For some time now, one of the catchphrases of our time has been the initials "T.M.I.," which, as anyone even reasonably à la mode knows, stands for "Too Much Information." It's a phrase that occurs to us whenever someone of our acquaintance insists on blocking our chances for a measure of equanimity with an unsolicited and over-exampled recitation of things we'd just as soon not know about.
An example would be the snip-by-snip recounting of what went on during someone's latest turn on the operating table. Not only that, but the gory details, each and every one, of the symptoms that preceded the need for such an event. Yet another instance, usually emanating from persons a generation or two younger (at least mentally), would be the disclosure of everything that happened — literally, everything — on the occasion of someone's latest sexual encounter.
You can make your own such lists. Which brings us to a related phenomenon, equally fitted for initializing. Actually several such phenomena. Call the first one "T.M.Q." — for "Too Much Questioning." We have in mind an actual case in point — that of an acquaintance who is not only a political junkie but someone who makes much of his living off politics, no less. And this gent, in the manner of Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, began a conversation by grabbing our sleeve and importuning us to explain how it was that next year's election cycle had already begun with the absurdly early filing deadline of December 8th for the 2012 election for countywide offices — one which would involve a primary date of March 6th and continue all the way to the general election date of August 2nd.
We did our best but had to end by requesting the gentleman, who was implacably agitated, to take his complaint to the Election Commission or, failing that, to the Father of Waters. Finally, we had to fall back on another catchphrase of our times: "It Is What It Is." The Mariner dropt his hands (and his interrogation) but only because we demanded it.
But the fact is, we, too, have trouble understanding. We in Memphis and Shelby County are supposedly guaranteed one year out of four that is election-free. But the last one we had, 2009, was promptly filled up with a special election for mayor. So we soldiered on with scarcely a break from the business of choosing this or that set of officials.
That brings us to our last set of initials: "T.M.C." — "Too Much Choice."
We've thought about it, and it's easy to see why someone — like the aforementioned gentleman we likened to an Ancient Mariner — can be driven half-mad by the superfluity of elections in these parts and by the nonstop nature of them. And by their egregious overlap. Is there any wonder that the turnout rate keeps dropping lower and lower?
Turnout? How about Tune-Out?