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My stupidometer needs new batteries

Sometimes inspiration comes when you least expect it.

"Are y'all here eating lunch?" I asked an acquaintance when I stopped to chat with her in the cafeteria not long before Christmas. I was running in for a sandwich. She was sitting at the table with her sister, two sandwiches and a bowl of soup on the table in front of them, two drinks, napkins in their laps, a fork in her sister's hand. It was noon-15, or so.

"Uh...," she stammered and looked at her food. She was trying to be nice.

"Actually, no," her sister jumped in. "We're doing laundry." If she could have gotten away with saying "duh" and looking at me like I was a complete moron, she would have, I was sure of it. No need. I felt like a moron without anybody giving me the look.

Stupid question. I can't help it. It's an affliction I've dealt with most of my adult life and probably much of my young one, too. I call it Did I Really Ask That Out Loud Disease, and I've got to stop.

Thus my inspiration, I realized a few moments later as I stood there in the lunch line. I was going make a New Year's resolution this year -- I was going to stop asking stupid questions.

I realize my New Year resolution is not without interpretation. To borrow the wise words of Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does." I don't consider the fact that I occasionally may ask stupid questions is a reason to think I am a stupid person. I firmly believe that even the most intelligent people on earth have stupid thoughts, they just don't verbalize them. Their stupidometer catches their stupidity before it reaches their tongue and doesn't allow their mouth to open and let the stupid out.

My stupidometer needs new batteries.

Some questions aren't really stupid, they just seem stupid to the person you're asking.

I once asked my husband if turkeys can fly. He had just finished explaining to me that wild turkeys roost in trees, the answer to my original question of, "What do turkeys do at night?" He could have easily said that they like to go to clubs and dance, but he fought off the urge and explained, instead, that they roost in trees.

"Can turkeys fly?"

Silence. A throat clearing.

"No," he said. "They carry around little ladders and climb up to the tops of the trees every night." What he really meant was, "Yes, sweetie. Turkeys can fly. What a very intelligent and thought-provoking question that was."

He loves me.

To my defense, I remember quite vividly the episode of WKRP in Cincinnati when Mr. Carlson has live turkeys dropped from a helicopter and people run for their lives as the turkeys plunge to their deaths.

Those, I was reminded, were domestic turkeys. Sadly, they're too fat to fly. "As God is my witness," Mr. Carlson says. "I thought turkeys could fly."

We drove to Plains on Christmas afternoon. And as we passed by a vacant field hugged by brush and pine trees, I noticed six or seven, maybe even eight, wild turkeys foraging in the crop remnants.

"Look! Turkeys!" I exclaimed. And I didn't ask a single stupid question.

Some may call that a Christmas miracle. Some may think I just started my New Year resolution early.

I just think my batteries finally kicked in.

To contact columnist Mandy Flynn, e-mail her at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.