My dad casually mentioned once how he purposefully threw a flaming red something-or-other into a load of whites when first living with my mother. By then he’d managed to own and run a bar, take care of his brother, and endure a few harsh seasons working for American Missile Systems in some particularly cruddy regions of Germany. Still, my mother found one load- one load- of stained, pink laundry and did not for a minute doubt the cause for such a catastrophe: Men are idiots. Keep them away from everything . The newly domestic version of myself reflects on my father’s covert mission to ditch laundry duty and wants to flick him in the nose. The genetically lazy version of myself (who I fondly refer to as My Father’s Daughter or The Real Me or The All The Time Me) wants to high-five him for a masterful move so early in the game. By playing dumb from the word “detergent”, my dad thought he was getting out of washing a few day’s worth of tiny, cruelly impossible to fold underpants . Little did my mother know he was faking his fatuity. Little did he know the Fresh Cotton Linen & Lilac scented bullet he dodged. Five kids, six hundred delicate dance outfits, twenty-three grass-stained sports uniforms, and twenty-some-odd years later, the guy gets by washing his shorts…. and only his shorts.
The more I thought about it, this advanced brand of playing dumb has time-tested roots.
Original settlers of this great nation acted like they couldn’t cook so the Native Americans would bring over dinner.
Nixon was trying to rewind the tape to get to a really funny joke his Chief of Staff cracked- an 18 1/2 minute joke that probably ended with “That’s what she said”- when he accidentally erased the whole hilarious buffoonery.
Kim Kardashian thought she was throwing a wedding to celebrate the killer Vera Wang gown she was wearing. Two months and a divorce later, she still can’t figure out who Kris is and why all those people bought her blenders.
That boy I hung out with in high school purposefully crafted the most off topic responses when called upon in class that all teachers in the county quickly adapted a “Just Act Like That Kid Never Happened” policy. He would tell you that Abe Lincoln caused Small Pox and right angles were right because “they sure as hell ain’t wrong”. Sacagawea discovered electricity, and carbon monoxide was that fizzy junk they dump in soda. He would tell you nothing useful about a lot. He would ace the SATs. He would say he just didn’t like teachers bugging him. Smart boy plays dumb. I took notes.
And, of course, the most glaringly obvious example of the faux oblivious is my very own kid. All slobbering and tripping over air and giggling through farts as I clean his filthy, wretched, filthy, filthy diapers. He’s only two. He can’t help it that he dumps toxic waste like clockwork. Likely story.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little post about my near-death experience trying to
cure world hunger hunt rabid coyotes save infants from Angelina Jolie mow my one square-foot of lawn. It seemed pretty strenuous and hot and strenuous and full of effort and strenuous. In reality, I am capable. I might mow barefoot. I might forget to pick up sticks. The result might look like a hellish zig-zag/ drunk lightning bolt design forever etched into the grass. However clueless I might be in the ways of professional landscaping and yard tool safety, I can still get the job done. But wait! Why not let the nitwits shine? Why not give the old “work” part to the far more educated and qualified turf champs? Operation Fool ‘Em With Foolishness was simple and simple-minded.
Tom came home from work to find me naked save for my tennis shoes. I don’t want to get tan lines when I mow the lawn, I explain before asking if we’re out of MiracleGro. That’s what goes in that little tank thingy isn’t it? Mouth shocked to the floor, he relays that mowers need gasoline and oil. No, not olive oil. Not tanning oil either, he tells me. I act disappointed as the latter would come in handy with my plan for a FULL body tan. I delved into a twenty-minute diatribe on why I like mowing because it’s fun crunching up twigs in the blades and have you ever tried to hitch a ride on the mower’s- the push mower’s- back and do you think the black smoke the mower was spitting at me last time was because of the wheelies I was spinning and what’s your favorite thing about grass and hey, can you do me a favor and look back here because I’m worried that bump is not a birthmark. Such an intelligent man can only handle so much stupidity before his eye begins to twitch. And then? He took the bait.
“Didn’t you have to pee? You were doing your pee dance and you were all ‘Oh my gah! I have to pee so bad’. You should probably hurry up and go pee. Pee. Pee. Pee. You and pee and all the peeing and going pee,” the brilliantly duped responds.
I high-fived myself as I, using stellar acting skills to feign imminent bladder combustion, waddled anxiously to the loo. Touché , sir. Trying to make me think I’m about to piss my pants when I’m not even wearing pants. Impressive. I fake peed before fake flushing. Clothed in shorts and a shirt and anticipation of my plan’s success, I made my way outside, where I heard what was a most glorious sound. I smelled what was a most glorious smell.
The well-oiled machine hummed and buzzed in ruler-lined rows across the lawn. The grass, sweet and fresh and grateful I would not be its stylist, was Spring’s perfume. I relaxed in the shade, blissfully rejected from mowing duty. And then, as so many purposeful pin heads have realized before me, I thought these things:
The sharpest tool in the shed gets worked too hard.
There is a bright side to being dull.
Crap. I have to pee.
Have you ever played dumb to get out of something? Spill the stupid, stupid details!