Spoof Space


STEELE CODDINGTONThe right kind of gestures

Several years ago I was quietly sipping a morning cup of coffee in a local Starbucks with my wife, happily dividing my attention between the depressing news in the morning newspaper and people watching. The enjoyable coffee house scene always featured amazingly new and weirder hair-dos and odd outfits, all part of the constant parade of fellow coffee addicts in for their fix.

An elderly gentleman, not in line for coffee, edged his way up to us and politely said, “Good morning.” He was nicely dressed and had such an engaging smile on his face I thought he was going to ask a question. Instead, he said, “I just wanted to say hello and compliment you (pointing at me) for being with such a lovely lady (pointing at my wife).” Needless to say, we both smiled brightly and laughed appreciatively – she, because he referred to her as a lovely lady, which she is, and me because he made me feel good by complimenting me on my exquisite taste.

To reciprocate, I asked if I could buy him a coffee. “No thanks,” he said, “you both returned my smile, so I’ve had my reward. I try to make at least two people each day happy enough to smile.” With even bigger smiles on our faces, we thanked the man. “My pleasure,” he said and walked away with his own happy grin.

The old gentleman’s image has been with me for years now. His thoughtful gesture has become a part of my behavior and like him, I try to repeat the ritual every day, sometimes just reaching out to strangers with a friendly smile, hoping to provoke a happy smile in return.

I appreciate that the gesture is only a small token in the course of someone’s life time that obviously doesn’t rise to the level of some sort of profound epiphany or Hollywood style transformative awakening – just a tiny considerate act. But capable of possibly germinating a scintilla of joy in what might otherwise be another day with no friendly exchange with another human being, and a chance that by some slight miracle they might adopt the old gentleman’s mission like I did.

My own initial clamber aboard the elderly gentleman’s train came to fruition shortly after meeting him while observing shoppers in a super market or walking down the usual sidewalk. Everywhere, it seemed, too many absorbed in their own self interest could benefit in some small way from more advocates of what I describe as budding evangelism in a minor key. I even wrote humorous newspaper articles describing how people should lighten up and try smiling at other people. I told them I would be monitoring the town by walking around with my dog Arbuckle who was trained to bite anyone who didn’t return my warm smile. Believe it or not, a lot of people we bumped into kissed Arbuckle and hugged me.

Here’s a wonderful suggestion: take a clue from an ad I just noticed in this issue of Arizona’s most interesting newspaper. Massage Therapist Gina Tatum whose great philosophy – “Healing the planet, one body at a time,” is easily adapted to my “message” because a smile is kind of a mouth massage that can make your lips and soul feel better if you believe as I do that, “One smile can brighten the planet, one person at a time.”

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Clever Heavy Scientific Stuff

Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi
2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton
1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microscope
Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = 1 bananosecond
Weight an evangelist carries with God = 1 billigram
Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = Knotfurlong
16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Sterling
Half of a large intestine = 1 semicolon
1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurtz
Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower
Shortest distance between two jokes = A straight line
453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake
1 million-million microphones = 1 megaphone
2 million bicycles = 2 megacycles
365.25 days = 1 unicycle
2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds
52 cards = 1 decacard
1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 FigNewton
1000 milliliters of wet socks = 1 literhosen
1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche
1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin
10 rations = 1 decoration
100 rations = 1 C-ration
2 monograms = 1 diagram
4 nickels = 2 paradigms
2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital = 1 IV League
100 Senators = Not 1 decision

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