Far From Average
Corvallis, Oregon -- Whenever anyone asks me that innocuous question that really isn't in search of an answer -- "How are you?" I've started saying "better than average." It usually gets the perfunctory quadruple-o Prozac- sounding answer "gooood" that would have been the same response if I had said, "I helped fake Lady Di's death."Thanks all the same, but I have given up trying to feel "gooood" with or without Prozac and really am quite happy with "better than average." That's about all we can hope for and about all most of us are interested in anyway. All those top-10 lists, weight/height charts and tabloid magazine tests tell us not so much how we are, but how we match up against the rest of the masses who have little else to do than take tests and send in the results.We can breathe a collective sigh that "whew!, I have less ear wax than 80 percent of the people in Minnesota! I can go out in public with out shame again."We all live in that rather spacious netherworld between always and never with sex lives between that of a cloistered nun and Dennis Rodman. That's why we continue to be so fascinated averages. I've been thinking lately though, that with generally thinning of the gene pool, maybe average isn't too good.For instance, being average weight for your height is not exactly a health selling point since the county, on average, is fatter than a liposuction doctor's trash can. I'm also concerned that average intelligence isn't what it used to be.Some of the best selling books right now boast the word "Dummies" right in the title. You can buy anything from the redundant "Windows 95 for Dummies," to the superfluous, "Sex for Dummies" to incomprehensible "Faulkner for Dummies." What kind of people are we that we can walk out of the bookstore with one of these? Tattoos that said "I am an idiot" would be only slightly less subtle."Yep, I are a Dummy and these books is for me." Likewise, I'm concerned about books that start with "All I Needed to Know I Learned( fill in the blank)." The first one was "All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" -- a great comment on or academic system -- and progressively dummed down to "from my cat."And "Chicken Soup for the Soul?" That's encouraging. Why not some other inane folk remedy. How about "Leeches for Your Brain?" On second thought, I'm feeling far from average. You pick the direction.