Maybe the elderly lady in the blue pantsuit didn’t realize her voice carried louder than she thought it would in the busy room, but we all looked up and straight at her when she said, “This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but did you ever wonder why Pluto walks on four legs and Goofy walks on two like a man?”
Her companion quickly looked around to find the rest of us, myself included, desperately trying to look as though we weren’t eavesdropping. All except for the lady to my right, that is. She looked straight at the two of them, cleared her throat, and rather loudly admitted from across the room, “I’ve wondered that, too.” Then instead of trying to once again appear deaf, the rest of us shook our heads and admitted that, yep, we’d wondered that ourselves.
It had absolutely nothing to do with anything, but it made us think.
I often have those nothing-to-do-with-anything thoughts. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I think they have medication for it, but I choose to instead go through life having random thoughts pop into my head with no notice at all. Most times I can control myself and not have the words actually come out of my mouth. But other times… well, sometimes I just can’t help it.
“Who do you think actually tastes the dog food to know it has a new and improved flavor?”
I looked around to see who might answer what I thought was a perfectly straightforward, perfectly sane question to ask. Staring back at me were my husband and teenage daughter. Problem was, I forgot to preface my question with, “This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but …” Instead, I blurted it out as we were all quietly watching a football game, no dogs or dog food in sight. It came out of nowhere. Just like that.
“Are you having a stroke?” my husband asked and our daughter looked at me as if equally concerned. No, not a stroke. Just something I’d been wondering about ever since I fed the dogs earlier and there, right there on the dog food bag, was written in big fancy letters — New and improved flavor. I just hadn’t thought to ask anybody their opinion until that very second. See, there was a reason for my question … it did sort of have something to do with something. Unlike ...
“What was the name of that pig on Green Acres?” the lady, a complete stranger, asked, catching me by surprise one morning as I spoke with her on the telephone. Not that unusual, I guess, unless you consider the fact that we were mere seconds before discussing insurance. I was caught off guard.
“Uh... excuse me?” I said. Were we still talking about my deductible?
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I know it has nothing to do with anything, but I have had this on my mind all morning and it’s been driving me crazy.”
Maybe I should have hung up or requested another person to help me clear up my insurance woe, but instead I was pleasantly comforted. I totally got her.
“Arnold ... I think?” I said and she nearly yelled in my ear, she was so happy. “Yes! That’s it! Thank you!” Then she cleared up my question about my coverage and everything was fine.
It had nothing to do with anything, yet there it was. Just like that.
Someone I worked with once stopped by my office and asked if I’d ever wondered why God gave men nipples. It had absolutely nothing to do with anything, she just thought that it was weird.
“I think I’ll ask my preacher,” she said before she walked out the door, leaving me dumbstruck. How embarrassing, I thought, to ask a preacher such a thing ... but I wish I had thought to get her to also ask the preacher who he thinks tastes the dog food.
It has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I still want to know.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.