November 1993 Sketchbook

Copyright 1993 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

Initiate This!

Well, the election's over and the initiatives on the state ballot were initiated, initialed, and left to their own fates. This "ruling by initiative" stuff is a pretty good idea, but why stop at just deciding the fate of taxes? Why not use voter initiatives for some really important stuff?

For example, "Should Hilary Clinton change her hairstyle yet again?" and its companion measure, "If she does, should she pick yet another dorky looking hairstyle, or just go with a basic Jackie Kennedy?"

And the ever popular, "Should Ross Perot get a hair transplant, and also a barber transplant, so something can be done to keep him from looking like a Mr. Potato Head that got shrunk in the wash?"

And we don't have to limit ourselves just to tonsorial affairs, we can tackle more weighty subjects as well!

"Should NBC make a mini-series based on Senator Packwood's diaries, or should they confine themselves to a Made for TV Movie?" This kind of feedback could be presented to executives as "pre-ratings" ("Hey, we can get ratings on a show that's not even on the air!").

Better yet, we could get a little voter participation in the Lotto game with a question like: "What number should win the Lotto this week?" Now that's something that would get everybody's interest!

Little Known Laws of Physics

The Law of Hair Conservation: This states that the total amount of hair in the population at any time must be conserved. This is why people go bald: as new babies enter the world and start growing hair, the total mass of existing hair must remain constant, so some must be lost somewhere.

Balding people will note that this can be used to advantage by promoting hair styles that favor really short hair cuts, thus prolonging their own hair retention.

The Law of Hair Conservation also explains some of the goofier looking hairstyles among the young. They simply don't have enough hair to make a proper hair cut, so they have to keep part of it really short.

Adopt a What?

Usually my junk mail is pretty uninspired. Boring, even. Not that I don't enjoy hearing about 30% off of any orthodontal work, but it's just not very interesting.

Every once in a while, though, I get something that's, well, different.

This particular piece starts out, "Dear Fellow Creature." Hmm. Right away, I figure this is probably not from Publisher's Clearing House, as Ed McMahon would not refer to me as a "fellow creature," nor would I believe him if he did. So right away, I figure this is either a snail, Xenon from the planet Argos, or somebody who's not too tightly wound.

My "fellow creature" then tells me to "Let my imagination take you, for a minute to calm seas near Cape Cod Massachusetts. You're enjoying a pleasant cruise on a crystalline day."

Okay, in the first place, I would not, under any conditions be "enjoying" a pleasant cruise anywhere. I would be leaning over the rail, delivering the contents of my breakfast back to the ocean. I get seasick in the bathtub, and even thinking about getting in a boat and placing myself on a rolling, heaving piece of flimsy material at the mercy of the ocean is enough to make me turn green.

Also, I would not be caught dead near a "crystalline day," as the DEA has been known to suddenly swoop down on such situations.

"Then the ocean erupts!" No kidding the ocean erupts. Just when it's calm and clear is when it's most likely to suddenly swoop down on you and throw you overboard to be gnawed by sharks or electric eels. In this case, however, the letter is referring to "one of nature's most awesome sights" (for a minute there, I thought the letter would go on to discuss Dolly Parton, who certainly ranks in my book as one of nature's most awesome sights), "a breaching Humpback Whale."

So, where's Captain Ahab now that I need him? But wait! There's more. The whale does some whale stuff for a paragraph (soaring in the air, splashing, crushing boats) and, just before it goes back to the sea bottom to watch TV, "its distinctive markings identify this magnificent creature as…your whale!" My whale? If this is my whale, what the hell is it doing in Massachusetts?

Ah, but the letter goes on to explain (before I have to resolve such questions as "Do I need to license my whale? Where would I keep it? How do you walk a whale? How would I afford the vets bills? How would I get it to the vet?"), that it's "my" whale only "in a sense."

I am being given the unique opportunity to Adopt a Whale! And if I'm not interested, well then, "You're invited to adopt Humpback whales this holiday season for the special people on your gift list. Not just any whales, but the whales that are most appealing to your gift recipient!"

I suppose the last statement could be true, although most of the gift recipients on my list would put "Humpback whale" right down there with "tie" and (yet another) "scarf." For all I know, though, they may put "Humpback whale" slightly ahead of "Right whale" or "Pygmy whale."

For a minute, I got pretty excited about this. After all, maybe my whale would be sending me little drawings he or she had made, along with notes about their progress ("I am growing up fine and eating lots of food"). I could picture boats tracking down "my" whale and dumping buckets of plankton over the side while a guy with a megaphone shouted "This plankton is from Robert!" and my grateful whale would do whatever it is that grateful whales do (jump up and down?).

The letter goes on to state "One of the most astonishing discoveries is that individual whales, like humans, have distinctive personalities." This is astonishing? My dog, who weighs considerable less than 15 tons and hates the water, has a distinctive personality. These people maybe thought that because whales spend all their time in the water, their personality washed away?

And, if I adopt a whale for somebody, they will receive a "personal letter" that "clearly states that this unique gift was sent by you!" in case they receive multiple whales for Christmas.

There's also a brochure, showing 50 (yes, that's fifty!) different whales along with their pictures. I can choose which whale I want to adopt! Unfortunately, none of the whales are facing the camera and smiling their little hearts out. In fact, all the pictures of the whales are of their tails.

This is kind of like adopting a child by looking at fifty pictures of children's butts.

Apparently, whales all look pretty much the same from the front (big and ugly), but they each have their own individual little tails, which scientists and researchers have learned to distinquish (which gives you some idea of the kind of wild and exciting lives that scientists and researchers live).

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