My goal is twofold: to have a small part in a big renaissance that will give renewed voice to Calvin Coolidge and Erma Bombeck, and to lighten someone’s load or brighten someone’s day.
I shall here and now practice my advice-giving. If I manage to get good at it, maybe friends and acquaintances can start calling on me when they need an ear instead of standing in line to tell it to Dr. Phil. I will employ the pseudonym Ricardo since my real name is not very celebrity-sounding. Here goes.
Dear Ricardo: I suspect that everybody except me and the Pope has a tattoo, but I still think they’re ugly. Would it be rude to ask someone in front of me in the grocery store line why they got tattooed? Do I just have an attitude? Should I get with the program and get a small tattoo so that I can identify with the college students I teach? Help! — Marilyn in Marietta.
Dear Marilyn: First of all, if God had meant … no, let’s not start there. Yes, you do have an attitude, and many people share it. No, don’t dare cave and get a tattoo to be like your students. They already have buddies. They need teachers. As for accosting a tattooee in the grocery store, tread softly. Hold off on the truth, which is that tattooing is self-absorbed self-effacement, and he who walks thereby is not wise. Instead say, “Are you still in the Navy?” If you’re real gutsy, ask how it feels to be a walking mural.
If you have children, nieces or nephews, tell them that even a small tattoo will equal a big fat absence of their names in your last will and testament. If they are all “non-materialists” (meaning college students), and don’t care about your evil money, evil property, evil religion or evil America, tell them that research says tattoos hasten global warming. That’ll win ’em.
Dear Ricardo: Our 8-year-old recently asked why our family doesn’t have a mission statement on the refrigerator. Seems like all of her little friends’ families have one. Personally I’ve had it up to here with mission statements. My vice president at work has one for every hour of his day. Do you think a family mission statement is beneficial? — Keith in Kennesaw.
Dear Keith: Writing mission statements is about the biggest copycat thing going. Good grief! The mission of a salesperson is to sell something to a certain number of people by a certain time, so why sit around a table laboring over words when you should be out pumping the pump?
Did you know that some churches ponder and pray in order to compose a church mission statement? This is curious since the mission statement for churches was clearly spoken and recorded around 2,000 years ago.
Recently in a fairly nice restaurant, my wife and I saw a posted mission statement that read: “Our mission is to please people.” Well, in the words of one of my biggest heroes, “Happy, happy, happy.” I’m thinking that that restaurant manager was poking fun at mission statements.
By all means sit down with your brood and discuss and write goals, but forbid the term, “Mission Statement.” It is the height of trendy and will fade within five years.
Dear Ricardo: Our doting, aging, country uncle was approached by a reality TV executive who wants to film him raising and killing his hogs and frying hog tongue and hog feet in his kitchen. Besides wondering who would want to watch that, the family is embarrassed about the prospect of the world seeing Uncle Zeeb’s filthy kitchen. Is reality TV real? Are we right to discourage him from accepting the offer? He says the money looks good. —Patty in Powder Springs.
Dear Patty: Asking if reality TV is real is like asking if Kansas is Manhattan. Even if “real characters” are given “light scripts,” it’s still television. As for the filthy kitchen, Ricardo is surprised that you didn’t know filth is the point. The mission — oops — the goal of the producers is to show us at our worst, never at our best. Now Duck Dynasty is a God-sent exception to that, so I hope your aversion to reality TV doesn’t extend to them.
Money probably isn’t Uncle Zeeb’s chief motivation. The cameras are. Love on him as you try to convince him that money is seldom worth making a fool of oneself
Now, faithful readers, to register your opinion of my potential career, please respond at either GOricardo.com or NOGOricardo.com.
Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher and former state legislator.