The Humanity - Dr. Vern


Dr. VernWriter

Eureka! I’ve had a major revelation, an unprecedented insight into the female mind and the Jeep experience. This is a good one too, even involving hippies. But as usual, you didn’t expect me to make sense right away, did you? I have a reputation to uphold.

This revelation hit while on vacation. Our wanderings led my wife and I to pass through a small city in which no man in his right mind would knowingly stop. This wasn’t some blighted, crime-ridden metropolis where you automatically lock your doors as you approach. What was this city’s dark, shameful secret?

Even from the safety of my home, it’s too unsettling to think back to what happened. No, I hadn’t accidentally stumbled across a magazine editors’ convention. This place, for reasons unknown, prides itself on hosting Shakespeare festivals. Oh, the humanity!

Like most men, my decision-making process is generally based on evaluating the risk/reward ratio for any given scenario. Is it worth sleeping on the couch to bring home another Jeep project? This is a no-brainer, as the reward is high off the scale. What about those new-fangled ketchup bottles with upside down labels, designed to be stored with the cap down? With the major risk of a leaky cap flooding a cupboard with ketchup, the minor reward of saving three seconds when fixing a burger just isn’t worth it.

Often without realizing it, we run dozens of calculations like this every day. But the odds will never work in favor of attending a Shakespeare play. It’s mathematically impossible. Even under the best possible scenario, there is still no reward. You can’t divide by zero.

That’s a lot of bumper stickers

As bad as an expensive, Jeep-free Shakespeare-themed weekend may have been, it got worse. Much worse. This town also hosted a huge farmer’s market. I don’t mean the farmers themselves were huge. Au contraire, most of the farmers appeared to be of reasonable build, no doubt due to the combination of a good diet and healthy living. I simply meant the market itself was huge, covering several city blocks.

If farmer’s markets were the only option for food, I’d waste away to nothing. The food itself is top quality and plentiful, but buying anything requires making small talk with hippies. “Say, um, nice dreadlocks you’ve got there...” Or “Wow, that’s a lot of bumper stickers on your Subaru wagon!” Wouldn’t starvation be a better option?

My beloved wife didn’t quite see it as I did. She was actually raised by hippies, although she overcame this handicap and went on to become a productive member of society. She’s never one to judge a person by appearances. (Personally, I like to get my prejudging done right away, which frees up time for other things.) She’s perpetually upbeat, so the small talk didn’t bother her. In my ideal world, food should only come from a grocery store, where I can load my shopping cart in peace, with only one quick exchange of non-hippie small talk required at the checkout stand.

And so I spent the morning staring at my shoes to avoid eye contact. My wife, meanwhile, was in seventh heaven. That’s when inspiration struck. No, I hadn’t suddenly hatched a scheme to escape by faking a medical emergency. That might have worked, but what if a hippie ran to my aid and did mouth-to-mouth? All I’m saying is I suddenly realized what it must feel like for my wife to attend a Jeep swap meet, but with one major twist.

Here’s the difference. I never try to convince my wife it would be fun. While I may be in my element, wandering those endless tables of cast-off Jeep parts, for my wife it probably feels like a visit to the dentist. The kind where the dentist pauses nervously after looking at your X-rays and then asks about your insurance plan, while Muskrat Love is playing softly in the background.

Knowing full well the combination of crusty old guys selling crusty old Jeep parts would never appeal to my wife, I never try to make her think otherwise. Heck, at our last swap meet, she blissfully slept in at the hotel while I did my best to trim those pesky zeroes from our bank account.

Back to the horror that is a Shakespeare production, I politely introduced myself to the woman posing as my wife, as she tried to convince me a play would be fun. I explained to her that my wife would not like me spending time with this other woman, a blatant imposter who obviously did not know me.

With that out of the way, here are some survival tips. Buy cheap seats and tell her all the good seats were gone. With lousy seats way in back, it’s much easier to slip out to the restroom. Fake a case of gastric distress so you can be gone without raising too much concern. If you’re one of those rare guys with a conscience and won’t resort to such trickery, all is not lost. Stop for dinner first, but make sure cauliflower and root beer are on the menu. And whatever you do, resist the urge to add commentary during the play. After all, this is not Mystery Science Theater 3000. Besides, your voice will get sore if you keep speaking during the boring parts.