Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Losing it

There are times when I truly fear for my sanity. There is so very, very much I simply do not comprehend.

The other day, my good friend Gary, a former English teacher, was trying to explain to me the differences between and uses of the colon and semicolon which I am almost totally consistent in getting wrong 99 percent of the time.

Now, Gary is an excellent teacher, and very patient. But what I got from his detailed explanation was this: “When using the semi-colon, the framatizer must always, always modify the blasisneker. The colon, on the other hand muzzuzikates the ninimuker only when.........” And of course the fact that I always walk the thinnest of lines of comprehension suspended over the bottomless chasm of utter frustration doesn’t help.

I listen to songs and TV commercials and hear/see them 19,000 times and have no idea what they are saying. (The Enterprise car commercial, for example, where the mother with the two kids rents a car to get them to their soccer game. The kids get out of the car and one of them says: “Nice sspryyzmis, mom!”) I listen closely. I really do. I strain my ears to try to hear what he’s saying. I try to read the kid’s lips. I crane my head forward and squint at the screen, hoping maybe the extra concentration will help. It does not. I watch it over and over and over again (not through choice, I can assure you, but simply because it plays every thirty seconds day and night), and I STILL do not have the slightest clue as to what he’s saying. Finally, while spewing my frustrations to Gary, he looked at me (the pity clear in his eyes), and said: “He’s saying, ‘Nice save, Mom.”

“Nice save, Mom”??? How the hell was I supposed to know that? I have no idea what a “save” is or is supposed to be. Something related to soccer, I assume, but I neither know nor care. Utter frustration.

Instruction manuals should, I am firmly convinced, be printed in Swahili. I still wouldn’t have a clue what they’re saying, but I’d have an excuse for it (“Sorry, I don’t speak Swahili.” Apparently, since they are supposedly written in English, I don’t speak English either.)

How many times have I been so stupid as to buy something requiring “some assembly”? Whatever it might be always comes with simple, detailed instructions which, I am assured by the salesperson, a baby squirrel could follow while blindfolded with one little paw tied behind its back. I spread the instructions out on the floor. I read them carefully. Carefully, I say. I get to step 3 of an 8-step instruction and am totally, utterly lost. I have either put something together upside down, or backwards, or tried to “Insert Tab A into Slot B” to find that Tab A will not fit into Slot B. There may be only one Tab A and one Slot B, but will they fit together? For you, of course. For everyone else in the world, of course. For me? Guess.

“Easy Open” or “Easy Re-seal” bags of potato chips. Boxes of cookies. “Pull tab to open.” Really?

I have a list of names and email addresses, which I want to transcribe to somewhere that requires my leaving the original window. No problem. “Patricia Smith:” Got it. I switch to the new window and type—if I haven’t already forgotten by the time I get there— “Pat....” and have no idea what comes next. Or I type “” or “” or God knows what. I carry the concept of “short-term memory” to its ultimate extreme, and am disgusted with myself for it. And does that help? Uh...does what help?


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