Monday, May 30, 2011

Re: Humor About Raising The Not So Wee Ones...Gauging My Reaction

Gauging My Reaction

Kids gauge their ears now. Do you know this term, “gauge” in this context? It refers to the process by which you gradually stretch a “regularly sized” pierced earhole into a larger one. (I’m nothing, if not informative.)

[By the way, don’t indiscriminately toss out some sort of descriptive reference like, “stretched ears,” or you’ll need to immediately deduct several points from your coolness rating. If you’re like me this occurrence would firmly place you in the negative numbers.]

I used to only use (or know) the word “gauge” in terms of its “back in the day” meaning, as in:

I gauged my parents’ reaction when I came skidding in past curfew, simultaneously providing them with the farcical excuse that my gas gauge wasn’t working which caused me to run out of petrol, ergo, the resultant lateness.

This seemingly extraneous apparatus – the earlobe – is thought to provide balance, so I’m wondering if getting your ears gauged means you’re seeking balance or that you have better than average balance?

If you look up the word “gauge,” style you’ll find that it’s either a verb or a noun, dependent upon what you’re looking to do with the word.

Gauge as a verb means, “to determine
the exact dimensions, capacity, quantity; to estimate, judge, or measure.” The noun version is, “a standard of measure or measurement.” See, there. Nothing about ears. Not even a reference to the auditory.

The funny thing is that I’ve displayed gauged ears for quite some time. This is of the INvoluntary sort; however, subsequent to my youthful pursuit of donning heavy chandelier-type earrings which just about equaled the weight of real chandeliers.

I didn’t realize I was sporting abnormally large piercings until an acquaintance helpfully mentioned to me that I had not so much earholes as slits and large slits at that.

Though she succeeded in undermining my ear confidence she also succeeded in accomplishing something else much more memorable – she rendered me speechless.

I simply made a squeaking sound. Now that I think of it, perhaps the utterance was not so much validly vocal as aptly auditory; the result of air flowing through my enlarged piercing as we listened to the sound of silence.

I mean, what is a person supposed to do with this physical feature? Are there ear burkas? Earlobe tucks? How about earhole lifts?

Her observation has reverberated throughout the ensuing ears…years which is likely why I look at people’s earlobes almost as much as I do their eyes.

Thus, I noticed this whole gauging of the ear trend early on. That and the fact that my own fully-lobed child decided to live large, piercing style. I call the look “going tribal,” only her tribe is not so much aboriginal as a confident, I-am-the-best-original. I admire that.

I certainly get that every generation has its own version of how they assert “rage the machine” tendencies and claim their freedom.

Babyboomers usually translated the concept of freedom into not doing things (think letting hair grow, not bathing, and eschewing undergarments), but today’s youth is much more take charge. Our rebellion meant we weren’t gonna let “the man” command us on every level, including hygiene. There weren’t too many of us who marked ourselves up either, tattoos being seen mainly on sailors, prisoners, or people who were related to a tattoo artist who needed practice.

It’s the norm for Generation Z, or the Net Generation, to exhibit markings and piercings of all kinds. In fact, I often joke with my kids that if they want to be exceedingly different – don’t do anything. They’ll be the only ones in their age group in possession of an unmarked body canvas by the time they’re thirty.

I do appreciate adornment though, but I assert that I shouldn’t be able to read the restaurant specials of the day through my daughter’s 9/16th window to the world piercing. She assures me it’ll grow back, “it” meaning the lobe, but I can’t stand to see any part of her gone, so I exact revenge with my marginally amusing commentary.

For example I’ve taken to yelling, “Hellllooooo!” into her gauged earholes and you can imagine the reaction I get – initially. Truth be told she usually ends up laughing.

Earlobes, in general, are fascinating, almost as diverse as a fingerprint. Who knew that decades later I would finally fit in with my formerly objectionable attribute, sliding right into style?

The only problem is now that I’m all gauged up and ready to roll I’m ENgaged in and focused on, “my temperature gauge has gone kablooey and my blood feels like lava flowing through my body” phase of my life.

Timing really is everything. Pass that towel, would you?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

RE: Humor Column About Interacting With Corporate America...

Assured About Insurance

My theory is that interactions with institutions cost you, one way or another; psychically, physically or emotionally. Sometimes it’s a trifecta and, “Ding, ding, ding!” all three are launched.

You’ve got a problem with your bill? Over-billed, schmover-billed. You never received notification on that rate hike? Well, you should have known the rates were increasing. You weren’t aware of the thousand-day cancellation, notification policy? That’s odd because it’s pretty standard.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re right and they’re wrong. Eventually – and it will be eventually – you will be proven wrong. Again.

Seasons will pass, leaves will fall (and grow again) and pounds will pack on, all while you’re still on hold waiting to be told – you got it – that you are oh-so-incorrect.

While the mental price tag is a biggie the real doozy of them all is the sacrificial expense that is the wedge of time you tithed to the institutional interaction.

Nope, it’s not worth the stress and I’ve had that proven to me time and time again. These conglomerates will find a way to prevail and, ultimately, they will come out the victor. (Where are those anti-trust laws when you need them?)

In the end, you’ll still have to pay, stay, or go away, but there will be no successful, “Rage the Machine” moment to tell your grandkids about.

I’ve been there, baby. Save yourself the frustration. The only problem is that I’m often guilty of not taking my own advice and I fail to remember how exceedingly life-sucking these seemingly innocuous interactions can be.

Seasons pass, leaves fall (and grow again) and pounds pack on, so I get distracted and I forget. (Sometimes all it takes is a shiny object to distract me and render me an amnesiac, but that’s probably going to be a different column.)

My Institutional Interactional Lesson (I.L.L.) as in, “I’ll never win,” came to me via my insurance company.

The eternal optimist that I am, I had this silly notion that I would call them with a quick question and it would be answered easily. Painlessly, even.

I shudder to think what would happen if I had an accident to report, or a claim. This particular contact was necessitated by a rather plebian request for clarification of the “other dwelling” rider on my insurance policy. I was looking to ensure that we weren’t paying for more insurance than we needed, so I was seeking assurance in that regard.

A fast look-see at the amount due on our latest statement registered a mite on the high side and left me wondering if the “other dwelling” we were getting dinged for meant that the dog house on the side of our “estate” was now carrying insurance or was our garage considered the car’s dwelling? I rang them up, as the British would say, to get things cleared up.
ME: “Hello, may I please speak with Jacques French’s assistant?”

“He doesn’t have an assistant.”

ME: “Okay. Then, how about Mr. French himself?”

“He’s not here today.”

ME: “Okay. Do you know when he’ll be in?”

“Ummm…[looking at some sort of calendar it would seem, or consulting a clock to note the flying by of time as we have the fun that is this interchange]…he’s taking a vacation day. He’ll be back tomorrow.”

(No doubt this vacation day was necessitated by the unending fatigue he must suffer engaging in conversations like this with the receptionist.)
Seasons passed, leaves fell (and grew again) and pounds packed on, but I persevered.

ME: “Is there someone else taking his place today? Perhaps, Mrs. French?” I kidded.
Seeming not to notice my effort at levity the receptionist intoned monotonously, “No one is taking his place, really.”

Doggedly I pressed on.

ME: “Okay. Is anyone covering for him?”

“Not really.”

I tried another tact. Maybe she needed to take control of the problem-solving.

ME: “Any suggestions as to who I might speak with?”

“Sure,” she answered perkily. “I’ll put you through to Darcy.”
Excellent. I would finally speak with the reclusive and hopefully helpful Darcy via my old school land line. I was sure she would be more than willing to help me with my insurance needs, concerns, or questions. This was my big moment when I was going to be able to direct my burning question to a real, live, qualified person.
Darcy answered the telephone on the first ring with a strong and confident voice and asked me, “May I help you?”

And you know what? I’d forgotten my question.
I hung up and shuffled off to take a nap in my main dwelling.