CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger: "Et tu, Kamikaze?"


By Jack Cawthon

I bought one of those small, room air conditioners recently. You know, the kind you tote home, unpack, slap into the window opening, plug the sucker in and sit back and enjoy cool, refreshing air. Simple! For you, maybe. But for me, life is never as simple as it seems!

First, I was all prepared for opening the package by having a crowbar, pick ax, machete, vice grips, assorted screwdrivers, and a couple of sticks of dynamite handy. If other technologies had kept pace with containers we would now have cures for cancer, AIDS, and other horrendous diseases, and we could play golf on the moon in the afternoons. To be politically correct, most of us are packaging challenged.

I found that with the air conditioner I needed only the crowbar and the machete, unlike those "bubble wraps" that require all of the above, plus knowledge of plastic explosives.

When the box was opened, there on top was the instruction manual. Now, one shouldn't need a high degree of advanced education to install a window air conditioner unit. But, alas, back in the second grade at the one-room Walnut Grove schoolhouse in Gilmer County, when Oren Sumpter ignited the spark of reading in me, I have been over read like a blue streak since. I read everything from the back of cereal boxes to the surgeon general's warnings, unabridged. The few times I have bought new cars, I have read the owner's manual before driving from the showroom.

So, I picked up the booklet accompanying the air conditioner, flipped it open and saw "instalacion, requisitos de la ventana." Say what? I asked myself in my best Gilmer idiom. "Funcionamiente"? I swiftly turned the pages to "installation du panneau de remlissage, refreidissement, orientation du glus d'air."

Now panicked, thinking I might have had a small ischemic occurrence, I did what any red-blooded American male does under duress: I yelled for the Little Woman (5 ft., 2 ins., having shrunk an inch). Seemingly, she can identify my tonal wails as frustration, anger, fear, panic, as it was the latter she responded to.

"I am having a Microsoft Winders 46 moment," I whined, identifying the computer program designed especially for West Virginians such as I. "My brain has crashed!" "Again?" she asked. "Recycle!" she commanded. I reacted by banging myself in the head, a technique I have often tried on my computer, resulting in expensive repair bills and a bandaged hand. I now use this method on my head only.

Then she gave me a funny look. "You're using that screen saver again, aren't you?" I had to admit ever since I had programmed those dancing girls into my head I have had trouble going on-line. "What is the technical problem?" she asked in that superior tone used by many auto mechanics. I showed her the instruction book.

"You idiot!" Not so much as you mentally challenged person, you. Why can't she be politically correct at a moment like this? "You're reading the Spanish and French versions," and with that she flipped the booklet open to "Installation" and "Window requirements," words that looked familiar.

What is happening to our country? I've read (there's that curse again!} that most Americans can read only at the eighth grade level, one reason I try to write simple, and I've been told that I do. That's eighth grade for English, I should think. I can't read at any level of Spanish or French (now known as Freedom Words}, or for that matter, low German. When I was growing up in Gilmer County there was little need for languages other than English, as we had enough trouble with that. There was only one Italian family in town and they read better English than low achievers, such as I.

I don't know anyone who does read other languages, although I do know some who are bilingual, and who like women and men equally. I suppose up here in high IQ land there are those Ph.Ds who were forced to learn a second language for their degrees, but who then promptly forgot them. And there are probably people walking High Street, and perhaps living under its bridge, who speak and write Swahili.

While we are on the subject, with all the stuff coming from China, why can't the Chinese write in English? "Warning! If wire A go into slot B shock prepare. Dehook with convenience."

Maybe all of this is a result of the New World Order, and to think I voted Republican for it!

I can only recycle my brain so much until I become, well, at a loss for words. This, then, could affect my writglick, pacl, clatltcie, atr (you may strike any key to exit). Want to bet? "Fatal exception….fatal exception…..

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