The adventures of a New Jersey college professor with very strange friends, colleagues, and family members.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where Does The Aspirator Go Again?

"There's nothing more dangerous than a resourceful idiot." -- Dilbert

Yes, I did e-mail this telephone exchange to several people because it was just too good to keep to myself. Finally, it was my eloquent and dangerously persuasive friend Sebastian who convinced me to blog it because he felt it was unjust to deprive the world of this individual's raging idiocy.

Because of the nature of my profession, I am (thank God) largely surrounded by insanely smart and can discuss any number of subjects with grace and aplomb. Sometimes there is a "coming down period" in which I slowly crank up my brain to "Mensa might not actually laugh, but..."

And now, let us begin our story.

As you have no doubt gathered, I have this. . . well…extremely stupid friend. This friend has somehow managed to get through about 40 years of life relatively unscathed, aside from some rather common personal drama, such as marital troubles and job difficulties (the most common of which is that he can't maintain one). This friend somehow found me on Facebook, and because this person is more or less illiterate, they asked me to phone them instead of writing.

While I babbled on about my life and this insipid individual grunted about theirs, we got into a discussion about the recent passing of Michael Jackson and how we had first heard the sad news. The following, thanks to my phonographic memory, is a more or less verbatim transcript of that conversation:

ME: Isn’t it sad about Michael Jackson?

STUPID FRIEND: (tries to remember who Michael Jackson is) Uh—yeah.

ME: Man, remember him in the mid-80’s, before he got all weird on us? We thought he could walk on water. Hey—how did you find out that he had died?

SF: I think my dad told me.

ME: Your dad lives in [another state].

SF: Oh, wait…it was [guy who used to hang around with us who is now serving a life sentence for capital murder; no, I am not kidding]. Why…how did you find out?

ME: I was on the phone with my friend Mark, actually. The news was on TV but muted, and the caption said something about Michael Jackson being dead and I was so stunned I said it out loud, and Mark confirmed it.

SF: (long pause to process complex sentence) Who’s Mark?

ME: You don’t know him. He lives in England.

SF: Oh, well, that explains it, then.

ME: Explains what?

SF: Well, if your friend lives in England, of course he’d know about Michael Jackson being dead before you because he’d have been dead longer for him than for you.

ME: Um…what?

SF: (sighs in frustration) England is what…nine, ten hours behind us?

ME: No, five hours ahead.

SF: Okay, so then, Michael Jackson would have been dead five hours earlier for your friend, therefore giving him five more hours to find out about it than you.

ME: But…no…listen, [Stupid Friend], where you live in the world doesn’t affect when Michael Jackson actually died. Mark just happened to hear about it before I did because he actually listens to the news and I don’t.

SF: No, no…if Mark lives five hours away, Michael Jackson was dead five hours for him before he died for you.

ME: (weirdly understanding the twisted logic, but unable to mount a defense against it because my mind doesn’t work like this) Okay…wait…first of all, Mark doesn’t live five hours away, he lives five time zones away. Second, using your logic, Michael Jackson died twice – once for Mark, and once for me.

SF: I didn’t say he died twice…I said he was dead longer for Mark than for you.

ME: Well, again, applying your twisted logic, Michael Jackson actually died twenty-four different times; one for each time zone.

SF: (pause) Is that possible?

ME: (slightly freaking out) [Stupid Friend], will you shut up and listen? The Earth rotates on its axis once every twenty-four hours. It is therefore impossible for it to be the same time everywhere in the world at the same time. It would be chaos.

SF: I think it would be easier, actually.

ME: For you, yes, no doubt. But for the rest of us, to avoid confusion, time zones were created. We begin with Greenwich Mean Time—which is where Mark is, coincidentally—and move across—

SF: But what about the Jews?

ME: (confused) Jews? What about them?

SF: How long has Michael Jackson been dead for the Jews?

ME: Well…I don’t get why you think he’d be dead for a different length of time for Jews, especially, but it’s the same thing—If these fictional Jews live in our time zone, Michael Jackson would have been declared dead at [I honestly don’t remember when it became “official” in my time zone, so I’m just going to pick an arbitrary time] 5:00pm.

SF: But isn’t it the year 5000 and something for them?

ME: (screams) What in the name of God does that have to with when Michael Jackson died?

SF: Well, wouldn’t that be the date and time for them, in their newspapers and stuff?

ME: (hardly able to follow at this point) What…what…look, for American Jews, or really any Jews other than maybe Hassidic Jews, I—why are we talking about the Jews? We’re talking about Michael Jackson!!!

SF: (reverently) Yeah, he was pretty awesome, wasn’t he?


I either completely blacked out at this point or am suffering anterior grade amnesia because the next thing I knew I was writing this.

So the next time you fly through multiple time zones, just think for a moment how many times Michael Jackson had to die for YOU! Get off the cross, Michael--We need the wood.