Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. I have a theory. His was and is way more important, obviously. Mine doesn’t even merit being mentioned in a sentence immediately following a sentence in which his dream is referenced. Nevertheless…
My theory goes like this: We’ve all bitten off waaaaaay more than we can chew. Why do I say this?
I see it at home. My wife and I totally forgot about a school project until very nearly the last moment. Pulling it off only from an 11th hour scamper to Target, and the coordinated (though also half-panicked) efforts of similarly situated parents whose sons’ imminent deadline snuck up on them too.
I have narrowly avoided smashing my garage door to smithereens on numerous occasions, of late. Lost in an NPR update on my Prius’ radio. Forgetting the rote step of clicking the opener before shifting into reverse. And keeping track of car key fobs? Fuggetaboutit. It’s a near-constant Easter egg hunt. Somehow always resulting in fingernails full of popcorn pieces, scraped from the underside of couch cushions. I should just cut to the chase, and get in the habit of actually putting the car keys under those cushions on purpose.
And I have no idea how our children have managed to consume proper nutrition in our household over the last few weeks. Frequent, intentional trips to the grocery store for fresh food are a thing of the past. Last night I whipped up some pasta dish, knowing full well that some of the veggies were way past their expiration dates. I’m not really certain those were actually veggies at all. Could have been anything, hastily grabbed and chopped because they were green (or had turned green). This may explain why I awoke this morning with a lower lip swollen to twice its normal size. Some well-deserved allergic reaction to something I absentmindedly threw into that meal. Fortunately, no one else in my family ate what I ate. So I alone will suffer through duck lips today.
This same level of constant distraction is, I think, at work in otherwise laudable newsrooms across the country. Seems to me that reporters and editors are just like the rest of us when it comes to trying to keep it together while under constant stress. Pick up and read a newspaper. Not for the substance, but for the words used. Yesterday I caught an egregious typo in The New York Times. This morning, another, in The New Yorker. I know these sorts of events to be less frequent than Haley’s Comet sightings. I know that reporters and editors have been outright dismissed for such oversights in the past. Their journalistic shortcoming — “Oh, he’s the guy who had those consecutive ‘and’s’ in that front page Times piece. The poor guy. He’ll never work again. Here he comes, whatever you do, avoid eye contact!”
My point: These mistakes are as revealing as splintered garage doors, hastily thrown-together school projects, and fat lower lips. It seems we are all bursting at the seams.
I don’t often feel compelled to explain blog post titles, but I do in this case. I’m referencing The Police’s third studio album, “Zenyatta Mondata.” Seems apt, as the band created the album under some duress and purportedly hated the result. From Wikipedia: “Drummer Stewart Copeland said about the time pressures: ‘We had bitten off more than we could chew. … we finished the album at 4 a.m. on the day we were starting our next world tour. We went to bed for a few hours and then traveled down to Belgium for the first gig. It was cutting it very fine.'”
Big bites, and we are all chewing like mad. Wild-eyed. Mistakes a’plenty. Maybe there is some comfort in that. Solidarity. I tell you what: I’ll wear my Julia Roberts lip today as a badge of honor. That New Yorker journalist should print out a couple thousand t-shirts with the offending typo pasted across the chest. I’d buy won.
Thanks for reading.