Saturday, January 26, 2002

When I was just a kid, my dad always sat at the diningroom table in the morning, reading the El Paso Herald Post newspaper. He also watched baseball and football on T.V. on the weekends. Several times a day, when he wasn't working or drinking, he was working on crosswords. He owned this old, tattered and worn crossword dictionary with scribblings in the back of words and definitions that evidently never made press time.

My dad was a drunk but he was smart. Anytime I asked how to spell something he said, "Look it up in the dictionary!" I never did. To me, he seemed to know everything about everything. I learned a lot from my dad.

I was never a newspaper reader. Oh, I occasionally picked one up, here and there when one was laying around, but it usually was either to check the movie listings or read the funny papers. I didn't watch the news on T.V. much either. I suck at crosswords. I couldn't tell you when the superbowl is playing or tell the difference between a running back and a tight end.

What I did inherit, it seems, are his bad traits. Funny how that worked out huh? But, lately I noticed that every morning, come hell or high water, I sit at the diningroom table and read the news on my laptop. Nothing much else has changed except I do look words up, but on my computer using my American Heritage CD dictionary.

Times goes on and things change but not much really, if you just stand back and take a closer look. I've noticed that I seem to be pretty up to date on the news. I don't have kids, so I naturally wonder if I had a son or a daughter if they would perceive me as I perceived my dad.

Recently I heard somebody bitching about the weather here and a thought popped into my head. I heard them out and then felt it was my civil duty to bring to their attention a recent news event. I commented in a rather sarcastic manner, "Well, at least you didn't run into a lava flow in your driveway." The "bitcher" just didn't get it. You know why? (heh, heh, heh) They OBVIOUSLY were not current with the news.

Another thing my dad used to say to me was, "Don't you get too big for those pants you're wearing," referring to my boastful tendencies as a child.

So here I am, bringing this seriously news-deficient individual up-to-date on the current events in the small town of Goma in Zaire. I could almost feel those pants of mine getting tight.

"Zaire? You mean Congo," he says.

"No. I mean Zaire. Goma is in Zaire, not the Congo, near the border of Rwanda," I spouted.

"Ah. The country name was changed back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997 after the country was taken over by rebel leader Laurent Kabila."

Suddenly my pants were so tight my legs turned numb. This sucked. "Oh I see," I said, or something to that effect. When I got home I looked at the copyright of my Reader's Digest Atlas of the World. 1983 it said. Damn.

Guess this news biz is a bit more multi-dimensional than I thought. Time for me to get a new, more up-to-date atlas.

Think I'll get one on CD.



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