Thoughts Akimbo

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Archive for November, 2008

Candy wisdom just for women

A National Confectioner’s Association survey discovered more than half of men ask for help when choosing a Valentine’s Day gift.
But here’s a shocker: A full 10 percent of men ask for help from the cashier.
That’s right, ladies. The girl behind the counter at Big Mart -the one who has “Metal Rox!” written on her hand in ballpoint pen -is helping decide what kind of present you’ll get.

Horrified? Confused? I’ll bet there are other things you didn’t know about Valentine’s Day. Check yourself with this quiz:

1. Because they give a lot of gifts on V-Day, and receive very few, the NCA has named men:
A. America’s Biggest Sweethearts.
B. America’s Biggest Suckers.
C. America’s Poorest Credit
Risks.
D. America’s Most Wanted.
(Correct answer: A. They’re sweethearts. But some are also on the Most Wanted list.)

2. The most popular conversation heart candy bears the message:
A. “I (heart) you”
B. “Be mine”
C. “Caution! Do Not Eat!”
D. “Insert Text Here”
(Correct answer: B. The command “Be Mine” has been considered a conversation starter since caveman days, and quite a seductive one, too.)

3. According to the survey, women like to get a box of chocolates after a romantic dinner. Men prefer to receive their chocolates:
A. First thing in the morning.
B. Delivered nude.
C. Both A & B.
D. Peeking from between the bottles of a six-pack.
(Correct answer: A. But our own research indicates a significant percentage prefer beer delivered by someone nude, first thing in the morning).

4. In the survey, 75 percent of men said they planned ahead for V-Day. Our research indicates these preparations involved:
A. Putting on a clean shirt.
B. Shaving extra hard.
C. Arranging to be out of town on business.
D. Asking the cashier, in advance, what the wife might like.
(Correct answer: B. And in many cases, the extra hard shave is performed in the car on the way home).

5. Both men and women agree, the most romantic place to eat chocolates together is:
A. In front of a fireplace.
B. In front of a divorce judge.
C. In front of starving wolves.
D. In the front row at a wrestling match.
(Correct answer: A. Eating in front of starving wolves may be the most interesting, but not the most romantic.)

6. In the 1800s, physicians commonly prescribed chocolate to cure:
A. The grippe and the vapors.
B. The heebie-jeebies.
C. The lovesick blues.
D. Carpal tunnel syndrome.
(Correct answer: C. No effective treatment has been found for the heebie-jeebies.)

7. Legendary lover Madame Du Barry served her suitors chocolate because it made them more:
A. Cooperative
B. Amorous
C. French
D. Cocoa-scented
(Correct answer: B. Her suitors were already French).

8. Montezuma, king of the ancient Aztecs, believed chocolate would make him:
A. Taller.
B. A stud muffin.
C. The next Republican presidential nominee.
(Correct answer: B. Historians believe Montezuma was actually a Libertarian.)

9. Conversation hearts once came in other shapes, including horseshoe, baseball and:
A. Watch.
B. Rhomboid.
C. Pancreas.
(Correct answer: A. The pancreas never caught on.)

10. The 8 billion conversation hearts produced this year could:
A. Circle the Earth 30,000 times.
B. Stretch from Rome to Arizona.
C. Choke a wooly mammoth, if they still existed.
D. Persuade someone attractive to date you.
(Correct answer: B. Sorry. That date will take more than candy.)

Truly, madly, deeply – your loyal liege

I got another e-mail today with the word “Best” right before the signature. This part of a letter is called the “complimentary closing.”

It’s where you would normally write “Love,” as in the following letter example: “Dear Friend, Blah blah blah, Love, Kim.”

Of course, it’s not appropriate for a public relations person asking me to please print a story about artichokes to sign her letter, “Love, Vanessa.”

But that word “Best” just bugs me. I mean, best what? Is it short for, “you’ve got the best of my love?”

Is she the best, or am I?

Then again, if “Best” is a dumb way to say, in essence, “that’s all for now” – what is a good way?

“Sincerely” is a good complimentary closing for the cover letter with your resume, to show how serious and businesslike you are and, therefore, how very likely to pass the pre-employment screenings.

But in casual usage, if you have to say how sincere you are, you’re probably up to something shady.

I have a spiritual friend who uses “Blessings” as a complimentary closing. It means, I guess, “I’m sending you blessings along with this letter telling you about my new poodle,” or maybe just, “Boy, the world sure is full of blessings.”

He probably means them both, and he’s probably right. But I think people who read a letter from me ending with “Blessings” might think I had joined a cult.

I’ve been signing off lately with “Regards,” because it has a nice, old Victorian sound to it, although it’s not quite as quaint as “Your loyal liege.” I have a dear colleague who signs his letters to me “YLL.” I’m not sure if he’s everyone’s loyal liege, or just mine, but it’s charming as heck.

Here are other complimentary closings and what they might really mean:

• “Warmly” – I hate to ask, but I need money.

• “Fondly” – I hope you take my request for money seriously.

• “Party on” – I might have enclosed something illegal.

• “I remain” – I have not yet entered a witness relocation program.

• “Truly, madly, deeply” – I once sang with the pop group Savage Garden.

• “Aloha” – I just got back from vacation in Hawaii.

• “Good night, and good news” – I am Edward R. Murrow, or fictional anchorman Ted Baxter on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show.

• “Bee-biddy-bee-biddy-that’s all, folks!” – I’m Porky Pig

•”My signature is coming up” – I’ve become too literal.

Perhaps you’d like to try the ancient (and New Age-ish) “Namaste” (nah-MAH-stay). It means, loosely translated from Sanskrit: “The sacred spark within me recognizes the same spark within you.” It’s Sanskrit for “I’m OK, you’re OK.”

Of course, because Sanskrit is a highly conceptual language, it might really mean “Your heart chakra appears to be on fire.” That would explain the cuneiform tablets where “Namaste!” is always followed by an exclamation point and little caricatures of people running for their lives.

If you’d like to share the way you sign off your letters, please e-mail me. You can use my template: “Dear Kim, Blah-blah-blah, (Your Complimentary Closing Here), (Your Name Here).”

But I’d be happy to hear your actual thoughts, too.

Well, that’s all, folks. Good night and good news. My signature is coming up now.
Love, Kim

Dishing the dirt on germy jobs

Which has more germs, a woman’s purse or a man’s wallet? Hint: Which gender leaves their public restrooms cleaner?

A study by the good people at Clorox found men’s wallets are dirtiest. Why this information is important, nobody can say. But now we know that it’s safer for a woman to carry her lunch sandwich in her purse than it is for a man to carry his lunch — perhaps a crepe or a tortilla? — in his wallet.

The study also indicates, to the astute reader, that Clorox doesn’t have quite enough to do these days, since people stopped bleaching their white cotton shirts in favor of just throwing them away. Or wearing white polyester shirts. Or not wearing white at all.

So they’re hoping to sell more disinfectant wipes by reminding us about The Filthy World We Live In, where surfaces are teeming with unfriendly microscopic critters who’d like nothing better than to take up permanent residence in your lower intestine, since they used to live in someone else’s lower intestine and they miss the old ‘hood.

Their study also says that teachers have the germiest jobs. Kindergarten teachers have to wipe all those germy little noses all day. And even older students aren’t reliable hand washers. The sinks in the high school’s student restrooms are practically unused, although the mirrors get quite a workout.

The next most germy jobs are accounting and banking. That’s because money is bad for you, like most enjoyable things. It’s touched by too many hands. Like most enjoyable things. And it spends too much time in men’s wallets, next to the folded tortillas.

This is another good reason to apply for more credit cards, especially that new VISA Ultra Premium Chromium with the built-in sanitizer strip that cleans and freshens as it deodorizes.

Even tollbooth workers now wear latex gloves to fight the cumulative effect of money grime. To help them, I like to wipe down my tollbooth quarters with a Clorox disinfectant wipe. You should see how surprised and grateful they look when I hand them damp money.

Doctors have germy jobs, because their jobs are to do combat with germs. If you ever find yourself in a doctor’s waiting room, don’t touch anything. Seriously. Sit with your fingertips of your right hand touching the matching fingertips of your left, which will keep you from inadvertently reaching for the germ-encrusted Hi-Lights Magazine in a moment of absent-minded boredom. (This finger-matching thing works when you’re waiting for your nails to dry, too. You’ll go crazy, but you’ll remain unsmudged.)

Journalists aren’t mentioned in the news report about the Clorox study. I can only conclude this is because some journalist wrote that report. Because we in the newspaper business know there’s nothing scarier — or more microbially deadly — than that one desk in the newsroom.

It’s the desk covered with yellowed front pages that mention hotly contested elections involving candidates who were imprisoned for election fraud more than a decade ago. The desk that always smells like armpits or onions, maybe both. The desk stuffed with old bags from Burger Prince, back before he took the throne.

The chair is draped with a raincoat so shabby, it can embarrass itself without exposing any naked body parts. The “In Box” is some ill-defined area piled with crumpled napkins and old pay stubs showing a minimum wage of $1.45 an hour.

On top of this mess is balanced a coffee cup that hadn’t been washed since it arrived to announce the opening of the new Beepers & More store, which burned down in the ’90s and was replaced by a We’ll Sell It For You on eBay store.

It’s going to take a fire hose and a haz-mat suit to reclaim that area some day, when the reporter who works there moves on to a bigger paper.

Unless he already has. Come to think of it, nobody’s seen him for a couple of weeks.

I’m going to go check under that raincoat, as soon as I find my disinfectant wipes.