Why We Say Such Silly Things.

Courtesy of redditt

Can’t we just give’m toasters?” vice president of a bank.

I don’t know about you, but when we were kids, we were taught to hold our tongues. Some of us did this literally — thinking we’d get a new baseball bat. Then we found out our fathers couldn’t hold their tongues at Little League games. One coach offered my father a new baseball bat. He walked over with it held high over his head. My father ran like hell.

I loved when President Trump announced that America was “no longer in the nation building business.” He meant places like Afghanistan, but he could have meant America itself.

Nothing’s being done, which seems to suit his followers just fine. They don’t like things being done. It represents change and Republicans believe that can lead to dancing. Pence has said as much.

“Our job now is to kill terrorists,” Trump stated. This makes about as much sense as Assad telling Syrians “Our job now is to make shoes.” Sure, Syrians probably need shoes, and certainly terrorists need to be killed. But shoemaking isn’t going to change sectarian issues in Syria, and, frankly, killing terrorists isn’t going to change Trump’s popularity ratings.

Silliness seems to come from the top, but like anything that flows downwards, eventually it pools. We end up with lakes of silliness.

Trump also didn’t do himself any favours by making it sound like America was going on a turkey shoot. General Kelly kept staring at the floor. Former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon couldn’t stop giggling.

He’s thinking of starting a “crazier version of Fox News.” How can you have a crazier version of Fox News? There’s no crazier version of crazy.

Silliness seems to come from the top, but like anything that flows downwards, eventually it pools. We end up with lakes of silliness.

Just last week, I saw a sandwich board warning owners to keep their pets inside during the eclipse. “They could easily be blinded,” it explained. Someone posted it on Facebook, thinking it was sensible advice.

“Are you kidding?” a reader wrote back. “Do you honestly think your dog is even remotely interested in an eclipse? If you’re worried, give it a bone. In a contest between a bone and an eclipse, guess which one wins?”

She took one more crack at it, pointing to Buenos Aires. “I still think it’s the wrong map,” she said.

This, of course, brought anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Three people responded, saying their dogs were practically blinded by the last eclipse. “That was in 1991,” the reader shot back. “Your dog’s just bloody old.”

A television show asked people if they could point out North Korea on a map. One girl pointed to Alaska; another asked if the interviewer had the right map. “It’s a map of the world,” he said. She took one more crack at it, pointing to Buenos Aires. “I still think it’s the wrong map,” she said.

Silliness requires a certain amount of innocence. It’s one thing to say you’re not great at geography, it’s another to think there’s more than one world. Since the woman above wasn’t sure of either, we all had a giggle.

“While you can erect a Spacemaker fence yourself,” it said, “you’ll find a helping hand makes erection easier.”

Sometimes we can’t giggle, though. Senator Chappelle-Nadal, for instance, didn’t get any laughs when she hoped Trump would be assassinated. “He says outrageous things,” she said, which is true. Certainly presidents have been shot for less. Besides, as she pointed out, it was just a suggestion.

I have to admit, I’m no stranger to silliness myself. Long before getting into advertising, I worked in a fencing plant. I remember one day reading the assembly instructions. “While you can erect a Spacemaker fence yourself,” it said, “you’ll find a helping hand makes erection easier.”

That set my path into advertising. A few years later, I landed a job at J. Walter Thompson. I was determined to write something as good as the copywriter I still refer to as “Erection Man.”

On the Ford account, I wrote: “With a new Ford pickup, you can handle any rut, like a big jackrabbit with a thistle in its butt.” It was rejected for being too longwinded — and even worse, poetic. I came back the next day with “What the f**k, buy a truck.” That got rejected for plagiarizing Lee Iacocca.

Not long after being booted off the Ford account, I was asked to develop an employee morale campaign for a big bank. I’d read a British study showing that employees worked better if they had a voice. So I came up with a series of internal town hall meetings, called “Join the Heard.”

During the presentation, one of the vice presidents came in the room. He sat down, listened for a few minutes, then told us it was a lousy idea. “We don’t want our staff having a voice, for chrissake,” he said. “We’re trying to replace them with machines. Why do you think we have ATMs?”

“Maybe we misunderstood the brief,” our account director said. “What did you mean exactly by boosting staff morale?”

“I don’t know,” the vice president said. “Can’t we just give’m toasters?”

“I’ve got a great idea for a fantasy novel about a warlord turned wizard turned reincarnated punk rocker. Anyone want to write this for me?”

A lot of people laughed at that. Even the vice president thought it was pretty funny. He wasn’t kidding, though. Right after we left, he was on the phone to another agency, probably with the same idea.

Years later, I was working on the same bank. I’m sure that vice president wasn’t there anymore. A new chairman came on board. His first order of duty was probably to fire the guy who tried to give staff toasters.”

This, of course begs the question: If we weren’t silly, what would we do with ourselves? Who would fill Facebook which such nuggets as “I’ve got a great idea for a fantasy novel about a warlord turned wizard turned reincarnated punk rocker. Anyone want to write this for me?”

Then there was the woman who asked “Does anybody know a good proofreader who’ll work for free?” A guy wrote back, “Did you write your novel for free?” “Yes, I did,” she replied. “Okay, I’ll do it,” he said.

My favourite was the woman on a dating site who listed all the wonderful things she had, including a loving family, a great house and a spanking new car. “I await you to join my incredible life,” she wrote.

He’s used “incredible” to describe every silly thing he’s ever done, including not shaking Angela Merkel’s hand.

I’m sure she has a wonderful family, and who doesn’t love a spanking new car? But it hardly changes the sectarian violence in Syria or ISIS blowing up people in Barcelona or over half the world’s glaciers tumbling into the sea.

We have to be careful throwing “incredible” around, as Trump has learned in the last eight months of his presidency. He’s used “incredible” to describe every silly thing he’s ever done, including not shaking Angela Merkel’s hand.

Trump has certainly raised the bar on silliness, which should be encouraging in some ways. He’s shown that there’s really no limit to silliness. It’s wide open territory, and we shouldn’t limit ourselves.

I’ll leave you with a little inspiration from Shel Silverstein, better known as Uncle Shelby to children everywhere:

Draw a crazy picture, Write a nutty poem, Sing a mumble-gumble song, Whistle through your comb. Do a loony-goony dance, ‘Cross the kitchen floor, Put something silly in the world, That ain’t been there before.

Robert Cormack is a novelist, children’s author and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.

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