Friday, September 3, 2010

What Happens When the Quicksand Isn't Quick?

I have recently become acquainted with a man who is his own genre of stupid. He's smart enough to be executed in Texas, but just barely. This man is also the world's leading Captain Obvious, but I'll refrain from using that insult, as it is so hackneyed it actually insults the plaintiff more than the defendant.

This man is dense in such a way that he wouldn't even make it as a useful idiot. Useful idiots come in handy when you need cannon fodder, sweatshop labor, or someone to test your latest "vaccine." This man's worthlessness is so singular I can't even picture him qualifying as a guinea pig, which is probably why he has survived so long. Not even Sun Tzu had a strategy for defeating the alpha of the betas.

His thickness is difficult to describe, but here goes. Plenty of people are clueless. Plenty of people are clueless AND socially awkward. The reason this man transcends the class of the cognitively downtrodden is that he's clueless, socially awkward, billboard obvious and constantly jumping three steps ahead or three steps behind in the conversation; the conversation he's already made clear he doesn't understand. I'm convinced it is this final trait that protects him from the abuse duds of his caliber typically invite. Taking advantage of him would require too much direct exposure for the abuser to escape unscathed. He's like a porcupine, except I'm not confident he could match the dynamism of your average porcupine. We'll call him a cactus instead.

Perhaps a dramatization is needed. Let's say Cactus Jackass found his way to a shoe store. The salesman would approach:

Shoe Guy: "Hello, sir. Are you looking for anything in particular today?"
Cactus Jackass (eyes bulge, forehead reddens, lips moisten): "I-I gotta have something with laces!"

The Shoe Guy is attempting to at least narrow the conversation to a shoe style: a running shoe, a dress shoe. CJ sabotaged this endeavour by transferring the conversation back in time to one that might occur on the floor of a shoe factory, not a shoe store.

But Shoe Guy wants to make a sale. Things are tough all over. So he spends the three hours it takes to get Cactus Jackass into a new pair of Reeboks (thank God they already come with laces).

Having been together 2 hours and 59 minutes longer than Shoe Guy would have liked, the two men approach the register. Shoe Guy has the pain of a million ruptured appendixes burning in his side. His blood pressure is up. His head is down. But at last they've reached the payment stage. Shoe Guy, Jr., is going to eat this month.

Shoe Guy: "Now how would you like to pay for this?"
Cactus Jackass (ears twitch, nostrils flare, pupils dilate): "I-I want to take out a second mortgage on my house!"

The Reeboks cost 89 bucks. Cactus Jackass has 600 dollars in his wallet (being stupid to the point of invincibility keeps one from being mugged). But instead of taking the reasonable step of paying with cash, Cactus Jackass has fast-forwarded the conversation to a payment method that only applies in a high priced worst case scenario.

At this point, even the most determined shoe-shyster would fold. He has already wasted three hours trying to attain an $89 sale. He has already taken four score and seven years off his life rationalizing the opportunity cost of devoting three hours to the pursuit of a commission that wouldn't even keep him in ham hock, let alone steak. Now he is faced with another 3-4 hours of trying to steer Cactus Jackass through the choppy waters of placing nine ten-dollar bills on the counter. An ubercommittee stacked with Foot Locker Employees of the Month couldn't handle this, so we mustn't fault Shoe Guy for succumbing. As for Shoe Guy, Jr., well, it looks like he'll once again be dining on Shoe Polish Surprise.

A laceless, shoeless, and clueless Cactus Jackass walks out of the store and into the sunset. The sun cries uncle and lets the moon take over for a while.

No comments: