Googlism, First Date, And Earmuffs

Googlism and I have been having a fabulous time lately. I know that most of you out there have probably experienced the wonder of Googlism already, but it is brand new to me, so I will subject you to a partial list of what Googlism thinks of me. I am:

. . . cheap but risky.

. . . a potent little machine.

. . . packaged in an elegant hexagonal box.

. . . what institutions should be about.

. . . available with a complete range of ancillary fixtures and fittings.

. . . still an able performer.

. . . a manageable package when folded up.

. . . a personable individual who shows good attention for very short periods of time.

. . . now valued at over $18 billion.

. . . designed for ease of use.

. . . a dimension full of wonders and magic.

. . . here to guide us through the new millennia.

And for more in the way of lists, go to Fimoculous. Lists-a-plenty.

My work today closely resembled that game that I used to play with myself as a kid in which I would repeat a word ad nauseam until it no longer made any sense. It went like this: bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus . . . Usually, I would end up giggling to myself about how ridiculous a word could sound. I was thinking about this game at work and ended up zoning out for a good minute repeating “earmuff” over and over in my head and finding that multi-syllabic words are harder to play the game with. Then, I psychologically connected the ideas of childhood and earmuffs and uncovered a memory that rarely returns to me. When I was in elementary school, I had a good friend named Curtis. Curtis was one of my best friends. We hung out sometimes at recess, built snow forts in my yard, made sno cones with his Snoopy sno cone maker. It was good, really good, because I was not all that popular back then and decent friends were hard to come by. Then, one day, he asked me if I would wait to walk with him after school, which struck me as odd, because why wouldn’t I, and then after school, he was acting all weird. His hair kind of stuck up funny, his blushing kept obliterating his freckles, and his hands were jammed up to the wrists in the pockets of his jeans. All this, and we hadn’t even started walking yet. It was making me feel all jumpy and creeped out, so I finally asked him what was going on. He said that he was afraid I would say “no”. I promised I wouldn’t. He hemmed and hawed, yammered on about some Atari game, and then came out with “will you go bowling with me?” Now you have to understand that I was very behind in my hormonal maturity at that point. In fact, I didn’t really discover boys until I was nineteen, and I didn’t actually care for them much for a couple of years after that, so this boy-likes-girl stuff was flying way over my head. All I knew was that it felt like something or other was going horribly and terribly wrong, my stomach had vacated the premises, and my only true and burning desire was to flee for the comfort of my closet. I said yes, of course, because I had promised I would, and then I promptly turned around and walked in the other direction, taking an alternate route home without him. I left the poor boy standing there in the field behind the school all alone. I told my mother about this bowling thing, and she got all excited about it, which is what undid me. Her questions about what he was like, what his mother was like, did he have siblings, what would I wear, when were we going all made the realization slowly dawn on me that this was a date, that I had said yes to a date with Curtis, and that we might be boyfriend/girlfriend in that elementary school fashion. I spent the next two days totally avoiding him at school. I thought that maybe if I seemed really busy and we didn’t talk for a few days, then the whole thing would blow over and we wouldn’t have to set a day for our date. It was eating me up inside, but I finally had to come to terms with the fact that this was going to happen, that he was my friend, and that I didn’t like him back. One Tuesday evening, Curtis and his mother picked me up, and then she stranded us alone together at the bowling alley. We had never been anywhere alone in public together, and this new reality somehow pulled all of my gears out of whack so that I either spoke too loudly or too softly, moved too cautiously or too disjointedly, smiled too much or withdrew uncomfortably. I kept checking the big clock over the shoe counter, ticking off the minutes left until his mother would relieve me of this burden of a date with her son. When we drove up in front of my house at the end of the night, I asked him not to walk me to the door. He didn’t seem to notice the rejection and said “I’ll see you at school tomorrow.” I thought “omigod, this isn’t over yet.” And it wasn’t, of course, because it is awful being twelve, and some things have to be drawn out and painful before you figure out how to deal with them. The next week, our school photos arrived in those slick plastic bags with the see-through windows, and everyone started trading photos and writing silly things on the backs like “let’s shop til we drop!” and “best friends forever”. Curtis found me at my locker at the end of the day, looking sheepish and blushing like he had when he had asked me out. He handed me a photo of himself, in which he looked so painfully like a child to me. Now it was all just starting to hurt. I could not in good conscience throw it out like I wanted to, I wouldn’t put it up in my locker where others would see it, and I didn’t want to leave it at home where my mother could find it, so I did what now seems to be so strange. I took off the fluffy outside of one of my earmuffs and hid it in there. That was a place where no one would see it or find it, and I could be saved the guilt of disposing of it. Curtis asked me a week later why I hadn’t put his picture up in my locker, so I showed him the inside of my earmuff. He looked at me quizzically but didn’t ask why. And for some reason, showing him his school picture stashed in my earmuff ended the whole uncomfortable affair. We spoke a few times after that day, but he never called me up or asked me to do anything again. Maybe he thought I was just plain crazy, or maybe he figured me out. At any rate, I felt relieved that the whole thing was over, and the dissolution of our friendship never bothered me much. Boys had suddenly become way too much trouble. (I know it took me a very long time to connect earmuffs with the whole thing, but you knew I would get around to it). And the moral of the story is: don’t be twelve, because it sucks.

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Earmuff Facts and Links:

* Earmuffs, or the Greenwood Champion Ear Protector, were invented by Chester Greenwood in 1873 in Farmington, Maine. For more on their invention, go here.

* After the opening of an earmuff factory, Farmington, Maine became known as the “Earmuff Capital of the World”.

* As a hearing protector, earmuffs may be preferable if noise is short-term or if you are in a cold environment. Pursue “safety with style”.

* Buy really big fur earmuffs at Alaskrafts Fur Shack.

* “. . . it all began with the lowly earmuff . . .” Read “”The B-School Boys” by Donna Fenn.

* The earmuff has evolved! Check out the bandless earmuff, Ear Mitts!