Department of I Just Didn’t Want To Go There
Dateline: Tuesday, on my morning walk. Three blocks from home, I turned a corner and detected the stench of tobacco. Fifty feet ahead of me, holding a lit cigarette in his hand, a boy who looked to be about 14 years old was checking a curbside mailbox. As I crossed to the other side of the street to avoid walking through his smoke, the boy turned around to look at me. He gestured at my Nordic Trekking poles and called out:
“Why are you ski-walking?”
“Because it’s more fun than regular walking,” I replied.
I’d stifled the riposte that sprang to my petty little mind – Why are you smoking? – but as I continued toward home, I found myself wondering, what if I hadn’t? What would have been his reply?
“Because it’s more fun than regular breathing.”
* * *
Aka, Department of Causing Your Dental Hygienist to Declare
“In All My Years, I’ve Never Heard That Answer Before.”
For some reason, Sean Connery had entered the rinse-and-spit conversation  between the dental hygienist and moiself. A brief discussion of James Bond movies ensued as we waited for the dentist to finish up with a patient in the adjoining room. The hygienist said she liked the Connery-era films but was not a fan of Roger Moore in the role. I told her I’d never been a much of a Bond movie fan, until the easy-on-the-eyes Daniel Craig was cast in the role.
When the dentist entered the room we exchanged our usual jest-filled chit-chat before he lowered the exam chair and began his inspection of my cheap whiskey and fine Cuban cigar-stained chompers pearly whites. 
“So, how are things going?” he asked. “Any complaints about your teeth?”
I raised myself up on one elbow, grinned at the hygienist and said, “Only that Daniel Craig hasn’t licked them.”
* * *
Department of, If You Have to Ask…
So, what do you do?
I’ve never liked that question, when used as part of an introduction or conversation starter, and try not to ask it myself when speaking with a new acquaintance. One of the many things I’ve noticed and enjoyed in my  travels abroad is that Other Peoples of the World ® (i.e., not Americans) don’t care so much what you “do” – they’d rather hear about who you are in terms of where you choose to live, where you’ve been and where you’d like to be (travel-wise), and what you think about _____ (insert favorite political or cultural interest).
Also, there’s the published author thing. If I answer the what-you-do question truthfully, I often receive some chunk of cringe-worthy (and totally unjustified) adulation – “OMG, you’re an AUTHOR!”  – accompanied by obsequious expressions of admiration…or, worse, the “Really!? That’s fantastic; you know, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Maybe you’d like to look at some of my story ideas?”
Friend/fellow writer SCM has suggested I answer the WDYD question with, “I’m an editor.” Which would be a deflection but not technically a lie (I do edit my own work).
And now, the anecdote:
Last Saturday MH and I participated in an educational and tree-planting volunteer event at Jackson Bottom Wetlands. Volunteers were divided into six units and given name tags stamped with a picture of our unit’s “mascot” – one of the many animals that can be found at the JB wetlands. MH and I were sorted to unit #2, the Canada Goose group, which I accepted after some mild grumbling about the irony of having the mascot of the #2 group be the planet’s most prolific producer of…well… #2.
As we trudged over the muddy wetland trails on our way to the tree-planting area, a woman in our group made small talk with MH and I. She volunteered the fact that she is an OR nurse at a local hospital, then asked, “So, what do you do?”
Using my oft-times-literalist interpretation, I replied, “When?”
She looked at me blankly.
“Well, at this moment I’m volunteering at the….”
“No, I mean, as in work. For money.”
I momentarily considered using my friend’s suggestion, but our fellow volunteer seemed nice and level-headed, and I bailed. “I’m a writer.”
Her eyes lit up like a venti-chugging lemur.
“A writer!?“ she gasped. “What kind of writer?”
“Are you famous?”
(Ay yi yi). “Are you?” I replied.
Her blank look resurfaced.
“You know – when you walk into the OR, do the other people there say, ‘I know her!’ ”
* * *
Department of Bright Ideas
The Brights are an international internet constituency composed of individuals who have a naturalistic worldview. This is the organization’s logo:
Their motto: “Illuminating and elevating the naturalistic worldview.”
I was stuck for pumpkin-carving inspiration this Halloween, until I got a Bright Idea. I emailed a picture of my creation to the directors of The Brights, along with my best wishes for a “Happy Halloween from a Bright (if not so talented) jack-o-lantern carver.”
* * *
My Work Here is Done
On Wednesday I received the following email from daughter Belle:
“Happy post-election day!
Don’t forget to set your clocks back 40 years in honor of the new senate!”
While we’re on the subject, the following is suitable for a few laughs, even if not quite SFW:
* * *
May your teeth be white and your celebrations Bright, and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 The last of the original James Bond films to star Sean Connery.
 As in, is he still alive, or what?
 Which, while neither whiskey nor cigar-stained, are not even close to being pearly white. In case you were wondering.
 Comparatively or relatively few (at least, compared to some people I know).
 Sometimes accompanied by squeals of excitement. Really. The squealing…it’s just…embarrassing.