name, honey?
Sidney may be a fictional character, but I am wondering if I can likewise talk Jay into using a taller, stabler unicycle. Or perhaps I can help inflate the tire on the weekends till his shoulder heals? Maybe I could sign him up for some lessons.
Wait, do you think I am way off-base here? You think you can do better than Dr. Shripathi Freedman?
Let's see you try!

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