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Thursday, April 3, 2003

I was never much interested in cars. Maybe it's because I didn't have anyone who could show me how to open the hood, much less understand what goes on under it. I didn't even get my driver's license until I was seventeen, a year older than most of my peers. I've always depended on the honesty of good mechanics, and if I've been burned a time or two, that's part of the price of having no desire to get my hands greasy.

One of the best bosses I ever had ran a shoe store, but his dream job was to be a mechanic. He wanted to be an exclusive, self-employed, by-appointment-only mechanic, so it didn't quite work out for him.

We spent hours talking about it during the down time at the store where we worked. He talked, that is, and I listened. I listened as much as I possibly could, and the rest of the time I pretended to listen. Maybe he knew when my zombie mode kicked in, and maybe not. Neither of us ever acknowledged that he was talking to empty air most of the time.

It's either a talent I have or a massive deception I employ, but I'm pretty good at carrying on conversations with people whose interests are different from mine. Actually, I'm probably better at that than I am at normal conversations. If someone is so deeply involved in something that it's all they want to talk about, usually all the other person has to do is listen. And listening is my specialty. I can keep up with anyone if they keep talking, and they never have to know if I'm following or not. They really don't want to know.

Something else that holds no interest for me is video games. I've tried, over the years, to generate some enthusiasm. I had a Colecovision console when they first came out (right before they were discontinued, I think), but it was mostly for the benefit of my nephews when they would come for a visit. I played some, but the passion wasn't there and I abandoned the game without ever getting to level whatever or finding the golden thingy. I'm still not sure what the point of most of those games was.

But I could sit next to Eric in his room for hours and watch him play, never knowing what he was doing or what in the world he was talking about. He didn't care. I was there, and if it wasn't hours, sometimes it seemed like hours. When he was younger and living at home, he'd get a new game and want to show me. And I always wanted to see it. Obviously, it wasn't the game I cared about.


Looking east past the house on a cloudy spring morning.

If only I'd had a chance as a kid to learn something about gardening, keeping this yard of mine under control wouldn't be such a heavy undertaking. The trouble is, if somebody had talked to me about it, I probably would only have pretended to listen. I never had any reason to get my hands dirty, until I moved to this place two and a half years ago.

Now I fumble about and do my best and ramble on and on about my yard and the weeds and the leaves on the trees. I hope I don't bore anybody with all this talk. I don't ask anyone to care, only that they pretend to listen.

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I know for a fact that people tune me out when I talk about baseball. That's why you don't see it on this page any more often than you do.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Don't Lose That Number
"It's a little like interrupting someone's confession, or striking up a conversation in the men's room."

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Happy birthday, Eric.