As the debate droned on, a group of three hefty men carrying hefty ring binder notebooks arrived. They plopped down near the TV and watched the debate with rapt attention. They were youngish but old enough that any parent who kicked them out of the house would be justified. They were dressed in slightly dorky attire. They might have jobs but they probably didn’t have girlfriends.
“How nice to see those fellows watching the debate.” Mrs. Curmudgeon observed.
“They’re bookies.” I said. “The notebooks are their oddsmaking charts. Political betting is very hip these days.” I continued.
Mrs. Curmudgeon restrained herself from throwing a meatball at me.
“In the old days bookies used laptop computers. With the advent of the iPad they had to revert to pen and paper. Trendy iDevices squander all their computational power on social media and Angry Birds. “ I paused, enjoying myself. “Paper is just as good anyway. It’s a little known fact that John Glenn learned his slide rule skills for the Saturn rocket program as a bookie in Gary, Indiana…”
The waitress interrupted my musings. “Could you turn the sound up.” Mrs. Curmudgeon asked. She was desperately trying to ignore me. The kids headed off to play a video game. I ordered a drink. “Your cheapest red wine please.”
My hearing isn’t as good as Mrs. Curmudgeon. All I heard was Mitt and Barack mumbling.
“What are the bars?” Mrs. Curmudgeon asked. She pointed out two bars going up and down at the based of the screen. Line graphs, like the blue lines in hockey, are presumed to be a male concept.
“The yellow one seems highly variable. Also I noticed it goes down whenever Obama’s lips are moving. I’m going to say it’s the stock price in Hong Kong where the markets are still open. The green one? I’m not sure. It looks pretty flat. Maybe it’s the number of months before Greece goes supernova?”
I liked my explanation. Mrs. Curmudgeon, committed to reality, moved closer to the TV. To her disappointment I followed. I started reading a local paper. “Hey they’ve got Marmaduke…”
“Can’t you pay attention like those nice fellows up front?” She waved her hand at the three guys who were idly flipping through three ring binders without moving their eyes from the TV.
I couldn’t hear most of what was going on so I added my own local commentary. “The guys up front are reviewing ‘binders full of women’.” I explained.
“Well they’re not acting dumb like you…” Mrs. Curmudgeon observed (correctly I might add). “Why not act mature like them.” Sigh… she was right. Deflated I watched the politicians ramble on the screen.
Then one of the guys turned a page and we both saw that it was filled with cards from a role playing game. Possibly ‘Magic the Gathering’ but for all I know it was Pokemon. Mrs. Curmudgeon glared at me; daring me to insert a punchline about the mature gentlemen so fully involved in the deliberative process.
Wisely, I shut up and gulped the last of my wine. (This was the smartest thing I did all evening.)
Straining my ears, I heard one of the two politicians prattling on about public education. (No mention of desserts!). Text on the screen said the question had something to do with Benghazi.
“Do we have public schools in Libyia?” I asked.
Mrs. Curmudgeon thought this was funny. Whew!
Then I realized the line graph scrolling across the bottom of the screen was approval ratings from males and females. I pointed this out to Mrs. Curmudgeon.
“Why do they separate out reactions from men and women?” She asked.
“Where do they put the sensors?” I added.
Mrs. Curmudgeon wrinkled her nose. I was about to say something socially unacceptable.
“This is an important scientific matter.” I began. “They’re reporting statistical aggregations in real time. This is crucial.” I paused thinking of the next joke. “Clearly it would have to be a sex based sensor array to differentiate the two data streams. Possibly something like jumper cables for women. Maybe a conductivity test for the men?”
I liked this idea. “Sir, put your nuts on this metal pad. It’s for America.”
Sometimes I don’t care if anyone laughs at my jokes. “We’re with the TSA.” I crack myself up.
“Shush…” Mrs. Curmudgeon was annoyed.
“The equipment is banned in Kansas of course. But it’s a popular group activity in San Fransisco.” Tragically something this creepy probably exists. Ugh…
I wasn’t out of jokes yet. “Imagine the possibilities. They could measure the actual wattage of Chris Matthews ‘thrill up the leg’.” I was loving it. Comedy gold!
I couldn’t have asked for a better evening. But the fun wasn’t over yet…