It's a nice, sunny day, perfect for a cold beer on the porch. Which is why I'm standing in line at a corner market with a six-pack. I'm waiting patiently, along with a couple of other people behind me.
The guy at the counter, however, is having logistical problems. With his left hand, he's holding up his pants (the waist of which is below his Tommy Hilfigered buttocks). With his right hand, he's digging for his wallet (which is in a pocket on the back of his right thigh). He's also talking on his cell phone (which he's holding onto his shoulder by pinching it between his head and neck) and trying to use facial-contortion sign language with the clerk — who looks like Wanda Sykes and who is definitely not amused.
Never has there been a more perfect candidate for the witless protection program. He has no idea how ridiculous he looks or how many people are irritated with him. I'd like to help, just to move things along, but I don't know where to start. Should I offer to get his wallet? Hold up his pants? Take the phone and chat with his homie? I dunno. I just want to buy six Tecates and a bag of peanuts and go home.
There's a Zen saying: "Chop wood. Carry water." Four words I take to mean: Pay attention to the task at hand. Nobody does this any more.
In the grocery, I hear someone talking loudly, seemingly to themselves. But no, he's wearing an earpiece and discussing American Idol while picking out tomatoes. In Home Depot, a teenager walks into a towering display of air conditioners, because he is texting instead of watching where he is walking.
I ask a friend about his trip to San Francisco. He says he and his girlfriend had a wonderful time and that I should check out her Facebook page, because she's documented the trip. The photos are great, but she's also a Twitter person. As in: "Ginny is looking forward to seeing Fisherman's Wharf and then having lunch and a nap." Who needs to know this stuff? Who has the time to be involved in so many self-absorbed Twittering loops? Why am I so put off by this?
Maybe I should just give in and join the never-ending global chatter. Hear me Twitter, world: "Bruce is waiting in line, wishing the guy in front of him would hang up and buy his Cheetos. Bruce is looking forward to a beer and wishes everyone would please shut up."
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.