Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad . . . .Polonius, Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. . . .Ferris Bueller
Laughter is the best medicine. . . . Abraham Lincoln
Ow, my arm hurts. . . .Hippie Cahier
I really wanted to spare you the melodrama, but the fact of the matter is that approximately every other one of these keystrokes is causing me pain. And yet here I am, tap-tap-tapping away, bless my heart, because — as is far too often the case — I feel compelled to explain myself. One entire side of my body hurts and my wrist is in a brace as a reminder that putting the slightest pressure on it is most uncomfortable indeed. This, combined with certain other realities, technical and otherwise, has led to short bursts of social media time, most of it by way of a 4 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ smartphone screen. Neither of those circumstances is conducive to extended reading or writing.
Hence what I expect to be a passing addiction to Twitter hashtag games, which have been a fun challenge to my own creative thinking and an opportunity to enjoy others’ creativity and humor. I can pop in and out whenever time and WiFi access allow, say something, read something, and walk away.
You may have noticed that brevity doesn’t come naturally to me. Ask me what time it is and I’ll tell you the history of clocks. It’s ridiculous. Training myself to abbreviate my thoughts is another challenge, one that I clearly have not yet mastered, as evidenced by the fact that we are now three paragraphs into this and I have still not arrived at my point.
So let’s get to that.
This week I started my own Twitter hashtag based on the oft-used theme “#Ask____”. These hashtags usually start out as humorous and satirical, or maybe sometimes heartfelt questions for celebrities, and too often (d)evolve into something less than good-natured. I was pretty sure mine wouldn’t go that far, but I was willing to risk it anyway, and so #AskHippieCahier was born for no particular reason.
The idea came to me only partially formed on Monday morning. I figured I’d go for it and see what developed because –and it probably won’t surprise you to know this– I’m not getting paid for this. There’s no real measure of success or failure. For me it’s just a break from the real world. For anyone disappointed by the lack of depth or of any particular social value, I would offer that sometimes a person just needs to chill, especially a person whose wrist is currently experiencing excruciating pain. (Strike up the violins.)
Throughout the week I posted the answers to #AskHippieCahier: random answers to random questions that I invented myself.
I did get a few questions, notably from the girl in the glasses, “How many bloggers does it take to change a light bulb?”
My immediate, abbreviated response, typed against the clock as a commuter train sped toward a tunnel and lost WiFi connection, went along the lines of the answer depending on how much the light bulb is willing to change. The irony of entering the darkness of the tunnel was not lost on me.
Pondering the question for at least another five or six station stops, it occurred to me that it would take at least one uplifting blogger to encourage the light bulb in its journey, one informative blogger to share the scientific evolution of light bulbs from fluorescent to halogen and beyond, one literary blogger to explore the semiotics of light bulb change, one home design blogger to offer DIY tips on ways to change your lighting, one foodie blogger to explain how to photograph arugula under different light bulb options, one emo blogger to remind the light bulb of the futility and despair inherent to any struggle with darkness, and one humor blogger to finish this paragraph because this is my train station (and the emo blogger does not appear to be amused).
Try as I might, I could not condense that to 140 characters.
I went back to posting random answers that occurred to me, based on real-life events, to questions no one really asked. Here’s what came of that.
Answer: “Testosterone, exchange-traded funds, and clowns.”
Question: “What are three things that, despite your best efforts, you will never comprehend?”
Answer: “Nellie Bly had a pet monkey (reportedly).”
Question: “What is something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?”
Question: ” “Have you ever excelled at something that you no longer know how to do?”
Answer: “Sunday television coverage of NASCAR.”
Question:“What, in your opinion, is the #1 reason that Monday morning has the highest number traffic accidents?” (fake statistic)
Answer: “The never-ending power struggle over how many spaces follow a period.”
Question: “What is most likely to one day cause you to snap, have a Norma Rae tantrum, & storm out of your office?”
Answer: “Dark Wednesday”
Question, posed by everyone’s favorite curmudgeon: “What do you call it when a science experiment goes wrong in the middle of the week?”
Question that inspired the answer: “No #AskHippieCahier tweets b/c I left my phone at home (on Wednesday). Social media blackout.” So, the curmudgeon was close.
Answer: “A nursing home where Saturday night entertainment is Megadeth and Insane Clown Posse cover bands.”
Question: “What is your greatest ‘irrational’ fear about the direction your life is headed?”
Answer: “Personalized stationery embossed with the signature, ‘Sassypants, Esq.’”
Question: “What are you planning to give your daughter for law school graduation?”
Answer: “The one with the blue uniform.”
Question: “Which team will win NCAA Division 1 Championship?”
(Answer elaborated: I don’t know much about college basketball. There’s a much longer story there. When I do get around to picking March Madness brackets, I tend to favor teams in blue, because it seems like the winner is always in blue.)
Answer: “Save the bees!”
Question, again the curmudgeon speaks: “What’s wrong with the 25-Letter Alphabet Movement?” (Funny guy.)
Question that inspired the answer but which is not as funny as the curmudgeon’s: “Of all the political pleas to Pres.Obama in Metro stations, which one tickles your fancy?”
(Answer elaborated: Billboards in DC’s Metro stations are often aimed at the attention of policymakers and others. They are often serious, frequently depressing, and usually urgent. I understand that the issue is all three of those (so please don’t write to school me on the facts), but juxtaposed with anti-Israel sentiments, for example, it just strikes me as humorous: “Dear President Obama – Please help save the bees.”)
Answer: The Swedish chef making salad.
Question: Favorite moment in Muppets history? Question: “Favorite moment in Muppets history?”
(Answer elaborated: Upon further thought, the chocolate mousse episode was pretty hilarious.)
Answer: Augustus Jackson
Question: Who is the most recent addition to your Imaginary Dinner Party guest list?
Answer: Ronald Reagan
Question: “Which PoTUS rides shotgun with you every day?”
(Answer elaborated: Somehow a Ronald Reagan calendar came into my possession and it is tucked into my work bag. I can keep track in important moments in Reagan history. It’s not penguins, but it’s fun.)
Answer:“Just that one time, but I am confident history will show it was justified.”
Question: “Have you ever wished your eyeballs had death rays that you could shoot at someone, instantly disintegrating them?”
Answer: “Maybe she’s trying to tell us she’s a selkie.”
Question: “Do you have a theory that can’t be reduced to 140 characters that explains Kim Kardashian?
(Answer elaborated: A certain hashtag game brought the movie The Secrets of Roan Inish to my mind, which in turn brought to mind the fact that you don’t see a lot of selkie selfies on the Internet (yet). Selfies made me think of Kim Kardashian, Queen of the Selfies. The thought of Kim Kardashian led to That Picture, which, if you think about it in the right light, which may in fact require you to change the bulb, resembles certain depictions of selkies. Maybe she confused the terms and she’s really Queen of the Selkies. It’s all a big . . . misunderstanding.)
And, finally, kindhearted reader Brickhouse Chick, probably sensing that the #AskHippieCahier needed some help, queried, “What makes Hippie, Hippie?”
I don’t know that there will ever be an acceptable answer for that, but I’m sure it has something to do with the type of brain that makes the quantum leap from The Secrets of Roan Inish to Kim Kardashian as Queen of the Selkies in considerably less time than it takes to change a light bulb.